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How to Care for Frosty Fern Plants

By Sarah Terry ; Updated September 21, 2017

The frosty fern (Selaginella krausianna variegatus) is a fast-growing and creeping plant that can be used for a ground cover or as a houseplant. The frosty fern’s stems are bright green in color and have tinges of whitish-gold that make the foliage look like it's covered with frost, hence its name. When you’re selecting a planting site for your frosty fern, ensure that it has enough room to grow. The frosty fern grows to only 12 inches tall, but its stems can spread to more than 1 foot long.

Outdoor Frosty Fern Care

Select a planting site that is in the shade and has well-draining soil. Work into the soil some rich organic compost and a handful of coarse sand when you plant the frosty fern.

Water your frosty fern once each week during the growing season or more often during dry spells. Water the fern during the fall and winter only when the soil threatens to dry out.

Fertilize your frosty fern once per month during the growing season. Feed your frosty fern a high-nitrogen fertilizer according to the directions on the label.

Indoor Frosty Fern Care

Pot your frosty fern in a container with drainage holes in the bottom. Fill the planter pot with rich but well-draining potting soil.

Water your frosty fern twice per week or enough to keep the soil moist at all times. Keep the fern in a spot away from direct sunlight.

Feed your frosty fern once per week with a diluted, high-nitrogen fertilizer during the growing season.

Keep the air around your frosty fern plant humid by placing the planter pot on top of a drainage dish filled with gravel and water. Ensure that the bottom of the plant container rests on top of the gravel and not in the water.


Things You Will Need

  • Frosty fern
  • Organic compost
  • Coarse sand
  • Garden hose or watering can
  • High-nitrogen fertilizer
  • Planter pot with drainage holes
  • Potting soil
  • Drainage dish
  • Gravel
  • Diazanon, slug and snail baits, or systemic insecticide (optional)


  • You can identify a high-nitrogen fertilizer by the larger first NPK (Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Potassium) number on the package.
  • Control sowbugs and pillbugs infesting your frosty fern by treating the fern with diazanon granules, and control slugs or snails with baits. Treat aphid, mealybug, thrip and scale infestations using a systemic insecticide. Always follow the instructions on the label exactly.


  • Never allow the soil to dry around your frosty fern. This fern doesn't tolerate dry periods or waterlogged soil.

About the Author


Sarah Terry brings over 10 years of experience writing novels, business-to-business newsletters and a plethora of how-to articles. Terry has written articles and publications for a wide range of markets and subject matters, including Medicine & Health, Eli Financial, Dartnell Publications and Eli Journals.