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Ferns are attractive, green, lush plants that can make both indoor and outdoor spaces come alive with their unique textures and shapes. Nothing dresses up your landscape and indoor plants like vibrant, beautiful ferns. With over 10,000 species found around the world, ferns vary widely in shape, size, and color.

While some ferns are best suited to outdoor environments, many thrive indoors under the right conditions. Here are 12 of the best fern varieties for your garden.

Boston Fern

Fern in a greenhouse of the Botanical garden
Image Credit: Kor!An (Корзун Андрей), CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Boston ferns are a popular choice for indoor gardens, known for their long, arching green fronds that can extend up to 3 feet. They require bright, indirect light and high humidity to thrive, making them ideal for rooms with ample natural light but limited direct sun exposure. Consistent soil moisture is crucial, though it’s important to avoid waterlogging.

Holly Ferns

Braun's Holly Fern (Polystichum braunii) cultivated in Wrocław University Botanical Garden, Wrocław, Poland.
Image Credit: Agnieszka Kwiecień, Nova, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

With their glossy, leathery fronds that resemble holly leaves, Holly ferns are another great indoor variety. They grow well under medium to bright indirect light and require frequent watering to keep the soil moist, with a slight drying out of the top inch between waterings. Typically, they reach heights of 1-2 feet.

Maidenhair Ferns

Maidenhair Fern
Image Credit: Deposit Photos

Delicate and airy, Maidenhair ferns feature fan-shaped fronds on slender, wiry black stems. These ferns need medium to bright indirect light and high humidity. The soil should be kept consistently moist.

Due to their delicate nature, they are better suited to locations like bathrooms, where humidity from showers can help maintain the necessary moisture levels without direct misting, which their leaves cannot tolerate.

Rabbit’s Foot Fern

Davallia trichomanoides at Garfield Park Conservatory
Image Credit: Krzysztof Ziarnek, Kenraiz, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Named for their rhizomes that resemble an animal’s foot, Rabbit’s Foot ferns have arching green fronds growing 12-18 inches tall. They prefer moderate indirect light and consistent soil moisture, with regular misting to help increase humidity around the plant.

Silver Lace Fern

Close-up of silver lace fern, Silver Brake split on white wood wall background. (sword brake fern., Pteris ensiformis) Easy growing fern.
Image Credit: Deposit Photos

These ferns are known for their finely divided fronds with a distinctive silver sheen, growing low and spreading, ideal for hanging baskets. They thrive in medium indirect light and require a moist, well-drained environment with high humidity.

Hay-Scented Fern

Image Credit: Homer Edward Price, CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Known for their hay-like scent when crushed, Hay-Scented ferns feature arching soft light green fronds that reach 12–15 inches tall. They thrive in bright, indirect light and require the soil to partly dry out before watering again.

Staghorn Ferns

Staghorn ferns
Image Credit: Deposit Photos

Staghorn ferns perform well mounted on boards or in baskets under indirect sunlight. Frequent misting is necessary, and the bases can dry out partially between soakings.

Japanese Painted Ferns

Japanese fainted fern (Athyrium niponicum) in botanical garden in Kraków
Image Credit: Krzysztof Ziarnek, Kenraiz, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

With fronds that display beautiful shades of silver, purple, and red, Japanese Painted ferns are particularly striking in cooler weather. They grow 12-18 inches tall and thrive in partly to fully shaded environments with moist, rich soil.

Asparagus Ferns

Asparagus in a pot, green leaves background.
Image Credit: Deposit Photos

Despite their misleading name, Asparagus ferns are actually part of the asparagus family and feature fine needle-like leaves on branching stems. They prefer full sun and can serve as fast-spreading ground covers.

Bird’s Nest Ferns

Bird's-nest fern (Asplenium nidus) is a spicies of plants.
Image Credit: MKankesh, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Bird’s Nest ferns have leathery fronds emerging from a central rosette, creating a coarse texture contrast in landscapes. Position these ferns in dappled sunlight and provide regular irrigation.

Royal Fern

Osmunda regalis (royal fern) in Perdouro Rute. Burela, Lugo, Galicia, Spain.
Image Credit: Fernando Losada Rodríguez, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Royal ferns feature large, wide triangular fronds and can grow 2-3 feet tall. Their unique blue-green fronds complement plants like hostas and astilbes well. They prefer consistently moist, acidic soil.

Lady Ferns

Northern Lady Fern (Athyrium angustum) at Preservation Park in Guelph, Ontario, Canada.
Image Credit: Ryan Hodnett, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

With their lacy light green fronds, Lady ferns reach about 18 inches in height and spread easily, ideal for shaded woodland gardens. Maintaining moist soil with natural leaf mulch is recommended for their growth.

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Yellow flowers of common sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale) in garden
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