I have always loved the look of Summer porches with big green ferns hanging. The first year we lived in our house I decided trying to keep ferns alive while finishing our exterior was just too much so I didn’t purchase any Boston ferns. Instead I went with the hardy version that can take sun and shade and do well in a big pot.
They did well, but last year I decided I would try and hang some. I realized that the wind would take its toll on them and they could be dried up and crunchy by June, but I just wanted to give it a whirl and see if it would work!
We had a bit of a hiccup in the beginning. I didn’t water them enough with the craziness of getting ready for one of our farm markets, but after a little tender loving care they came around and really grew and really weren’t hard at all.
Everyone wanted to know how they grew so well and if I fertilized and the answer was no. I have received several questions the past few weeks as everyone is working on their porches so I thought I would create a post on what I did and what worked for the ferns last year ( I am repeating it all again this year).
5 Tips for growing healthy ferns:
#1 Start with a healthy fern. Might seem like a no brainer, but there are some dry, sad ferns at the garden center right now. Don’t buy those. Watch for fresh shipment of ferns and buy as quick as you can. The fresher the batch the less they sit at the garden center and get tossed around. I have had the best luck buying ferns at Wal Mart and our local grocery store, Kroger.
#2 Repot your fern. A fern will grow to whatever size container you put it in so if you want a bigger fern you will want to put it in a bigger pot. I strongly suggest repotting any plants you purchase, but especially ferns because they are always root bound when you buy them. Another benefit from repotting your fern is it gets heavier and the weight helps it not get tossed around in the wind so much.
#3 Add mulch to the top of your planter. I believe this is why my ferns grew so well last year. The mulch really helped hold moisture and I didn’t feel like I had to water them constantly. I like to buy the broken bags of mulch at Lowe’s. They usually have a pile of bags that have been torn and they mark them down to just one dollar.
#4 Place your fern in an area that ferns love. If you love to hike than you have probably seen lots of ferns growing along a brook or in a shady area under tall trees. That is an environment ferns love so when you are wanting to hang a fern think of an area similar to that. Our front porch is full shade so they do well there. One of our neighbors when we lived in Texas actually hung her ferns in their live oak trees and it was beautiful (and they did so well).
#5 Water. Like I mentioned above, ferns love damp, shady areas so they will need water. Make sure you hang them in an area where you can get water to them. I prefer a wand attached to a hose and water mine while they are hanging. In early spring if we get a good rain shower I will take them down and set them out in the rain, but once they get growing they get way too heavy to keep taking them down.
That is it, really a simple formula for growing ferns! I hope it helps you grow big healthy ferns this summer. If you have learned any tips along the way I would love to hear them in the comments below!