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How To Save Your Ferns! Bringing Ferns Indoors For The Winter

Bringing your ferns indoors this fall and saving them through the cold winter months is not only simple and easy, but a great way to save big money on your gardening budget next spring too!

Ferns are an excellent way to decorate porches and outdoor living spaces with gorgeous greenery. Whether growing in containers or hanging planters, they are an extremely low maintenance plant. Especially when you consider they are rarely bothered by pests, and require far less watering than other container plants.

But one thing is for sure, they can be quite costly to replace year after year. Unfortunately, ferns are simply not tolerant enough to keep outdoors in climates that dip below the freezing mark. In fact, a single hard frost or freeze can easily kill a fern in a single night!

fern on a porch
Ferns are an easy and beautiful way to brighten up outdoor spaces through the spring, summer and fall. But the end of warm temperatures doesn’t have to spell the end of the line for them. Ferns can easily be overwintered indoors to use outdoors again next year!

But although ferns can’t handle the cold winter months outdoors, they can and do overwinter extremely well indoors. And all with very little trouble, and the slightest of care. With that in mind, here is a look at how to bring your ferns indoors this fall to enjoy again next year.

Bringing Ferns Indoors For Winter – The Simple Steps To Success

When it comes to successfully overwintering ferns, a few simple tips will go a long way to ensuring your plants stay healthy and strong. And the most important of all? Bring them inside before that first frost!

Bringing Ferns Indoors Early

Ferns can be tolerant of cool temperatures, but if they are left out through a frost, they injure easily. A frost can not only kill off a fern’s foliage, but stunt and damage its roots as well. And if it happens to be left out through a hard freeze? Well, it most likely will be heading to the compost bin and not to a second year of growth!

ferns indoors
If you want to save your ferns for next year, they need to be brought inside before a hard frost or freeze.

If an unexpected early season frost or freeze is on the horizon, move your fern into a semi-protected place. A barn, shed or garage all work well. If that is not an option, at the very least, cover it with a blanket or sheet. The key is to protect it from damage until you can prepare it for indoor life.

So why not just bring it right indoors if there are cold temperatures in the forecast? As you will see below, taking the time to prepare your fern with a few simple tasks first can prevent problems for the plant – and your home!

Hose Down The Plant – Bringing Ferns Indoors

Before bringing indoors, use a garden hose to thoroughly spray the entire foliage of your fern. When spraying, lift the fronds up to hit the underside of the leaves as well.

This is absolutely vital to remove any and all insects and pests that may be living in your plant. Remember that your ferns has been outdoors all summer. And everything from moths, spiders and aphids, to even a bird’s nest might be lurking within its foliage.

Not only will spraying them down keep out unwelcome house guests, but it will also help hydrate the plant as well. Once your plant has dried off a bit, it is time to shape it up a bit before bringing it in.

insects in the house
It is always a good idea to spray your ferns off before bringing them indoors. Not only will it help to remove dirt and dust on the foliage, but also prevent any pests from hitchhiking indoors as well.

Pruning Ferns – Bringing Ferns Indoors For Winter

Warm, arid summer temps can cause massive growth for ferns. Before bringing indoors, take a little time to shear back some of the excessive growth. A good pair of hedge shears are perfect for this task.

There is no need for heavy pruning. Start by cutting back long stragglers that can make it difficult to place indoors. Finish by shaping up the plant with a light trim, making sure to cut back any fronds that will become an issue when sitting the plant on a stand or table.

Re-Pot Root Bound Plants

When a potted plant becomes overloaded with roots, it can make watering a touch chore. Ferns are no different, and can suffer quickly from being root bound.

Inspect the pot of your fern to see if its roots have filled the entire space. If there is little soil left, or the roots have completely surrounded the sides of the pot, it is time to take action.

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A good rule of thumb is to replant ferns a new pot that is one-quarter to one-third larger than its previous container. Use a high-quality, light potting soil when re-potting. Resist the temptation to give ferns too much new space.

Left in pots with too much soil surrounding its roots, a fern will become over-saturated. The excess soil simply retains too much moisture, and the plant can struggle. There is no need to fertilize at all. Ferns do not require much to perform well. In fact, too many nutrients will cause more issues to a fern than not enough.

Dividing Overgrown Ferns – Bringing Ferns Indoors

For ferns that have become too large for re-potting, you can opt to divide them into new starts. This is actually a great way to create even more beautiful, lush, green, shade-loving plants for your outdoors next year!

When splitting a fern, take a sharp knife or cutting tool and divide into sections to create new plants. For most over-sized ferns, quartering the plant works beautifully to create 4 new plants.

Fern roots are extremely hard and tolerant of this process. As long as the plants are re-planted into a good quality, light potting mix, most will take hold to their new surroundings quickly. For more on dividing, check out our article : How To Divide Ferns In The Fall.

Lighting

Now your plants are ready for the indoors! To survive, ferns do not need full sun or maximum lighting through the winter months. In fact, too much sun can actually cause a fern more damage than good.

Oversized ferns can be divided and replanted to create multiple new plants. Not only will they grow to brighten up your outdoors next spring, but they can liven up your interior spaces as well through the long winter months.

Ferns will perform best in moderate, indirect lighting conditions. This can be in a cool basement with indirect lighting from a basement well-widow, or in the corner of a room that receives natural light from a nearby window.

One thing you want to do is keep your fern away from a southern facing window. The sun’s heat and rays coming in through the glass can actually burn foliage. Windows that do not face the south can work well for ferns, but again, indirect lighting a bit away from any window is the best choice of all.

Water your ferns through the winter only when the soil completely dries out. Ferns suffer more from over-watering than under-watering. If your ferns takes on a little less color or loses a few leaves in the winter, do not be alarmed. They will return to full glory in the spring.

As spring comes back around, take plants out when the weather begins to warm. Just as in the fall, be sure to protect your ferns from late spring frosts or freezes. For more

Here is to bringing your ferns indoors this winter, and saving them to grow again next year!

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