frosty fern care

Frosty Fern Care: A Guide For Successful Planting

The first thing that pops up in our mind when we first hear about Frosty Fern is a frozen plant in winter. But in fact, it is a spike moss, a fern-like plant with characteristic green foliage and white tips of the fronds, making them look covered in snow.

No wonder this plant is often used as a home decoration during Christmas celebrations. With such features, you will need proper Frosty Fern plant care to ensure they thrive well.

Therefore, we would like to broaden your insights into the world of Frosty Ferns so that you get to know him better. In addition, our primary purpose is to provide important information regarding how to care for Frosty Ferns and give tips on growing Frosty Fern to achieve a successful planting. Let’s get started!

What Is Frosty Fern?

Despite bearing a ‘fern’ name, Frosty Fern or Moss Fern (Selaginella kraussiana) is neither a fern or moss. Instead, it is a spike moss with silvery green leaves, bearing white tips that look like snow.

This ornamental house plant is an evergreen native to lowland tropical forests in some African countries, such as Angola, Congo, Ethiopia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. In the US, Frosty Fern thrives in the US hardiness zone 6 to 9.

frosty fern care
Frosty Fern

Furthermore, Frosty Fern plants have a low-growing habit whose height can only reach one foot tall. Considering its mini size, some decorate it with Christmas knick-knacks to celebrate the most beautiful day of the year.

Meanwhile, others love to grow this fern in terrariums as indoor plants to adorn their spaces. Don’t worry about your children and pets as it is not toxic. If you prefer to grow them outdoors, you can plant the Frosty Fern in pots as outdoor plants during warm temperatures. However, bring them inside when the fall months arrive as it does not tolerate cold weather.

Before planting it, make sure you live in the US hardiness zone 6 to 9. You also have to know Frosty Fern plant growing requirements, such as light intensity, temperature and humidity, soil conditions, fertilization method and more, to ensure they grow healthily. And for that reason, we have compiled some factors that affect the Frosty Ferns’ growth you must know. Check them out below!

How To Care For Frosty Fern?

Knowing how to care for Frosty Ferns must be accompanied by understanding their growing conditions. Generally, Frosty Fern care is not complicated. It loves shade outdoors and indirect sun indoors along with high humidity.

frosty fern care
Caring for Frosty Fern

Moreover, it prefers water over dry. Thus, watering is an essential factor you must pay attention to. In this section, you will join us to dive deeper into the realm of Frosty Ferns. Hence, you can offer proper conditions for them to grow.

1) Light Intensity

To begin with, let’s talk about light requirements. Generally, Frosty Ferns favor bright indirect sun where they can enjoy the shade while still absorbing the sunlight. However, it is a different rule when you grow them outdoors. It is preferable to give a shady area since you cannot control the light intensity.

Moreover, avoid bright light as overexposure can lead to wilting and yellow leaves. In addition, it is recommended to place the pot on the north-facing area that offers dappled shade. It also applies to indoor ferns if you want to save their beautiful foliage.

2) Temperature And Humidity Requirement

Besides liking dim conditions, Frosty ferns prefer cool temperatures around 15-27’C or 60-80’F. Do not introduce them in the higher temperature area as it may turn the leaves into a crisp brown. Meanwhile, any temperature below 50’F will trigger fungal growth.

In addition, these humidity-loving plants favor high moisture for at least 70%, resembling their native habitat in the tropical evergreen forests. Keep it high if you do not want the stunning green leaves to become yellow or brown due to low humidity.

If you grow them indoors, you can try a tray filled with water and pebbles underneath the pot to raise the moisture. Don’t try misting the leaves because damp leaf conditions will stimulate mold growth. Also, avoid the blower as it blows dry air, decreasing the humidity.

3) Watering And Drainage

As they love high humidity, Frosty Ferns love water. And so, it is recommended to water them regularly or at least every 2-3 days during their active growth. You can also add more water if the soil surface dries. However, do not offer more than what the plants need.

Reduce the Frosty Fern watering frequency by half during the fall and winter months as the plant growth slows down. In addition, provide the water without pouring it on the leaves as it will increase the risks of fungus.

Furthermore, it also needs well-drained soil, so make sure the pots have drainage holes to let the water escape quickly. To improve the drainage, add a handful of perlite to your soil mix to allow the soil to drain after watering but hold moisture still.

4) Soil Conditions

The Frosty Ferns’ soils are basically not tricky. As long as you can ensure moist, well-drained soil with a pH of approximately 5.5 to 6.0, they will do great in any potting mix. Nevertheless, the outdoor garden soil may be too heavy for them. Thus, you must amend the soil before adding it to the container.

Besides, it favors light soil with organic matter to give them nutrients. To ensure moist soil, offer water until small dribbles come from the holes. You can also set a watering schedule so that your plant won’t suffer from drought. Moreover, choose a high-quality soil mix with peat moss to guarantee good drainage.

5) Fertilizing

Do you need to fertilize the Frosty Fern plants? The answer is YES! Fertilizing is vital to offer nutrients to your plants during their development stages. People mostly prefer to fertilize monthly. But please, avoid over-fertilizing as it can cause root burn, characterized by dropping leaves within a few days or a week after fertilizing the fern.

Additionally, too much nitrogen fertilizer will turn the silvery white tips green.

frosty fern care
Frosty Fern Care Tips

If you choose liquid organic fertilizer, take 10-10-10 or 12-12-12 of the fertilizer, then dilute it in the water at a ratio of a quarter teaspoon to one quart of water. Then, apply the solution to the moist soil evenly.

However, you can introduce seaweed extract instead of fertilizing the fern if you are worried about their growth afterward.

6) Propagation

The method of frosty fern propagation is by plant division. It is pretty easy as the root system is shallow, so you can easily divide the fern according to the pot size you have. How to do it? Check the following steps below!

  1. Prepare the pots you want the frosty ferns to grow in.
  2. Add soil mix that contains peat moss for good drainage.
  3. Now, locate the rhizophore, then take the leaf cuttings about one inch below.
  4. Put the cutting in the prepared container and pour the rest of the soil mix.
  5. Cover it with a plastic bag to keep the humidity as it is vital to ensure your plant thrives.
  6. Finally, wait for the new roots to grow.

Frosty Fern Care Tips

As we all know, most frosty ferns grow as indoor houseplants. However, they can actually grow outdoors, too, during warm weather. And so, we include frosty ferns indoor care and some tips for planting them outdoors in case you want to challenge yourself. Interested? Let’s find out!

1) Indoor Frosty Fern Care Tips

Indoor Frosty Fern Care Tips
Source: Pinterest (@floweramaiowacity.com)

You won’t need much maintenance if you grow Frosty Ferns indoors as long as you provide humidity. It also thrives in relatively low light, making it suitable to reside in any area around your house. Here, we would love to offer Frosty Ferns indoor care tips to give them what they need. What are those?

  1. Place the pot in the north-facing area to ensure bright indirect light.
  2. Avoid an area with a blower as it can blow the dry air, decreasing the plant moisture.
  3. To level up the humidity, place a tray filled with pebbles and water, then put it under the pot.
  4. Do not mist the leaves for any reason! It won’t make anything better. Instead, it will grow fungus on their foliage.

2) Outdoor Frosty Fern Care Tips

Outdoor Frosty Fern Care Tips
Source: Pinterest (@Ed’s Plant Shop)

Unlike the previous tips, Frosty Ferns outdoor care needs a little bit more attention because you cannot entirely control the environment. But, don’t worry! We have what you need. Here are some tips on caring for them outdoors you can try:

  1. Choose a shady area as too much sunlight will fade the foliage color.
  2. Provide shelter when the temperature drops because they cannot tolerate frost.
  3. Water it regularly, around twice a week, to retain the soil moisture.

Frosty Fern Common Issues

Unlike other plants that often deal with pests and diseases, the common issues of Frosty Fern are caused by a lack of proper care. This is also why we collect Frosty Fern care tips so that you don’t take the wrong steps in caring for this unique plant. Then, what causes problems in the growth process?

One of the most frequent problems is temperature swings. A sudden change of temperature will stress the fern. You will observe dry and limp foliage that will eventually turn yellow if accompanied by direct sunlight.

In addition, low humidity also causes the color of the leaves to turn brown.

frosty fern care
Frosty Fern Common Issues

Furthermore, those planting Frosty Fern for the first time are usually too eager to provide the best nutrients, such as fertilizers. As a result, the roots burn, which is seen by dropping leaves.


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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

How much sun does a frosty fern need?

Light requirement for the frosty fern plants depends on where you grow them. If you grow the ferns as potted plants indoors, bright indirect light is necessary. Avoid direct sunlight because the frosty fern wilts under such exposure. Meanwhile, the frosted fern prefers shade in the outdoor areas but still tolerates morning and late afternoon sun.

Is a frosty fern an indoor or outdoor plant?

Most frosty ferns are grown as indoor plants. Thus, you need to know how to care for these humid-loving plants indoors—for example, providing bright indirect sunlight, moist soil, and placing the pot in the north-facing window. Nonetheless, this plant thrives outdoors too. But please keep it in a shady spot as the direct sun will wilt the leaves.

Why is my frosty fern dying?

If you notice shriveling and brown foliage, then perhaps, your frosty fern plant is dying. Those signs may result from a lack of watering and soil moisture. These combos will stress the plant, eventually leading to premature death.

Now, the question is, how to revive a frosty fern? Is it possible to bring the frosty fern back to life? Well, it is! You can provide shelter in a shaded site, then water them regularly or whenever the soil surface is drying out. Then, watch them grow lush foliage again. In addition, reduce the water by half in the fall and winter months as the growth is slowing down.

Can you overwater a frosty fern?

While other plants do not tolerate overwatering, this spike moss plant loves the water so much! You can offer water every 2-3 days whenever the soil surface dries or when the frosty ferns seem lighter than usual. Never let your plant suffer from drought, as it can dry out the leaves. If you notice wilting foliage, water the plant immediately.

How do you Re-pot a frosty fern?

Repotting benefits the Frosty Fern as it will encourage its growth. Suppose you want to repot your frosty fern. In that case, the following steps will definitely benefit you.

  1. Pick a pot with drainage holes. Make sure the size is 2 inches wider or deeper than the previous pot to allow growth.
  2. Fill it with high-quality soil or potting mix. It is better that it contains materials like peat moss to ensure proper drainage.
  3. Now, gently take the fern from the old pot, and loosen up the roots from the soil.
  4. Cut the damaged roots if you notice any.
  5. Then, put it in the container you have prepared before and add the rest of the soil into it.
  6. Water the soil thoroughly and wait 2-6 months before applying fertilizer. 

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