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How Often To Water Ferns? (Indoors and Outdoors)

Ferns, a diverse and attractive collection of plants, vary in their cultivation techniques and water requirements. Understanding the specific watering frequency and quantity for each type is essential to prevent any adverse effects on their growth and health.

Water ferns approximately once a week, ensuring the soil remains consistently moist but not waterlogged. The frequency may vary depending on factors like the type of fern, environmental conditions, and season. In warmer, drier climates, ferns may need more frequent watering, whereas in cooler or more humid environments, they may require less. Always check the soil moisture before watering; it should be slightly moist at the top inch.

All of the recommendations here apply to watering ferns growing both outdoors and indoors.

How do I know when a fern needs watering?

To determine if your fern needs watering, consider these key indicators:

  • Soil Moisture Check: The most reliable method is to feel the soil. Put your finger into the soil. If the soil feels dry at a depth of an inch, it’s time to water the fern.
  • Appearance of Leaves: Fern leaves can also indicate their water needs. If the leaves start to look wilted or lose their vibrant green color, this could be a sign of dehydration.
  • Weight of the Pot: With experience, you can often tell by the weight of the pot. A lighter pot indicates that the soil is dry and the plant may need water.
  • Growth Rate: A slowdown in growth can sometimes indicate a lack of adequate water, especially during the growing season.
  • Soil Pulling Away from the Pot: If you notice the soil shrinking and pulling away from the edges of the pot, it’s a clear sign that the soil is too dry.

How much water do ferns need?

The average fern needs about 1 gallon of water with each watering. This amount of water will be enough to soak the soil well so that the plant will not be thirsty for more than a week.

The larger the fern, the more water it needs, so larger varieties may need more than a gallon of water. Dwarf ferns, on the other hand, need less water and a half gallon of water with each watering is sufficient.

How to water fern?

  1. Set the fern’s pot inside a deep tray.
  2. Gradually water the soil in the pot, ensuring it is evenly and thoroughly saturated.
  3. Allow time for any excess water to drain from the pot into the tray. After the water has fully drained, empty the tray.
  4. Keep the fern in the tray for a short period to ensure all surplus water drains out of the pot.
  5. Once done, return the fern to its original location.


Ferns are prone to overwatering. They require consistent moisture, but excessive water can cause root rot due to prolonged wet conditions. This happens when overwatering reduces soil oxygen, harming the roots.

Indications of overwatering include leaves that are yellow or wilted, an unpleasant smell from the soil, and overly moist or waterlogged soil.


  1. Water ferns only when the top layer of the soil begins to feel slightly dry.
  2. Refrain from watering during wet, rainy periods.
  3. Ensure proper drainage in the area where the fern is located.
  4. Use pots with adequate drainage holes.
  5. Choose well-draining soil for planting ferns to prevent water retention.


Not providing enough water is a common issue when caring for ferns. This lack of water can lead to the plant’s leaves wilting and losing their vibrant green hue.


  1. Water the fern with a generous amount of water. Make sure that the soil is well saturated with water after watering.
  2. To prevent underwatering, regularly check the soil for moisture levels.
  3. When the top inch of the soil dries out, it’s time to water the fern again.

Related questions

Should you water ferns every day?

It’s generally not necessary to water ferns every day. The frequency of watering depends on various factors like the type of fern, the environment (humidity, temperature, light), and the season.

Typically, ferns require watering when the top inch of the soil feels dry to the touch. This might mean watering once a week or more, but daily watering can lead to overwatering and potential root rot. It’s essential to monitor the soil moisture and adjust your watering schedule accordingly, rather than sticking to a daily routine.

When should I water my indoor ferns?

Indoor ferns should be watered when the top inch of the soil feels dry to the touch. This is a general rule that helps prevent both overwatering and underwatering. The frequency of watering will depend on factors such as the type of fern, the size and type of pot, the potting mix, and environmental conditions like light, temperature, and humidity in your home.

How often to water ferns in the winter?

During winter, ferns typically require less frequent watering compared to the growing season (spring and summer). This is because ferns, like many plants, enter a dormant phase in winter, and their growth slows down. Additionally, the cooler temperatures and reduced indoor heating can mean the soil retains moisture for longer periods.

How often should you water ferns in the summer?

In the summer, ferns generally require more frequent watering compared to other seasons due to increased temperatures and potentially lower humidity, which can lead to quicker drying of the soil. Regularly checking the soil moisture is key to ensuring your ferns are properly hydrated during the summer months.

Can you water ferns from the bottom?

Watering ferns from the bottom, or bottom watering, is indeed possible and can be beneficial. This method involves setting the fern’s pot in a tray or container with about an inch of water. Bottom watering helps the soil to soak up moisture gradually from the bottom, encouraging deeper root growth and minimizing the risk of fungal issues on the leaves caused by water sitting on them.

To bottom water your ferns, simply place their pot in a container with water. The soil will wick up the water through the drainage holes. Leave the pot in the water for around 10-15 minutes, or until you notice the soil’s top layer has become moist.

After bottom watering, be sure to remove any leftover water from the tray or container to prevent the roots from sitting in water, which could lead to root rot. It’s also advisable to alternate between bottom and top watering to maintain even soil moisture and to avoid salt accumulation in the soil.