Love ferns too? Here’s my own easy method of caring for ferns that hang outdoors, to keep them positively thriving!
A couple of years ago, I was on the hunt for a hanging basket of some sort for along the front of the house and patio. 8 to be exact.
However after pricing a few flower basket variations, it ended up being so expensive.
So during a visit to Lowes, I ended up in the discount section. And there sat 8 ferns that were not in prime condition. In fact, they looked pretty haggard.
Since they were in my budget at a whopping $10 each, I decided they were worth the risk since the savings for 8 baskets was huge!
I’ve never purchased ferns for hanging outdoors before, however I liked the idea of a lush plant look instead of colourful flowers for a nice clean change. So I went for it.
And it’s hard to believe, however those haggard ferns grew into the most amazing outdoor hanging ferns I could have ever imagined! They looked like I paid top dollar for every one of them!
However there’s a secret technique I used getting ferns to look so lush and brand new again. I’m not all that certain my technique is an official thing elsewhere, however now doing it twice and it working so well, today’s the day to share that trick!
So today I’m going to share how to land price efficient outdoor hanging ferns at a deep discount, then how I managed to grow them into healthy and vibrant ferns that are worth top dollar!
With very little effort.
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An easy method of caring for ferns hanging outdoors
How to land outdoor ferns at a deep discount
1. Shop the plant discount sections.
In my area on BC’s west coast, most beautiful outdoor hanging ferns run for around $25 and up. Yes, they are worth it, however when you want 8, that really adds up!
So if you want to save money and are willing to have a little patience, check the discount plant sections every time you visit.
I was told to check daily, because they can get a full load in one day, or be without for weeks. It’s a very hit and miss fern hunt, but so worth it if you can land them!
Why patience is required
2. You will need some patience, because ferns start growing once the heat and humidity sets in.
I hung the ferns in full shade, (never direct light) and out of the weather elements so they are protected. However when I first hung these ferns, it was overcast skies for a good two weeks and I saw no movement or improvement on them at all.
But once we hit a heatwave, everything changed nearly overnight.
New growth started to sprout!
Do ferns need sun or shade?
3. Hang in diffused sunlight or full shade. Not full sun exposure.
The back of my house use to have translucent PVC roof panels, so my first round of ferns got diffused light.
However when I mistakenly updated the patio roof with PVC opaque panels, I was concerned the ferns wouldn’t grow the same. Would they get enough sunlight?!
I need not have worried! They grew perfectly with the new roof!
The key is protection from direct sun.
And ferns love growing in full shade too, because the ferns hanging along the front of the house have no direct sunlight at all, and positively thrived!
So here’s what to do when they start to grow…
How to get ferns to look new again
2. Pinch the old stem growth off as new fills in.
While the new foliage grew in, the old leaves looked tired, darker and old. So I decided to just pinch them off.
Over time as more leaves grew in, I’d pinch an equal amount of old leaves off, until the fern eventually had a brand new look! Be sure to check the underside of the fronts as well.
However this is a slow process. Imaging the before picture with one new fern frond. If 1 new one came in, I’d pinch one old one off. This was so I didn’t strip down the fern too quickly leaving it bare.
In about a month’s time, the fern had all new leaves! Every last one of them. And they looked like they came out of the top of the line stock. Don’t evergreen ferns have such a lovely vibrant green texture?
How much to water ferns
3. Water ferns daily.
While the weather was warm, the ferns required more water as they grew larger. So I filled up a Tupperware beverage jug and watered the ferns from the top every day. Each fern got an entire jug of water. They adore moisture!
However here’s the neat part to determine when the ferns had enough…
Water until the fern drains
These particular plant pots have a neat drainage hole where you can water, but then suddenly, all the water pours out of the bottom at once.
So I’d water the ferns until the water started to drain.
The key was keeping the soil fairly wet. During a few overcast days, I’d skip a day here and there, however ferns do seem to love their water, so I’d suggest to check the soil daily, so they accept water more easily by keeping the peat moss in the soil wet.
Root bound watering tip:
If your fern is fairly root bound where it won’t take more water, fill a larger bucket with water, then dunk the entire planter inside. Allow to sit submerged until fully soaked. I watered my front ferns all summer long using this method.
And I think the results speak for themselves…
Other fern questions
Should you feed ferns?
I personally have never given my ferns fertilization. My boston ferns have always thrived with indirect sunlight and moist soil. And lots of leaf pinching! So perhaps I just landed a good soil mix to begin with.
However it wouldn’t hurt to try! Or talk to someone knowledgeable about fern care and hardiness for the species of ferns in your growing zone to see what they suggest for liquid fertilizer.
Can you bring outdoor ferns inside?
One year I couldn’t bare to give 8 ferns away at the end of summer, so I kept 4 indoors as houseplants.
However, I may have waited too long. The ferns weren’t looking their best any longer and once indoors, they did ok for about 2 months, then they started to die. I think they were root bound. But I was done with them and really didn’t have anywhere to keep them over winter. They were SO big.
However I plan to winterize them this year. I’ll repot them in fresh potting soil, then hang them in my photo studio where there’s plenty of light to see how they do during the winter months until early spring. To be continued!
Just know, they ARE a very messy houseplant. You could see the fine trail of dried fronts leading from their home all the way to the bathtub where I would water them. Makes you vacuum, so I guess there’s that!
Do ferns come back every year?
Honestly, your ferns will stay alive if you keep caring for them.
A perfect example is how A Pretty Happy Home winterizes her plants indoors HERE.
Can you plant outdoor hanging ferns in the ground?
I tried planting several of my outdoor hanging ferns in the ground, but none of them made it. So that leads me to believe that there must be a hardier variety than what I hung up.
It doesn’t hurt to try though, since you have them anyway!
Are outdoor ferns easy to care for?
Big yes! I find them easier to care for than hanging flowers. So vote me in as a forever fern fan! Give them enough light and water and they will be your friends.
From tired looking and burnt before…
To about 2 weeks in… (you can spot new growth and old)
And finally, to a beautiful, thriving bright lush green lush after!
Don’t they look brand new and fabulous? These are still young and will grown much larger, so I’ll be sure to update late August or fall so you can see how well they did!
However I fully anticipate to get these thriving autumn fern results yet again. Because the above ferns started in even worse condition than the ones I landed this summer!
Once again, patience will be needed for that fern hunt too. However, the wait will keep my pocket book very, very happy!
What’s in your outdoor hanging baskets this summer?
Other plant projects to make:
The above post includes how to pot plants with charming stenciled plant and flower labels!
Visit many other easy and creative gardening projects HERE