The Best Palm and Fern Houseplants to Grow

Palm and fern do make a home
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In this article, we will be broaching the best palm and fern houseplant to have in your home.

As we want our homes to have the best greenery as possible, we look to palms and ferns to bring green hues to our lives, so that we can bring the outside gardening space to our living spaces.

Palm and fern do make a home
Palm and fern do make a home.

Palms bring up an image of tropical climates in our own homes. It gives a picture of sipping a pina colada under a palm tree. They bring relaxation to our homes, an area of peace and relaxation without our place of sanctuary.

Palm plants like the same conditions what we do: warm temperatures, average humidity and good levels of lighting. Palms and ferns will most definitely add a degree of the exotic into our homes, as we can live side by side with these plants.

WHY GROW FERNS?

Ferns are wonderful indoor plants, where they can add much greenery to an indoor space, especially in winter where outdoor greenery is not much to be seen. Ferns tend to be easy to look after provided that the plant has the right level of light and moisture.

Ferns are one of the oldest plants known in existence and most of them are tough as boots. There are so many different species of fern from all regions of the world from cold area to tropics. They also come in many different sizes from miniatures to tall tree ferns.

Palms and ferns are great houseplants as long as you look after them well.

What follows are the palms and ferns that I would recommend to be grown in your homes, along with the suitable growing conditions:

ADIANTUM CAPILLUS-VENERIS (Maidenhair Fern)

This is an extremely pretty and delicate leave plant that has arching black stems that have many tiny rounded leaflets. These leaflets start life pale green or pale pink and mature to a bright green colour.

Adiantum capillus-veneris
Adiantum capillus-veneris

This plant will suffer if it is neglected so it will need careful monitoring.

The biggest problem is adiantum needs constant humidity. If the air is allowed to dry the leaves will turn brown at the edges and will eventually die back completely.

This pot plant grows up to 8ocn in height on its preferred position of light shade. To be at its best grow in average to hot temperature (16 degree Celsius to 27 degree Celsius).

This plant needs lots of water during the growing seasons, sparingly in winter. Needs to be fed once a month in the growing season with a houseplant liquid fertiliser. For an attractive alternative lookout for Adiantum raddianum.

ASPLENIUM NIDUS (Bird’s Nest Fern)

There are a beautiful group of ferns that do well under indoor growing conditions. It is an unusual fern as the fronds are solid leathery and heavily divided. The fronds are large, leaf-like and glossy, which are light green in colour and have darker midribs.

Asplenium nidus
Asplenium nidus

The fronds form a rosette-like clump in which material collects in the centre of the rosette. This creates a bird’s nest effect.

This 1.2m tall plant need a humid spot in warm temperature and a decent level of shade. The plants prefer to be grown in an ericaceous compost when you are potting the plant on.

The compost must be kept moist at all times, but appreciates not been overwatered in winter. Be carefully the plant’s fronds are brittle and can easily break-off. Do not overfeed.

BLECHNUM GIBBUM (Silver Lady)

This is a 90cm tall slow-growing fern that has long fronds that are borne in a clump formation on a short trunk. It is a plant that can be kept in cool condition, this is provided that is watered sparingly. Young plants need warmer temperatures to hasten its development. The short trunk is only visible as the plant matures and grows.

Blechnum gibbum
Blechnum gibbum

The ferns preferred position is a warm and moderate humid spot in moderate shade. As said it can take cool temperature of watering is reduced.

In warm surroundings, it will need plenty of water, whilst in winter and in cooler conditions, just keep the roots just moist. It is best to water with rainwater, as hard water can reduce the vitality of the plant. Does not need feeding regularly but once or twice during the growing season.

CHAMAEDOREA

Palms tend to be graceful foliage plants that will eventually become large enough to fill a corner of the room. They are not fast-growing and are well adapted to growing indoors. They are also easy to look after.

This palm is no different, as long as it is given moderate amounts of water in the summer months and its roots are not allowed to dry out. The roots hate being waterlogged and under these conditions, the plant will do particularly badly.

Chamaedorea elegans
Chamaedorea elegans

This 3m tall plant has small clumps of stem bearing fronds with wide leaflets. The plant appreciates being grown in warm, moderate humid conditions in light shade to good levels of light, but away from direct sunlight.

The plant hates its roots to be disturbed, so only pot on with the plants start showing signs that it is root-bound.

Every spring add new compost on top of the old compost layer. Old plants may look unattractive and you may need to start all over again with a new plant.

CHAMAEROPS HUMILIS (Dwarf Fern Palm)

This is a half-hardy palm that is often grown outdoors in a container and then moved indoors before the first frosts hits. It can even suffer slight frosts and still survive. This implies for a houseplant that it does not require high temperature to grow, as long as the temperature is greater than 10 degree Celsius.

What is an impressive feature of this palm is that the thin, glossy leaflets are arranged in an attractive formation around a central point. This gives the appearance of a great circle of spikes.

Chamaerops humilis
Chamaerops humilis

A young plant the leaves emerge at compost level, but as the plant matures it forms a structure from which on top of the leaves are produced. The lower leaves gradually turn brown and die back as the plant grows upward. All you need to do is remove these brown leaves as soon as they appear.

This fern can get pretty large, up to 3m in height but this is unusual for container specimens. Grow it in a good, bright site in warm temperature in summer and cooler temperature in winter.

Water moderately when growing in spring to autumn, sparingly in winter. Humidity does not need to be high at all.

Feed once a month with a balanced liquid fertiliser.

CYCAS (Fern Palm or Sago Palm)

For a palm, this is an odd-looking plant but it is most certainly exotic. Cycas produces tough arching leaf stalks covered in spiny leaflets. As new leaves are produced from the plant the old ones fade forming a thick spiky crown.

Cycas 'Sago Palm'
Cycas ‘Sago Palm’

Cycas like good, bright light but away from bright sunlight. This 6m tall plant will require watering moderately in summer, less so in winter. It will need an occasional misting in summer, and do not worry about the giant size it can grow to, as it is very slow-growing. Warm condition is a must and must be met at all times.

Be aware Cycas are intolerant of any chemical pesticides, so do not use any with this plant around. Any pest infestations need to be removed manually.

CYRTOMIUM FALCATUM (Holly Fern)

This is an unusual looking fern, where the fronds produced are glossy green and look like holly. The plant can grow up to 90cm in height and is not a difficult plant to grow as it often survives harsh growing conditions.

Cyrtomium falcatum
Cyrtomium falcatum

All that is required is good drainage and a 15cm diameter pot full of houseplant compost.

Grow it in a cool position that gets plenty of air and moderate shade. North-facing windows are an ideal location. In summer water generously, whilst sparingly at all other times.

DAVALLIA CANARIENSIS (Hare’s Foot Fern)

This is a relatively small fern that grows up to 45cm in height. It has feathery fronds and creeping underground stems that look like a hare’s foot.

Davallia canariensis
Davallia canariensis

It is best grown in special containers so that the underground stems can be allowed to creep over the surface, you can also grow it in a hanging basket to give the best effect.

Grow it in moderate shade in a frost-free position. Water moderately in summer where the compost is never allowed to dry out. Water sparingly in winters, whilst feeding regularly in summer.

DIDYMOCHLAENA TRUNCATULA (Cloak Fern)

This fern have thickish green fronds that are suffused with browns. As the plant matures it has a tree-like habit, where oy grows up to 1.5m in height

Not an easy plant to care for, as it will suffer if not enough heat or humidity is given to it.

Didymochlaena Truncatula
Didymochlaena truncatula

Grow it in an ericaceous compost, where the leaflets of the fronds will shed if the compost becomes too dry. This will give an appearance of bare stalks and is not a pretty look.

Grow in moderate warmth, humidity and shade throughout the year. Not really suitable to be grown in a room that has central heating. As the compost can dry too quickly.

Consistent watering is required to make sure that the compost is never too dry.

DYPSIS LUTESCENS (Butterfly Palm)

This is a tall (growing up to 2.5m in height) clumping-forming palm that has bamboo-like stems with shiny yellowish-green leaves. This is a slow-growing palm, so there is no need to move into a tall ceiling house to buy one. This can be aided if the plant is kept in small pots where the palm growth is kept in check.

Dypsis lutescens
Dypsis lutescens

The biggest problem is that in small pots the compost may dry out too quickly and the plant will suffer.

Palms in generally like root disturbance to be kept to a minimum, so pot on when the palm roots start to protrude from the bottom of the container. During the growing season feed once a month with a liquid fertiliser.

The palm prefers to be grown in warm conditions and moderate humidity on good light.

Water the plant generously on summer, less so in winter, where the compost should be kept just moist.

HOWEA BELMOREANA (Kentia) (Sentry Palm)

This is a palm that can grow up to 3m in height, where stems bearing green fronds with numerous long leaflets appear. It will survive cooler temperature (no less than 7 degree Celsius) provided watering is not too excessive. Small palms can be retained in small pots for a long time, but eventually, a 20cm diameter pot will be required.

Howea belmoreana
Howea belmoreana

Grow it in a houseplant compost where it should be fed with a balanced liquid fertiliser once a month during the summer months.

This plant prefers to be grown on cool to warm temperatures and moderate humidity, with good shade in summer, but bright light in winter. As it is a quick grower you will need space to grow it.

During spring and summer, you need to water generously but much less so at other times of the year.

For a less formal, more graceful appearance, where the fronds have a draping habit, grow H. forsteriana (Kentia) (Kent Palm).

NEPHROLEPIS

Some say that this species and cultivars of this plant are the most beautiful of all ferns.

They have arching bright green fronds that are borne on a dense clump, where it will grow large and impressive. The shape of the fern lends its way to be grown in hanging baskets so that the fronds hang below the container.

Nephrolepis exaltata
Nephrolepis exaltata

This 1.5m tall plant tends to be easy to grow. All that is required are cool to moderately warm temperature and high humidity. The plant can support light shade or good light but no direct sunlight.

This is one plant that does not like being in the draught. To repot a plant you need to ensure that the compost that you use is ericaceous and that when you water you do not use hard water, rainwater is preferable. You need to water well in summer but much less so in winter.

Look out for varieties such as N. ‘Bostoniensis’ (Boston Fern) or N. ‘Whitmanii’ (Lace Fern). The lace fern tends to be less vigorous than the Boston fern.

PELLAEA ROTUNDIFOLIA (Button Fern)

This is a compact fern that only grow up to 30cm in height. The beauty is that it does not grow tall during its lifetime. It is an unusual fern because its fronds unfurl into a series of small button-shaped leaflets, it also does not creep, which is unusual for a fern.

Pellaea rotundifolia
Pellaea rotundifolia

As well as being an unusual shape the button fern is unusual in its behaviour. It is still tolerant of shade but unlike most ferns, it can tolerate less humid air and live with dry compost.

Best to be grown in average temperatures in shady or bright, filtered light. Saying that it can tolerate dry compost does not mean that the plant prefers it. It is best to keep the compost moist throughout the year but less so in winter when the temperature drops markedly. No high humidity is required, but you must feed regularly during the summer months with a balanced liquid fertiliser.

PHOENIX CANARIENSIS (Canary Islands Date Palm)

This palm is beautifully shaped with large green fronds composed of long, narrow sharply pointed leaflets. The plants tend to form trunks as it matures.

Outdoors in warmer climates, some date palms can grow up to 30m in height. You have no need to worry as the same plant whilst young make attractive indoor plants. As the plant grows its lower leaves start turning brown and will eventually die, so will need to be removed. This is part of the natural plant cycle.

Phoenix canariensis
Phoenix canariensis

This giant of a plant needs a lot of room as it can grow up to 6m high, in bright, filtered light. The size of the date plant may be restricted by delaying when to pot on, but the plant may become root-bound and will most certainly require feeding. In summer it will require to be watered generously, sparingly in winter. This is one plant that does not like its roots to be waterlogged.

Grow it in allocation of high humidity and feed once a month with a balanced liquid fertiliser during the growing season.

If you are looking for a smaller, less vigorous palm then you can grow a P. roebelenii (Pygmy Date Palm). The fronds are smaller and composed of feathery, glossy green leaflets. It only grows up to 1.5m in height. It also does not form a trunk and will instead form suckers at the base of the plant, which needs to be taken out. This is a more manageable date palm.

PLATYCERIUM ALCICORNE (Staghorn Fern)

This is a moderate-sized fern that grows up to 75cm in height with odd-shaped fronds that look like deer antlers.

Platycerium alcicorne
Platycerium alcicorne

To grow this plant by wiring plants to clumps of sphagnum moss and fixing them to pieces of bark that can be fastened to a wall, or other suitable supports above ground.

The plants like moderate warmth, humidity and shade. Never allow the compost to dry out, especially in summer where misting with water is required throughout the summer months.

Feed once a month with a dilute liquid fertiliser to ensure it gets the nutrients throughout the growing months.

POLYSTICHUM

This hardy fern can be successfully grown outdoor or alternatively as a houseplant. It has the classic ‘shuttlecock’ shape often seen in outdoor ferns where the green fronds emerge from a central point. It can support fairly cool temperatures such as utility rooms.

Polystichum setiferum
Polystichum setiferum

This fern loves typical fern growing conditions of partial shade and kept moist at all times. The leaves are divided and narrow shaped.

At the same time, the plant hates their roots to be permanently in water. It is beneficial to let the compost to dry out a little in the summer months.

Grow it in average temperature in partial shade, where it can grow up to 1m in height. Water well in summer and much less so in winter, ensuring that humidity is high at all times. Once a month feed with a balanced liquid fertiliser during the growing season will not go unnoticed.

PTERIS CRETICA (Ribbon Fern)

This 1m tall-growing fern has pretty variegated forms, It is one of the easiest ferns to grow indoors, as they are tolerant of a wide range of growing conditions.

Pteris cretica
Pteris cretica

The leaves of this fern have two distinct forms; there is the usual ribbon-like shaped fern with sterile fronds around the base, or a much taller, thinner fern with fertile fronds.

This gives the plant an appealing shape. Grow this fern with it deeply cut, feathery leaves in average temperatures in bright, filtered light, Water well in summer but not too much so that it gets waterlogged. Cut back a lot of watering in winter, where it is best to allow the compost to dry out a little between watering.

WASHINGTONIA

This is a large growing up to 3m tall palm that looks so impressive. It produces long leaf stalks, surrounded with rounded, green, fern-shaped, spiky leaves at the end of each stalk.

Washingtonia robusta
Washingtonia robusta

Although the plant can grow quite large up to 7m in its native environment, it still makes a good leave plant whilst it is still young. Grow it in average to warm temperatures all year round in direct sunlight.

You will need to water well during the growing season, not much so in winter. One key condition that must be met is that the compost it is planted in must be free draining. Feeding once a month with a liquid fertiliser will not go amiss as well.

CONCLUSIONS

In this article, the best palm and fern houseplants to grow has been discussed. As you can see there are quite a few varieties that will give much greenery to your home. These plants all come in different sizes, different forms and have different needs, but they all have one thing in common, as they all look spectacular.

If you have need of a tall plant to fill a vacant spot in your living room or conservatory then there is a plant for you.

If you have a question or comment that you wish to make, please do so in the houseplant comment box below.

Keep your house green with these plants.


10 thoughts on “The Best Palm and Fern Houseplants to Grow”

  1. Hello. This palm and fern houseplants you described here are really the best. 

    I remember when I was a kid and I was watching American movies. The beaches in Hawaii were full of palm trees and the view was wonderful. In my country we have a see and a beach, (Black Sea). but here do not grow palm because the climate here is not suitable for this kind of plants. 

    I always wanted to grow such plants in my house and to enjoy their beauty. My favorite is CYCAS (Fern Palm or Sago Palm). It is incredible with this it can grow up to 6m. I know that some conditions like warm condition are needed, but I think I’ll put it in a greenhouse where I have other plants and the temperature is ideal. Thank again for this. 

    Wish you all the best! 

    1. Hi Nimrodngy

      Thank you once again for commenting on my post. I know for a lot of people Palms are wonderful houseplants, where they make a wonderful feature. Your choice is wonderful, especially if you have a corner of the room that a houseplant can fill. A greenhouse is a great place to have your palm, as long as you can meet the growing conditions then it will do well. Palms real do make a statement.

      Thanks

      Antonio

  2. Many thanks to you for giving us such a beautiful article and I totally agree with you because I am a gardener and I love gardening. I live in a small flat so there is not enough space for my garden. But I love trees and flowers so I have my garden in a small container in my balcony. And when I read your article, I really liked it and after reading your rights I realized more about how to plant and grow a beautiful container. i have this tree : WASHINGTONIA.  In your article you have described this tree very well and you have further described how this tree can be grown very easily in the container. Many thanks to you for writing about my favorite tree

    1. Hi Arzu

      Thank you very much for talking about you favourite palm tree. I personally find Palms to be wonderful houseplants, as they make such  a great statement in the home.

      I am glad you enjoyed the article and you got a lot out of it.

      Kind regards

      Antonio

  3. I totally agree that palms brings with them a certain level of comfort and relaxation. It is no doubt, going to be a nice fit for our homes. Another vital addition these plants bring to our homes is the beautification factor. Now, I have to admit, I had no idea that these palms and ferns existed in a very broad range which clearly offers something unique individually.

    Great post

    1. Hi Rhain

      I am glad you really enjoyed this post, as I try to cover as much as much as possible about Palms and ferns, where the greenery brings much colour to your home. They add elegance, where elegance is the most needed 

      Kind regards

      Antonio

  4. Hello Antonio. I love plants within my surroundings and inside my home because they have so many benefits and even make life better. I particularly love palms. I love ferns too but I didn’t really know that was the general name they were called because I have seen them before. Thank you for sharing the best palm and fern houseplants to grow and tips to properly grow them.

    Regards!

    1. Hello MrBiizy

      Thank you once again for stopping by and commenting. You always bring an extra dimension to any discussion with you hindsight. Palms are really excellent houseplants and are generally in vogue, as large leave and tall plants are on trend in 2020. Hope you increase your number this year.

      Antonio

  5. I love gardening and if organic even better! I really enjoyed your website and the extensive knowledge you share through your posts.

    The website is wonderful although I find some of the pictures very small, mostly for the ‘Fern’ post.

    Thank you for educating us in this old but so pleasant activity: gardening.

    In Health,

    Daniela 

    1. Hi Daniela

      Thank you very much for those kind words. I try to be as helpful as possible with my articles. The pictures are small as they are memory intensive and I try to keep the load times as low as possible. It is picture quality versus loading time and sometimes one wins over another. I hope you come back, as I have many more ideas in the pipeline.

      Thanks

      Antonio

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