Five Great Indoor Ferns

These tropical beauties warm up a room in no time flat.
Rebecca Bull Reed

Winter's bite: It has you wanting to change your latitude. So add a tropical fern to your favorite room, and you'll have an immediate change of heart. Here are some you'll really love.

1. Australian Tree Fern (Cyathea cooperi 'Brentwood')
Need something lush to fill that empty spot? Here's your answer. This fern's formidable stature and upward-arching fronds say, "Look at me." It's a great choice for sunrooms and foyers.

Keys to success: This guy loves regular moisture and won't forgive you if you forget. Bright light is a must, but if the frond edges start to brown, find a shadier spot. Mist the trunk and fronds frequently.

2. Bird's Nest Fern (Asplenium nidus)
This is the easiest fern to grow. Its fronds coil tightly in the center prior to opening, resembling a nest. Pictured is curly 'Victoria' Japanese bird's nest fern (A. antiquum 'Victoria'), prized for its wavy leaf margins.

Keys to success: Tolerant of low light, low humidity, and missed waterings, this fern will surpass your expectations. Just show it a little love by following the instructions described in "Fern SOS" on page 76. Fertilize every six weeks, and mist occasionally if the air is dry.

3. Elkhorn Fern (Polypodium punctatum 'Grandiceps')
Also known as the cobra fern, this easy tropical is a must-buy. If you can't find it at your local nursery, an Internet search will reveal several sources. The glossy, upright fronds can reach 3 feet in length.

Keys to success: Bright light is preferred, but partial shade is okay. Avoid direct sun. Allow it to dry out slightly between waterings. It grows quickly once established.

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