How Often Should You Water Ferns

How Often To Water Ferns Indoors and Outside?

Ferns are a diverse collection of attractive and unusual plants that grow in a variety of ways and need varying amounts of water. To prevent adverse consequences, you must understand the frequency of watering and the quantity of water used.

Ferns need weekly watering. Watering may range between 1-2 litres (for ferns growing outdoors) and 0.5 gallons. Or even less for potted ferns cultivated inside. Water an indoor fern once every ten days with as mush as 1 gallon of water.

Ferns need irrigation no more often than one time each 10-14 days in clay soil. To detect whether a fern needs watering, examine the soil moisture level; if the top layer has begun to dry out like 0.5 inches, the plant requires watering.

Indeed, the frequency of watering is determined by a variety of variables, which will be discussed in this article.


Quantity and Frequency

In vegetable garden soil (outdoors)

In the absence of rain, water once a week. The quantity of water required is between 1-2 gallons, according to the plant’s size.

Within pots (indoors)

Once every 5-10 days, water. If the air is very dry, more regular watering may be necessary. Water should be added in sufficient quantity to moisten the soil in the container.

Soils Made of Clay

You must establish drainage under the fern in clay soil and water no more than one time per 14 days ( but if no rain).

Soils That Drain Easily

Sandy, rapidly draining soils are unsuitable for growing ferns. Water once every seven to ten days, or more often if necessary.

Indoor irrigation

Indoor fern cultivation is a common activity. Watering is different in this case since the room’s humidity is often lower, as well as your fern is known to thrive at low humidity.

When temperatures exceed 75 degrees Fahrenheit (23 degrees Celsius), the fern needs more regular watering, even more so if it is placed in tiny pots. Certain fern species need regular irrigation under these circumstances.

Frequent watering is necessary because the plant loses too much fluid in dry circumstances. Making the air wetter makes sense in this situation.

You may use a humidifier to provide moisture to the air around the fern. Additionally, the proper remedy would be to water the leaves at least one time a day. Some individuals accomplish the same effect by placing a fern in the bathroom.

If the humidity level hits 60%, you may cut down on watering. Certain plants need watering every 10 days if grown in big containers.

The quantity of water used will vary. For smaller pots, 0.25 gallons and even less will suffice. Watering may be increased to a half-gallon or even more for big plants.

It is ideal to thoroughly wet all of the roots in the container, however, the soil must not be waterlogged, but just damp.

To determine if your fern needs watering, insert your finger into the soil as well as when it is more than 0.5 inches dry, the plant requires watering.

Additionally, you may inspect the pot’s weight and the soil’s color. A container filled with dry soil is quite lighter than one filled with moist dirt. Additionally, dry soil is paler in color than wet soil.

Certain fern species can tolerate brief droughts (less than a few days) and often need less watering.

Following that, we will discuss the many types of ferns and I will quickly describe their water needs.

Fern of Boston

This fern is very resilient and can withstand quite high levels of light. However, it will need more moisture under these circumstances.

If you place it in indirect sunlight (a few feet away from a window) inside, the plant is going to evaporate less moisture and will need watering each 7-10 days, according to the size of the container.

Although the plant can withstand a certain level of humidity, the soil should constantly be somewhat wet around it.

Asparagus (foxtail) fern

Due to the narrow leaves of this fern, it evaporates less water. This implies it requires less watering than other ferns.

But, when the air is dry, this plant may need additional watering.

Staghorn fern

The staghorn fern is a rare fern with wide leaves and a compact root structure. A popular method to grow is on a wall-mounted board. As a substrate, moss is utilized.

In a room with dry air, the moss dries out fast and must be moistened regularly. Moss should never be allowed to dry out.

If the weather is not too hot and the humidity is sufficient, the substrate won’t dry out fast and will need weekly watering.

Regular watering of ferns is also an excellent option.

Maidenhair fern

The maidenhair fern has tiny leaves, but a great number of them. Watering this fern is similar to that of the majority of others.

Water plants once every 7-10 days on average, but if they are growing in tiny pots or in a dry climate, the frequency of watering may be increased to once each 3-5 days. It is good.

Birds nest fern

Bird’s nest fern prefers high humidity, so keep a humidifier close by.

In a humid climate, the plant may survive without water for up to one week. Additionally, it can withstand brief droughts but does not allow the soil to dry out more than 1 inch.

Lemon button fern

Lemon button fern prefers substantial watering on a regular basis. This is particularly true if it is grown in tiny containers.

Kimberly queen fern

Kimberly queen ferns need regular weekly watering, but you should maintain the soil in the container wet at all times.

Watering on the outside

Watering ferns from the outside are very different from watering them from the inside.

To begin, these plants need irrigation for an average of 6-8 days in the absence of rain. Watering will need between 1-2 gallons, according to the size and soil type of the plant.

Following that, we will discuss the irrigation requirements for various growth situations.


Ferns need the most water during dry and hot weather. If seven days have passed without rain, it is time to water your plants. You will be good.

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As I said before, the quantity of water required by each plant will vary. One or two liters of water is typically plenty, but you may add a bit extra if the bush is very large.

You want to keep the soil wet, but not to create a swamp. We shall discuss how to water properly below.

Water the fern less often when the temperature is below 60 ° F (15 ° C) since the plant does not evaporate as much moisture. Provide water only while the topsoil is completely dry (1 inch).

Watering is generally not required in overcast weather with minimal rainfall. However, you should continue to monitor the soil moisture level. If the rain has not completely saturated the ground, you may gently wet it.

Type of soil

Other areas of the globe have a variety of soil types, and plants will have adapted to the soil differently. All of these soils, however, may be classified into two types: fast-draining and slow-draining.

Rapidly draining soils are mostly composed of sand or tiny stones. Water is poorly retained on such terrain, and it dries rapidly during drought.

This is beneficial for certain plants, but not for ferns. As a result, if your garden has comparable soil, you will need to water it considerably more often. You may need to water every two days during dry weather. Water capacity is three gallons.

To assess more accurately if the fern needs watering, check to see whether the soil is dry; if it is, then provide water to the plant.

To prevent repeated watering, you may improve the moisture retention of your soil. This may be accomplished by amending sandy soil with compost.

Slowly drained soils are often rich in clay, a substance with a high water holding capacity.

The fern should be watered sparingly in such soil. In times of drought, it may occur once every seven to ten days. When the sky is overcast but there is no rain, watering will be needed every two weeks.

Soils that hold a great deal of moisture are not ideal for growing ferns. Compost or other organic matter should be added to it to enhance it. These components will help to loosen and permeate the clay soil.

How to irrigate

Now I will explain how to properly water it and when it is best to do so.

The optimal moment

As is the case with most plants, the optimal time to water your fern is actually in the morning, and before the light becomes sufficiently bright.

Watering at the start of the day is preferable since the water can have time to soak into the soil before the noon heat.

The second benefit is that the water evaporates throughout the day, which is ideal for ferns, which thrive in high humidity.

In fact, watering in the evening actually is not the greatest practice since plants do not lose moisture throughout the night and therefore will not require much water. While fungus and bacteria may thrive throughout this time period.

Water volume

The quantity of water required to water an outdoor fern varies between 0.5 and 3 gallons each watering.

If the yard’s soil is sandy and the fern bush is large, the plant needs to be kept wet (at least two gallons of water). When the heat is excessive, the quantity of water may be increased to three gallons.

Half a gallon of water is typically plenty for compact ferns which grow in clay soil.


Watering is best accomplished using a hose equipped with a sprayer. Top-dress the fern with water to keep the leaves wet.

It is OK if some water leaks. In this scenario, the air around the plant will be more humid.

I suggest two phases of watering. The first step involves dumping a third of the water and soaking the soil’s top layer.

After a few moments, pour the remainder of the water. In this scenario, the earth will absorb more water. This is particularly true during the summer heat, while the surface rapidly dries and becomes a hard crust.

Install drip irrigation if feasible. In this scenario, the water will constantly moisten the plant, eliminating the need to spend time and worry about the plant drying out.

The critical point is to correctly regulate the watering so that the plant does not get excessive moisture.

Watering Instructions for Ferns

  • Avoid watering your ferns from above, as this may cause rainwater to spill onto the foliage. Rather than that, direct the water you feed your ferns upward toward the earth above their roots. It will flow down into this root zone well, where it may be absorbed and used by your ferns. Due to the fact that these plants can only receive water from the soil through their root network, any that escapes the earth and ends up on their leaves is squandered.
  • While water droplets that fall on foliage will ultimately evaporate, they represent a threat to the health of the ferns while they do. The sun may raise the temperature of the water to the point that it burns your ferns’ leaves, resulting in sunscald damage. Additionally, the additional moisture adds to excessively damp circumstances, which increases the chance of your plants contracting certain diseases such as root rot and other fungal infections.
  • The exception to the above guideline is when spraying a fern increase the humidity level in its surroundings. Misting your fern’s leaves replicates the circumstances seen in the tropics, where fern plants originated. Another option is to install a humidifier well in the room where the indoor ferns are growing. Ferns may exhibit a need for more humidity by developing brown discoloration at the tips of their leaves, or whole regions may perish. Boston ferns, maidenhair ferns, and staghorn ferns are particularly vulnerable to harm when their environment is dry. Holly ferns need less humidity than other fern species.
  • The natural environment of a fern has 70% humidity, while the contemporary household, where a fern may be maintained as a houseplant, often contains less than 5% or 10% humidity. When a room humidifier is used, the humidity level in the room is increased to between 30% and 50%. This is actually the lowest humidity level at which ferns can remain healthy and thrive. Although the plants may sometimes survive at lower humidity levels, they need between 30% and 50% to thrive.
  • Spots on the leaves of misted ferns are possible if you use cold water. And water given to plants should always be at room temperature (whether it be watering near the plant’s roots or spraying the plant’s leaves with a spray bottle to enhance humidity).
  • If temperatures in your region exceed 75 degrees Fahrenheit, or even when your ferns are kept inside, or if the space in which they are housed becomes warmer than this, your plants will need more watering. Not only is more water required to keep your plants cool, but you will also lose more water in the soil owing to evaporation as a result of the higher temperature. You should know it.
  • If your ferns will be exposed to temperatures below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, and they will need less water until the temperature rises again. Give them moisture just when the soil surface on which they are growing is dry. (Do not rely only on eye inspection; physically touch the dirt to be certain.)
  • Recognize the indications of underwatering and overwatering so that when your plants exhibit symptoms, you can intervene and modify your hydration regimen appropriately. Ferns that get an excessive amount of water may develop yellowed leaves, withering, or, in the long run, root issues or fungal infections. Watering your ferns insufficiently will lead them to wilt. Boston ferns are particularly prone to leaf drop when plants do not get sufficient water. Since both underwatering and overwatering may result in wilting, it is necessary to distinguish between the two by monitoring the soil moisture level. If withering occurs when the plant still has moisture accessible in the soil, it should be the result of overwatering.
  • If you are having difficulty keeping your ferns well-hydrated, try adding a second pot to provide additional moisture. Locate a container to put underneath the one in which the plant is potted.
  • Fill the bottom container thoroughly with wet sphagnum moss. You will want to maintain this moss equally wet at all times since it will be the source of water for your plant.
  • For the bottom container, plastic pots are the finest choice. However, you may use a clay pot to hold the fern—as long as the container it is contained in is plastic. The porous quality of the clay will help the plant since moisture from the moss inside the plastic pot can permeate the clay pot’s surface and reach the soil where your fern grows.
  • The rabbit is foot fern (Phlebodium aureum), often known as the ball fern, is sensitive to salt in its soil or water source. This is why it is critical to water rabbit is foot ferns with soft water.
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Appropriately watering freshly planted ferns

In fact, after planting your ferns, the watering schedule will be altered.

Whatever kind of fern is planted, it is always necessary to maintain the soil surrounding the plant wet. Even though this fern is capable of surviving a brief drought, it should get enough moisture at first.

Water as frequently as necessary to maintain a modest moisture level in the soil. In times of drought, it may even be twice daily. Simply monitor the soil moisture level and add water as necessary.

You should follow this watering regimen for the first 5-7 weeks after planting. Once the fern establishes itself, you may resume your normal watering schedule.

Additionally, I suggest sheltering the fern for a few weeks with a net or similar structure (umbrella) to mitigate the sun’s impact on the plant.

Additionally, you may ease the rooting conditions by watering the fern at least once a day.

A fern that has been overwatered

While the fern thrives on wetness, too much water may be detrimental to the plant.

With excessive wetness, the roots and crown of the plant may rot, causing the leaves to become yellow. If you do not address the issue promptly, you risk losing the plant.

Pouring the fern by hand is not simple; you must water often and with lots of water. I do not, however, advocate exceeding the watering guidelines outlined in this post.

While a little excess is acceptable, it is best to adhere to the guidelines. Additionally, avoid watering the fern during the rainy season.

Ferns also do not need irrigation throughout the winter. An exception could be a region that experiences winter drought. In this scenario, periodically water the soil around your plant. It is good.

Overwatering happens most often after heavy rains. If your region receives a lot of rain, attempt to channel water away from the fern’s growing area by constructing a drainage trench.

If the soil in your region is mostly clay, provide drainage underneath the plant. Pour stones or expanded clay into the bottom of your planting hole before planting. Water can drain under the root level in this scenario.

Another frequent source of overwatering is incorrectly designed automated irrigation. In this scenario, irrigation may be activated too often, there may be an excessive amount of water, or irrigation may be activated the day following rain.

To resolve the issue, properly configure the automated watering controller.

If the fern has been harmed by excessive watering, dig it up and remove it from the soil. Remove any decaying tissue and thoroughly clean the wound using a fungicide solution.

Place the fern in a container filled with sterile soil and cover it. It should be watered sparingly. Recovery may take up to a year.

Water scarcity

Another issue that may arise while cultivating ferns is underwatering. Plants’ leaves begin to wither as well as lose their vibrant green hue.

If you observe similar symptoms, you should check the soil moisture level and, if required, water the plant.

Underwatering is a common occurrence during droughts. You may not have watered on time, or, more often, you may have watered however the soil is not fully moist.

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Always check the soil moisture level after and before watering to determine the precise amount of water the plant need. Avoid allowing the earth to dry out more than a half-inch.

When you still did not provide enough water to the fern but misted it in time, the plant may be preserved. Simply water it several times daily to keep the soil wet. Simultaneously, use a little quantity of water to avoid the development of a swamp.

After one or two days of this kind of watering, the plant will begin to grow. Remove withered leaves and shoots. The plant will recover in a few months.

Additionally, to prevent submerging the fern, I suggest mulching it with high-quality materials. This is best accomplished with chopped pine bark or compost. Purchase mulch from reputable producers only.

Inappropriate Watering

It is very simple to master the delicate art of proper irrigation. You are now aware of what to do.

To be safe in case you do anything improperly, here are some of the issues you should be aware of when you water wrongly.

Water that has stagnated

If you overwater, your ferns will quickly get submerged in a pot of water. When you do not dump this away, the water in the soil will be unable to drain properly, resulting in water plugging of the root system.

This issue is simply resolved. All you have to do is empty the container 1.5 hours after watering.

The water in the pot will continue to drip into the saucer if it is still moist. As a result, you may need to pour it out a second time.

With practice, you will quickly reach a point when the pot only has to be emptied once.

The rot of the Roots

Root rot is a direct consequence of excessive irrigation or flooded soil. As a result of being encased in moist soil, the roots become unable to breathe and begin to die and rot. This is soon followed by the death of the plant’s upper parts.

  • Remove the plant from its container if you think root rot has begun.
  • Allow the excess moisture to drain onto a piece of newspaper and then scrape away any remaining damp dirt around the roots.
  • Rotten roots are dark and mushy in texture. They may be removed and discarded.
  • Repot the plant in new potting soil as well as hang it in a bright spot away from direct sunlight.
  • Continue not to water till the top of the soil will dry to the touch. When planting into fresh potting soil, it should be wet and likely to stay moist for many days.

Brown Leaf Branches

Brown leaf tips and drooping leaves indicate a too dry fern. The plant has a sad, withered appearance that is easily identifiable. Additionally, the leaves have a brittle feel.

If this situation is not corrected quickly, the ferns will begin to drop their leaves and eventually die. As with regular watering, soak your fern as well as let the excess water run away.

Make no mistake, adding more water will not compensate for the underwatering.

While the fern is likely to recover, the brown tips are not likely to do so. These portions have perished and may be removed using scissors.

Common Errors

Overwatering is almost usually the most frequent issue encountered by those unfamiliar with fern care. This is understandable in certain respects.

Numerous ferns seen in the wild appear to be growing in dense woods or on the steep river banks. The climate is very humid. It is natural to attempt to recreate these circumstances.

What you overlook is the porous nature of the earth in these outdoor settings.

Because potted soils will not drain quickly, you should avoid watering them as much as they may get from natural rainfall.

Humidity is another critical element. Often, natural circumstances in the outdoors may produce humidity levels of up to 70%.

These levels just cannot be replicated in a typical household. You may, however, reach levels of between 30% and 50%, which your plant can gladly accept.

There are many simple methods to increase the humidity level surrounding your fern.

  • Purchase a humidifier for plants. These are popular gadgets among those who take their indoor plants seriously. There are many price choices, and you must choose which one best fits your requirements and budget.
  • A much less costly alternative is to combine plants together to generate their own microclimate.
  • Another option is to fill your plant saucer halfway with stones and half full with water. The pot may then be stood on the stones without its base being submerged in water. As the water evaporates, the humidity level surrounding your plant will rise.
  • Another low-cost technique some fern gardeners like is to encase the plant pot in a bigger container. Then, using moss, fill the space between the two pots and keep it moist. Water evaporating from the air will supply the necessary humidity.

The lighting should be bright, but the fern should be kept out of direct sunlight. This is one of the reasons ferns make such excellent indoor plants.

While south-facing window sills are going to be too sunny, the rest of the house’s windowsills are often suitable.

Bathrooms may also be excellent fern habitats, provided they come with some natural light. They often have a high humidity level, which your fern would like.


Some individuals are afraid of ferns due to their reputation for being difficult to care for. I hope this essay has shown how incorrect that notion is.

If you follow the recommendations I have provided for watering ferns in hanging baskets, your ferns should stay in excellent condition.

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