How Much Sunlight Do Ferns Need?

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How Much Sunlight Do Ferns Need?

Short Answer: Ferns are a diverse group of plants that often thrive in moderate to low light conditions, making them ideal for shaded gardens or indoor spaces. While they do need some sunlight to grow, most fern species prefer indirect or filtered light rather than direct sunlight, which can scorch their delicate fronds. A north-facing window or a spot under the dappled shade of larger plants or trees is typically ideal for ferns. It’s important to note that the amount of light required can vary among different fern species, so researching the specific needs of your chosen variety is key. Additionally, consistent moisture and high humidity are crucial for ferns, complementing their light requirements to maintain their lush, green appearance.


Ferns that are usually grown outdoors can also make great houseplants, adding lushness and texture to any room. However, it is important to provide them with adequate light, water, and humidity to ensure their healthy growth. If you’re new to growing ferns indoors, it’s recommended to start with an easier species like Boston fern. These ferns can tolerate some neglect and are easier to grow. Once you have gained some experience, you can try growing more delicate species such as maidenhairs. These ferns require consistent moisture and high humidity. By following these tips, you can successfully grow ferns indoors.

1. Give ferns plenty of indirect light

Many ferns thrive in indirect light, and it is crucial to avoid placing them in direct sunlight. Exposure to direct sunlight can cause the fern fronds to burn and make the plant dry and brittle. Optimal conditions for ferns require a north or east-facing window that allows for the right amount of light. However, if you notice that your fern is turning yellow and not growing much, it is an indication that it is not receiving sufficient light. In such cases, you can supplement the natural light by using a grow light on the fern for a few hours a day.

2. Ferns like the same temperatures you do

You likely keep your home at about the same temperatures that most indoor ferns need. These plants do best when the daytime temperature ranges from 65-75°F, and about 10° cooler at night (as low as 55°F). Most ferns you’ll find as houseplants hail from tropical or sub-tropical regions, so they’ll suffer when temperatures dip lower than 50°F. In winter, ensure your ferns aren’t too close to a window or door where cold drafts might hit them. Protect them from any sudden temperature changes in the opposite direction by keeping ferns away from fireplaces, air vents, and other heat sources, too.

3. Provide your ferns with consistent water and humidity

If you’ve always been urged to water your houseplants, ferns will do well under your care. They like evenly moist soil, so try not to let them completely dry out between waterings. (There are some exceptions, such as brake fern, rabbit’s foot fern, and Japanese holly fern, which don’t mind drying out between waterings). To determine if you should add water, stick your finger into the soil about an inch deep. If it’s dry, give your fern a drink, and if it’s still damp, wait a couple more days.

Most tropical ferns also love high humidity. They naturally do well in bathrooms, thanks to steamy showers, but you can also mist their foliage with room-temperature water once or twice a day. Or invest in a humidifier to increase the humidity in the whole room if the air tends to get dry in your home.

4. Feed your ferns on a schedule.

A little fertilizer once in a while will help your ferns keep up their green good looks. You can add a slow-release fertilizer or use a liquid houseplant fertilizer at about half-strength about once a month from early spring to mid-autumn. Don’t fertilize them during the winter months because most ferns won’t be actively growing then.

5. Repot overgrown ferns.

Depending on their growth, ferns may need to be divided and repotted every few years. A promising sign that your fern has outgrown its container is if you can see roots emerging through the drainage hole, or if the plant is slightly elevated out of the soil. If you notice that your fern isn’t growing as quickly as it used to, try dividing it in half with a garden trowel before repotting so the plant’s roots can spread out more. The best time to divide indoor ferns is in spring when they are ready to start producing fresh, new growth again.

Dividing your plants is also an easy way to expand the greenery in your home, or you can share it with friends. While some fern varieties may not be quite as easy to grow as other impossible-to-kill houseplants you’ll find at the garden center; they’re well worth adding to your indoor garden if you can provide them with a little extra TLC.

Most Popular Flowers & Plants in the USA

RegionPopular FlowersPopular Plants
Northeast (e.g., New York, Massachusetts)Rose, Purple Lilac, Mountain LaurelSugar Maple, American Elm, White Pine
Southeast (e.g., Florida, Georgia)Orange Blossom, Cherokee Rose, Southern MagnoliaLive Oak, Spanish Moss, Saw Palmetto
Midwest (e.g., Ohio, Illinois)Carnation, Violet, Purple ConeflowerBur Oak, Prairie Grasses, Wild Bergamot
Southwest (e.g., Texas, Arizona)Bluebonnet, Saguaro Cactus Flower, Indian PaintbrushJoshua Tree, Agave, Mesquite
West (e.g., California, Washington)California Poppy, Coast Rhododendron, BitterrootGiant Sequoia, Redwood, Manzanita
Rocky Mountain (e.g., Colorado, Montana)Rocky Mountain Columbine, Bitterroot, Indian PaintbrushBlue Spruce, Aspen, Sagebrush
Great Plains (e.g., Kansas, Nebraska)Sunflower, Goldenrod, Purple ConeflowerCottonwood, Bluestem Grasses, Buffalo Grass
Pacific Northwest (e.g., Oregon, Alaska)Oregon Grape, Forget-me-not, Pacific RhododendronDouglas Fir, Western Hemlock, Ferns

This table includes the most popular flowers and plants in the USA by region, which considers a range of botanical species, including native and widely cultivated varieties.

Most Popular Flowers & Plants in Australia

RegionPopular FlowersPopular Plants
New South WalesWaratah, Bottlebrush, Flannel FlowerEucalyptus, Acacia, Banksia
VictoriaCommon Heath, Waxflower, Pink HeathMountain Ash, Silver Wattle, Victorian Blue Gum
QueenslandCooktown Orchid, Golden Penda, Umbrella Tree FlowerMoreton Bay Fig, Macadamia Nut, Queensland Bottle Tree
South AustraliaSturt's Desert Pea, Kangaroo Paw, Eucalyptus BlossomAdelaide Blue Gum, South Australian Blue Gum, Saltbush
Western AustraliaRed and Green Kangaroo Paw, Mangles Kangaroo Paw, Swan River DaisyJarrah, Marri, Karri
TasmaniaTasmanian Blue Gum, Leatherwood Flower, Tasmanian WaratahHuon Pine, Tasmanian Oak, Myrtle Beech
Northern TerritorySturt's Desert Rose, Frangipani, Desert RoseBoab, Gidgee, Spinifex
Australian Capital TerritoryRoyal Bluebell, Australian Daisy, CorreaSnow Gum, River Red Gum, Black Mountain

This table offers a basic overview of popular flowers and plants in each Australian region, focusing on a combination of state flowers, native species, and other characteristic plants. It's important to note that specific species' popularity and prevalence can vary. This table is a simplified representation. Consulting local botanical gardens or regional horticultural societies in Australia would be ideal for more detailed and accurate information.

Charlotte Gammon

By Charlotte Gammon

Meet Charlotte Gammon, our expert and author. She's our true treasure, as she has got 20+ years of experience in gardening, winery and house design. In early 2000s, she worked for today.com magazine and was in charge of the gaardening section. Later on, Charlotte opened her own designer agency and worked as a designer and decorator. We are happy to have Charlotte with us, as she is our good friend. We value her experience and we're sure you will love the articles she created for our blog.