21 Best Ferns For Containers That You Can Grow Indoors & Outdoors Easily

Learn about the 21 Best Ferns for Containers, these beautiful foliage plants available in various shapes, textures, and colors provide interest in shady space!

Growing ferns in containers is easy. They require moist soil, regular watering, and dappled shade. These shade-loving plants can be grown alone or mixed with other plants in various container combinations.

1. Lady Fern

USDA Zones– 3 – 10

A finely textured ornamental foliage plant that you can grow in containers easily. Place the plant in a partially to fully shaded spot in cooler zones. Keep the soil moist and choose a small to medium sized pot; you can also grow lady fern in hanging baskets. Pair it up with plants that have flowers in warmer colors (yellow, red and orange) and you will have an attractive container arrangement for the shade.

2. Shaggy Shield Fern

USDA Zones– 5 – 10

Also called the Black Wood Fern, this evergreen fern sports medium-sized clumps of mild green, lacy fronds borne on black stems. With an arching habit and a stiff appearance, the Shield Fern does a good job of offsetting the bright colors of the interiors. It is often used in conjunction with other shade-loving plants such as Hostas. Grow this plant in a partially shaded spot, in an average sized container, using moist, well-drained potting soil.

3. Scaly Male Fern

USDA Zones– 4 – 10

This versatile fern is noticeable at a distance, with its yellowish-green fronds and dark pinnae. It grows best in cool temperatures and adopts a compact, petite form (up to 2 feet tall) that makes it an excellent choice for containers. While it can tolerate some sun and the wind, for growing Scaly Male Fern in hot climates, choose a cool and shady spot.

4. Sunset Fern

USDA Zones– 6 – 9, can be grown in USDA Zones 10, 11 with some care

Native to Himalayas, India, and Western China; the Sunset Fern is a beautiful foliage plant. This gorgeous evergreen fern forms a shuttlecock of delicate, arching fronds that appear coppery-red at first and dark green when mature. This lovely transition of colors is the reason behind its name. Perfect for containers, in a semi-shade spots with moist soil, this robust plant maintains a striking look all through summer and fall. Plant with Epimediums and Jack Frost for an eye-catchy burst of colors. This is a lovely fern for growing in small groups or as a solo prime specimen.

5. Hay Scented Fern

USDA Zone– 4 – 9

Hayscented fern is so named because it has the typical fragrance of hay, especially at the end of the growing season when the fronds are developing a rusty-brown color. In fall, the fronds adopt an orange hue, providing a stunning background to ordinary green plants. It grows up to 1 – 3 feet tall, a 10 – 12 inches deep pot is sufficient for its growth. Keep the plant in partial sun, water regularly to maintain the consistent moisture

6. Dallas Fern

USDA Zones– 8 – 11

The Dallas Fern is heat loving; more compact in nature than Boston Fern and flaunts short fronds with a frilly appearance. One of the most attractive features of the plant is that it is less likely to shed leaves than other closely related ferns. It prefers indirect light and uniform watering. However, it can manage to thrive in less light and moisture too. Overall, the Dallas Fern is a nice choice for busy apartment dwellers who lack time to tend to their thirsty houseplants.

7. Kimberley Queen Fern

USDA Zones– 9 – 11

Originated from Australia, this elegant fern flaunts upright, deep-green fronds that retain their form in wind and hail. While it does have a preference for shade, it does well in full sun, as long as it gets regular water. Fertilizing is not really needed but is recommended for adding a boost of color to dull foliage. A vigorous and highly adaptable grower, this versatile fern is a great choice for growing in containers as a houseplant or outside.

8. Macho Fern

USDA Zones– 9 – 11

Growing Macho Fern outside on the ground is easiest in warm subtropical or tropical regions. You can grow it in containers and urns either outdoors on patios, porches, front doors or indoors. This large fern can reach up to 4 feet high and about 6 feet wide, so choose a large container. Trim off old fronds to trigger new growth and keep the nascent ones protected from the direct sun. Place the pot in a spot that receives a few hours of morning sun, away from drying winds, keep the soil moist and fertilize a couple of times during the growing season. Visit eHow to learn how to grow it!

9. Tiger Fern

USDA Zones– 9 – 11

Brilliant green leaflets with metallic stripes make the Tiger Fern a nice conversation starter. This plant is a quick grower and works well either solo or as a companion houseplant in baskets and containers, keep it in a part sun in a cool climate and in the shade in hot regions. Display your Tiger fern in a cool spot like a porch or a balcony. Proper drainage is crucial too, or this plant will end up wilting.

10. Autumn Fern

USDA Zones– 5 – 11

Autumn fern is root hardy in cooler regions, down to Zone 5 and evergreen in warmer Zones. Valued for its coppery-red leaves that offer beauty all throughout the growing season. The fronds are long, slender and add a lacy finish to a woodland setting. This plant prefers warm and humid settings and performs well if given proper shade and moisture. Its short height (up to 2 feet), preference for deep shade makes it one of the best ferns to grow in containers on a shady spot. Team it up with hostas for a blond touch.

11. Hart’s Tongue Fern

USDA Zones– 4 – 10

One of the best evergreen ferns for containers, it bears unique tongue-shaped leaves with pointed ends. Grows well in shaded areas, it’s often seen covering large areas underneath trees and rocks or alongside streams where its upright fronds form a striking contrast with the rounded shapes of damp-loving flowers. It is a popular choice for a shade garden. Use it as a focal point as or as a filler in your container combinations.

12. Western Sword Fern

USDA Zones– 4 – 9

This maintenance-free native fern is known for its green, sword-shaped fronds that form a lush evergreen groundcover in the forests of North-Western U.S. Western Sword Fern benefits from partial shade, well-drained soil and occasional trimming. This hardy native fern can also be grown in warm and arid regions.

13. Boston Fern

USDA Zones– 8 – 11

A close relative of the sword fern, this elegant, old-fashioned plant is valued for its leathery, kelly-green foliage. With its ruffled leaves and gracefully arching fronds, it’s easy to see why it’s so admired worldwide. Best suited for warm climates (USDA zones 10-12), Boston fern makes a nice outdoor container choice for spring and autumn in cooler regions. Growing Boston Fern indoors is also easy. It grows up to 2-and-half feet tall and prefers well-drained soil.

14. New Zealand Tree Fern (Wheki Fern)

USDA Zones– 8 – 11

The New Zealand tree fern is similar to its cousin Dicksonia Antartica, a slow growing plant with lush fronds that spread above a thick trunk like other ferns it prefers a shady environment for optimal growth. Its almost black trunk complements the fine bright green foliage. It can grow up to 20 feet tall in the wild but around 5 feet in a container. So choose a large pot and keep it in a spot that receives partial sun and minimal the wind. It’s not very cold-hardy and requires moderate temperatures to thrive.

15. Japanese Painted Fern

USDA Zones– 5 – 9

This fern stands out from the regular green shades of common ferns with its gorgeous, silvery foliage. The fronds have an exotic airbrushed appearance with metallic markings and brilliant garnet-colored veins that really steal the show. It prefers morning sun and light shade throughout the day. Try teaming this plant with bold burgundy begonias, coral bells, and bleeding heart to add interest to your shade garden.

16. Soft shield fern

Polystichum setiferum

USDA Zones– 5 – 9

Native to southwestern Europe, this tufted evergreen fern goes up to 2 – 3 feet tall and develops rosettes of feathery, spear-shaped fronds that look wonderful in a woodland setup. This plant likes the cool atmosphere and rich and moist soil. Plant it in a pot and place it on your patio to create a seamless transition from a more formal portion of your home to the wilderness.

17. Holly Fern

USDA Zones– 6 – 11

Popular for its heat tolerance and shiny green foliage, Holly fern can be an elegant addition to your plant collection. It has been named for its holly-like leaves and is usually grown to provide a lush green contrast to more colorful annuals and perennials. And while it doesn’t tolerate very low temperatures, holly fern does thrive in moderately harsh winters and prefers warm climates.

18. Maidenhair Fern

USDA Zones– 3 – 11

One of the best ferns for containers, native to North America, it’s known for its unique light green foliage. Spreads quickly in moist, lightly shaded areas with good air circulation. Maidenhair Fern can be grown both outdoors and indoors easily. There are several varieties available suitable for most of the climatic conditions.

19. Korean Rock Fern

USDA Zones– 7 – 10

A versatile and trouble-free evergreen plant, the Korean Rock Fern forms low clumps of leathery green fronds with dark veins that form a striking show. New leaves have a purplish cast and form a dramatic contrast with the green background. Excellent for growing in borders or in a shade garden, the Korean Rock Fern is best grown as a container plant in cold regions. It also tolerates heat and humidity well, and stays fresh as long you provide it with well-drained soil and regular watering.

20. Royal Fern

USDA Zones– 3 – 10

Prized for its lovely form and texture, Royal fern is a hardy, deciduous fern that forms large rosettes of glossy green fronds. They develop a pinkish hue in spring and are crowned with copper-brown flower spikes that have given them the name of “Flowering Fern.” The gorgeous foliage turns into the rusty-brown shade in fall. Low-maintenance and disease-resistance, Royal Fern is a nice asset for shady beds, cottage gardens, and hanging baskets.

21. Asparagus Fern (Foxtail Fern)

Foxtail Fern

USDA Zones– 9 – 11

Asparagus Fern is not a true fern actually. This fern-like plant has arching plumes of tightly packed, needle-like leaves that look soft and delicate. It can be grown indoors as a houseplant or in containers outside in cooler zones. Whereas, in hot climates, it is perennial.


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Learn about the 21 Best Ferns for Containers, these beautiful foliage plants available in various shapes, textures, and colors provide interest in shady space!



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