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By Tovah Martin

Got a low-light situation that’s just begging for some botany? You need to cuddle up with some ferns. They’re gorgeous, they’re sophisticated, and they are custom made for sharing some of the more challenging spaces in your life. The good news is that many ferns are absolutely simpatico with the same living conditions that you find comfortable—if you select wisely. Choose the right ferns when you’re hunkering down with houseplants, and your home is going to feel like a forest.

Filling the Shadows

The smooth fit between ferns and our abodes has everything to do with light. Have you tried and failed with flowering plants? Ferns turn your frustrations into triumphs. Ferns don’t want or need bright windows. Instead, they grow lush in lower light situations. Got a north-facing window that won’t support other houseplants? The solution: Let it host a fern, and that space will green up immediately.

What Ferns Crave

Beyond indirect light, ferns thrive in moist (but not sopping wet) situations. Your bathroom will be spa treatment for a fern. Homes that lack humidity might be a challenge, but a humidifier is an easy answer. Another really great remedy? Cluster many ferns together to raise the atmospheric humidity in their immediate area. Placing plants on a pebble tray with an inch or two of pebbles and half as much water to evaporate is another option.

Ferns are heavy drinkers. Most importantly, don’t cram the roots into a tight container. Instead, give them frequent pot promotions using Coast of Maine Bar Harbor Blend Organic Potting Soil. They’ll love the friable, cushy consistency of the Bar Harbor Blend while also slurping up the moisture that the soil delivers to their roots. Of course, any plant requires adequate water flow, so be sure to use a pot with a drainage hole.

Easiest Ferns

Where to start with fiddleheads? Some ferns are easier than others to grow indoors. Most of the footed ferns that send fuzzy or caterpillar green rhizomes creeping along the soil surface are a cinch. Give them a generous container filled with Coast of Maine Bar Harbor Blend so the arms and legs have somewhere to wander.

Many cool spins on bird’s nest ferns are readily available—the bonus being that they are ultra-easy to host. The broad, flat fiddleheads of these pleasing performers are particularly prone to live happily ever after in our homes. Again, give them plenty of root room and remember to water regularly.


Although Boston and sword ferns can be a bear to grow in our homes because they demand constant moisture and high humidity, there is a downsized version with compact fronds called Nephrolepis cordifolia ‘Duffii’ that doesn’t go into a snit every time you forget to water for a day too long.

Want a fern look-alike ground cover that loves similar conditions? Let a moss into your life, and you’ll be reaching out to pet its plush, lush, soft foliage continually. It’s the perfect way to piggyback plants, creating a twosome that fills the soil surface with another happy green camper.

You’ve got so many possibilities! No more excuses. Take those windows with indirect light and turn them into a fernery. And here’s an idea: Place a nice plush chair or chaise lounge right in the middle of those fronds and sink in. Winter is going to be heaven this year.


Written by award winning author, Tovah Martin.  Photos also taken by Tovah Martin.  Find her books and more information on her website:


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