How Often to Water Ferns Outside?

How Often to Water Ferns Outside?

It’s no secret that a healthy, well-maintained garden or outdoor living space requires consistent care and attention. To ensure the well-being of your plants, it is crucial to determine the appropriate watering frequency for ferns as an essential part of maintaining your greenery. Not only do you need to understand when to give them a drink—you also need to be aware of the right amount and techniques for watering these fragile plants in order to ensure they thrive outdoors. In this blog post, we’ll take an in-depth look at how often you should water ferns outside and offer expert advice on making sure they receive adequate hydration while staying safe from potential disease threats caused by overwatering. Read on to learn everything you need to know about keeping your outdoor ferns happy!

How Often Should You Water Ferns

Ferns thrive in evenly moist conditions. Nonetheless, the watering schedule for outdoor ferns can vary depending on various factors. These include the climate, weather, season, fern species, and the type of soil in your garden. Typically, during the growing season (usually from spring to early autumn), it’s recommended to water your outdoor ferns approximately 3-4 times per week, as a general guideline.

During warmer months or drought conditions, your plants may need daily watering to keep up with evaporation. On the other hand, in colder weather or rainier seasons, you may need to reduce watering to once or twice a week to prevent waterlogging and root rot.

It’s also worth noting that fern species differ in their water needs. Some ferns, like the Boston or Maidenhair fern, prefer consistently moist soil, while others, such as the Brake fern, are more drought-tolerant and can endure longer periods without water.

Keep in mind that the type of soil in your garden can affect how quickly it retains or drains water. For instance, sandy soils tend to drain quickly while clay soils retain water longer.

In summary, determining the appropriate watering frequency for your ferns requires vigilant monitoring of your plants, weather conditions, and soil. It is crucial to prioritize underwatering rather than overwatering, considering ferns are particularly vulnerable to damage caused by excessive watering.

How Often Should You Water Ferns

Factors Affecting Outdoor Fern Watering

Let’s delve deeper into the specific factors that affect the watering needs of outdoor ferns. Understanding these aspects can significantly contribute to your plant care routine, ensuring your ferns not only survive but thrive. These factors include climate, seasonal changes, fern species, and soil type. Each of these elements plays a unique role in determining the optimal watering frequency and technique for your ferns. In the following sections, we’ll examine each of these factors and their impact on your fern watering regimen.


The watering requirements of outdoor ferns are greatly influenced by climate, making it a vital element to consider. The amount of rainfall, humidity, wind, and temperature in your region all play a part in how often your ferns need to be watered.

In areas with high rainfall and humidity, ferns may require less frequent watering as the environment naturally provides ample moisture. The presence of dew and moisture in the air can help to keep the ferns hydrated. However, remember to monitor your ferns for signs of overwatering in these conditions, such as yellowing leaves or wilting.

On the other hand, ferns in arid or dry regions with low humidity require additional watering to make up for the insufficient moisture in the atmosphere. Hot weather and strong winds can cause the soil to dry out quickly, so regular watering is essential to prevent the ferns from drying out. [1] In cooler climates, ferns may require less water, especially during the inactive growth period in winter. However, they should still be kept reasonably moist and never be allowed to dry out completely.

Remember, these are general guidelines and the specific needs of your ferns may vary depending on other factors such as their species and the soil type. So, always observe your ferns and adjust the watering as necessary. Lastly, bear in mind that even within a single region, microclimates can exist, so consider the specific conditions in your garden when determining the best watering schedule for your ferns.

Factors Affecting Outdoor Fern Watering


Ferns are native to regions with high humidity, and they thrive in environments where the air is moist. The level of humidity in the environment can greatly influence the health and growth of your ferns.

In regions with low humidity, ferns may struggle to retain water, leading to a higher risk of dehydration. When the leaves of the ferns begin to turn yellow or brown and the fronds droop or become fragile, you can enhance the humidity for your plants. Solutions include utilizing a humidifier, positioning a tray of water nearby, or misting regularly. Take caution, however, to prevent prolonged wetness on the leaves, as this can heighten the likelihood of fungal infections.

Humidity trays are another viable option. They involve placing the fern’s pot on a tray filled with pebbles and water. The water evaporates and increases the ambient humidity around the plant without making the soil too soggy. You can also group plants together to create a more humid microenvironment.

In contrast, in regions with high humidity, ferns will generally require less watering as they can absorb moisture from the air. However, high humidity can also promote the growth of mold and fungus, so it’s essential to maintain good air circulation around your ferns and to watch out for any signs of disease.

Remember, while ferns love humidity, they also need fresh air, so avoid creating an environment that is too stagnant. Balancing humidity and ventilation is key to the healthy growth of your ferns.

Soil type

Ferns generally prefer a well-draining, nutrient-rich soil that can retain moisture without becoming waterlogged. They are naturally found in woodland areas, where the soil is often composed of decaying plant material and is high in organic matter. Consequently, when cultivating ferns in your garden or indoors, it’s ideal to replicate these conditions as closely as possible.

A good potting mixture for ferns would typically consist of one part peat moss (for water retention), one part perlite (for drainage), and one part garden soil or compost (for nutrients). However, it’s worth noting that different fern species may have slightly different soil preferences. For example, maidenhair ferns prefer a more alkaline soil, while tree ferns like a more acidic mix.

It’s essential to remember that ferns generally do not fare well in heavy, clay-like soils that can retain too much water and suffocate the plant roots. Regularly check the moisture levels in the soil and amend it as needed to ensure it provides the right conditions for your ferns to thrive.

Soil type

Fern variety

There is a staggering diversity found within the fern family, with over 10,000 known species spread across the globe. [2] Ferns vary greatly in size, color, and form, providing endless options to suit any garden or indoor setting.

For instance, the delicate, lacy fronds of the maidenhair fern make it a popular choice for indoor containers, while the robust and towering tree ferns can make a dramatic statement in outdoor landscapes. The Boston fern, with its lush, arching fronds, is commonly used in hanging baskets, and the Staghorn fern, with its uniquely shaped leaves, is often mounted and displayed as a living piece of art.

When selecting a fern variety, it’s crucial to consider the plant’s specific needs and how well these can be met in your chosen setting. Some ferns may thrive in low-light conditions, while others may require bright, indirect light. Similarly, certain fern species may prefer cooler climates, while others can tolerate heat and humidity. By understanding and catering to the needs of different fern varieties, you can cultivate a thriving and diverse fern collection.

How do I know if my fern is getting enough water?

Recognizing signs of adequate hydration in your ferns is essential for maintaining their health and vitality. Here are some indications that your fern is getting enough water:

  1. Healthy Color: Adequately watered ferns will maintain their lush, vibrant green color. If the fern’s fronds start to turn yellow or brown, it may be a sign of overwatering or underwatering.
  2. Firm Fronds: Fern fronds should feel firm and resilient. If the fronds feel soft, limp, or wilted, it could suggest the plant is not getting enough water.
  3. Active Growth: Ferns that are getting enough water will display active growth. New fronds will frequently unfurl, contributing to the plant’s lush appearance.
  4. Absence of Crispy Edges: The edges of the fronds should be soft and full. If they start to get crispy or brittle, it may indicate that the fern is too dry.
  5. No Browning at the Base: The base of your fern should remain green and robust. If the base begins to brown, it could be a sign of a watering issue.

How do I know if my fern is getting enough water?

Best Practices for Watering Outdoor Ferns

Watering outdoor ferns correctly is crucial to their health and survival. While ferns are generally known for their love of moisture, each type has specific watering requirements. Too much or too little water can lead to detrimental effects on your ferns. Let’s explore some best practices for watering outdoor ferns to ensure they stay healthy and vibrant.

Observation and Testing

The first step in maintaining a healthy outdoor fern is keen observation and frequent testing of the soil’s moisture levels. It is essential to understand that the watering needs of a fern can change based on various environmental factors, such as the current weather conditions, the time of year, and the fern’s individual growth cycle. During hot and dry seasons, ferns may require more frequent watering, while during cooler, wetter periods, they may need less.

To test the soil’s moisture level, simply insert a finger about an inch into the soil. If it feels dry, it’s time to water the fern. If it feels damp, you can probably wait a little longer. Remember, overwatering can be just as harmful as underwatering, leading to root rot and other diseases. Therefore, always err on the side of caution and avoid watering your fern until the soil feels dry at an inch below the surface.

Watering Frequency

When watering your outdoor ferns, the method you choose can significantly impact their health. Ferns prefer a gentle, thorough watering that mimics natural rainfall. A watering can with a long spout or a hose with a shower setting works best to evenly distribute water without disturbing the plant. Aim to water the base of the fern, avoiding the fronds, as this can lead to fungal infections.

Soak the soil until water starts to drain out of the bottom, ensuring that the water reaches the fern’s deeper roots. Giving your ferns a deep watering promotes healthier root development and helps the plant withstand dry periods better. Remember to water in the early morning or late evening to prevent evaporation and ensure maximum absorption.

Avoid Overwatering

Many plant enthusiasts often make the mistake of overwatering their beloved plants, which can be especially harmful to ferns. It’s essential to remember that while ferns love moisture, they do not thrive in waterlogged soil. Overwatering can reduce the oxygen levels in the soil and lead to root rot, which can quickly kill a fern.

Indications of excessive watering comprise of leaves turning yellow and exhibiting a withered look, irrespective of the soil moisture content. If you notice these signs, it may be necessary to adjust your watering schedule and ensure proper drainage. Remember, it’s better to underwater than overwater when it comes to fern care.

Best Practices for Watering Outdoor Ferns

Morning Watering

Morning watering is a critical aspect of fern care that plays a significant role in the plant’s health. Watering in the morning provides several benefits. Firstly, it aligns with the plant’s natural intake of water. During daylight hours, the process of photosynthesis is at its peak, and plants are actively absorbing water and nutrients from the soil. By watering in the morning, you ensure that your ferns have enough water supply to support their biological processes throughout the day.

Secondly, morning watering helps prevent the evaporation that can occur in the heat of the day. This not only makes your watering more effective (since more water reaches the roots rather than evaporating), but it also promotes a healthier environment for your ferns.

Thirdly, watering in the morning can help prevent the growth of fungal diseases. If fern leaves remain wet for an extended period, it can create an ideal environment for the growth and spread of fungus. However, watering in the morning allows the excess water on the leaves to evaporate as the day warms, reducing the risk of fungal issues.

Lastly, morning watering can contribute to a more stable moisture level in the soil, avoiding the extremes of dryness and over-saturation. By watering in the morning, you allow the water to be absorbed gradually throughout the day, promoting a more consistent moisture level for your ferns.

Deep Watering

Deep watering is another essential practice in the care of ferns. This technique involves thoroughly soaking the soil so that the water reaches the deep root system of the ferns. Unlike superficial watering, which merely moistens the top layer of soil, deep watering ensures that the moisture gets to where it’s needed most – the roots. It encourages the development of a strong and extensive root system, which is critical for the plant’s robust growth and resilience.

The frequency of deep watering depends on several factors, including the type of fern, the soil composition, and the climate. Generally, it’s recommended to perform deep watering once a week, but this may need to be adjusted depending on the aforementioned conditions. It’s important to let the soil dry out between watering sessions to prevent waterlogging and root rot.

Remember, the goal of deep watering is to ensure that the entire root zone is hydrated. Therefore, it’s essential to invest in a long spout watering can or a hose with a shower head attachment for effective deep watering. This not only allows for targeted watering but also reduces water waste.

Deep Watering

Seasonal Variations in Fern Watering

Ferns, like all plants, have seasonal variations in their water requirements. During the warmer, summer months, evaporation rates increase and ferns may require more frequent watering to replace the moisture lost to the environment. Conversely, during the cooler, winter months, ferns enter a period of dormancy and their water requirements significantly decrease. Overwatering during this period can lead to root rot and other complications.

To keep your ferns healthy and vibrant throughout the year, it is essential to adapt your watering routine according to the seasons. Monitor the moisture levels of the soil carefully and make appropriate adjustments to your watering practices. It is important to allow the soil to dry slightly between waterings.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do ferns need direct sunlight?

Ferns typically thrive in indirect sunlight. Although they can tolerate a small amount of morning sunlight, exposure to harsh, direct sunlight can cause the leaves of the fern to scorch and turn brown. The ideal location for a fern is a north or east-facing window where it will receive plenty of bright, indirect light. However, it’s important to monitor your fern and adjust its location as necessary, as too little light can cause the fern to become leggy and sparse.

Do ferns like sun or shade?

Ferns generally prefer shaded areas over direct sunlight. They naturally grow under the canopy of trees in forests, receiving minimal direct sunlight. While they do need light to photosynthesize, they tend to favor diffused light or low-light conditions. Exposure to too much direct sunlight can lead to leaf burn, causing the fern’s leaves to turn brown and dry out. Thus, when growing ferns in your garden or home, it’s ideal to place them in areas with plenty of shade or indirect light.

Can outdoor ferns be overwatered?

Yes, like many other plants, outdoor ferns can indeed be overwatered. While these plants enjoy damp conditions, too much water can lead to oversaturation, causing the fern’s roots to become waterlogged and eventually rot. It’s crucial to water your ferns adequately but also ensure that the water can drain out effectively to prevent waterlogging. Remember, the goal is to keep the soil moist, not waterlogged or overly saturated.

Do ferns like hot or cold?

Ferns generally prefer cooler, humid environments. They thrive in temperatures between 60-70°F (15-24°C). Extreme heat can cause the ferns to dry out and wilt, especially if adequate moisture is not maintained. Conversely, very cold temperatures can also harm the ferns. Frost can lead to the death of these plants as they are not adapted to survive freezing conditions. Therefore, it’s crucial to monitor the temperature and maintain a cool, humid environment for your ferns to flourish.

Useful Video: How often should you water ferns outside?


In conclusion, ferns require a carefully balanced environment to thrive. Shaded areas with diffused sunlight, cool temperatures, and adequate but not excessive moisture are the ideal conditions for these plants. Overwatering and exposure to extreme temperatures can lead to detrimental effects on their health. Therefore, it’s essential to understand the needs of your ferns and provide the appropriate care to ensure they flourish. Whether you’re a novice gardener or an expert, these insights should help you create a conducive environment for your ferns to grow and thrive.