19 Great Ferns To Use In Hanging Baskets

We'll tell you which ones are right for you, from the front porch to the back door.

ferns
Photo: Getty Images

Add some curb appeal to your home, or add some greenery indoors by hanging a basket filled with beautiful ferns. Ferns thrive in the shade, love moist soil, and add flashy foliage to any container. Depending on the variety, ferns will trail or arch.

More ferns die from overwatering than underwatering—water only when soil is dry to the touch. If leaves turn yellow and the soil is wet one to two inches beneath the surface, you are watering too much. Ferns love humidity and appreciate an occasional misting. Don't do so in direct sun, which could burn the fronds. Never fertilize a fern―or any plant―that is too dry. It can burn the roots.

These ferns bite the dust when exposed to prolonged freezing temperatures. To overwinter them, cut back the side fronds next to the pot's rim, and trim the top fronds to 10 inches. Bring the plant indoors, where it will receive bright light from a window. Water regularly, and by next year at this time, you can take it back outside.

Some ferns have more challenging care requirements than others, so find a species that will thrive in your environmental conditions. Remember that hanging baskets dry out faster than other containers, so check them often by sticking your finger in the soil. This bit of greenery is a rewarding way to brighten any space. Read on to discover the 19 best ferns for hanging baskets or containers.

01 of 19

Boston Fern

Boston Fern
Supersmario / Getty Images
  • Botanical Name: Nephrolepis exaltata
  • Sun Exposure: Partial
  • Soil Type: Moist, Well-drained
  • Soil pH: Acidic (6.0-6.5)
,

The 'Boston' fern is sensitive to humidity and light. This fern is known as the 'Sword Fern' because the blue-green foliage grows upright as it matures. This fern is slow-growing and can thrive year-round indoors.

02 of 19

Dallas Fern

ferns
Getty Images
  • Botanical Name: Nephrolepis exaltata 'Dallasii'
  • Sun Exposure: Shade, Partial
  • Soil Type: Moist, Well-drained
  • Soil pH: Acidic (5.5-6.5)
,

'Dallas' fern is an excellent choice for beginners, especially those who occasionally forget to give their thirsty houseplants a drink. This neat and compact plant sports short fronds that have a ruffled appearance. Perfect for side tables, windowsills, or small baskets, this is the one to choose when space is tight.

03 of 19

Tiger Fern

potted plants aisles heather waraksa
Heather Waraksa
  • Botanical Name: Nephrolepis exaltata
  • Sun Exposure: Partial
  • Soil Type: Moist, Well-drained
  • Soil pH: Acidic (6.0-6.5)
,

You will want to place the 'Tiger' fern in a prominent area to admire the beautiful foliage. This plant's bright green leaflets, striped with gold, work very well alone or as companion plants in baskets and containers. Place it in bright, indirect light or partial shade and well-drained soil. Feed once a month with a water-soluble fertilizer such as 20-20-20.

04 of 19

Macho Fern

Shade Container with Green Plants
You may beat the summer heat beneath a porch roof, but it's hard to find colorful flowers that will thrive without sunlight. Before you reach for the typical fern, try this more sophisticated foliage combo. The textural leaves of these four tropical-inspired plants make a splash, especially when added to a simple white container. We used elephant's ear, rex begonia, nephthytis, and blue crisp fern. Let the elephant's ear stand tall and proud, taking center stage, while all of the smaller plantings fill in around the edges beautifully. These picks require regular water, so be sure to keep the soil moist, and place the container out of direct light. Elephant's ear can tear in the wind, so shield it from summer storms.If you're looking for a little more color, consider adding a vivid pink or red caladium. Robbie Caponetto; Produced by Mark Thompson
  • Botanical Name: Nephrolepis biserrata
  • Sun Exposure: Partial, Shade
  • Soil Type: Moist, Well-drained
  • Soil pH: Acidic (6.0-6.5)
,

One leaflet on a frond of 'Macho' fern can be the length of a ballpoint pen. This behemoth can grow four feet tall and five to six feet wide in the right conditions. Display it outside because the interior light usually is not bright enough. Try this fern in large containers and oversized hanging baskets for a dramatic show. When new fronds appear, feed with a one-fourth to one-half-strength, water-soluble fertilizer such as 20-20-20. It loves heat and humidity and can tolerate the sun as long as it's not too hot.

05 of 19

Kimberley Queen Fern

Five Great Ferns
Joseph De Sciose
  • Botanical Name: Nephrolepis obliterata
  • Sun Exposure: Partial
  • Soil Type: Moist, Well-drained
  • Soil pH: Acidic (5.0-5.5)
,

An upward-arching form makes 'Kimberley Queen' a natural choice for displaying near doors or entries. Place it in bright, indirect light and well-drained soil. Feed once a month with a water-soluble fertilizer such as 20-20-20.

06 of 19

Cinnamon Fern

Cinnamon Fern
Hector Manuel Sanchez
  • Botanical Name: Osmundastrum cinnamomeum
  • Sun Exposure: Partial, Shade
  • Soil Type: Moist, Well-drained, Rich
  • Soil pH: Acidic to Neutral (5.0-7.0)
,

These lacy fronds grow near streams or bogs. The two contrasting colors easily identify it. Cinnamon ferns typically grow in the wild, but containers with rich compost soil can also work.

07 of 19

Southern Shield Fern

Southern Shield Fern
Hector Manuel Sanchez
  • Botanical Name: Dryopteris ludoviciana
  • Sun Exposure: Partial, Shade
  • Soil Type: Moist, Well-drained, Rich
  • Soil pH: Acidic to Neutral to Alkaline (6.1-7.8)
,

These dark green fronds are glossy when mature and can reach up to two feet long. After establishing, this fern can tolerate droughts or dry soil. In colder climates, this fern is semi-evergreen and grows along swamp banks or as ground cover on garden borders and edges.

08 of 19

Japanese Holly Fern

Japanese Holly fern
Artur Bogacki / Getty
  • Botanical Name: Cyrtomium falcatum
  • Sun Exposure: Partial, Shade
  • Soil Type: Moist, Well-drained, Rich
  • Soil pH: Acidic to Neutral (4.0-7.0)
,

This fern is not cold-hardy and has beautiful sawtooth foliage in glossy, deep green. The leathery appearance of this evergreen foliage highlights its rich texture, which produces long fronds that look like holly branches. If the fern grows too big for its container, you can divide it and develop the new section in a different pot.

09 of 19

Wart Ferns

Evergreen leaves of Wart fern of Hawaii
JADEZMITH / Getty
  • Botanical Name: Phymatosorus scolopendria
  • Sun Exposure: Partial, Shade
  • Soil Type: Moist, Well-drained, Sandy
  • Soil pH: Acidic to Neutral (4.0-7.0)
,

The 'Wart Fern' is also called the monarch fern, musk fern, or breadfruit fern. After being introduced in the early 1900s, it spread rapidly throughout Hawaii. Use this fern for ground cover, or easily grow it in a container since it does not grow too tall.

10 of 19

Ostrich Ferns

Ostrich Fern
Katrin Ten Eikelder / EyeEm / Getty Images
  • Botanical Name: Matteuccia struthiopteris
  • Sun Exposure: Partial, Full
  • Soil Type: Moist, Well-drained, Sandy
  • Soil pH: Slightly Acidic (5.5-6.5)
,

Ostrich ferns can spread rapidly in the right growing conditions because the roots expand. The foliage, growing in a vase shape, looks like a fiddle or violin, giving it one of its common names, the fiddlehead ferns. This quick-growing fern has a short season, usually beginning after the final frost in spring.

11 of 19

Autumn Ferns

Autumn fern
Steve Bender
  • Botanical Name: Dryopteris erythrosora
  • Sun Exposure: Shade
  • Soil Type: Moist, Well-drained
  • Soil pH: Acidic (6.0-6.5)
,

Autumn ferns are suitable for small spaces because they do not spread as quickly as other ferns. The fronds emerge as a bright copper or orange-red, giving it a fall-inspired palette and attributing to its name. This fern is excellent for year-round color because it fades to a glossy, bright green after the season. In addition to growing in baskets or containers, use autumn fern as ground cover in shady gardens.

12 of 19

Fishbone Fern

Close-up image of lush Ladder Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata) fronds, sword fern, Boston fern or fishbone fern
CHUNYIP WONG / Getty
  • Botanical Name: Nephrolepis cordifolia
  • Sun Exposure: Full, Partial
  • Soil Type: Moist, Well-drained
  • Soil pH: Acidic (6.0-6.5)
,

This evergreen plant is also known as wild Boston fern, Boston Blue Bell Fern, and tuber ladder fern. Be mindful that spores, carried by the wind or water, can spread and develop into new growth. Fronds grow upright and droop, making it a good choice for hanging baskets.

13 of 19

Staghorn Fern

Staghorn Fern Wall Hanging
Kelli Boyd Photography
  • Botanical Name: Platycerium
  • Sun Exposure: Partial
  • Soil Type: Epiphytic (grows in trees)
  • Soil pH: N/A
,

'Staghorn ferns' are epiphytic, making it possible to grow in wall containers. This houseplant is more challenging to grow than other ferns because of how it grows, but the distinctive, flat leaves can reach up to three feet in length. Make sure to keep temperatures warm because this fern is native to sub-tropical regions.

14 of 19

Foxtail Fern

Foxtail Fern
(Asparagus densiflorus) HEIGHT:2 feet LIGHT: Part sun to part shadeThese wonky plumes are head turners. A perennial only in regions with mild winters below USDA Zone 9, this type should be used in planters and annual beds in cooler areas. Or try it indoors as a houseplant. Keep it well watered during extreme heat. . Hector Manuel Sanchez
  • Botanical Name: Asparagus densiflorus
  • Sun Exposure: Partial
  • Soil Type: Well-draining
  • Soil pH: Acidic to Neutral (6.0-7.0)
,

The 'Foxtail' fern gets its name because its leaves are feathery. This perennial evergreen produces red berries and small, white flowers. Reaching up to three feet tall and wide, 'Foxtail' ferns are considered invasive, so planting them with other species is not recommended.

15 of 19

Maidenhair Fern

Maidenhair Fern
Naphatson Jansena / EyeEm / Getty
  • Botanical Name: Adiantum raddianum
  • Sun Exposure: Partial, Shade
  • Soil Type: Well-draining, Moist
  • Soil pH: Neutral to Alkaline (7.0-8.0)
,

'Maidenhair' ferns are popular houseplants because of their stunning, fan-shaped leaves and slow growth rate. In nature, these ferns grow in between rocks in warm and steamy conditions and are incredibly hardy. These ferns with lace-like fronds need consistent watering and can quickly burn in too much direct sun.

16 of 19

Tassel Fern

Tassel Fern
Hector Manuel Sanchez
  • Botanical Name: Polystichum polyblepharum
  • Sun Exposure: Partial
  • Soil Type: Well-drained, Chalky, Sandy, Loamy
  • Soil pH: Acidic to Neutral (4.0-7.0)
,

These ferns spread outward in vase-shaped clumps up to two feet tall and wide. Native to Asia, the arching shape of this plant's foliage makes it an excellent choice for hanging baskets. Golden hairs cover new fronds until the silver scales and dark green foliage makes a stunning appearance on mature leaves.

17 of 19

Japanese Painted Fern

Japanese Painted Fern
Hector Manuel Sanchez
  • Botanical Name: Athyrium niponicum
  • Sun Exposure: Partial, Shade
  • Soil Type: Well-drained, Moist, Clay, Loamy, Sandy
  • Soil pH: Acidic to Neutral (5.5-7.0)
,

The 'Japanese Painted' fern has variegated fronds ranging from silver, gray, green, and purple. This fern is suitable for containers because it is slow-growing, about one foot every year. Protect the fronds from too much afternoon sun to protect healthy leaves and colorful displays.

18 of 19

Royal Fern

Royal Fern
Hector Manuel Sanchez
  • Botanical Name: Osmundaceae
  • Sun Exposure: Partial, Full
  • Soil Type: Well-drained, Moist, Rich, Clay
  • Soil pH: Acidic (4.0-6.0)
,

Often found in wetlands and marshes, this tall fern grows in a crowd of rust-colored clusters. This deciduous fern has pale green foliage that turns various colors in the fall, including yellow, gold, brown, and russet. Plus, if growing in an outdoor hanging basket, this fern species is also deer and rabbit tolerant.

19 of 19

Champions Wood Fern

Champions Wood Fern Plant
Steve Bender
  • Botanical Name: Dryopteris championii
  • Sun Exposure: Partial, Shade
  • Soil Type: Well-drained, Moist
  • Soil pH: Acidic (5.0-6.5)
,

This evergreen fern needs sheltering from strong winds, so move it indoors during storms or harsh weather conditions. Typically found in woodland areas, this fern is non-flowering but makes up for this by having deep green, arching fronds. It can grow up to three feet tall and wide.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles