Types of Ferns You Can Keep Indoor

Ferns bring a touch of nature indoors, freshening the air and adding lush greenery to living spaces. As houseplants, they offer both aesthetic and health benefits, such as reducing stress and improving humidity. Ferns are adaptable and can thrive in indoor environments, making them popular choices for those wanting to create a calming and natural ambiance in their homes.

types of indoor ferns

Indoor ferns are plants with feathery leaves that grow well inside our homes. These plants are popular because they add a touch of greenery and nature to indoor spaces. Ferns help clean the air we breathe and can bring calmness to our surroundings.

They come in various shapes and sizes, making them perfect for decorating our living areas. Because of their love for shade and moisture, ferns are great for rooms that don’t get a lot of sunlight. People enjoy having ferns indoors also because of their low maintenance needs, which makes them easy to care for.

Ferns bring the beauty of the outdoors inside and often become stunning focal points in home décor.

What are the 16 Types of Indoor Ferns?

Indoor ferns are types of ferns that you can grow inside your home. These plants love the shade and enjoy moist, humid conditions, similar to a rainforest. People often choose ferns as houseplants because they have lush, green fronds that can really spruce up a room. Here are 16 types of ferns that are great for keeping indoors:

1. Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata)

The Boston Fern is a lush, leafy houseplant with long, graceful fronds that droop over the side of its pot. The leaves, called fronds, are green and feathery, giving the plant a soft, full look. It’s a popular choice for indoor greenery because it helps purify the air and doesn’t need bright sunlight to thrive.

When you care for a Boston Fern, you should keep the soil moist and make sure it lives in a place with high humidity, like a bathroom. This fern likes to be in indirect light, away from harsh sun that could burn its leaves.

2. Staghorn Fern (Platycerium spp.)

The Staghorn Fern is a unique houseplant that brings a bit of the jungle indoors. It gets its name from the way its leaves, or fronds, look like the antlers of a stag, or male deer. Unlike many ferns that grow in soil, Staghorn Ferns naturally cling to tree trunks or rocks. For this reason, they are often mounted on wood or hung in baskets at home.

These ferns enjoy indirect light and need good air circulation to thrive. They have two types of fronds: the shield fronds, which lay flat and cover the roots, and the fertile fronds, which are the antler-like parts.

3. Maidenhair Fern

The Maidenhair Fern is a delicate and elegant houseplant known for its soft, lacy leaves. Its leaves are small and fan-shaped, attached to thin black stems that look like hair, which is how it got its name.

This fern thrives in moist environments and does well indoors when given the right care. It loves indirect light and a bit of humidity, making it perfect for brightening up a bathroom or a kitchen.

4. Button Fern (Pellaea Rotundifolia)

The Button Fern is a small, attractive plant that thrives indoors. Its round, button-like leaves give it its name and make it a unique fern to add to your indoor garden. This fern prefers shady spots and doesn’t need much sunlight, making it perfect for rooms with less natural light.

It is also quite tough and can handle drier air than many other ferns, though it still enjoys some humidity. When you water the Button Fern, it’s important to let the soil dry out a bit in between waterings. 

5. Silver Brake Fern (Pteris Argyraea)

The Silver Brake Fern, scientifically known as Pteris argyraea, is a type of fern that people often keep indoors. This fern is known for its attractive foliage, which includes green fronds with unique silver or white markings down the center. It grows well in pots and prefers shaded areas, making it ideal for indoor environments that don’t get a lot of direct sunlight.

This fern can add a touch of elegance to a room because of its decorative leaves. To keep a Silver Brake Fern healthy indoors, it needs moist soil and regular misting to maintain high humidity around it.

6. Crocodile Fern (Microsorum musifolium)

The Crocodile Fern, also known by its scientific name Microsorum musifolium, is a type of fern that stands out because of its pattern. The green leaves have a bumpy texture that looks like crocodile skin, which is how it gets its name. This fern prefers to grow in areas with lots of moisture and doesn’t like bright, direct sunlight.

It can fill your indoor space with a touch of the exotic, thanks to its unique appearance. The Crocodile Fern is a natural air purifier, and it loves environments that mimic the humid, shady conditions of its natural rainforest home.

7. Bird’s Nest Fern (Asplenium nidus)

The Bird’s Nest Fern is a type of indoor plant with wide, rippled leaves that unfurl from a central point, resembling a bird’s nest. This fern loves humid environments, making it perfect for bathrooms where showers create moisture in the air. The leaves of the Bird’s Nest Fern are bright green and grow in a shape that forms a natural cup.

This cup sometimes catches debris in the wild, giving the plant its nest-like appearance. Its leaves can reach impressive lengths when cared for properly indoors. Unlike some other ferns, this one does not need a lot of direct sunlight and does well in low-light areas.

8. Kangaroo Paw Fern (Microsorum diversifolium)

The Kangaroo Paw Fern is a type of fern that thrives indoors with the right care. This fern has broad, green leaves with a unique shape that some say look like a kangaroo’s paw, hence its name.

The Kangaroo Paw Fern is known for being tough, which means it can handle less-than-perfect conditions better than some other ferns. It enjoys low to medium light and needs to stay moist without being waterlogged.

9. Japanese Painted Fern (Athyrium niponicum)

The Japanese Painted Fern is a type of fern known for its eye-catching leaves. Its leaves have shades of silver, blue, and green, similar to a painting. This beauty makes it a popular choice for growing indoors. Unlike some other ferns, this one isn’t too big. It’s just the right size for keeping in a pot inside your home.

10. Western Sword Fern

The Western Sword Fern, also known by its scientific name Polystichum munitum, is a type of fern native to western North America. It’s named for its long, straight leaves that look like swords. This fern grows well indoors with the right care.

It prefers shady spots and moist soil, making it a good houseplant for areas that don’t get a lot of sunlight. Its dark green, sword-shaped leaves provide a lush, forest-like feel to any room.

11. Lip Ferns (Cheilanthes)

Lip ferns belong to the Cheilanthes genus, which includes many varieties of ferns that thrive in dry and tough conditions. Unlike many other fern species that prefer damp environments, lip ferns can survive in areas with less moisture. They are small ferns with delicate, finely divided leaves that often have a waxy coating to help retain water.

People like to grow them indoors because they are relatively easy to care for and can tolerate the drier air of homes better than some other ferns. These ferns usually feature fronds that curl slightly at the edges, resembling a lip, which is how they get their common name.

12. Ostrich Fern

The Ostrich Fern is a plant that thrives in moist, shady environments. It gets its name because its fronds – which are the large, feather-like leaves – resemble ostrich feathers. The fronds grow in a clump that looks like a fountain of green plumes. This type of fern can get quite tall indoors, sometimes reaching up to six feet.

It’s favored for the lush, dramatic look it adds to indoor spaces. However, it is not just its appearance that makes it popular; it’s also known for being more tolerant of dry air than some other ferns, though it still prefers a humid environment.

Care for the Ostrich Fern by keeping the soil consistently moist and placing it in a spot where it won’t get direct sunlight, which can dry out its fronds.

13. Blue Star Fern (Phlebodium aureum)

The Blue Star Fern is a type of houseplant known for its unique blue-green fronds. Unlike other ferns that may have delicate, lacey leaves, the Blue Star Fern has broader, leathery leaves that can handle less humidity. This makes it a more forgiving choice for indoor environments.

It grows naturally on tree trunks in rainforests, which is why it thrives in indirect light and does not need a lot of direct sunlight to be happy. Because of its sturdy nature and tolerance for different environments, the Blue Star Fern is a popular choice for people wanting to add some greenery to their home without needing a green thumb.

14. Rabbit’s Foot Fern (Humata tyermanni)

The Rabbit’s Foot Fern is a type of houseplant known for its unusual, furry rhizomes that resemble rabbit’s feet. These rhizomes often grow over the pot’s edge, making the plant look unique. The Rabbit’s Foot Fern needs indirect light to grow well inside and prefers moist, but not soaking wet, soil. It thrives in a humid environment, which is similar to its natural tropical habitat.

Because of its non-toxic nature, it’s also safe for homes with pets. This fern’s delicate, feathery leaves add a soft texture to the indoor garden and are loved for their ability to bring a piece of nature into the home.

15. Asparagus Fern

The Asparagus Fern, which isn’t a true fern, is a bushy plant with needle-like leaves. Its scientific name is Asparagus setaceus. This plant is loved for its feathery, light green foliage that adds a soft texture to indoor spaces.

Despite its name, it’s more closely related to the asparagus plant we might eat. It has a delicate appearance, with long, thin stems that can grow quite long if the plant is given enough care. Asparagus Ferns are popular because they are relatively easy to care for and can thrive indoors with the right conditions. Keep them in a spot with bright, indirect light, and don’t let them dry out.

16. Silver Lace Fern

The Silver Lace Fern, also known as Pteris ensiformis ‘Evergemiensis,’ is a type of fern with unique features. It has delicate leaves that often have a silvery-white center and green edges, creating a lace-like appearance.

This fern prefers warm and humid conditions, making it a good plant for keeping indoors. The Silver Lace Fern doesn’t grow very tall, so it fits well on shelves or desks. It thrives in indirect sunlight and needs regular watering to keep the soil moist.

What is the Best Way to Care for Ferns Indoor?

Caring for indoor ferns means giving them the right amount of light, water, and nutrients they need to grow. Indoor ferns prefer spaces that aren’t too bright, so a spot with filtered light is ideal. They love moisture, so you should water them enough to keep their soil damp but not soggy.

Humidity is also their friend, so they enjoy a good misting or being placed in a naturally humid room like a bathroom. The soil for ferns should drain well but also hold some moisture; a mix with peat moss often works well. Feeding ferns with a gentle fertilizer during growing season helps them stay lush.

Keeping ferns clean by removing dead leaves and providing air circulation prevents diseases. If pests like spider mites show up, it’s essential to deal with them promptly.

Lighting Needs

Indoor ferns need the right kind and amount of light to grow well. They do best in bright, indirect sunlight. This means they like light but not the strong sun that comes straight through a window. Direct sunlight can burn their leaves, leaving brown spots. If the room is too dark, the ferns might not grow as they should.

Mostly, a spot near a north or east-facing window works well for these plants. For ferns in rooms with low light, artificial grow lights can help. Ensure the light is not too close to the fern to prevent leaf burn. Ferns are flexible and can adjust to different light conditions, but it’s important to find a balance for them to thrive.

Watering and Humidity

Indoor ferns need the right amount of water and moist air to stay healthy. Too much or too little water can hurt them. To water your ferns correctly, you should:

  • Check the top inch of soil; if it’s dry, it’s time to water.
  • Give enough water to make the soil moist but avoid making it soggy.
  • Usually, watering once a week works, but you may need to water more often if the air in your home is dry.

Keeping the air around your ferns moist is essential. You can do this by:

  • Using a spray bottle to mist your ferns a few times a week.
  • Placing your fern’s pot on a tray filled with pebbles and water, making sure the pot doesn’t sit directly in water.
  • Running a humidifier in the room if the air is very dry.

Soil and Fertilization

Indoor ferns need special soil and food to grow well. They thrive in soil that holds moisture but also lets air reach their roots. Therefore, a mix that contains peat moss and perlite or vermiculite is ideal, as it provides the right balance.

For fertilization, ferns do not need much, but a small amount of a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer every month during the growing season can help them stay green and healthy. It’s important not to overfeed them, as too much fertilizer can hurt their delicate roots.

Keep the soil lightly moist, and make sure pots have holes for extra water to escape to prevent root rot.

Pruning and Cleaning

Pruning is cutting off parts of a fern that are not needed or are dead. Cleaning ferns means removing any dirt or dust that might collect on their leaves. Both of these steps help ferns stay healthy and look nice. When you prune, you should:

  • Use clean, sharp scissors or pruning shears.
  • Cut away any brown, yellow, or damaged fronds at the base.
  • Remove any leaves that are crowding each other too much.

For cleaning, you can:

  • Gently dust the leaves with a soft brush.
  • Wipe them with a damp cloth if they are very dirty.

Pest Management

Pest management is about keeping harmful bugs away from your indoor ferns. These bugs, or pests, can damage or even kill plants if not controlled. Some common pests that like to live on indoor ferns include:

  • Spider mites, which are tiny spiders that suck the sap from fern leaves.
  • Mealybugs, which look like small bits of cotton and also suck plant juices.
  • Scale insects, which stick to leaves and stems and can be hard to spot.

To prevent these pests, keep your ferns clean and check them often for bugs. If you find pests, you can use soapy water or insecticidal soap to treat the infestation. Always follow the directions on the product.

What are the Best Ways to Display Ferns Indoors?

Displaying ferns indoors means putting them in a place where they look nice and can grow well. Since ferns come in many shapes and sizes, people have different options for showing them off inside their homes. For example, hanging baskets are popular because they let ferns spill their leaves down in an eye-catching way.

Terrariums are like little glass houses that can protect more delicate ferns and add a touch of green to any room. Picking the right decorative pots and planters is important too, as they can enhance the natural beauty of the ferns.

Being creative with how you display ferns can make your home look unique, such as using unconventional items to hold the plants or putting ferns in unexpected spots.

Hanging Baskets

Hanging baskets are containers used to hold plants off the ground. They let ferns spill over the sides, creating a green, cascading effect. This type of display is popular because it uses vertical space, which is great when floor space is limited. Hanging baskets also allow ferns to get more air circulation around them, which can help keep them healthy.

They add a touch of nature to any room and can bring a calming feel to your indoor space. Plus, hanging ferns can be moved easily, giving you a chance to change your decor whenever you like.


A terrarium is like a small indoor garden inside a glass container. To add ferns to a terrarium, you’ll need to:

  • Choose a clear glass container that’s big enough for the ferns to grow.
  • Put a layer of rocks or gravel at the bottom for drainage.
  • Add a layer of activated charcoal to keep the water fresh.
  • Top this with a layer of terrarium soil, which is different from regular potting soil.
  • Plant your fern in the soil, making sure it has room to spread.

Water it carefully, put the container in a spot that gets indirect light, and watch your fern thrive in its little glass home.

Decorative Pots and Planters

When you pick a pot or planter for your fern, think of it as a frame for a picture. Just like the right frame makes a painting look even better, the right pot can make your fern look wonderful. When choosing one, consider these points:

  • Size: Make sure the pot is big enough for the fern to grow but not so large that it overwhelms the plant.
  • Material: Clay pots let roots breathe well, but plastic pots hold more moisture which ferns like.
  • Drainage: Ferns don’t like soggy soil, so pick a pot with holes in the bottom.
  • Style: Choose a pot that fits well with your room’s decor.

Unconventional Displays:

Unconventional displays for ferns are creative ways to show off these plants beyond the usual pots and shelves. These methods make ferns stand out in your home decor.

For example, you might put ferns in frames and hang them as living pictures on your walls. Another idea is to use old items, like a teacup or a bookcase, as unique plant holders.

Sometimes, people even place ferns under glass domes to create a mini greenhouse effect. These displays turn ordinary ferns into eye-catching centerpieces, giving your indoors a touch of nature’s uniqueness.

Ferns   Updated: November 20, 2023
avatar Hi, I'm Amy, a devoted horticulturist and the creator of PlantIndex.com, where I use my expertise to help beginners foster their green thumbs. My blog is a vibrant community where I unravel the complexities of gardening and share my profound love for nature.
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