Indoor Fern Plant Descriptions and Instructions on Care

The most beautiful indoor ferns

With a huge selection of about 9,500 fern species to choose from, the fern-lover’s passion for collecting need know scarcely any boundaries. Most of the ferns that can be cultivated indoors originate from tropical and subtropical climatic zones. There follows a selection of the most attractive genera, species and varieties usually obtainable from the gardening trade.


Botanical nomenclature

Pityrogramma - undersides of the leaves look like they have been dusted with goldThe following descriptions include the botanical name of the plant followed by the common name (where appropriate).

The botanical name consists of the genus name, for example Nephrolepis (Greek: nephros = kidney, lepis = scale). This is always printed in italic script with an uppercase letter. It is followed by the species name, for example exaltata (Latin: exaltatus = growing tall), also in italics and always with a lowercase letter. These names have been adopted all over the world and help to avoid confusion.

They are also very useful for plant lovers as many species bear different common names in different parts of the world. For example, you can buy Nephrolepis under the name of sword fern. If the plant did not have a universally agreed Latin name, anyone trying to buy this plant from a florist might end up with a plant from a completely different genus, Polystichum munitum, also known as sword fern, which is used as greenery in flower arrangements.

Many plant names carry a third element, the variety name. This is always written with an uppercase letter and placed in inverted commas, for example Nephrolepis exaltata "Teddy Junior". This makes it clear that one is dealing with a variety of this plant species that was specially raised or created in cultivation.


A key to the listing of ferns

The fern genera described here are listed in alphabetical order according to their botanical names.

The individual descriptions listed on this site within the indoor fern section, begin with the most important species. The details refer to their size, appearance, shape of growth and use of the plants as well as to the shape and colour of the leaves, rhizomes and spore clusters. References to related species and to the number of known species in a genus round off the information given.

Following this is a short listing using the following keywords.

Family: Plant genera with the same features are grouped together in families by botanists. Membership of a family manifests itself above all through the ways in which the spore clusters are grouped.

Origin: This section tells us where each fern originates. The prevailing climate in these regions will offer valuable information as to the kind of position and care each fern will need. Even the prevailing mini-climate is of some importance and so relevant typical natural positions are described as is the type of growth (epiphytic or terrestrial).

Position: This keyword defines the requirements of the plant with respect to light, temperature and humidity.

Care: This section gives exact details as to watering, fertilizing and repotting.

Propagation: This section covers possible types of propagation which should be successful for the individual genera.

Pests, diseases: Pests and diseases that afflict the individual genera are named here.

My tip: Personal experience and special recommendations of the author.

Warning: This gives notes on toxic or skin-irritating substances contained in the plants.


Toxic substances

Never ever eat any part of your indoor ferns as many plants have toxic properties. Also make sure that no children or domestic pets are able or allowed to eat parts of the plants. Certain species contain toxic substances. For example, some Davallia species contain cyanogenic glycosides. Spore-forming ferns may trigger skin allergies, particularly Arachniodes adiantiformis, which is used as greenery in arrangements of cut flowers and is occasionally also offered as a pot plant. People known to have allergies should avoid this plant.


Click the following links to read more on each individual fern:

Actiniopteris australis

Adiantum Maidenhair Fern

Arachniodes adiantiformis

Asplenium bird’s nest fern

Blechnum hard fern

Blechnum moorei

Cyrtomium holly fern

Davallia hare’s foot fern



Hemionitis arifolia


Microlepia Ferns

Nephrolepis Fern

Pellaea button fern



Platycerium Staghorn Fern

Polypodium Fern

Polystichum Fern

Pteris Fern


01. June 2011 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: House Plants, Indoor Ferns, Plant Care | Tags: , | Comments Off on Indoor Fern Plant Descriptions and Instructions on Care


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