Best Fertilizer for Ferns

best fertilizer for ferns

Ferns are unique plants that have more than 12000 species. They are delicate plants that need proper maintenance and care to grow. Ferns produce through spores that are present on the underside of fronds. Numerous spores are dropped to the ground; however, only a few can grow into matured plants.

Ferns can be grown both as outdoor plants and indoor potted plants. The one thing in common between these growth processes is that they need an abundance of sunlight. Along with that, the plant needs many different nutrients so that they grow healthy and strong.

The first thing that you need to invest in when you think about growing ferns is fertilizers. There are varieties of fertilizers in the market, but not every product would be suitable for ferns. You have to look into the mineral content composition before you buy a fertilizer. The mineral composition should be perfect for the proper growth of your fern plant.

The article lists the best fertilizer for ferns, along with their pros and cons. You will also find complete information about each of these fertilizers. Additionally, a standard guide will help you grow healthy ferns and take care of them properly.

What Nutrients Do Ferns Require?

The key to growing a healthy fern plant is to provide it with the right nutrients. You have to know the nutrients required by the fern plant before you start the fertilizing process. This is because an excess of any nutrient might damage the plant completely. Ferns need a high nutrient supply since they cannot retain nutrients for long.

Normally ferns require a balanced mixture of the key nutrients that are Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium. Nitrogen is a very important component that contributes to the green color of your fern plant. However, too much of any nutrient would be very bad for the plant. Other than these key nutrients, other essential nutrients should be present in the fertilizer you use.

Some of these nutrients are compost, iron, magnesium, manganese, and many others. Aluminum sulfate is another very essential nutrient that you should feed your fern plants. Make sure that the fertilizer you opt for has equal parts of Nitrogen and ammonia for enhanced growth.

How to Feed Outdoor Ferns?

The way you take care of your outdoor ferns will be slightly different from that of indoor ferns. One of the main things you need to remember while feeding ferns is that they cannot sustain when exposed to an excessive fertilizer amount. That is why over-fertilization is something that you have to be very cautious about.

Outdoor ferns are exposed to rainwater, run-off nutrients from nearby plants, fallen leaves, and many other natural actions. This could cause an imbalance in their growth because they have to be handled with extreme care. Feeding your outdoor ferns with a slow-release formula that has light elements would be a good option.

It is also advised to use organic material or fertilizers for feeding your outdoor fern plants. In case you see that your ferns have become limp or weak, you can feed them worm castings, peat, or leaf mold. Watering your ferns is necessary since this mixes the fertilizer to the soil for better growth results.

How to Feed Indoor Ferns?

Taking care of indoor potted ferns is not much of a hassle. The nutrient intake of indoor ferns is mostly similar to that of outdoor ferns. One of the essential facts to keep in mind while planting indoor ferns is that they need lots of humidity. If your indoor fern stays dry for a long time, then it can turn the leaves brown.

Keep a water spray near your plants and water them whenever possible. This could be multiple times a day so that the leaves stay humid at all moments. This does not mean that you expose the roots to too much water. This would make the roots soggy and damage the plant. Indoor ferns also need ample sunlight so that they can thrive.

Feed your indoor potted ferns with organic matter slowly, especially during the growing season. You can also use a slow-release or weak fertilizer for the indoor plant. Other than these, you can also choose a dedicated fertilizer that is made for indoor plants.

How Should I Water My Boston Ferns?

Boston ferns are a very popular houseplant species that can be placed in your living room or on your porch as a wrap-around plant. Growing Boston ferns is not too hard, but they do require plenty of water and sunlight. Without these, the leaves of your Boston plant would frequently shed, ultimately dying.

Watering a Boston fern is very critical as it can get damaged by both under-watering and over-watering. Boston ferns grow best in moist soil, but it should not be exposed to waterlogged or soggy soil. This would lead to the development of rot and different kinds of fungal diseases. Wilted and yellowing leaves are the man indication of over-watering.

Use water at room temperature for your indoor ferns and pour them until they reach the pot’s base. Let the water drain properly before you pour again. Stop watering when needed and check if there is any standing water in the pot. In the case of standing water, you need to drain it immediately to avoid root rot.

Top Picks for Best Fertilizer for Ferns 1000

1.     Schultz All Purpose Water Soluble Plant Food (20-20-20)

The Schultz brand enjoys a very good reputation as an all-rounder fertilizer perfect for all kinds of plants. There are many variations to the Schultz fertilizer. Here we have chosen the Schultz All Purpose Water Soluble plant food with the NPK ratio of 20-20-20. This is a very balanced fertilizer with equal amounts of Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium.

The 20-20-20 variation of Schultz All Purpose Water Soluble is a very affordable product. There are instructions given on the package that you need to follow. Even though this plant food is in liquid form, you will have to mix it with water before applying it to your plant. You can use a watering can for applying the plant food to your ferns.

There is a 1.5 lb and 5 lb pack that you will find for the plant food. Depending on the size of your fern growth, you can choose the package you want. This fertilizer encourages new plant growth and will be perfect for both indoor as well as outdoor plants.


  • Affordable price
  • Balanced 20-20-20 formula
  • Helps in new growth
  • Effective
  • A proper mixture of micro-nutrients


  • Direct application by mistake may harm the plants
  • Dosage may be different from the instructions mentioned for some fern varieties

2.     Osmocote 274250 Smart-Release Plant Food Plus Outdoor & Indoor (15-9-12)

The Osmocote smart-release plant food is suitable for both indoor and outdoor plants. Whether you have an indoor potted fern plant or outdoor fern plants, the fertilizer will work equally for both. The fertilizer is in granular form with a slow-release formula that ensures proper exposure to all the needed nutrients.

The fertilizer’s NPK formula is 15-9-12, which means that the Nitrogen content is 15%, Phosphorous content is 9%, and Potassium content is 12%. There are a total of eleven nutrients present in the fertilizer, including the three key nutrients. The other nutrient content present in the formula is magnesium, boron, iron, sulfur, copper, molybdenum, zinc, and manganese.

The granules of the fertilizer are coated with resin that is semi-permeable. This means water will slowly enter the granules and dissolve the nutrients at a very slow pace. With this process, the nutrients will slowly reach the plants, and the shell of the granules will be left behind. The fertilizer can be applied to the plant every six months.


  • Falls in an affordable price range
  • Easy application
  • One application every six months
  • Formulated with 11 essential minerals
  • 15-9-12 mineral formula


  • Not an organic formula
  • Cannot be used for specialty plants or orchids

3.     Miracle-Gro Shake’ N Feed All Purpose Plant Food (12-4-8)

Miracle-Gro is a very famous name when it comes to planting fertilizers. The brand has formulated different fertilizers for several plants. When choosing the best fertilizer for ferns, the Miracle-Gro Shake’ N Feed All Purpose plant food is a product that should be mentioned. This is a double-action fertilizer.

Double action means that the fertilizer is used for feeding the plants and used on the microorganisms present in the soil. Microbes help fertilize the soil and give a proper supply of beneficial nutrients to the fertilizer’s fern plant feed. This ensures that your fern plant gets a proper supply of fertilizers and stays healthy.

Using this product on your fern plant will give you visible growth within a very short time span. The fertilizer comes in a jar, and the application of the product is also not very tough. You can apply the fertilizer directly to the soil by breaking the seal and opening the lid. Apply the fertilizer every three months.


  • Product free of any toxic and harmful chemicals
  • Completely organic fertilizer
  • A visible increase in fern plant growth
  • Safe for animals and children
  • 12-4-8 formula mixture


  • Not as effective as its competitors
  • Not suitable for large areas

4.     Jobe’s Hanging Baskets and Potted Plants Fertilizer Spikes (9-12-6)

Jobe’s is another brand that provides some exceptional fertilizers designed for specific plants. The Jobe’s Hanging Baskets and Potted Plants fertilizer spikes are a very good product for your fern plants. Spike fertilizers are different from your regular fertilizers. They are shaped like a bullet and inserted into the soil.

There are eighteen spikes in the package, which can be used for a long time. These spikes have an NPK ratio of 9-12-6, which brings the percentage of Nitrogen to 9%, Phosphorous to 12%, and Potassium to 6%. Other than these three, you will find many other necessary nutrients that are good for the fern plant’s growth.

Every fertilizer formulated by Jobe’s contains an element known as Biozome consisting of soil microorganisms beneficial for the plant. Due to the fertilizer’s shape, you will not have to worry about the nutrients running off from the soil. These fertilizers have a slow-release formula where the nutrients reach the plant at the right time.


  • No run-off of the fertilizer
  • Bullet-shaped fertilizer inserted into the soil
  • Balanced NPK ratio
  • No need for mixing the fertilizer
  • Slow-release formula


  • Rich in nutrients that may not be required by all plants
  • The shape can be tempting to many animals

5.     Miracle-Gro 3003010 Palm Plant Food (8-2-12)

Another high-end product of the Miracle-Gro brand that is perfect for your fern plant is the Miracle-Gro Palm plant food. This is perfect for people who do not have a lot of time to spend after their plants. However, the fertilizer’s effectiveness will not be compromised in any way despite the less time you spend on fertilizing the plants.

Some of the important minerals present in the fertilizer are compost, manganese, magnesium, and iron. These nutrients are exceptionally essential for making your fern plants strong and healthy. With the fertilizer, your plants will not be exposed to yellowing or curling. It also increases water efficiency in fern plants.

The Miracle-Gro Palm plant food is a continuous release fertilizer that provides nutrients to your fern continuous for three months. This means you do not have to frequently fertilize your plants, and no extra effort is needed. Following the instruction properly will guarantee a healthy plant with no burns. The best thing about the fertilizer is that you can see the changes within three-four days.


  • Nutrients are released continuously for three months
  • Does not burn plants if the instruction is followed
  • Fast-acting fertilizer
  • Contains compost
  • 8-2-12 mixture


  • Overfeeding may damage plants
  • Expensive

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can I Use Coffee Ground On My Ferns?

Coffee grounds may be added to the soil but only after knowing how acidic the soil already is. This is because coffee grounds can make the soil more acidic, and ferns may not survive in an extremely acidic environment. You can check the pH level of your soil using pH strips. If you see that the soil has high acidic content, it is better not to use coffee grounds.

You can use coffee grounds if you feel that you may need to increase the soil’s acidic level. In such cases, use a little amount, and water is adequately so that it gets mixed with the soil. Keep the soil at a neutral level for ferns to grow properly without any major damage. For ferns, it is best to avoid using coffee grounds unless necessary.

2. Is Manure Good For Ferns?

Ferns do not require much maintenance and can survive in a variety of soil conditions. Using a good fertilizer to supply the ferns with the required nutrients would be enough for your plant to thrive. However, manure is a very good option for your ferns as it can enhance growth.

For conditioning, the soil manure can be used, especially for open gardens and outdoor ferns. This would help in balancing the soil and ensure that it is ready to sustain fern growth. You can apply the manure before you plant the ferns. Use manure in large quantities to make the soil ready before you start your planting process.

You will need to dig up the soil enough for applying manure so that the manure does not come out of the surface. It should be able to work its way into the depth of the soil. Watering the soil after applying manure is also very important so that the manure can mix well within the soil.

3. Can Eggshells Be Used On Plants?

Eggshells are a very common source of calcium that is used by many people. They balance the acidity present in the soil and also give the necessary nutrients to the plants. Eggshells are like a slow-releasing fertilizer that can be used alongside other fertilizers. They are similar to lime since there is an abundant presence of calcium in them. However, eggshells need to be used in a large amount for it to make any visible difference.

You cannot use eggshells in their solid form. They need to be ground and turned into a coarse powder to mix well with the soil. For making one cup of powder, you would have to use at least 150 eggshells. Not everyone would find this to be a feasible solution. However, they can be applied to the soil and mixed properly for proper nutrient supply.

Eggshells also help in keeping slugs away. If you have outdoor plants, you can use eggshells to keep the slugs away from them. However, slugs are not attracted to every plant, and you need to see if depending on a commercial fertilizer is better than using hundreds of eggshells.

4. Why Do Fern Leaves Turn Yellow?

Yellow leaves are a very common problem in ferns, especially indoor potted ferns. This can be due to innumerable reasons, and detecting the main problem would help you find the right solution. The first thing that can be the cause of yellow leaves is a lack of proper nutrition. However, when this happens, most of your fern leaves would turn yellow, not just a few.

They may also be getting suffocated and need a proper room to thrive. This can happen if you have planted your ferns in an extremely small pot. When planting ferns, you have to use a pot that can let them grow to their full size with proper air space. Suffocating a plant would ultimately lead to its death.

Ferns do not require too much sunlight, but a complete lack of sunlight could be another reason for the leaves’ yellowing. When this happens, you should ensure that your ferns get the required amount of sunlight so that they do not turn yellow.

5. Do Ferns Require Sunlight?

Ferns require both sunlight and shade, but this would vary with the species you choose to plant. Most ferns can survive in sunlight, but they would thrive best when placed in the shade. However, some ferns may require partial sunlight and partial shade. These ferns may be exposed to sunlight for a limited time and then shifted to a shaded area.

Ferns thrive in moist soil, and over-exposure to sunlight could dry out the soil, result in a dry plant. That is why it is best to keep ferns in a moist and humid environment to not become dry and pale. There are only limited species of ferns that can tolerate direct sunlight. Even for these ferns, you need to water them frequently and keep the soil moist at all times.

During summers, it is better to keep them in a shaded area where they can get indirect sunlight. You can give them limited direct sunlight exposure during the spring season if needed.

6. Do I Need To Cut The Dead Fronds Of My Ferns?

Depending on the species of your ferns, the pruning technique and necessity would differ. Deciduous ferns lose leaves when winter arrives, for which they need to be pruned. Keeping dead fronds is not needed. You can just use sharp scissors or pruners to do the needful. You can wait for all the fronds to die before you prune.

The time that you spend pruning will reduce if you follow this pattern. It is better than pruning each frond as they die. Evergreen ferns, on the other hand, have long-lasting fronds. You do not need to prune them unnecessarily unless they have turned brown. In evergreen ferns, only some of the leaves may get damaged.

You can remove these damaged fronds when the winter ends. Prune the pale and faded fronds and leave only those that are completely healthy. You should do this before the new fronds start to appear, as it can be very difficult to remove the damaged fronds during the new emergence.

Final Words

Taking care of the plant that you grow is extremely necessary for them to be healthy. If plants do not require proper nutrients, then they will grow weak and may also die. The food you choose for your plant should be perfect for it. That is why you need to pay attention to the kind of fertilizer that you are opting for.

When choosing fertilizers for plants, you need to aware that you do not choose one with high nitrogen content. The NPK ratio for the fertilizer should be approximately balanced. Ferns do not require too much fertilizer, but you should also not underfeed them. To help you choose the right fertilizer, we have listed above five of the best fertilizer for ferns.

With the right assistance, you will not have to worry about growing a fern plant. Find the perfect fertilizer for your fern and grow a very healthy plant!