There are many varieties of ferns on the market, but the top-performing outdoor ferns are often not the same as the top indoor ferns, due to their size and growing needs. Indoors, ferns thrive in bright light but in positions out of direct sun. Many also enjoy high humidity, which is why they are often to be found in well-lit bathrooms or in kitchens. They can also be grown in terrariums while the ferns are small and compact.

In dry indoor areas with low humidity, ferns appreciate regular misting with water to increase the humidity around their fronds. Water ferns regularly and apply a dilute fertiliser (at half the recommended rate) occasionally during the warmer months of the year. Ferns don’t cope well with over fertilising which can lead to die back.

Avoid placing ferns where they are in any form of draught, especially from a heater or air-conditioner.

Pests that can affect ferns include mealy bug, scale, two-spotted mite and fungus gnat.


Top indoor ferns

Our top choices for indoor ferns include the following. We think you'll love them, too!


Maidenhair fern (Adiantum)

This is one of the very best on Flower Power's list of top indoor ferns. Make sure it has bright light and is regularly misted. Don’t allow this plant to dry out. It can be grown in a pot or hanging basket. If the plant does dry out and develop dead fronds, cut it back, soak it in water to rehydrate the potting mix, then allow to drain. Watch for new fronds to appear.

Boston fern (Nephrolepis)

There are many varieties of this popular indoor fern which is very tolerant of a wide range of indoor conditions. For best results, grow in a basket or pot in a brightly lit spot. Water regularly, mist occasionally and remove dead fronds.

Bird’s nest fern (Asplenium)

These ferns grow naturally in humid rainforest areas. While they can be grown indoors, they do require very bright light (but not direct sun). Where light levels are too low, these ferns can be attacked by pests including mealy bug. Full sun can burn the dark green leaves. To keep the large nest of leaves healthy, wipe them regularly to remove dust and mist occasionally when conditions are dry.

Blue star fern (Phlebodium)

One of the tougher varieties on Flower Power's top indoor ferns list, blue star fern can tolerate low humidity provided it has bright light. The fronds are tough and strong. Pot into a very well-drained potting mix. It needs to be regularly watered, but don’t allow this fern to become waterlogged.

Button fern (Pellaea)

This is a very pretty Australian native fern to grow indoors. It enjoys a humid, well-lit spot such as a bathroom. Mist occasionally. Allow to drain well after watering.

Hare’s foot fern (Davallia)

This native fern is another tough choice for indoors. It can tolerate low humidity provided it has bright light. The fronds are tough and strong. Pot into a very well-drained potting mix with room in the container for the fern to spread with its furry rhizome, which gives it the common name of hare’s foot. Provide regular water but don’t allow this fern to become waterlogged.

Holly fern (Cyrtomium)

This pretty fern with its holly-like fronds grows well indoors. It enjoys a well-lit spot. Mist occasionally and keep the fronds clean. Allow the pot to drain well after watering and don't allow the potting mix to become soggy.

Crocodile fern (Microsorum)

This is a slow-growing fern with tough, almost scale-like leaves (think crocodile skin). It enjoys bright light and humidity with regular water. Allow the pot to drain after watering, but don’t let the potting mix dry out. Don’t allow to sit in a cold spot during winter.

Autumn fern (Dryopteris)

Make sure this fern has bright light but not direct sunlight and is regularly misted. Don’t allow it to dry out. It can be grown in a pot or hanging basket and thrives in humid bathrooms and kitchens.

Staghorns and elkhorns (Platycerium)

Traditionally, staghorn and elkhorn ferns are grown outside attached to a backing board under a shaded tree. They are epiphytes that do particularly well in tropical and subtropical gardens. Indoors, they also require support in the form of a frame or board that is then mounted on a wall. Secure to the board with stretchable plant ties. If they are growing in a pot, remember these are epiphytes (air plants) so use a very well-drained mix such as an orchid potting mix. Mist regularly and fertilise occasionally with diluted liquid plant food (half the recommended rate). To thoroughly water, take the fern down from its wall mounted position and water in a sink or bath, then allow to drain before replacing. Keep these ferns in a very bright spot, but not in direct sunlight.