Ferns like low light are easy to care for; however, watering is among the major aspects of keeping a fern healthy. Learning how to water ferns is the easiest to care for them. Ferns make great houseplants once you have the regular watering under control.
The amount and frequency of watering will be governed by the fern’s size and growth rate. Large ferns may need to be watered daily, whereas small ferns located in your bathroom, or another humid environment could be watered less frequently.
The secret is to water before the soil dries and not to let it get too wet. Because of this, you need proper drainage for your ferns to stay healthy.
In our guide, you can learn all there is about how often should you water ferns and generally how to care for them in the best way. By the end, you’ll have a good understanding of the amount of water to give your ferns when growing outside or when growing ferns indoors. (Learn How to Care for Outdoor Ferns)
How Much Water Do Ferns Need a Day?
Ferns belong to the Pteridophyta plant division, which encompasses 9,000 to 15,000 species found globally. Whether you grow ferns indoors or outside to visual appeal and texture, you must meet their watering requirements.
You can find some exceptions to the general rule for most ferns, yet both indoors or outdoors, ferns like plenty of shade with cool, moist, and acidic soil. The amount of water offered to your ferns depends on the kind you’re growing and the weather.
Hanging Basket or Indoor Ferns
With many types of ferns, it’s tough to know how much water each need. Ferns are typically found in woodlands that offer moist soil. Because of this, you could assume you need to water before the soil dries out. You will discover, the daily amount and frequency of water are based on your fern’s size and speed of growth.
Along with this are the potting media used and your home’s humidity and room temperature. The health of your indoor ferns needs good pot drainage to keep moisture in the soil. (Learn How to Hang Plants From Ceiling)
Outdoor ferns prefer a shady location and moist soil. Weekly, they like to have 1 to 2 inches of water. Again, this varies on soil and rate of growth. You find that how often to water ferns growing in light, sandy soil will be far more frequent than those in deep clay soil.
Since soil dries out quicker in containers, especially in hot weather, ferns grown outside in a container could require daily watering. Check the soil frequently and develop a schedule when to water fern that keeps the container soil moist but not wet.
Signs of Improper Watering
If you are unsure of the amount of water your fern needs, they can present symptoms of over-watering or under-watering.
Leaves that wilt or shrivel with slow growth are signs of under-watering. Over-watering can cause wilting when the soil gets soggy, and roots are deprived of essential oxygen.
Over-watered ferns can shed leaves or develop yellow foliage. On the soil surface, you can also see green, mossy growth or fungi that is gray in color. Root rot is another key symptom of overwatering ferns. (Read House Plant with White Flowers)
Can Ferns Get Too Much Water?
When ferns have access to a steady and ample amount of water, they thrive. They are native to tropic environments where humidity makes the air damp, and there is frequent rainfall. In your garden, it is your job to replicate these conditions.
While there are lots of rain in their natural habitat, you can still exceed their water requirements. Soil needs to be moist yet not too wet, and the best way to tell is when the surface is dry.
You can find exceptions where some ferns don’t require continual moisture, like Brake ferns (Pteris), holly ferns, and rabbit’s foot ferns. If you have these, then let the soil become slightly dry before watering. (Learn How To Keep Dog From Digging Under Chain Link Fence)
Here you can find some watering suggestions for your ferns to help stop giving too much water.
Avoid watering from above as it will cause moisture to splash onto ferns’ leaves. Spray the soil above the ferns’ roots, so it seeps into the root zone.
Water droplets landing on the leaves and foliage evaporate, yet it can lead to other issues until that happens. Sunscald occurs as the sun heats the water, and it can scorch the foliage and leaves.
Excess moisture also causes overly damp conditions, and this quickly causes root rot or fungal infections.
If you are misting your fern to create humidity in the environment, the above guide doesn’t apply. Misting the foliage will create similar conditions ferns are used to in the tropics. You can use a humidifier in your fern growing room to maintain these higher levels of humidity.
If you see brown staining on the tips of the fern leaves, this means they are seeking higher levels of humidity.
When humidity is low, Maidenhair ferns, Boston Fern and Staghorn ferns are prone to injury. Holly ferns don’t need as much humidity as other ferns.
In the natural habitat, the humidity could be 70 percent humidity and above. If you are growing indoors, you can find your home’s humidity level is five to ten percent. A humidifier can raise this to 50 percent, the lowest humidity level a fern can remain in and grow healthy.
If the temperature in your area rises over 75 degrees Fahrenheit, or if your ferns remain indoors, you’ll need to offer more frequent watering. Much of this extra watering isn’t just used by your ferns. A large percentage is lost through evaporation from the pot or container; thus, you need to check the soil more often.
If the temperature is below 60 F, ferns don’t need as much water until the weather warms. It is here to only water once the surface of the soil is dry.
The above can be important when you want to know how often to water Boston Fern. Ferns with too much water can show yellowed foliage, leaf wilting, and more diseases, with roots going brown as root rot forms.
When Boston ferns don’t get sufficient water, they can shed leaves. It is worth noting, over-watering, and under-watering will cause wilting, and it needs you to check the soil to determine what is causing the wilting, and your fern has enough water or too much.
How Often Do You Water Hanging Ferns?
Based on the type of fern, your growing conditions can vary. However, no ferns are fond of direct sunshine. You can find a fern in an outdoor or indoor hanging container that can thrive well in the early sunlight. (Read Watering House Plants Guide)
Yet, it would need afternoon shade, or if hanging in a bright window, you’ll find indoor ferns in hanging baskets like bright, indirect light where the window is several feet away. Indoor temperatures around 60f to 70f are ideal such as those often found in your bathroom. Your bathroom also offers the high.
A bathroom is a good place for ferns in hanging baskets because most ferns needs humidity. Ensure you check if your fern is too close to a doorway, window, an air conditioner/ heating vent.
Plant your fern in a container with a suitable drainage hole, as this stops roots from sitting in soggy soil. Use a peat-based potting mix as this offers better container drainage your fern needs. Ensure the soil never dries completely in your hanging basket. Also note, it will require frequent watering in the summer.
In the winter, you can water less, although in the spring and summer, feed a fern in a hanging container once a month using a water-soluble fertilizer at half strength.
In addition, never apply fertilizer to dry soil. Besides this, if you grow your fern for years, they can become rootbound and move to a larger container.
How Do You Know if a Fern Needs Water?
The only way you can tell your indoor gardening areas need watering is to test the soil and see if it is dry. In hanging baskets, this can become a challenge, although you will need to do it.
For watering, you can water your fern using a watering can with a long spout. With this, add water to the top of the potting mix. You will see the fern fronds hang down in thick curtains, particularly in your hanging baskets. It is also beneficial to use normal or lukewarm water rather than water that is cold.
Many gardeners prefer not to use tap water based on their municipal water containing chemicals or chlorine. Rainwater can be harvested, or you can leave tap water in sunlight for 24-hours as chlorine breaks down in sunlight. Another watering method is to soak the bottom of the pot. Water is drawn into drying soil by capillary action and thus reaches the roots of your plant.