Skip to main content

The 3 best types of indoor ferns for any home gardener

There are over 20,000 varieties of ferns around the world, and most of them can be grown both outdoors and indoors! Since they come in a variety of shapes, textures, and colors, a potted fern will add a nice touch of greenery and life to an indoor space especially when the right fern care system is established. Many types of indoor ferns will flourish in bright light, rarely get diseases or pests, and make for a good houseplant for any indoor gardener from beginner to expert.

A bird's nest fern on a small table

Bird’s nest fern

Lending reason to their name, bird’s nest ferns are found in palm trees when in their native environment. They make the most unique houseplant when provided the right indoor environment. Bird’s nest ferns have large, tropical-like fronds that are similar to the look of banana leaves. They’re crinkled and wrinkly, adding a fun touch to your indoor collection.

Related Videos

Caring for your bird’s nest fern

Warmth and moisture will be your best friends when growing an indoor potted bird’s nest fern. That means some of the best places for bird’s nest ferns are in your bathroom! Whether on a windowsill by the tub or on a ledge near the shower, the warmth, humidity, and moisture created in a bathroom will be an ideal home environment. Bird’s nest ferns prefer indirect/filtered light to light shade, so avoid setting it in direct light, but be sure the space you choose has an adequate amount of lighting during the day.

As with many other plants, the bird’s nest fern doesn’t want to sit in soggy soil. Be cautious of overwatering the plant. They prefer their soil to be moist, so you never want to drench the fern — but don’t let it dry out completely, either. If you aren’t used to keeping soil moist, it may take a bit to get the hang of it. Whenever you do water, you want to water the soil directly. Any water that collects in the bottom of the plant could cause mold, rot, and an untimely demise.

A beautiful button fern

Button fern

Button ferns, on the other hand, require little care to thrive in an indoor environment. As far as potted ferns go, this will be one of the easier ones for beginners to handle. Because their fronds are covered in small round leaves, they make a beautiful focal plant for any end table, plant stand, or windowsill! As long as you place it in a brightly lit room (and out of direct sunlight), you’re free to place the potted fern wherever you wish, and it should grow fairly well. It’s a favorite for hanging plant baskets that allow the leaf-covered fronds to trail and cascade as they wish.

Caring for your button fern

Button ferns, like many others, prefer bright, indirect light. They do have a higher tolerance for colder temperatures, but they dislike frost. If you have windows that tend to freeze over during the colder weather, it would be best to keep your button fern away from them.

Unlike the bird’s nest fern, the button fern likes its soil to dry out a bit between watering. You still don’t want to create soggy soil, so it’s best to use a well-draining potting mix and a container that has good drainage. The amount and frequency of which your button fern needs water can vary depending on the humidity and temperature of its environment. This means a little trial and error may be in order to figure out the right watering balance.

When you do water your button fern, water thoroughly and wait until at least the first inch of soil dries out before watering again. If your fronds are yellow and wilting, that means you’re overwatering the fern. You’ll want to ease up on watering, and potentially trim off the damaged bits. If your plant continues to wilt, check the roots to see if any of them have rotted. If only a few have rotted, trim off any damaged pieces. If the roots are mostly black, the fern is unfortunately too far gone.

Hanging maidenhair ferns

Maidenhair fern

There’s a pattern with indoor ferns: Many of them thrive best in bright, indirect lighting — and the maidenhair fern is no exception. They have feather-like foliage and are a gray-green color, adding some charm to any indoor setting. Growing maidenhairs are relatively easy, and they look great as a stand-alone houseplant or in a group of friends!

Caring for your maidenhair fern

Maidenhair ferns are more hardy than tropical, but it can still be difficult to keep them healthy indoors if you don’t have the right conditions. The most important factor for maidenhair ferns is humidity; they need a decent amount of moisture to survive. The best chance at keeping a healthy, happy maidenhair fern indoors will be providing it with moisture in various ways. You can get a humidifier to add moisture in the room, or mist the plant a couple times a days with warm water. Maidenhair ferns will like to be watered every other day, but you may need to adjust your care depending on how your individual plant responds.

With thousands of different fern varieties, there are many more than these three that will thrive in an indoor environment. Don’t be afraid to get a different type of fern (or multiple!) to add to your indoor collection. Just be sure you care for each one the way it likes, and you’ll have the best shot at keeping them healthy and happy.

Editors' Recommendations

These are the most popular indoor plants of 2023 – add one or all to your collection
Trendy houseplants of 2023 that you need for your home
A small collection of houseplants

It’s time to start looking forward to the next year, and that includes looking for new indoor plants. Whether you just want to know what plants you can expect to see in stores or are looking for a gift for the plant lover in your life and aren’t sure where to start, we can help! We’ve got the inside scoop from Breanna Sherlock, an in-house plant expert for the plant care app Planta. Here are the top five plants you can expect to see rise in popularity during 2023.

Hoyas are fantastic plants that come in a wide range of varieties. From beginner-friendly, low-maintenance hoyas to more challenging and finicky varieties, there’s a hoya for every home gardener! With their diverse appearances, hoyas can match even the most specific interior decor themes.

Read more
A complete guide to caring for the holly plant, a common symbol of Christmas
This pretty red plant is the quintessential holiday decoration that's easy to care for
A fresh holly branch

Whether you call it common holly, Christmas holly, English holly, or just plain old holly, this striking plant with the bright red berries against deep green leaves just screams Christmas. The holly plant is a popular holiday tree or shrub (depending on the variety) that’s often used in garlands, wreaths, mantelpiece decor, and so much more. The berries give your home a vibrant pop of red to really accentuate the festive colors of the season. And hey, what's more fun than decorating for the holidays with fresh greenery?

Although the English holly plant (Ilex aquifolium) is the most common variety, American holly (Ilex opaca) is another one you might see used in holiday greenery. Appearance-wise, there isn’t much of a difference; however, the English holly plant has a slower growth rate and is native to the U.K. while the American holly is a medium grower native to parts of the U.S. Really, you can’t go wrong with growing either.

Read more
The best Christmas herbs to grow to infuse the Yuletide spirit into your home
Your guide to choosing and growing delicious and fragrant holiday herbs
Sprigs of Christmas herbs next to holly and twine

Towering trees and bold poinsettias aren’t the only foliage plants that tell you it's time for the holidays. When it comes to channeling the Yuletide spirit, festive Christmas herbs and spices are great for brewing teas, garnishing dishes, and infusing the home with aromatherapy to counter holiday stress. If you’re wondering what kinds of herbs are hardy enough for the holiday season and how you can grow and use them, we’ve got you covered. 

Perhaps the most famous holiday herb of them all is peppermint, which is beloved for its fresh and cooling taste. We love a striped candy cane as much as the next person, but you can definitely go straight to the source if you don’t have much of a sweet tooth.

Read more