How to Plant and Care for an Uncommon Tropical Fern in Your Backyard

How to Plant and Care for an Uncommon Tropical Fern in Your Backyard

How to Plant and Care for an Uncommon Tropical Fern in Your Backyard


Having an uncommon tropical fern in your backyard can be a fun and rewarding experience. Tropical ferns add beautiful, exotic foliage and an unexpected pop of color to your outdoor space. However, caring for these plants does require some special considerations, as they originate in warm, humid, tropical environments. With the right conditions and care, your uncommon tropical fern can thrive and become a beloved part of your backyard oasis.

Choosing the Right Fern

When selecting an uncommon tropical fern for your backyard, you’ll first want to consider your climate and growing conditions. Some factors to think about include:

  • Hardiness zone – Make sure to choose a fern variety that can tolerate your zone’s minimum temperatures. Many tropical ferns are only hardy in zones 10 and above.

  • Light requirements – Most tropical ferns prefer bright, indirect light similar to what they’d receive under the canopy of a rainforest. Make sure to place them in a suitable spot.

  • Humidity – High humidity is critical for tropical ferns, so select one suited to the ambient moisture levels in your backyard. Mist lovers like the rabbit’s foot fern are a good option.

  • Mature size – Check the mature size of any fern to ensure it will work with the space you have available. Certain tropical varieties can grow quite large.

Some interesting uncommon tropical ferns to consider include:

  • Bird’s nest fern (Asplenium nidus)
  • Table ferns (Microsorum species)
  • Holly fern (Cyrtomium falcatum)
  • Staghorn fern (Platycerium bifurcatum)

Preparing the Right Growing Conditions

Tropical ferns require very specific conditions to thrive. Here are some tips for creating the ideal habitat:


  • Place in a shady spot protected from hot, direct sun (under trees or shrubs works well).
  • Outdoor location is best, but a bright windowsill can work for some varieties.
  • Avoid windy areas that will dry the fern out.


  • Use a rich, humus-heavy potting mix. Incorporate peat moss to retain moisture.
  • Make sure the soil drains well to prevent rotting.


  • Water frequently to maintain consistently damp (but not soggy) soil.
  • Mist leaves often to boost humidity around the fern.
  • Consider using a pebble tray or humidifier nearby.


  • Most varieties need warm temps above 60°F.
  • Move indoors or use a cold frame if temps drop lower.

Planting Your Fern

Follow these steps when planting your new tropical fern:

  • Carefully remove from the nursery pot without damaging roots.
  • Loosen any root bound sections.
  • Place in new pot with prepared soil mix, settling around roots.
  • Make sure the root crown is even with the soil surface.
  • Water thoroughly until it drains from the bottom.
  • Mist leaves and place in ideal growing spot.

Ongoing Fern Care

With the right conditions in place, your uncommon tropical fern will still need attentive care to flourish:

  • Water whenever the top 1-2 inches of soil become dry. Increase frequency in summer.
  • Mist leaves daily or use a pebble tray to boost humidity.
  • Remove any discolored fronds to keep your fern looking fresh.
  • Fertilize monthly during the growing season with diluted liquid fertilizer.
  • Watch for pests like scale, mealybugs, or mites and treat immediately.
  • In colder zones, move indoors before first frost of the season.

With some patience and attentive care, your exotic tropical fern can thrive and add a lush, rainforest feel to your backyard that your neighbors will envy! Let me know if you have any other specific questions as you begin this exciting new backyard endeavor.