Repotting Indoor Ferns


With some fern species, any space available in a pot is usually quickly filled up with vigorous root formation. Such species ought to be repotted once a year. However, many indoor ferns do not form a very vigorous root system and should only be repotted when necessary. All pot plants should receive fresh compost from time to time as salts tend to accumulate through watering and fertilizing or the compost may become acidic through water-logging.

repotting fernsWhen to repot: The best time for this is in the spring as the plants can then start their new growth phase under ideal circumstances and will also recover from planting stress more easily.

What container to use: You may use clay or plastic pots for ferns. The plants will not dry out so fast in plastic pots, although a clay pot will tend to smooth over any mistakes in care (too much watering, for example) as water can evaporate through the porous walls. The important thing is that the new pot is not too large; as a rule, one that has a diameter 2 cm (¾ in) larger than the last pot will be sufficient. In the case of epiphytic ferns, it is

often advisable to remove only the loose compost and to put the plants back into the same sized pots.

The right compost: Compost gives the plants a secure footing and should supply water, nutrients and air. It is important, therefore, to use air- and water-permeable compost. Ready-made composts containing a low supply of nutrients or controlled-release fertilizer are ideal for indoor ferns. These are standard composts composed of peat and loam, peat compost or bark compost. Because of its good drainage and ventilation properties, coarse bark compost is recommended for use with epiphytic ferns but you could also use orchid compost for these.

My tip: Quality composts give an indication of their nutrient content and pH values on the packaging. Seek the advice of an exerienced member of staff at a good plant nursery or garden centre when buying compost for your ferns. Do not simply buy compost for "indoor plants" nor the cheapest compost on sale.


How to repot

• Hold the pot in one hand and the base of the plant in the other and turn the whole thing upside down.

• Briefly tap the rim of the pot on the edge of a table or similar until the rootstock is loosened from the pot.

• Remove loose compost.

• In the case of large pots, place a drainage layer of Hortag on the bottom.

• Put in compost, leaving room for the rootstock.

• Now use one hand to place the plant in the middle of the new pot and use the other hand to shovel in fresh compos.

• Leave a watering "gulley" and press the compost down lightly.

• Water the repotted fern well.


Ferns in hydroculture

Some fern species are only offered for sale as hydroculture plants. With this method of cultivation, the plants are rooted in Hortag and are supplied with water and nutrients by means of a nutrient solution. Plants in this type of medium are easy to care for as they need to be watered less often and you cannot make many mistakes because the water requirement can be read on a gauge.

Ferns in hydroculture are treated the same way as other plants in this medium. The main thing is that you should only ever use soft water and give half the fertilizer dose recommended for other green plants.

23. May 2011 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: House Plants, Indoor Ferns | Tags: , | Comments Off on Repotting Indoor Ferns


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