What Soil to Use for Ferns?: With Easy DIY Tips and Guide

What soil to use for Ferns is a very commonly asked question. Fern as a houseplant lends a lush tropical feel to the indoor area. The plant makes the best decorations with easy care. The plant is known for its beautiful leaves with attractive shapes. The Fern needs little attention and care while growing.

One way to keep the plant happy is by choosing the right soil. With a little knowledge about the soil for the plant, you can buy or better make your own soil for the plant. Keep reading this article to know about the soils, and care for the plant with the best soil recipes to make at your home. 

Types of Fern

Ferns are an ancient group of plants that once dominated the forest plants. A fern is a vascular plant that reproduces via spores. It is not a flowering plant. Ferns are used for medicine, ornamental, and cleaning contaminated soil. 

Ferns can be grown both indoors and outdoors. Below are some of the types:

Indoor Ferns

  • Boston Fern– The most popular fern for outdoors. They grow in many wild regions and have dark green leaves. 
  • Rabbit foot Fern– This fern got its name from the appearance of the leaves. They can survive even without soil as they feed on air, water, and moisture.

Outdoor Ferns

  • Cinnamon Fern– They may need more water because of their growth. They grow wild in creeks if grown in gardens and have pale green color leaves.
  • Japanese painted fern– This Fern can tolerate winter. They make the best outdoor fern because of their purple and silver mixed color. They can grow up to 18 inches long.

What is the Soil pH for Ferns?

Soil Ph for Ferns

The soil pH for Ferns can range from 4.0 to 7.0. Ferns can grow best in slightly acidic soil to neutral soil. If the soil is alkaline, it may affect the plant. To make your Fern soil acidic, add peat moss to it. pH is tested to find the potential of hydrogen and uses a chemical scale to identify the nature of the soil.

Testing for soil pH is the first step in getting to know the soil. Ph can range from 0 to 14. Any soil with a pH higher than 7 is alkaline and less than 7 is acidic. Do a pH test to find the soil pH level. While most fern prefers acidic soil, some prefer mild alkaline soil.

What Soil to Use for Ferns: Can I use any Soil for Ferns?

No, you can’t use any soil for Ferns. Ferns need soil that holds moisture as well as nutrients, such as garden soil. One should avoid succulent soil for ferns in any situation as it does not have the right water retention for ferns. Also, avoid peat soil as it breaks the plant with too much draining of water.

Potting soil which is used for other plants can’t be directly used for ferns. Special potting mix with nutrients should be used for ferns. Using soil that gives the right drainage, is loamy and aerated as well as moisturised is the best soil for Ferns.

Components of Best Soil for Ferns

The Three main components which should be present in the soil to make it the best soil for Ferns are:

Proper Drainage- Proper draining soil is essential for Ferns. If grown in a pot, it doesn’t need a special drainage hole for drainage. Water sitting in the pot is acceptable at some point. If grown on land, add Peat to nourish the soil and improve drainage.

Water retention– Water retention should be enough for the need for water. Some varieties of Fern ask for moist soil while some need well-draining soil. Adding a combination of ingredients that have equal water retention and drainage will help in fern growth. If you have a large Fern, then adding shredded leaves as mulch will give enough water to the plant.

Good aeration- Ferns like damp soil but they should have good aeration too. As some types love dry and light soil to get the proper aeration, giving that will help them grow. Providing extra aeration for potted plant soil will boost the growth of the plant.

Did you Know? 

  • Ferns are one of the oldest plants in the world with more than 10,000 known species.
  • The Tallest fern in the world is a tree fern that grows to a height of 65 ft.
  • The branch of botany that studies ferns is pteridology.
  • Christmas fern and Lady fern can grow even in dry soil.

According to the USDA, ferns are plants that do not have flowers but have root, stem, and leaves like flowering plants. Ferns don’t have seeds and reproduce by producing spores.

What Kind of Potting Soil is Good for Ferns?

What soil is good for Ferns

Ferns prefer a potting mix that is coarse and provides aeration to the plant root. A Potting mix with perlite is perfect for the Ferns soil. To make the soil more porous add coconut husk, or pumice. Ferns also need nutritious soil making it ask for more organic matter in the soil. Keep a check on the acidity level of the soil and don’t miss out on any major changes in soil which may affect the plant.

How to prepare Potting soil for Ferns?

To prepare the potting soil for Ferns, add one part of the Organic matter to two parts of inorganic matter. Organic matter includes soil, compost, bark, coir, moss, and plant waste such as lawn clipping, leaves, stems, and branches. 

Inorganic or mineral matters are rocks, sand, gravel, marbles, and charcoal.

Depending on the texture of the mix, add one or two parts of coco coir to it to improve the aeration. You can add perlite to increase the drainage of the soil.

The preparation of a potting mix for Fern is cost-efficient. Succulent, cactus soil is quite opposite to garden or potting soil or orchid soil. Orchid soil is even more nutritious and suitable for ferns rather than succulents. Adding potting mix directly for ferns is not good. But after mending the soil to improve drainage and aeration will make the potting mix doable for Ferns.

DIY Tips to make soil for Ferns at Home (Complete guide)

DIY Tips to make soil for Ferns at Home (Complete guide)

Soil for most plants can be made by mixing potting soil or some minerals and organic matter. But for Ferns, it needs soil that is suitable for each type. Ferns are very picky about their choices to grow in moist and nutritious soil. So, making a Do-it-yourself soil is your best choice. To make your own DIY soil for your Fern plants:


  • Collecting all the ingredients before making the soil.
  • Take time to mix the ingredients.
  • Learn other items like reading a pH tester, types of nutrients, and their uses.

Now you can start making the DIY with the below-given ingredients and follow up,


  • Gear up with gloves to avoid dirt from the soil.
  • Measuring cup or instrument to measure the ingredients.
  • Bucket or vessel to make space to mix the soil.
  • A small shovel/ Trowel to mix the soil.
  • Dust mask.


Inorganic matters

  • Coarse sand– Coarse sand is added to give a loose texture to the soil. The sand is added to reduce the clay content in the soil.
  • Volcanic rocks– These are rocks from volcanic lava. The rock contains many minerals which help in plant growth.
  • Gravel– Gravel is rock fragments that are formed from the breakdown of rock. They are used in decorative and to provide aeration to the soil.
  • Vermiculite– Vermiculite is added to soil to aerate it and also to retain moisture and nutrient in it.
  • Perlite– Perlite is formed from volcanic emission. They make the best aeration for the Fern potted soil.
  • Pumice– Formed from volcanoes when they erupted explosively. The liquid explosion is formed to pumice rock making the aeration for the soil.

Organic matters

  • Potting soil– The potting mix with the soil makes the potting soil. Potting mix has peat moss, perlite, vermiculite, and many others. 
  • Coconut Coir– The coconut fiber is an all-rounder made from coconut husk used for many purposes. They are used in soil to improve soil texture, drainage, and aeration.
  • Compost– Compost is a mixture of organic waste formed and added to soil to enrich it. 
  • Manure– Manure is a natural source of nutrients to the soil. It is made from decomposed plant and animal waste.
  • Saw dust
  • Peat moss– This soil amendment is made from peat bogs. This active decomposing peat moss is used to hold water in the soil.


My best recipe for Indoor fern is:

  • 1 Part Potting soil
  • 1 Part Perlite

My best recipe for Outdoor fern is,

  • 2 Part Organic matters
  • 2 Part Inorganic matters


After collecting all the required ingredients and tools add the measured ingredients to the bucket with the help of a trowel and add two parts of organic matter to one part of the inorganic matter of any choice and mix it well so both are mixed. This will give the best soil for your outdoor ferns. For indoor plants add one part perlite to 1 part potting soil and mix all well to make the best soil for your Ferns. When using potting soil add the required amount of sand to it and other nutrients to reach the pH requirement of the plant.

Where to Buy Soil for Ferns?

Soil for Ferns can be bought in a nearby commercial store or online. Store-bought soil is readymade to use but may contain fertilisers. Online, you can make your choice based on your research with the review, rating, and the right mix mentioned in the label. With whatever way of buying the soil, adding some soil conditioner will help for the betterment of the plant as well the soil.

3 Best Commercial Brands to buy Soil for Ferns

Miracle-gro All Purpose Garden Soil

It is used for a new bed or existing garden bed for strong roots all across the ground. This is best suitable for the ferns in the ground. The soil can feed the plants, vegetables, or perennials for up to 3 months. Adding some more amendments to this soil according to the plant or vegetable to be grown in the soil will make the best soil.

Fox farm Happy Frog Potting Soil

One of the best soil for both indoor, outdoor, and container plants is happy frog potting soil. These are ready-to-use soil with a pack of nutrients. It also contains humic acid and mycorrhizae which gives the right pH for plants. The benefits of this premium select potting soil are strong plant structure, and vigorous vegetative growth, with enhanced fruit and flower production. This soil can be used directly to replenish the existing soil. Added bonus of a free pair of gardening gloves is provided with this product. 

Miracle-Gro Houseplant Potting Mix

It is a peat moss, coconut coir, and perlite which provides well draining indoor soil mix for plants. They are not specifically made for Anthurium but are best and value for money. This soil is less prone to gnats and other common household pests. This is a certified product but has Mulch and soil with industrial standards. The soil can feed indoor plants for up to 6 months. The product comes with how-to-use and care tips for indoor plants on the label. This is best suitable for indoor potted ferns.

No. Name of the Product Quantity Price($)


1 Miracle-gro All Purpose Garden Soil 1 Cu.ft 10
2 Fox farm- Happy frog Potting Soil 2 Cu.ft 39
3 Miracle-gro Houseplant Potting Mix 4 QT 12

Can I use Garden Soil for Ferns?

Yes, you can use garden soil for Ferns. Garden soil will be heavy, damp and moisture pretended with lots of organic, and inorganic patterns in it. Ferns that are outdoors, thrive in garden soil. Garden soil will be loamy, and perfect drainage and nutrients will make it suitable for the fern to grow. Potted ferns will need different types of soil.

Can Ferns grow in Cactus and Orchid Soil?

Can Ferns grow in Cactus and Orchid soil?

No, Ferns can’t grow in cactus soil. Ferns need soil that can hold water but cactus soil is with drainage ingredients which won’t be good for them. Often the term cactus and succulent are used indifferently. You may find labels in soil bags stating cactus and succulent soil. As the characteristics and needs of both cacti and succulents are common, they can be used for one another. Even when some ferns are succulents only for such types, cactus soil can be used but for others, they need loam-based soil.

Yes, Ferns can be grown in Orchid soil. Orchid soil tends to have the right acidity which is suitable for the plant. Orchid soil has good drainage and is porous which makes it the best substitute for Ferns. 

Selecting the Right Place and Pot for Ferns

The right place to grow a fern depends on the variety of the fern. Some types can grow into a tree that can’t be grown indoors. Some dwarf varieties with limited growth and weight can be grown in the pot. Ferns prefer a shady place but some species can tolerate hot sun. Ferns are temperature tolerant as long they have moist soil.

Picking the right pot is essential for every houseplant. The right pot for a Fern plant is categorised with the size and material of the pot. 

The pot for the plant can be plastic, ceramic, or wood. But the best one for Fern is Terracotta because of the water-storing nature. This will help to keep the plant moist even at high temperatures.

The Size of the pot for Fern can not be fixed. There is no perfect size pot for plants. Giving the plant a pot that is two sizes bigger than the plant will be good. 

Potting and Repotting for Ferns

Potting and Repotting for Ferns

Potting should be done, when the store-bought plant is in a small pot disregarding its size

Repotting a Fern every two years once during summer will enrich the plant with nutrients in the new soil. Repotting can be done at certain times:

  • When the plant has outgrown the pot or container in which it grows.
  • When its plant is externally damaged due to any cause like animal accidents and many such.
  • Fungal or bacterial infection can damage the soil during such times there is a need to repot the Fern.
  • Root rot is not a major problem and the plant can recover on its own. But at times, when it gets severe repotting should be done to save the plant and root.

Repotting should not be done in yellow leaves, dropping leaves, dryness, sunburn, and insect invading the soil.

How to Propagate the Ferns?

Here is my way to Propagate a fern:

  • Collect the fern spores- There are two ways to do this, either wait till the spores fall off from leaves or cut the leaves and dry them out for the spores to fall. Either way, it works. Just make sure they fall off on their own.
  • Fill the container with new soil for ferns. Gently dust off the spores into the soil and press in gently. 
  • Mist the spores to keep them moisturised and cover the container.
  • Place the container in a water-filled tray for extra moisture.
  • Change the water until you see the growth. It may take more than 10 weeks.
  • After growth, you can move them outdoors for light and more growth to become a fern.

Common Problems in Growing Ferns

Ferns don’t have a serious problem to deal with. But look out for over watering, this may rot the root which leads to fern death. They may also face bug problems. The plant is not much prone to pests but there should be a check on it. There are chances they are affected by spider mites, scales, and bacterial or fungal disease. Treating the problem with fungicides and insecticides will help discord the problem. Insects-affected plants show signs with leaves. Keeping a check on plants and soil will mostly prevent pests. 

Wrapping up

Ferns are easy maintenance and problem-free plants to grow indoors. But poor soil selection will affect the health of the plant. With the right soil selection for the Fern, well-drainage, moisture retention and nutrient content should be checked to give the ideal space for the plant to cherish. With proper care, plants will grow to have lush green leaves. If there is any problem with the plant, follow the repotting steps and swap it for better soil.


Do Fern like sun or shade?

Ferns like shade with little sun to grow.

Do Ferns like shallow pots?

Yes, ferns grow best in shallow pots and containers.

What kind of pot do Ferns need?

Ferns can survive in any container such as plastic or terracotta.