Garden Houseplants

Learn special methods to water ferns in a greenhouse and garden

Michelle Tether
Written by Michelle Tether

Watering ferns with care. Learn special methods to water ferns in a greenhouse and garden


Ferns do not like dry conditions and demand humid conditions. Avoid letting the fern dry out.


If you do not irrigate your ferns for a week, the rootstock will dry out, having the fronds wilting up and turning pale green or brown. Once the fern has become brown it will be next to impossible for the fern to ever recover, even after extensive irrigation.


Ferns tend to wither suddenly without warning and thus you should always check the compost to see if it is still moist. You can do this by poking you finger deep into the compost. If it is dry then add water immediately.


Avoid water logging


Do not over water the plant as this will result in water logging and make sure that surplus water is allowed to freely drain out of the pot. If you need help with a water logged garden head over the the resources provided. Fantastic write up. Water logging causes the roots to become oxygen deficient because the excess water will be blocking the compost pores and thus preventing any air from penetrating to the roots. The fern will not be able to breathe and will suffocate.


Special watering methods for the indoor ferns


A semi-automatic watering system using clay pegs:

This method is ideal for ferns because it will result in constant supply of water to the rootstock. A clay peg connected to a storage container with fertilizer and water solution is placed in each pot. The fern will suck up water from the soil and when it is finished it’s topped op from the storage container via the permeable clay pegs.


Setting the storage container at different levels can be used as a method of regulating moisture in the compost. If the storage container is placed on the same level as the plant then this allows more moisture to enter the compost as compared to when the container is at a lower level.



Ferns tat are in wicker baskets and those growing in small epiphyte trucks can be immersed in a water bath and this allows the root stock to absorb plenty of water. When air bubbles stop rising to the surface then remove the plant from the water bath. Live excess water to run away into the wash basin for about 20 minutes.



Ferns that are in pots consume nutrients rapidly and they need supplements in the form of fertiliser. Regular fertilising is necessary for the ferns to receive all the essential nutrients and trace elements.


Suitable fertilisers for indoor ferns

The main nutrients required by indoor ferns are Nitrogen (N), Phosphorous(P), Potassium (K) , Magnesium (Mg), Calcium (Ca) and Sulphur (S). A liquid multi-nutrient compound fertiliser is ideal for indoor ferns. Fertiliser with an NPK ratio of 8:8:6 is perfect for the indoor ferns and this information is available on the fertiliser packet.


Controlled release fertilisers which are much simpler to use and are time saving can be applied. They release nutrients slowly into the compost and over extended periods of time. They also ensure that the mineral salt concentration does not rise too quickly.


How to fertilise correctly.

A fertiliser does for ferns should be kept at a minimum. Apply half the recommended amount of liquid fertiliser. Use 0,05g of fertiliser per litre of water. Liquid fertiliser can be added to the regular irrigation water or alternatively be added to the water bath used when immersing the plant. It is also quiet common to spray the plant with water that has liquid fertiliser.


Add fertiliser after every 2 weeks.

About the author

Michelle Tether

Michelle Tether

I love everything home. I write as a passion for non profit about the things I love.