How to Fertilize Fern Plants

Overview

Ferns are prehistoric plant forms that are prized for use as indoors and outdoors. While most ferns are tropical or subtropical in origin, they make up a very large plant family--there are more than 12,000 species, according to the University of the West Indies. Ferns typically grow in nutrient-rich woodland soils, and are not heavy consumers of synthetic fertilizers. They can easily be burned or shocked by fertilizers, so gentle slow release formulas are preferred for both hardy and tender tropical ferns in order to prevent over fertilization.

Step 1

Fertilize fern plants in the spring just as new green growth begins to emerge and unfurl.

Step 2

Feed your ferns with a slow release fertilizer with a balanced and guaranteed analysis of 14-14-14.

Step 3

Sprinkle the recommended amount of grains around the base of the plant evenly, keeping a few inches away from the center stems and extending out to or just past the drip line.

Step 4

Water the fertilizer to wash it down into the top half-inch of soil. Water liberally to keep the soil evenly moist, which will help distribute the fertilizer nutrients throughout the soil.

Step 5

Repeat the application each year or as recommended on your product label, but always err on the side of less fertilizer, not more.

Things You'll Need

  • Slow release granular fertilizer
  • Water

References

  • Clemson University: Hardy Ferns
  • University of Missouri: Caring for Houseplants
  • University of the West Indies Cave Hill: The Ferns
Keywords: fertilzing ferns, best fertilizer for fern plants, feeding hardy and tropical ferns

About this Author

An omni-curious communications professional, Dena Kane has more than 17 years of experience writing and editing content for online publications, corporate communications, business clients, industry journals, as well as film and broadcast media. Kane studied political science at the University of California, San Diego.