Ferns are one of those awesome plants that can be indoor or outdoor. They come in all shapes and sizes and are suited for just about any environment.
They’re adorable and add a little sense of tropicality to a garden, and they’re low maintenance, too.
But like any other plant, properly fertilizing your fern will really make it pop. With the right nutrients, your fern will go from sad and wilty (aka mine about 6 months ago) to proud and luscious (aka mine now!)
Properly fertilizing your fern is one of the easiest ways to ensure that it not only survives, but thrives. Keep reading to learn more about why you should invest in a high-quality fertilizer for your fern.
In this guide, you’ll learn:
- Why you should fertilize your fern
- How to choose the right fertilizer for your fern
- How fertilizer will promote healthy growth
- And much more!
Below is a quick list of my favorite fertilizers for ferns. Keep scrolling to learn more of my top tips to choose and use the best fertilizer for your fern.
Joyful Dirt Premium Concentrated All-Purpose Organic Plant Food
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Indoor Plant Food: Liquid Fertilizer For Houseplants
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Jobes Fern & Palm Fertilizer Spikes
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Noot Organic Indoor Premium Plant Food
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Miracle-Gro Indoor Plant Food
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My Overall Top #1 Pick: Joyful Dirt Premium Concentrated All-Purpose Organic Plant Food
Even though I love all of these amazing fertilizers, I have to say, my favorite is definitely Joyful Dirt Premium Concentrated All-Purpose Organic Plant Food (even if I get winded just saying it!).
This great fertilizer is not only easy-to-use, but organic, too. It’s not often you find a high-quality fertilizer that’s also convenient, so this is a huge win for all of us gardeners!
This fertilizer is great for even the pickiest of ferns. The 8-1-5 nutrient formula will promote that vibrant leafy growth that makes ferns so adorable, and it’s made with helpful fungi. That good bacteria allows your plant to soak up as much water as possible, meaning you won’t have to water quite as often. Perfect for gardeners who sometimes forget when watering day it! (Guilty as charged)
Having helpful bacteria in your fertilizer is really important for healthy plant growth, which is why I swear by organic fertilizers. Bacteria are naturally-occurring, so introducing them to your indoor fern is vital in making them feel at-home.
That’s why I love this fertilizer! Like I said, the helpful bacteria can even allow your fern to go longer between waterings, which means less work for you, my friend. Sounds pretty sweet to me.
It also comes in one of the most convenient bottles ever. All you have to do is shake a little bit out onto the soil and voila! Done. No diluting it in water, doing conversions in your head, or scrubbing your hands raw after application so you don’t get any in your eye. Been there—it’s not a good feeling.
Because of the gentle nutrient ratio and convenient packaging, it’s pretty much impossible to mess this up. So for even the most inexperienced gardeners out there, this is a great product to use. I can’t recommend it enough, but I do suggest you keep reading in case another one of the amazing fertilizers on this list catches your eye.
Top 5 Best Fertilizers For Ferns
In a hurry? Check out our top 5 picks below! Keep reading to learn more about these wonderful fertilizers for your fern.
- Joyful Dirt Premium Concentrated All-Purpose Organic Plant Food (My Top Pick)
- Indoor Plant Food: Liquid Fertilizer For Houseplants (Best High-End Pick)
- Jobes Fern & Palm Fertilizer Spikes (Best Budget Pick)
- Noot Organic Indoor Premium Plant Food
- Miracle-Gro Indoor Plant Food
Why Should You Invest In A High-Quality Fertilizer For Your Fern?
Ferns are, generally speaking, pretty easy keepers. They’re forgiving plants for the most part, and just don’t like extreme temperatures or dry, drafty air. But I’ve found that providing them with a high-quality fertilizer really helps them thrive.
High-quality fertilizers can help your fern generate new growth and add a fun, 3D feel to your garden. They grow both outwards and upwards, and they’re especially fun-looking in hanging planters.
A lot of people tend to grow their ferns in pots, rather than in the ground (me, too). Fertilizing potted plants gives them that extra boost that they would get were they in the ground.
In-ground plants have that added benefit of, well, other stuff. There’s more soil to expand their roots to, and things like leaves and pine needles fall and decompose, adding extra nutrients. Potted plants don’t have those luxuries, so it’s important to replenish vital nutrients that can otherwise be sapped from the soil.
High-quality fertilizers will supplement your soil with the proper nutrients for your ferns without overwhelming them. Burning ferns is a problem that’s pretty common in small pots, as low-quality fertilizers can be too harsh for smaller plants.
Good fertilizers will also be formulated perfectly for your fern, or at least houseplants in general. Fertilizers are composed of three main ingredients: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
All are vital in healthy plant growth, but they serve different purposes and allow your plant to grow in different ways. I’ll talk specifics later, but right now, just know that nitrogen is super important for a luscious fern.
A high-quality fertilizer will have a balanced and specifically formulated ratio of nutrients. All of the fertilizers on this list are made just for ferns and other houseplants but of course, you can buy fertilizers specific to just about any kind of plant: tropicals, vegetables, herbs, etc. If it grows in the ground, there’s a fertilizer for it (I take that back; there are fertilizers for air plants, too).
Read More >> What are the Top Fertilizers for Herbs?
Keep reading to learn more about the specifics of choosing the right fertilizer for your fern to keep it happy and healthy.
How to Pick the Best Fertilizer For Your Fern?
I know I mentioned some of the most important components of fertilizer earlier, but an in-depth knowledge of fertilizer composition is vital for not only happy ferns, but a healthy garden in general.
Like I touched on earlier, fertilizer is composed of three main ingredients: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Any fertilizer you buy will have three numbers representing these three ingredients (they look like this: 10-10-10).
A good fertilizer for your fern will have a higher nitrogen content since nitrogen promotes green, leafy growth (for flowering plants, phosphorus is more important). For example, my top pick on this list has a ratio of 8-1-5. The higher concentration of nitrogen promotes leaf growth, and since ferns are pretty much all leaf, this formula is perfect!
There’s no need to stress over the numbers on your fertilizer, though. A little more phosphorus or potassium won’t hurt your fern—in fact, it probably won’t affect it at all. As long as there’s a decent amount of nitrogen in relation to the phosphorus and potassium (an even 1-1-1 is even fine), you’re good to go.
Any of the fertilizers in this article are great for your fern and are designed specifically for happy houseplants. Want to know more about the nutrient composition of fertilizers and how that relates to maintaining a healthy garden? This article contains everything you need to know about selecting, calculating, and spreading fertilizer.
Read More >> Best Fertilizers for Raspberries
Organic Versus Inorganic
In my experience, organic fertilizer is almost always better than inorganic, especially when dealing with edible plants. Since ferns aren’t really on most people’s dinner plates, you don’t need to worry too much about this. Considering some ferns are actually poisonous, best to just steer clear and buy a head of lettuce for your next salad instead.
The majority of these fertilizers are organic because I simply think they tend to be higher-quality products. They’re also usually better for the environment and non-toxic. Since there are inorganic products on this list, however, let’s get into the specifics differences between organic and inorganic fertilizers.
“Organic” means exactly what you think: all-natural. It doesn’t mean it’s safe to eat, but it won’t kill your dog if they manage to snatch a few bites. It’s also safe to apply to plants that you eat, and less likely to crust on the soil or burn your plant.
When used properly, inorganic fertilizers shouldn’t cause you any problems, but it’s easy to make a mistake. If your fern lives outside in the summer, the hot sun can react with the added chemicals and burn your plant, or cause the fertilizer to crust on the top of the soil.
Inorganic fertilizers also typically have pesticides in them to keep away bugs or other critters that could harm your fern.
Despite some of the other problems they can cause, this is a huge perk, since pests can easily spread to other houseplants. It’s gross and awful in every way imaginable, and I recommend reading up on common houseplant pests and how to combat them before bringing home your latest addition.
More of a visual learner? No worries, I gotchu! Check out this YouTube video on how to remove gnats from your houseplants:
Read More >> How to make Fertilizer from Kitchen Waste?
My Reviews of the Best Fertilizers For Ferns
I can’t get enough of this organic plant food for ferns!
Now, usually I like to stay away from anything labeled as “all-purpose” but this concentrated fertilizer really is good for most houseplants, including ferns.
The 8-1-5 nutrient composition is designed to promote green, leafy growth, and since that’s the whole point of having a fern, this fertilizer is perfect for them!
As the name suggests, it’s all-natural. It’s also safe for pets and kids, so no need to worry too much. Of course, keep your fern out of reach of curious puppies and grabby toddler hands as much as possible, but know that this fertilizer is non-toxic.
It also comes in a very small bottle, making it easy to store in your home. It can be tucked into any old drawer, which means no more trips to the shed to grab fertilizer when it’s snowing!
The only downside to this product is that it’s a little stinky. I don’t think it’s too bad, but then again, I tend to like unsavory smells. Just keep in mind if you spend a lot of time near your fern (aka if it’s at your desk or near your bed) that this product can be a touch smelly the first few days after application.
|PROS (+)||CONS (-)|
+ Small, concealable bottle
+ High nitrogen content
|– Bit of a funky smell|
This product is my high-end pick, but I think it’s completely worth the money for your fern!
The formula is super gentle, at 3-1.5-1.5. You still have that higher nitrogen content to promote growth, but it’s gentle enough for young ferns or even super tiny ones.
It’s a liquid fertilizer, which means no crusting on the top of the soil. All you have to do is add one teaspoon to at least two cups of water and you’re good to go.
It’s also organic, which is always a win for me, especially for indoor gardening. My dog is quite the sniffer, so using organic products on my houseplants is really important to me.
The only downside is the fact that you do have to dilute it. I am not a math person, and two cups of water might be too much if you only have one fern, so you do have to do a little bit of math if you aren’t sticking right to the bottle (hello, calculator app!)
|PROS (+)||CONS (-)|
+ Gentle nutrient formula
|– Slight math required|
Do I obsess over using fertilizer spikes? …yes, yes I do.
I also obsess over Jobes products—they pretty much have fertilizer for everything you could ever grow, including these fertilizer spikes made specifically for ferns and palms.
I love fertilizer spikes because they’re the one kind of fertilizer you can remove from the soil. If you notice your plant responding poorly, all you have to do is take it out! Some of the nutrients will remain in the soil, but the damage is, for the most part, reversible.
Not that you should have any trouble with these fertilizer spikes!
The 16-2-6 delivers a powerful punch and ensures vibrant growth for your fern. The slow-releasing formula also means your fern will be receiving those vital nutrients for up to 60 days.
The only downside is that they aren’t organic, and they don’t mix into the soil. If you have a dog or cat that’s really attracted to the smell, they could eat the entire stick in just a few bites. Just keep that in mind if you have a sniffer!
|PROS (+)||CONS (-)|
|+ Easy to use|
+ Formulated for ferns and palms
+ Slow releasing
|– Not organic|
I love this compact little product, especially for indoor gardening when I really don’t want to be bothered with a trip to the shed.
This organic fertilizer has a gentle nutrient composition of 3-0.2-2 and is made with beneficial bacteria that promote strong roots. Fancy, right?
That higher nitrogen content means leafy growth, as you know, but it’s gentle enough that it’s safe for even the pickiest or youngest ferns.
This is another liquid fertilizer that prevents crusting, and all you have to do is mix 1 teaspoon into 1/2 gallon of water. I know, math (gross) but it’s totally worth it for the miracles this product can work.
The biggest downside is the fact that the liquid is really thin, and there isn’t a lot of it since it is so concentrated. If you’re super clumsy like me, you’ll have to be extra careful not to spill any!
|PROS (+)||CONS (-)|
+ Gentle nutrient ratio
+ Compact packaging
|– Easy to spill|
This liquid plant food is another great product for your fern.
Miracle-Gro is by far the most widely-known brand in home gardening, and there’s a reason for it. I’ve never had a bad experience with their products, and although I prefer supporting other brands, they still almost always make my list.
It’s easy to use, too. Simply add one pump directly to the soil of your plant, or into a watering can if it’s watering day. Miracle-Gro really does think of it all—they even added a pump so you add just the right amount every time!
It feeds instantly but the 1-1-1 nutrient composition is nice and gentle, so it won’t harm your fern.
The only reason this fertilizer is not higher on my list is actually the nutrient composition. For ferns, I typically prefer a higher nitrogen content, but the 1-1-1 ratio isn’t too bad. It won’t do any harm, but you might not see the amazing results that you’d get from the other products on this list.
|PROS (+)||CONS (-)|
|+ Trusted brand|
+ Easy to use
+ Instant results
|– Not a high nitrogen content|
In my opinion, you can’t find a better fertilizer for your fern than Joyful Dirt Premium Concentrated All-Purpose Organic Plant Food.
Usually, I don’t like all-purpose fertilizers, but this one has the perfect nutrient composition for your fern. The 8-1-5 composition is strong enough to promote healthy growth, but gentle enough for even young ferns.
It’s easy to use and easy to store, in a compact little jar so you can tuck it into just about any drawer. No more trips to the shed in yucky weather to get your fertilizer!
It’s organic and all-natural, so it won’t harm your pets if they manage to get ahold of it. The healthy bacteria in this fertilizer also strengthens your fern’s roots to allow it to grow healthy and strong. This fertilizer will help your ferns reach their full potential, and you’ll be amazed at the results!
Final Thoughts On The Best Fertilizers For Ferns
Ferns are a fun and spunky addition to any garden, indoor or outdoor. They add a little bit of whimsy, too, with their fun, triangular fronds. I love letting them distract me from my work—they’re just so cute, I could stare at them all day!
With proper fertilizer, you’ll be growing magnificent ferns practically overnight. They add a a fun feel to your garden and keeping them healthy is incredibly rewarding.
The right fertilizer can and will help your ferns thrive to their fullest potential, providing you with an adorable houseplant or robust addition to your outdoor paradise. Have fun stocking up on ferns and fertilizing them so they grow big and strong—enjoy!