When choosing house plants, you need to think beyond their appearance and the aesthetic quality they will bring to a room. It is essential that you also think about the care needs of the plant to ensure you can provide the right conditions for the plant to thrive. Not all plants have the same needs, and they will not all grow well in every environment. These are important considerations to make when choosing plants for your home. One plant that you might consider is the frosty fern. Not only is this an attractive plant that will look good in your home, but it is a plant that is relatively straightforward to care for if you know what it needs. Here is everything you need to know about frosty fern plants.
What Is a Frosty Fern?
The frost fern is officially called a selaginella kraussiana, and it is sometimes called a frosted fern. It is also referred to as a moss fern, a holiday fern, or a Christmas Fern. Many people are confused about what this plant is because it is given so many names, and its taxonomy is also confusing. Although the word fern is in its name, this plant is not a fern at all. It is a spike moss, which is not moss, and this leads to further confusion. Moss does not have roots or leaves, but a spike moss has both. According to Gardening Know How, the frost fern is known as a fern ally. It means that although the frosty fern is not a fern, it behaves in the same way as it reproduces via spores. So Easily Distracted says that the frosty fern is native to countries that have rainforests, such as Angola, Sierra Leon, Congo, Bioko, Cameroon, South Africa, Uganda, Burundi, Ethiopia, Equatorial Guinea, Malawi, Rwanda, Eswatini, Sudan, Mozambique, and Tanzania. Although the frosty fern is a common plant in rainforests, they cannot grow in all areas of the rainforests as they need light. Therefore, they are only found on the rainforest floor where there are breaks in the trees for sunlight to reach the plants. The frosty fern also grows in New Zealand. However, it is considered an invasive species in this country as it poses a threat to native plant life, says Gardenerdy.
What Does a Frosty Fern Look Like?
It is not surprising that the frosty fern is mistaken for a member of the fern family, as they have a very similar appearance. They have soft, feathered green leaves that grow in clusters to form the shape of a small bush. The frosty part of the plant’s name refers to the edges of the leaves that are tinged with white, as though they are covered in snow or frost or have been dipped in sugar. The combination of green and white gives the plants a silvery appearance. If the frosty fern lives in ideal conditions, it has the potential to grow up to 12-inches high. However, the average height of frosty ferns is around eight inches. Therefore, it is a suitable plant for people who have limited space in their homes.
Where Should I Keep a Frosty Fern?
The Frosty Fern is a houseplant, so they are generally kept indoors. However, finding the right position for the ferns is important. They prefer a light position, but they should not sit in direct sunlight. If a frosty fern is exposed to direct sunlight, the leaves become dry, discolored, and scorched. The scorched areas of the leaves will turn a similar shade of white to the frosted edges, but the white will cover a larger area. To check whether a position is good for your frosty fern, wait until the time of day when the sunlight into your chosen room is at its brightest. Look towards the sunlight from the position of your frosty fern. If it is nice and light, it is a good position for the plant. On the other hand, if the sunlight hurts your eyes, then you need to consider repositioning your frosty fern. Another tip is to keep your frosty fern out of drafts, which can also damage your plant. Therefore, do not put them next to a window or to doors that you leave open. Likewise, do not put your frosty fern near a radiator, as this will dry out the soil and kill your plant.
Can a Frosty Fern Live Outdoors?
Although the frosty fern is usually a house plant, it is possible to keep these plants outside if you live in the right climate. According to The Rainforest Garden, if you live in USDA climate zones six to ten, you can keep your frosty fern outdoors. It is best to find a spot in the shade that is moist. You should also keep your frosty fern in its pot rather than planting it in the ground so you can bring it back indoors if the weather becomes too cold.
Drainage for a Frosty Fern
Most people buy a frosty fern ready potted and wrapped in cellophane. While it is convenient to simply remove the cellophane and use the pot in which the plant already sits, it is unlikely that drainage was considered when potting the plant. Therefore, you need to check that the plant has sufficient drainage. The issue with poor drainage is that water will collect around the bottom of the pot, which can cause the plant’s roots to rot. One of the easiest solutions is to put the pot on a saucer so the water can drain. The water will drain through the pot onto the saucer below. You can then pour away the excess water that collects on the saucer. As drainage is so important for this type of plant, it may make you worry about having the plant outdoors. However, the frosty fern usually copes well with soggy water in an outdoor environment.
Watering a Frosty Fern Plant
Most plant lovers know that overwatering a houseplant is one of the fastest ways to kill a plant. The frosty fern is one of the exceptions, as they love to live in damp and humid conditions, providing there is good drainage to prevent the rotting of the roots. One important point to note is that the frosty fern does not like hard water. If you get water spots on your dishes after washing them in the sink, then it is likely that you have hard water, and you should avoid watering your plants with this water. Instead, you can water your frosty fern with filter water, as this will not damage your plant. You can buy filter water, but this is potentially costly in the long term. If you have a water filter appliance in your home, then you can use this instead. There are also some other alternatives to hard tap water. One option is to recycle the water from a dehumidifier, which is water collected from the moisture in the air. Another option is to collect rainwater to water your plants. In terms of how often you need to water your frosty plant, it is recommended that you water them every two to three days. However, this rule is not set in stone. If the soil around your frosty fern feels dry before two days, then it needs some more water. Similarly, if the plant begins to wilt a little or feels lighter, these are also indications that your frosty fern is ready for watering. How you water your plant is also important. It is recommended that you water the plant from the bottom rather than the top. It is also important not to water the plant using a mist spray, as this means insufficient water will reach the roots, and the leaves will become too damp.
Humidity Requirements for a Frosty Fern Plant
Frosty ferns love humidity, and this is one of the key conditions you need to get right to make sure your frosty ferns thrive. One of the main requirements is having the right humidity, as they need a higher level of humidity than is usually found in the average home. Ideally, frosty ferns need 70 percent humidity. To increase the humidity in the air around your plant, try sitting the frosty fern on a tray of pebbles with water. Alternatively, keep the plant inside a terrarium, as this will create greenhouse conditions in the air surrounding your plant. If the humidity is not right, the plant will gradually begin to die. It will affect the tips first, then the rest of the plant will follow.
What Is the Right Temperature for Frosty Fern Plants?
Temperature is also important in creating the ideal conditions for the frosty fern. The ideal temperature for this plant species is between 60 and 80-degrees Fahrenheit (15 to 27 degrees Celsius). If the temperature is too far above or below the recommended range, then the plant will suffer and may die.
Is It Necessary to Feed a Frosty Fern?
Some plants will only thrive if you feed them, while others will survive without the need to feed. The frosty fern benefits from a small amount of food, although it is not always necessary if the soil is of good quality. However, you should only give your frosty fern nitrogen fertilizer occasionally, as too much of this substance will negatively impact your plant, and the white tips will become green. The best way to feed a frosty fern is using diluted seaweed extract or orchid fertilizer. It is not something that you will need to do too often, as they can survive if you feed them these plant foods just once a month. If you over-fertilize a frosty fern, it can experience root burn. The signs that this has happened are some of the leaves dying in the days following fertilization. If you suspect that you have over fertilized your plant, you can try to drench the plant with water to flush the fertilizer out of the soil.
Reviving a Wilting Plant
Frosty ferns are often sold in stores during the holiday season, where they are put out on display, often covered in cellophane. The problem when you buy your plant from the store is you have no idea how long it has been sitting on the shelf. Nor do you know the care the plant has received during that time. It means that many people find that their frosty fern is not in the best condition when they arrive home, and wilting is a common problem. Wilting, dry, and browning leaves are a sign that your frosty fern has not been watered enough and has received too much sunlight. However, it is not a problem that you cannot redeem once you have your plant at home. The first step in resurrecting your plant is to trim away any brown leaves. Next, water the plant and make sure it is humid enough. It can help to cover the plant with a cloche or plastic ziplock until the plant recovers.
Frosty Fern Plants: The Final Verdict
While it may initially seem tricky to care for a frosty fern or other spike mosses, they are surprisingly easy to care for once you get the hang of them and provide them with the right environment. If you have all the information about how to care for a frosty fern plant, then you can take the necessary measures to help your plant thrive. Humidity and watering are the two key elements of caring for your frosty fern. It is also important to get the right position that gives them enough light without direct sunlight and keeps them away from drafts and radiators. Other considerations when caring for your frosty fern plant are ensuring there is good drainage and avoiding overfeeding with fertilizer.