An easy method of caring for ferns hanging outdoors

Love ferns too? Here’s my own easy method of caring for ferns that hang outdoors, to keep them positively thriving!

ferns in the front yard during fall

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


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!

Check out some ferns on Amazon HERE

caring for ferns hanging outdoors

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!

Hang outdoor ferns in diffused lighting, never direct sun.

Read: How to select the right PVC roof panels for a patio

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…

caring for ferns hanging outdoors

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.

caring for ferns hanging outdoors

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?

caring for ferns hanging outdoors

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…

caring for ferns hanging outdoors

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…

caring for ferns hanging outdoors

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.

antique tea cart plant stand with a fern in a wicker basket

Visit: Furniture shuffling to get new looks HERE

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!

fern bucket

View: Rustic gate on a garden shed with fern bucket HERE

Check out lots of rustic planters HERE

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.

caring for ferns hanging outdoors

From tired looking and burnt before…

plant bucket with a fern on potting bench

View: Nesting Box Potting Bench HERE

To about 2 weeks in… (you can spot new growth and old)

caring for ferns hanging outdoors

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!

how to care for ferns hanging outdoors

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!

Now to land 4 more for the front of the house so it can look like this again too.

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:


potting bench made with a chicken coop nesting box

A chicken coop nesting box potting bench

stenciled plant buckets for flowers

The above post includes how to pot plants with charming stenciled plant and flower labels!

how to build easy window box planters from scrap wood for growing flowers

Build your own window box planters from scrap wood

How to dry hydrangeas

How and when to dry hydrangeas 

Revamping plant pots into mini vintage crocks

Revamping pots into mini vintage crocks!

cedar strip garden labels with stencils

Craft easy garden labels with cedar strips and stencils

Visit many other easy and creative gardening projects HERE

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Categories: Gardening, Junk Drawer, Outdoors
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21 thoughts on “An easy method of caring for ferns hanging outdoors

    • Yeah well… not quite! But I can get these to last for a summer so there’s that! haha I think the real test will be to see how they winter, but I know repotting will be a must!

      • Hi Donna! I don’t respond very often, but LOVE reading your posts and seeing the latest creative items you’ve worked on! Keep up the wonderful site! It makes me very happy! : )

  1. I have a tree shaded large front porch and I have ferns that grow massive out there. When I purchase ferns (which I don’t have to do every year since I have a greenhouse) I buy in early spring when they are young and small. I repot immediately when I get them home in bigger pots with better soil. Most of the ferns, if not all, you buy in the stores are rootbound the moment you purchase them. They are starving for fresh soil and a larger pot! You can do like I do, too. I sometimes buy a larger fern and then when I get it home I cut it apart into smaller batches and plant them in pots to stretch the plant out. I have an automatic watering system on my front porch and a timer that automatically goes off to water during the day. In the spring I only water once a day for 1 minute. Then as summer comes in I have it set to water 3 times a day for 2 minutes. Just like you, I watch for water coming out the bottom of the pot to know it’s had enough. I use Osmocote dry fertilizer once a month on the surface soil of each pot (and all my plants get it too). By fall the ferns are ginormous and heavy. They take up a lot of room in my greenhouse but my porch only houses 3 of them so it’s not too bad. I also pinch trim as you mentioned each one and remove dead or browned fronds.

  2. Your ferns are beautiful. And it makes sense that they grew healthier as you were pruning them. I had never thought to do that. Taking off the old growth because it does drain the health of the plant. Really nice. I think in your photo shoot room they’ll do very good because you’ve got a lot of light but not direct.

  3. Loved this post! Some people rescue dogs but I rescue plants. The most beautiful tree in my yard came from the Lowe’s clearance rack. I have often seen ferns on said rack but have always passed them up. After reading this post I’m going to give the ferns a try. Thanks for the tips.

    P.S. Love clearance plants that need a little TLC. They usually respond and are kept out of the trash heap. They are also more cost effective. Happy planting!

    • Oh yeah, give the ferns a chance, they do come back quickly as soon as they get some heat! They are looking even fuller today than when I wrote this post! And the earnings saved make patience worth the wait!

  4. I put ferns out every year because they’re much easier to care for then flowers. I do fertilize mine once a week and they do much better fir me. Mine were just about dead in April but they came back very nicely this summer.

  5. I live in Kansas and it’s been in the 100s here lately. Each year my ferns are always in full sun and they love it. 🙂

  6. I live in South Georgia. It has been so very hot this Summer and the humidity here is brutal. I invested in 2 very large ferns for my new patio. I immediately repotted them in larger pots. Unfortunately, they couldn’t take the hot sun so I moved them to our (open) carport and put them on each side of our back door. I water them almost daily, just according to how wet the soil is. But they don’t seem to be happy there either. I’m just not very good with live plants but I’m phenomenal with faux/silk ones 😉.

    • Haha! Yes, silk would certainly cooperate moreso! I find ferns love shade and wet soil for sure, however some varieties are picker than others and it effects where you have them. For example, hanging ferns didn’t plant well in the ground for me, and ground ferns didn’t pot well for me. It’s like, how you find them is where they’d rather remain. Kinda like cats! LOL

  7. Hey Donna, I am new to your web site but I have a question. I live in the Blue Ridge Mts, of NC and our woods have the most beautiful ferns, can I transplant them to pots?
    Thank you
    Black Thumb Darlene

    • Hi Darlene!

      I wouldn’t hesitate to try if you have the option! As for using them as hanging ferns, I’m uncertain. I’ve attempted to plant hanging ferns in the ground and they didn’t take, so I’m speculating the different varieties do well in certain situations. Perhaps run your questions by a local nursery as they’d likely know more! But I’d still try.

  8. Oh my goodness, your ferns look like lush little bushes of gorgeousness. We have some giant sword ferns in our garden. They’re way too big for a pot, but I do wish we could contain them somehow. They have a tendency to take over and grow in full sun and shade. Thanks for the tip on keeping an eye on the discount plant section. I’ll give that a try next time I’m at the garden center.

  9. for years I have brought home ferns and immediately repotted them, placing them in larger, deeper pots, place the cheapest disposable diaper I can buy at the dollar store in the bottom and fill in with new potting soil.The diaper holds water to help reduce the need to water so much. I also use a spritz bottle to spray all around the ferns during hot, dry spells.
    I’m going to try to divide a couple ferns I’ve had a couple of years. Hope they look as good and healthy as yours.

  10. I recently noticed a different looking weed in my single potted fern outdoors! Could it be a weed? If so, how do I rid of it and how did it get there? Perhaps the wind? Anyhow..I’d really love any suggestions in which to handle this situation! I love my fern! I live in CA..thank you so very much

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