One of the earth's oldest plants, there are more than 10,500 species of the fern throughout the world. Ferns are mostly perennial plants that are either evergreen or deciduous. These plants are vascular plants that thrive in areas with low light and moderate temperatures. The environmental requirements of this plant make the fern an excellent choice for household growing.
Plant the ferns according to the type of fern you've selected. Epiphytic ferns grow naturally in trees and should be planted in coarse, nutrient-rich soil. Mix the coarse soil with equal amounts of organic matter such as organic leaf mold, sphagnum moss or peat moss. Terrestrial ferns grow in soil and should be planted in regular, nutrient-rich potting soil. Select a potting soil that contains peat moss, sand and perlite for increased drainage.
Select a potting container that has a good drainage system. Choose plastic containers over clay containers. Plastic containers maintain better moisture levels. If a wood container is selected, select an untreated, rot-resistant container to reduce the potential of fungal diseases.
Place the fern in a partially shaded to fully shaded area that provides at least four hours of indirect lighting each day. Avoid direct sunlight as this may cause foliage burn. Maintain a moderately tempered, humid environment for the fern. Keep the fern in a room that maintains an average temperature between 65 and 75 degrees F. Avoid temperatures below 60 degrees F.
Water the fern plant regularly but do not overwater. Maintain an evenly moist soil. Check the soil's moisture levels before each watering to reduce the potential for over-watering. Stick your finger in the soil and water when the soil begins to feel dry. Never allow the soil to dry out. Mist the plant daily during the winter months to maintain good humidity levels.
Feed the ferns lightly using a liquid houseplant fertilizer. Select a fertilizer that includes equal amounts of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. Apply the fertilizer at half-strength monthly during the fern's growing season from early spring through late fall.
Dust and inspect the plant regularly. Look for signs of insect infestation such as webs and small foliage spots. Look for signs of disease such as yellowing or browning of the plant's foliage, wilting, dieback and drooping. Treat the diseases immediately. Before applying any fungicidal spray, allow the soil's moisture levels to dry to ensure that the plant is not suffering from over-watering. Treat fungal diseases with houseplant fungicidal spray.
Re-pot the fern plant every two to three years. Divide the growing fern by cutting the rhizomes of the plant. Keep as much foliage on each cut as possible. Use a sharp, sterile knife to complete the cut(s). Re-plant the ferns in fresh soil.