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The fascinating room ferns are a popular green decoration for the living room or the bright bathroom. Properly cared for, the species, which mostly come from the tropics, look very attractive and are also very long-lived - such a room fern can be cultivated for several decades without any problems. In this article we will tell you how to properly care for and plant the bizarre plants.

There are several varieties of ferns that thrive as house ferns

Table of Contents

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  1. origin and distribution
  2. appearance and growth
  3. toxicity
  4. Which location is suitable?
  5. substrate
  6. planting / repotting
  7. Pour room fern
  8. Fertilize room fern properly
  9. Cut room fern correctly
  10. Multiply room fern
  11. hibernate
  12. diseases and pests
  13. species and varieties
  14. origin and distribution

    Ferns are found all over the world: around 12,000 different species are known, most of which come from the tropical regions of the world - only around 170 species are widespread throughout Europe. However, the attractive plants have one thing in common: With a few exceptions, they all prefer rather damp and shady locations as typical tree dwellers. Fern plants have been native to the earth for a very long time: the oldest finds come from the Devonian geological era and are dated at around 400 million years. The indoor ferns that we like to cultivate in the living room or bathroom also look back on a very long history. Most of the species sold for pot cultivation come from tropical and subtropical rain forests and are therefore not hardy.

    appearance and growth

    The different types of indoor ferns have a very different appearance from each other. Depending on the species and variety, the characteristic leaf fronds can be as little as 20 centimeters or up to one and a half meters long. The type of propagation is also typical: Ferns form spore capsules on the underside of the leaves, through which they practically sow themselves. The mature spores are sometimes noticeable as a fine, dark powder on the window sill. Flowers and seeds, on the other hand, are not formed, which is why they are pure leaf ornamental plants.


    The bracken fern is the most poisonous species of fern native to us. Like this, the indoor ferns are without exception poisonous to humans and animals and should therefore be placed in such a way that children and pets have no access to the plants. The mere touch alone does not trigger any symptoms, but eating the green fronds can lead to typical symptoms of poisoning such as vomiting, diarrhea and nausea. A doctor must be consulted immediately.

    Which location is suitable?

    The room fern feels most comfortable in a light to partially shaded, but not directly sunny location. Most species are also quite sensitive to drafts and temperature fluctuations, which is why you should avoid placing them near a frequently opened window or door. As rainforest dwellers, most indoor ferns also need high humidity and are therefore best kept in a bright bathroom.


    For indoor ferns, it is best to choose a well-drained, loose and humus-rich substrate. Be sure to get one based on compost if possible, as peat is a poor choice for a number of reasons - even though these soils are cheaper. Mix the humus soil with clay granules or expanded clay (€19.73) to improve permeability and thus avoid waterlogging right from the start.

    planting / repotting

    Place the room fern in fresh substrate and a larger pot immediately after purchase - the plants are usually in planters that are far too small, so they benefit from being transplanted quickly. Young ferns should be transplanted into a larger container every one to two years, while older ones only receive fresh substrate. Good drainage is essential so that excess irrigation water can drain away unhindered.

    Pour room fern

    Although room ferns do not like waterlogging, they also do not tolerate dry root balls - so both a permanently moist and a dried-out substrate should be avoided as much as possible. It is best to water the plant whenever the top layer of potting soil has dried - and then calmly and thoroughly. Drain the drained water immediately from the planter or saucer. Occasionally you can also submerge the plant, i. H. place the root ball (in the plant pot!) in a bucket filled with water for a few minutes. Then let it drain well.

    Fertilize room fern properly

    If the room fern is potted annually in fresh, humus-rich substrate, additional fertilization is basically not necessary. If this is not the case, feed the plant every 14 days between April and October with a low-dose liquid fertilizer for green plants. In winter there is no fertilization.

    Cut room fern correctly

    Room ferns are quite insensitive to pruning measures and usually tolerate them very well. Some strong-growing species can be kept compact by a targeted pruning, and brown and dried fronds should be removed as soon as possible. Older specimens also benefit from more pruning and then drive out many fresh shoots - the plants are rejuvenated, as the gardener calls it.

    Multiply room fern

    You can easily propagate an older room fern by dividing it. But the fronds that carry spores can also be used to obtain new plants. However, you need a lot of patience for this, because it can take up to a year for the young ferns to be recognized as such. And that's how it works:

    • Cut off fronds with mature spores
    • put on a piece of paper and leave in a warm place for two days
    • fill a flat container with growing substrate
    • moisten this well
    • Spread spores on it
    • Cover the container with plastic foil or something similar
    • put in a dry and warm place
    • Always keep the substrate slightly moist
    • air daily to avoid mold growth

    After about three months - if it worked - a greenish coating appears on the substrate surface. This is not mold, but the seedlings of the fern. However, they are only recognizable as such after a few more months.


    In winter, there are no special care instructions for most species, with the exception of humidity. The air is particularly dry during the heating period, which is why you should counteract this with an air humidifier or something similar.

    diseases and pests

    When it comes to diseases and pests, indoor ferns are quite hardy provided they are properly cared for. Annoying leaf suckers such as spider mites, scale insects and aphids usually only appear when the plant is too dry.


    Many room ferns can be kept very well in hydroponics, so that the maintenance effort is reduced even further.

    species and varieties

    Indoor ferns are decorative and - with the right care - long-lived indoor plants. We present the most beautiful types for living rooms and Co. at this point.

    (Hanging) sword fern

    The sword fern has been cultivated for a very long time: the fern, originally native to the tropical regions of Africa, South America and Asia, has been very popular in the house and garden for 200 years. This is not a single species, but a genus comprising around 30 different species, which in turn are added to the sword fern family (bot. Nephrolepidaceae). The well-known upright sword fern (bot. Nephrolepis exaltata), which is extremely decorative with its feathery, light green leaves up to 150 centimeters long, is particularly suitable for the room. The fronds grow - depending on the variety - upright to slightly overhanging, can be curly, wavy or even twisted. Also common is the cord-leaved sword fern (bot. Nephrolepis cordifolia), which has smoother leaflets. Both types come into their own as impressive solitaires in hanging baskets or on plant pillars.

    maidenhair fern

    The maidenhair fern (bot. Adiantum raddianum) has a filigree and graceful appearance, to which the countless fresh green and very fine leaves on the thin, shiny and black-brown petioles contribute significantly. The feather fronds, which initially grow upright and later overhang, can grow up to 50 centimeters long and simply let water roll off. Maidenhair ferns are found all over the world, some species are even at home in the Alps. However, the varieties cultivated as indoor ferns are all of tropical origin and therefore not hardy. This plant feels most comfortable in a bright bathroom due to the high humidity.

    antler fern

    The bizarre-looking staghorn fern (bot. Platycerium) lives up to its name: the green leaves, which can be up to one meter long, branch out over the years like a deer's antlers. The spore capsules located on the underside form large, dark brown and conspicuous areas that are characteristic of the species. In addition, the staghorn fern develops so-called mantle leaves, which turn brown and die off after a while. The staghorn fern is at home in almost all tropical forests in the world, where it grows epiphytically (i.e. perched) on the trunks or branch forks of the jungle giants. In the living room, the attractive plant is particularly effective in hanging baskets and, thanks to the waxy surface of the leaves, also feels at home in dry room air. These protect the plant from drying out. For this reason, the staghorn fern should not be sprayed like other indoor ferns. Instead, immerse it in lukewarm water once a week for about a quarter of an hour.

    button fern

    At first glance, the button fern (bot. Pellaea rotundifolia), also known as the Pellefarn, does not look like a fern at all: where one would expect filigree fronds, the species belonging to the fur fern family (bot. Sinopteridaceae) has thick, leathery and shiny leaflets. These are reddish in color when they sprout and are attached to the fronds, which are only up to 20 centimeters long, dark and tend to creep. The button fern also differs from other indoor ferns in its other properties: It needs a comparatively bright location, only needs to be watered a little and is quite insensitive to dry room air and normal tap water.

    nest fern

    The elegant nest fern (bot. (Aspenium nidus) has leaf fronds that are up to 100 centimeters long and 15 centimeters wide, all of which grow from a central vegetation point and form a funnel-like rosette in the middle - the "nest". The glossy leaves are undivided and mostly decoratively wavy. The advantage of the nest fern lies not only in its pretty appearance, but also in the fact that it can cope with very little light. This means that the plant is also suitable for dark locations, but it needs a warm place all year round with temperatures of at least 18 degrees Celsius and high humidity. In addition, the nest fern has a high water requirement and should not only be watered regularly, but also occasionally. Use low-lime water such as rainwater or filtered tap water for this purpose.

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