What do I do with potted ferns for the winter?

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I bought a couple of beautiful potted ferns from Wal Mart last spring. They sure do make the porch look real nice. Winter is nearly here in Indiana, and I would like to know how to care for these ferns through the cold months. Do I bring them inside or leave them outdoors? Thanks!

-- clove (clovis97@Yahoo.com), November 25, 2001


Definitely bring them in. What I do is cut them back, allow them to dry off a bit, and store them in the basement or an unheated room. Water just enough to keep them from drying out completely. Like maybe once a month. Next spring, bring them out into a sunny, warm spot, water and feed, and watch them spring back to life. Right now mine are in the garage, cut back and waiting. If we get a cold enough winter to freeze the garage, I will move them down to the basement.

-- melina b. (goatgalmjb1@hotmail.com), November 25, 2001.

We have an asparagus fern that we cut back and put in a sunny window for the window for the winter. We water about once a week. By springtime it is full and ready to go back outside.

-- Cindy in NY (cjpopeck@worldnet.att.net), November 26, 2001.

Clove, The care you give your ferns over the winter months depends on what types you have. There are 100's of species... Boston, Asparagus, Staghorn, Rabbits-Foot, Bird's-Nest, just to name a very few. Since you live up where winters are cold, you can't leave it outside. Most ferns thrive best with temps above 50 degrees. They need moist air, and home temperatures in winter are just too dry for ferns to prosper well. One of the first signs of ferns suffering enviromental disagreements is frond drop, and/or yellow leaves.

Think of a deeply wooded forest in the springtime and how it feels to you as you walk through it. Now that is just the right enviroment a fern needs to grow in. Cool, moist, and shaded.

My suggestion would be to keep the fern in an unheated sunroom, or maybe a spare bedroom where you can block off the heat, so it stays cool. I don't trim my ferns back any in the winter. I mist them daily and keep the soil slightly damp. If you have a basement, hang the ferns infront of a window down there until spring.

I have a large greenhouse, so I don't have to worry about bringing in my tropical plants during the winter. Good luck with your ferns.

-- Carol From Dixie (plantlady51@webtv.net), November 26, 2001.

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