Fern Varieties

34 Best Indoor Fern Varieties for Houseplants

Table of Contents

Fern (Polypodiopsida or Polyphodiophyta) is a leafy plant without flowers that reproduces using spores and is a vascular plant. They have xylem and phloem to transport food and distribute nutrients to all plant parts. There are more than 10,500 ferns species and expected to be more to discover. Some fern varieties and species can be indoor ferns, for instance, delta maidenhair ferns, Boston ferns, autumn ferns, kangaroo ferns, and cotton candy ferns.

Meanwhile, the ostrich fern, Australian tree fern, Japanese tassel fern, marginal wood fern, and southern maidenhair fern are some examples of outdoor fern plants.

However, on this occasion, we will discuss the best indoor fern varieties that you can use as decorations to lighten up spaces in your home. Each of them has a unique style and shape that will not look dull.

Indoor Types of Ferns and How to Care for Them

Indoor types of ferns are usually easy to care for as houseplants. They do not take many spaces as they only need small to medium pots. In addition, they can thrive in less water if you forget to water them.

However, since fern varieties are green fronds plants, you need to pay close attention to their care, especially the sun exposure, moisture, and temperature.

Fern Varieties
Fern Varieties

Knowing that they are vascular plants, ferns need to do photosynthesis to obtain nutrition. Therefore, they will perform best if you put them facing the window to ensure an ample shade that simulates their habitat in shady forests, just like outdoor fern plants.

It is preferable to avoid direct sunlight to prevent damage.

Furthermore, the temperature is advisable to be kept around 70F or 21C. If you want healthy indoor flora plants, then mist your ferns every morning to keep the moist soil at its best. 

1. Staghorn Fern(Platycerium bifurcatum)

You cannot leave Staghorn fern if you talk about indoor fern varieties. There are around 18 Staghorn ferns in the family, where Platycerium bifurcatum is one of them. This tropical fern is characterized by its broad leaves and unusual staghorn-looking foliage, thus it is called the Staghorn plant.

Staghorn Fern (Platycerium bifurcatum)
Staghorn Fern (Platycerium bifurcatum)

Unlike other ferns, the plant is grown in mounted wood boards since it is an epiphyte. The leaves hang on the rhizome, creating a unique indoor jungle vibe to your home.

Moreover, you can mist them every day or soak them in water once a week to make them healthier. 

2. Holly Fern(Cyrtomium falcatum)

Cyrtomium falcatum is a species of fern varieties that will be great as both indoor and outdoor ferns. Holly Fern is recognized by its sharp-tipped and holly-shaped dark green foliage that will lighten up the void space in your home.

Holly Fern (Cyrtomium falcatum)
Holly Fern (Cyrtomium falcatum)

Moreover, you can pot and place them in the shady spots to grow optimally since they only need low light. Even though it is drought tolerant, this indoor fern favors moist soil, so it is vital to mist them daily.

If you plant holly fern plants as outdoor ferns, you should place them in shade gardens to avoid direct sunlight. 

3. Delta Maidenhair Fern(Adiantum raddianum)

Adiantum raddianum or Delta Maidenhair Fern includes several different cultivars. This indoor plant offers trailing nature sight to your home as they have dark green leaves with charming long narrow shapes.

 Delta Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum raddianum)
 Delta Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum raddianum)

Moreover, this indoor fern plant likes water, so make sure to water enough to maintain the wet soil. It also prefers bright but indirect light. Unlike most fern varieties, it is a soft tree fern species with petite and glossy-long foliage, marking itself as one of the most challenging ferns to take care of.

Nonetheless, thanks to its beautiful qualities, this sensitive fern is worth the effort you put into caring for them.

4. Lemon Button Fern(Nephrolepis cordifolia”Duffii”)

Among other ferns, Lemon Button Fern or Sword Fern is an evergreen fern species that bloom all year long, making it ideal for indoor cultivation. This bushy fern species is a member of the Massachusetts Fern family.

Lemon Button Fern (Nephrolepis cordifolia "Duffii")
Lemon Button Fern (Nephrolepis cordifolia “Duffii”)

It has long-bright green fronds with small circular pinnae and slightly lemon scents when blooming as its distinctive characteristics. Like most fern varieties, the Sword Fern plant loves shady places, evenly moist soil, and indirect light.

Therefore, it is best to put them on the countertop, sideboards, or tablets. 

5. Brazilian Tree Fern(Blechnum brasiliense)

Just like its namesake, Brazilian Tree Fern is a mini version of tree ferns, unlike the larger Australian Tree Fern. This indoor fern has a long frond dangling out from the center of its clumping fern with stunning light green color.

Brazilian Tree Fern (Blechnum brasiliense)
Brazilian Tree Fern (Blechnum brasiliense)

But interestingly, the young leaves of this fern plant are reddish, creating an exciting appeal. Moreover, the tree fern grows well in loamy soil with high humidity and bright-filtered sun exposure.

Other than that, it is also a member of evergreen ferns plants that will indeed beautify your home interior.

6. Blue Bear’s Paw Fern(Phlebodium pseudoaureum)

Silvery blue, broad pinnae foliage, and curly tips are the unique aspects of Blue Bear’s Paw Fern that will help you identify them. Its leaves also have a leathery texture and are more like snow mitts, differentiating them from other fern varieties.

Blue Bear's Paw Fern (Phlebodium pseudoaureum)
Blue Bear’s Paw Fern (Phlebodium pseudoaureum),(imagecredit: dianes digitals/Flickr)

In addition, the indoor fern has golden-orange rhizomes that grow around the pot where the plants grow, creating a fascinating appearance. Furthermore, like many ferns plants, this indoor fern will grow optimally in moist soil under indirect light.

This species is also known as Blue Rabbit’s Foot Fern.

7. Christmas Fern(Polystichum acrostichoides)

This species is an evergreen fern plant that can be cultivated as indoor and outdoor ferns. As the name suggests, Christmas Fern can survive in low temperatures just like winter at Christmas.

Christmas Fern (Polystichum acrostichoides)
Christmas Fern (Polystichum acrostichoides)

The fern plant has pretty long pinnae that form a share point at the end of the leaves. Aside from their appearance, you can also identify them by their habitat as they grow in dry and moist soil in nature.

But, if you consider having them indoors, you can put them in hanging baskets to make them look charming.

8. Kangaroo Fern(Microsorum pustulatum)

Its leaf shape resembles Kangaroo’s paw, making Microsorum pustulatum known as Kangaroo Fern. It has bright green, glossy, and hairy leaves that look perfect for sharing thrilling greeneries views in your living room.

Kangaroo Fern (Microsorum pustulatum)
Kangaroo Fern (Microsorum pustulatum)

You can either put them in hanging baskets or plant ferns in pots. Suppose you truly consider it as an indoor fern. In that case, you need to water them regularly to maintain their humidity and place them in a shady place to prevent direct sunlight.

9. Rabbit’s Foot Fern(Davallia fejeensis)

The furry trailing and long-growing rhizomes atop the soil make Davallia fejeensis appear like a rabbit’s foot. And for that reason, it is famous as Rabbit’s Foot Fern. It is a hardy fern that is commonly kept as a houseplant.

Rabbit's Foot Fern (Davallia fejeensis)
Rabbit’s Foot Fern (Davallia fejeensis)

Moreover, this bushy fern has triangular-shaped leaves that are different from other ferns. This epiphytic fern plant is a pretty easy fern type to grow as it only needs occasional misting. Therefore, you can hang them on the baskets, or planting small pots will be great. 

10. Bird’s Nest Fern(Asplenium nidus)

No wonder it is well-known as Bird’s Nest Fern as foliage forms as a giant fern that looks precisely like a nest. This plant has dark green leaves that dangle and pile up like a bush and are quite leathery, just like bananas.

Because of those characteristics, it is excellent to grow in a medium white pot to further highlight the shape and color.

Bird's Nest Fern (Asplenium nidus)
Bird’s Nest Fern (Asplenium nidus)

Furthermore, Asplenium nidus grows on palm trees, rocks, or grounds because it is an epiphyte. They favor weekly watering and bright indirect light, a handy fern if you are a newbie in the fern varieties world. 

11. Cotton Candy Fern(Nephrolepis exaltata’Smithii’)

There are approximately 30 Boston ferns varieties where Cotton Candy Fern is one of them. Fern, which has the Latin name Nephrolepis exaltata has leaves similar to Carrot Fern.

It has broad fronds that shape dense cotton candy in a stunning light green color.

Cotton Candy Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata Smithii)
Cotton Candy Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata ‘Smithii’),(imagecredit: ebay/Pinterest)

Moreover, this tree fern thrives in humid soil and indirect indoor light like other fern plants. Taking into account the shape of this fern plant, it is best to plant it in a hanging basket.

Apart from being an indoor plant, Cotton Candy Fern is also an outdoor fern plant that can live in warm weather.

12. Boston Fern(Nephrolepsis exaltata’Bostoniensis’)

The indoor ferns-Boston fern has gained massive popularity as a houseplant among gardening enthusiasts thanks to its beautiful appearance. Other than that, it is pretty easy to care for. Thus it is perfect for beginners.

Boston Fern has long-textural fronds with a bright green color.

Boston Fern (Nephrolepsis exaltata 'Bostoniensis')
Boston Fern (Nephrolepsis exaltata ‘Bostoniensis’)

The foliage grows upwards yet will slowly arc over as it ages. Furthermore, maintaining humidity is the key to getting a healthy and happy fern if you want to keep this evergreen fern indoors.

Ensure to mist the Boston Fern plant regularly or place it in high humidity areas, such as the bathroom. And similar to other fern varieties, it grows best under indirect and filtered light.

13. Silver Brake Fern(Pteris ensiformis)

Compared to most fern varieties, this fern has unique patterns of its fronds. The silver markings brushed from the base to the tip of the foliage and veins, creating a breathtaking appeal. Hence, it is called Silver Brake Fern.

 Silver Brake Fern (Pteris ensiformis)
 Silver Brake Fern (Pteris ensiformis)

Moreover, its long sword-like and tiny leaves as the quillon are also a characteristic of this plant – another reason why it is also known as Sword Brake Fern.

This plant is also one of the ferns that are easy to look after and will surely bring the excitement of houseplants to your home.

14. Austral Gem Bird’s Nest Fern(Asplenium dimorphum x difforme)

This fern is one type of indoor fern which is still a species of Bird’s Nest Fern. Its arching fronds and shiny, dark green foliage are hallmarks of the Austral Gem Bird’s Nest Fern.

Moreover, this fern species does not produce spores on its leaves like some other types of ferns.

Austral Gem Bird's Nest Fern (Asplenium dimorphum x difforme)
Austral Gem Bird’s Nest Fern (Asplenium dimorphum x difforme),(imagecredit: etsy,gardentags.com/Pinterest)

Hence, it is suitable for houseplants because it will not keep your house dirty. In addition, it also includes evergreen fern plants that create a fantastic contrast to your summer shade home.

The only critical point in maintaining this fern plant is the type of soil that must be rich, acidic soil.

15. White Striped Cretan Brake Fern(Pteris cretica Albolineata)

Still from Pteris types of ferns, the White Striped Cretan Brake Fern is a ferns variety that is very popular because of the unique motif on the leaves. It features pale green strokes in the midrib with deep green as the background that creates interesting color gradation on the top leaves.

White Striped Cretan Brake Fern (Pteris cretica Albolineata)
White Striped Cretan Brake Fern (Pteris cretica Albolineata)

Moreover, the edges of the leaves are in the form of sharp serrations, giving a bold statement to its appeal. The good news is this fern is included in the category of easy ferns to maintain than other fern plants.

This indoor plant still needs high humidity, but the fern is quite forgiving if the growers take a wrong step in planting them.

16. Common Horsetail Fern(Equisetum arevense)

This fern species marks its position as one of the most unique ferns you may ever see! It features erect, short stems with foliage shaped like horsetail hair. Despite its fascinating appearance, the fern is, lamentably, not an evergreen plant since it will turn brown in autumn.

Another interesting fact is that the Equisetum arevense is also known as a fossil fern because it is the only living Equisitaceae after almost 100 million years.

 Common Horsetail Fern (Equisetum arevense)
 Common Horsetail Fern (Equisetum arevense)

Nonetheless, some argue that horsetail fern is not for indoor plants because of its quick-spreading nature and needs a lot of water. On the other hand, some said that it will thrive best as a houseplant since it is more fond of shady areas than other types of ferns.

If you have decided to keep it indoors, you need to place it facing the window to get a proper amount of sunlight.

17. Clover Fern (Marsilea)

Its fast-growing nature on the ground makes Clover Fern fall into the category of ground cover ferns. It is also considered a few of the rarest ferns in terms of complete plants because it has leaves, roots, and stems.

Clover Fern (Marsilea)
Clover Fern (Marsilea)

Generally, the plant has four heart-shaped foliage that looks pretty. This type of fern is usually grown as outdoor ferns, but it is also possible to have them potted indoors.

You only need to make sure that it gets bright sun exposure and evenly moist soil.

18. Tricolor Fern(Pteris aspericaulis ‘Tricolor’)

Some people grow ferns because they look attractive, and most of them are evergreen. One example is this Tricolor Fern, which features incredible color combinations of green, red, and brown.

Tricolor Fern (Pteris aspericaulis 'Tricolor')
Tricolor Fern (Pteris aspericaulis ‘Tricolor’),(imagecredit: etsy/Pinterest)

Another uniqueness of this one of the rarest ferns lies in its upright and pinnate leaf shape. This fern plant is commonly grown as a terrarium, so its care is slightly different from most ferns.

It needs to be placed under glass with loam-based compost, sand, leaf mold, and charcoal, then water it freely also feeds monthly.

19. Button Fern(Pellaea rotundifolia)

Even though it bears a similar name, Button Fern is utterly different from Lemon Button Fern. Pellaea rotundifolia is an endemic low-growing fern plant in New Zealand with petite round and beautiful arching fronds.

Button Fern (Pellaea rotundifolia)
Button Fern (Pellaea rotundifolia)

It is also not as clump as most ferns plants, making it one of the most beautiful indoor types of ferns for your home. If you are thinking of growing them, you need to place them in slightly shady spots and humid environments.

Avoid cold and dry hot air because it can turn the green leaves into brown ones.

20. Crocodile Fern(Microsorum musifolium)

The uniqueness of this fern plant is in the pattern of both top and underside foliage which is identical to crocodile scales formed from dark green veins. They are also wrinkled and puckery, creating an unusual look for everyone seeing them.

 Crocodile Fern (Microsorum musifolium)
 Crocodile Fern (Microsorum musifolium)

However, their bold statement does not describe the graceful appearance they actually have. This indoor fern will give its best performance in well-watering potting soil with low lighting.

Do not put them on the windowsill because direct sunlight will damage their beautiful fronds.

21. Cinnamon Fern(Osmunda cinnamomea)

Although it is uncommon to grow cinnamon fern indoors, it is still possible as long as we know how to make them thrive. Cinnamon Fern has two different types of fronds.

The brown one grows from the center part of the plant, while the rest are green, sterile foliage.

Cinnamon Fern (Osmunda cinnamomea)
Cinnamon Fern (Osmunda cinnamomea)

Those are the distinctive characteristics that set them aside from the majority of ferns. This fern will grow happily on wet soil, making them sun tolerant.

For indoor cultivation, cinnamon ferns are best to plant in a big pot since they can grow up to four feet or one meter. 

22. Hen & Chicken Fern(Asplenium bulbiferun)

Like Button Fern, Hen & Chicken Fern, or Mother Spleenwort is also native to New Zealand. The plant takes after its name since they have bulbils vegetative reproduction on the upper side of its leaves.

Hen & Chicken Fern (Asplenium bulbiferum)
Hen & Chicken Fern (Asplenium bulbiferum)

It is characterized by bending fronds, bright green, and a leather-like foliage shape. Thanks to its graceful appearance, Asplenium bulbiferum is perfect for planting in hanging baskets.

Moreover, this perennial fern loves shady spots where it can grow faster. 

23. Painted Lady Fern(Athyrium Niponicum Var. Pictum’Burgundy Lace’)

Athyrium niponicum var. Pictum is a deciduous fern that features pale green fronds with a lighter midrib and red-purple center zone on the upper side of the foliage. The fern grows short, and branching rhizomes slowly spread to clump.

 Painted Lady Fern (Athyrium Niponicum Var. Pictum ‘Burgundy Lace’)
 Painted Lady Fern (Athyrium niponicum var. Pictum ‘Burgundy Lace’)

The process of developing new leaves usually occurs in spring. Moreover, this fern is relatively easy to grow. However, you must pay attention to the placement of the pots when you decide to take care of them indoors.

Painted Lady Fern loves light shady areas with high organic soil content. They will surely give you its best color foliage in such a place if you follow what it wants.

24. Northern Maidenhair Fern(Adiantum pedatum)

Similar to Painted Lady Fern, Northern Maidenhair Fern is a deciduous fern that forms clumping of its rhizomes. It features soft-textured foliage shaped like fingers with slightly curve fronds.

Northern Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum pedatum)
Northern Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum pedatum)

The stems have a characteristic glossy, red-brown to black color that can grow 1.5 – 2 inches tall. This semi-evergreen plant grows easily in part or full shaded areas with humid soil with proper acidity.

25. Maidenhair Sleepwort(Asplenium trichomanes)

Look familiar with one type of fern? Maidenhair Sleepwort is indeed the miniature of the common Sword Fern. Its fragile-looking shade actually hides the true nature of this fern, which is rigid types of ferns.

Maidenhair Sleepwort (Asplenium trichomanes)
Maidenhair Sleepwort (Asplenium trichomanes)

It has round-shaped foliage with dangling fronds, giving a charming and graceful look. Furthermore, it is one of the ferns that are easy to care for and becomes drought tolerant if you understand its characteristics.

It will grow faster rich, well-drained soil under light, shaded places.

26. Hard Fern/Deer Fern(Blechnum spicant)

Apart from being a Hard Fern, Blechnum spicant is also known as a Deer Fern because the fronds are similar to the deer’s horn. At first glance, the fronds grow separately, making it look like a family of palms.

Hard Fern/Deer Fern (Blechnum spicant)
Hard Fern/Deer Fern (Blechnum spicant)

In addition, this fern reproduces using spores that are undersides of the leaves. If you would like to plant them indoors, it is recommended to do it in 9 cm or 15 cm pots.

They will thrive in deep organic soil, just like most ferns do.

27. Kimberly Queen Fern(Nephrolepis obliterata)

Despite being in the same fern varieties as Cotton Candy Fern, Kimberly Queen Fern has a different appearance. It features bright green bushy leaves shaped like a gracefully arching sword.

This fern grows perfectly in warm temperatures with acidic humid soil and under partial shade sun exposure.

 Kimberly Queen Fern (Nephrolepis obliterata)
 Kimberly Queen Fern (Nephrolepis obliterata)

Considering its beautiful appeal, it is often used as indoor ferns planted in pots with holes. The holes serve to prevent waterlogging that can damage the plant.

28. Asparagus Fern(Asparagus densiflorous ‘sprengeri’)

It may be recognized as fern, yet Asparagus fern actually belongs to the Asparagus genus, with no relation to the fern family. Nonetheless, its appearance is similar to a fern with green leaves with a distinctive shape.

 Asparagus Fern (Asparagus densiflorous ‘sprengeri’)
 Asparagus Fern (Asparagus densiflorous ‘sprengeri’)

Asparagus fern highlights needle-like foliage and horns not found on other fern plants. Moreover, this fern species is often used as an ornamental plant at home.

However, you should consider a safe place to put the pot for those who have furry friends because it is toxic for dogs and cats.

29. Frosty Fern(Selaginella)

There is a reason why it is named after Frosty Fern. The leaves have a color like frozen leaves, with a white to silver touch on the tips. Moreover, the scale-shaped leaves look like spruce leaves, creating a miniature Christmas tree with snow on top.

Frosty Fern (Selaginella)
Frosty Fern (Selaginella)

Plus, its small size will make it easier for you to care for it, even though this species is not the easiest. It needs bright, indirect light with humid soil. Unfortunately, similar to Asparagus Fern, Frosty Fern is toxic to cats.

Therefore, make sure you keep it out of reach of your pets.

30. Foxtail Fern(Asparagus declinatus)

Still a relative with Asparagus Fern, this Foxtail Fern has an appearance that is not much different from the species we discussed earlier. However, this fern has no horns like the Asparagus.

Instead, it features lovely curly and thick foliage resembling the foxtail.

Foxtail Fern (Asparagus declinatus)
Foxtail Fern (Asparagus declinatus)

In addition, the fronds are erect upwards to give the impression of a foxtail getting ready from enemy attacks. Furthermore, this plant loves weekly watering to keep proper humidity and is non-toxic to pets and humans.

31. Japanese Painted Fern(Athyrium niponicum)

Japanese Painted Ferns (Athyrium niponicum) are one of the most attractive plants for houseplants. It is an unusual fern that highlights exceptional patterns that seem hand-painted.

The fern features purple stems with silver-pale green pinnae leaflets, creating a stunning look that is perfect for houseplants.

Japanese Painted Fern (Athyrium niponicum)
Japanese Painted Fern (Athyrium niponicum)

Moreover, it has a good ground cover shade that makes them ideal for outdoor ferns as well. And thanks to its hardiness, Japanese Painted Fern is considered one of the highly desirable fern plants.

You can take care of Japanese Painted Fern by placing it in shaded areas while maintaining the soil humidity.

32. Blue Star Fern(Phlebodium aureum)

Contrary to Staghorn, the Blue Star Ferns are popular among homeowners as they are relatively small, just like a mini version of the Staghorn ferns. They both are epiphytic ferns that do not take many spaces to plant indoors.

Blue Star Fern (Phlebodium aureum)
Blue Star Fern (Phlebodium aureum)

The unique character of the Blue Star is the large foliage with spores seen undersides of the leaves. Unlike other fern plants, it does not need much moisture, making it way tolerant and easy as houseplants.

You can mist them once in a while when the soil is parched. Regarding lighting, it is suggested to place the plant in low to medium light.

33. Royal Fern(Osmunda regalis)

Osmunda regalis, mostly known as Royal Ferns, are the significant deciduous type that quickly grows indoors. The hallmark of this fern species is its large green leaves consisting of 13 pairs in one stem, giving the ‘royal’ impression as to its namesake.

Royal Fern (Osmunda regalis)
Royal Fern (Osmunda regalis)

And as typical as most ferns, it needs a partial or complete shaded place to grow best. It also thrives on moist acid soil with regular watering. Considering its large growing foliage, the plant will need bigger pots compared to other ferns in general.

34. Autumn Fern(Dryopteris erythrosora)

Perhaps, you can easily recognize this fern by its autumn leaves color that captivates anyone who sees it. The foliage show red to bronze, depending on their life stages.

 Autumn Fern (Dryopteris erythrosora)
 Autumn Fern (Dryopteris erythrosora)

As it matures, the color will turn to dark green. In contrast to its name, the growing season of Autumn Fern is in spring. Moreover, the fern can survive in cold temperatures, unlike most fern varieties.

This perennial plant also loves rich and well-drained acidic soil.


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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Do ferns need sun or shade?

Most fern varieties prefer shaded areas to grow because direct sunlight exposure can harm their leaves. Nonetheless, it does not mean they do not need light at all.

If you want to give them exposure, you can put a filter on the windows, thus your ferns can still get enough sunlight. 

What is the rarest type of fern?

The rarest fern variety in the world is the neotropical fern – Stenogrammitis myosuroides. This type of fern can only be found in the mountains of Jamaica, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic. 

How do you take care of ferns?

Most fern varieties need regular watering to maintain soil moisture. And because they can’t be exposed to direct sunlight, make sure to place them in a shady place but still get low light exposure.

In addition, it provides a proper amount of nutrients to your soil to make your fern grow happily and healthily.

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