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Ostrich Fern Care – Every Gardener’s Guide

Ostrich Fern Care – Every Gardener’s Guide

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Do you have a dark and humid area in your yard? A spot that seems to develop almost nothing?

Try to plant an Ostrich fern as your garden will benefit from this stunning plant when grown at such a grumpy spot.

Ostrich Fern is native to Europe, North America, and Eastern Asia and belongs to the family of Onocleaceae. It gets its name because of the resembles of the fronds to a bird called Ostrich. 

The Fern is often used as a backdrop and to add more beauty to your garden along with other flowering plants. 

The best thing about Ostrich Fern is that it can be consumed when it is still shaped like a fiddlehead.


Ostrich Fern Care

Ostrich Fern needs a soil mix that is well-draining and should be watered using a drip irrigation system. It does not like direct sun and will grow happily in a dark spot for some time. The temperature should be maintained at 59 to 69.8 degrees Fahrenheit (15 to 21 degrees Celsius) while you frequently mulch it with organic fertilizer.



The condition of the soil is very crucial for the good health of your Ostrich Fern. 

Since soil quality is something that greatly contributes to the growth of the plant, it is important that you check it very carefully.

As Ostrich Fern is a tough plant, it is very easy to grow it in a variety of soil mixes. The recommended type of soil is one that contains organic substances.

Along with that, the soil should also be having good drainage quality. A well-draining soil is very beneficial for Ostrich Fern as it helps in developing a strong root system in the early growth period. 

In order to accelerate the growth of Ostrich Fern, always add some amount of water to the soil mix. This might seem tiring, but the presence of water in the soil is important for optimal growth.



Due to the growing conditions, Ostrich Ferns need to be planted on a ground that is fairly moist. 

If you are living in an area that frequently records rainfall, you will not have to worry about the watering of Ostrich Fern.

But remember, the ground becomes dry during the hot summer season; hence do not delay watering your Ostrich Fern. The Fern likes to stay in moist soil, so supply it with water regularly as needed.

On the other hand, during the winter season, you do not have to water the plant frequently. The use of a drip irrigation system is recommended because the plant likes to have a moist environment around it.

For the optimum growth of your plant, the irrigation system should be set in such a way that it waters the plant at regular intervals. 

This way, the plant will stay moist, and you won’t have to worry about it going into a drought.

Along with all this, the drip irrigation system is very economical as there is no wastage of water. The plant will be watered only when it needs it the most.



Ostrich Ferns are among plants that do not prefer direct sun reaching them. It affects the growth of the plant negatively.

It is suggested to develop Ostrich Ferns in a location that has sufficient protection from the direct sun.

But remember placing them in a dark location doesn’t necessarily equate they don’t need light at all.

Just like any other plant you grow, these too need light for the process of photosynthesis but less as compared to other plants. 

Placing them near a window will be perfect as the sun does not always shine through the window.

Furthermore, window glass decreases the intensity of the sun reaching the Ostrich Fern. If the fern’s exposed to too much sunlight, it’ll eventually wither and die.



When grown outdoors, Ostrich Ferns like moderately cool temperatures. However, this does not indicate that you let them stay out there even when the temperature is freezing cold.

The ideal temperature range for growing Ostrich Fern is 59 to 69.8 degrees Fahrenheit (15 to 21 degrees Celsius). 

It’s safe to grow Ostrich Fern in areas with below-freezing temperatures, but you’ll have to keep the area surrounding the fern warm. 

You can provide it warmth by covering the plant with a sheet or placing bulbs or lamps around the area.



Ostrich Ferns love moist air, so to do that, you can use a mister or a humidifier. Place a humidifier in the room you are growing Ostrich Fern, and it will have just the right amount of moisture it needs.

If you can afford or don’t have a humidifier, an easy solution is to spray the plant with water every other day. This is a cheap way of providing your plant the moist environment it needs.



As mentioned earlier, Ostrich Ferns prefer soil that is rich in organic matter. But in case the soil in your garden does not have this property, an artificial way of adding nutrients will be needed. 

Thus, the most widely used and easiest way is to add fertilizer into the soil.

Mix a layer of organic fertilizer with the basic potting mix before adding it to the container. The ratio of fertilizer to soil mix should be kept at about 1:5.

Mix the two elements well, making sure there is no hole between them. If there are holes left, the chances are the water will seep through and damage the roots of the Fern.

You must add fertilizer to the Fern in a controlled manner to help it grow steadily. There are two varieties of fertilizers that can be added to the Ostrich Fern according to the requirements.

The first kind is a liquid fertilizer that can be applied to the plant by diluting in water. 

This is the most effective method of adding fertilizer as you won’t be disturbing the roots; you simply pour it when you are watering.

The second type is the solid fertilizer which needs to be added to the top inch layer of the potting mix to obtain optimum results. 

Unlike liquid fertilizer, when applying this fertilizer, you need to take special care.

When you mix it with the soil, make sure you do not disturb the root system of the Ostrich Fern. This is the reason for the preference of liquid over solid fertilizer by several gardeners.

The time you apply the fertilizer to the Fern is also very important and crucial for the ideal growth. Applying fertilizer during spring is proven beneficial for many gardeners.

It is highly recommended not to fertilize your Fern during the winter season. 

This is because the plant is in dormancy, and the fertilizer will not be used by the plant, meaning it is a total waste of time and money.



Repotting Ostrich Fern is easy and should be done only when needed. People often repot the Fern because it adds great elegance to the garden along with other leafy plants.

The ideal time to repot your Ostrich Fern is during the early spring when the plant is still in dormancy but will soon develop new leaves.

If you have your Fern in a pot, then repotting can be done any time, but special attention should be given if done in the active growth season.

Prior to moving the Fern to the new place, make sure it is well prepared and has a lot of organic potting mix. 

It is often suggested to repot the Fern during the evening or when there are clouds because it reduces the impact of transplant shock.

When you dig out the Fern, be sure that you get the entire clump along with a lot of soil. Always pull the Fern out of the bottom and not from the leaves, or it may cause breakage.

Take the plant to the prepared area and cover its roots with a soil mix that’s organic. Then water the Fern thoroughly and add mulch on top to preserve moisture.

It is also suggested to clip away the large leaves of the Fern after transplanting so that it can focus more on growing a sturdy root system.



There are several reasons to prune Ostrich Fern to help it maintain healthy growth. You should always prune away the dead foliage as it is of no good to the plant, and it won’t revive back.

It is recommended to prune the old fronds early in the spring so that there is space for the new leaves to develop. This should be done because the old foliage does not really look pretty as compared to the new one.

Always prune the Fern near the crown so that when it grows back, it is healthy and looks pretty. You can also trim the old and dead branches for the sake of the good health of your Ostrich Fern.

Never trim the dead leaves during winter. Though these dead fronds don’t look very appealing, they are the ones that will provide protection to the crown of Fern throughout the frost.

Always use clean and disinfected pruning tools to trim your Ostrich Fern. You can disinfect the tools by dipping them in some diluted bleach prior to using them.



Propagation of Ostrich Fern is important to keep it healthy and plentiful. The simplest and easiest way to propagate the Fern is through the division of crowns during the mid of spring.

Water your Ostrich Fern a day before you begin the propagation process; this helps to loosen the soil. The next day dig it and gently remove it from the pot in 2-3 clumps.

Now place these clumps in a pot that has a well-draining and organic soil mix. Keep them moist by thoroughly watering them until new growth starts to appear.

You can double the Fern by separating the baby Ferns from the parent. These baby ferns are found hanging on the thread-like, long stems.

After they begin to develop roots and grow 3-4 small leaves, you can separate them from the stem. 

Now plant these plantlets in a 3-5 inches deep pot having a well-draining potting mix. Remember, there’s no need to bury the crowns.

Place this pot having baby ferns in a spot receiving bright but indirect light. Spray them with water several times during the day for the initial two months. 

Once the baby ferns’ developed a strong root system, it’s time to transplant them in a bigger planter.



Ostrich Ferns do not produce any blooms. The plant is known for its foliage.



Ostrich Ferns grow to a height of about 3 to 6 feet (0.9 to 1.8 meters) and spread 5 to 8 feet (1.5 to 2.4 meters) wide. The Fern will grow in USDA hardiness zones 3 through 7.

The leaves of Ostrich Fern grow in an upward direction resembling the neck of an Ostrich. 

Once they have developed well, they will grow very fast and will be referred to as invasive plants.


Common Problems for Ostrich Fern

Ostrich Fern is not prone to any houseplant pest or disease. You will rarely find moth larvae feeding on the stalks of the leaves. 

Luckily these larvae will not do any serious damage to your Fern.

The only problems that the Fern might face are overwatering, little or excessive sun exposure. 

When you notice the leaves of the Fern turning yellow, drying, and falling apart, there is a high chance the plant needs water.

Similarly, if the leaves have started to turn brown and curl, it is because it is receiving too much sunlight. Whereas in an extremely shaded area, the Fern will not produce fertile leaves.


Tips for Growing Ostrich Fern

  • Never place the Ostrich Fern in direct sun because it will cause the burning of the foliage.
  • Always disinfect the pruning tools before using them.
  • Place a humidifier near the Fern to provide the humidity that it loves.


Frequently Asked Questions about Ostrich Fern Care


Is Ostrich Fern safe for consumption?

Fiddleheads of Ostrich Fern are absolutely safe for consumption. They have got a flavor similar to that of green beans. Remember you must cook the fiddlehead thoroughly before consuming them.


Is Ostrich Fern a fast grower?

Ostrich Fern is a fast grower and will increase rapidly once it has developed a strong root system. Therefore, it is important that you grow it in a place that has ample space for Ostrich Fern to spread without suffocating.



Ostrich Fern is a pleasure to have outdoors. It looks exquisite and fantastic and is the quick fix to cover a terrible place in the exterior. 

Taking care of Ostrich Fern is extremely easy as the plant is truly resistant to several problems other houseplants face. 

Ostrich Fern rewards you for your great care with a new garden and beautiful leafy elements for the bouquets of your flowers.