Growing ferns in hanging baskets can create a beautiful display that enhances your home.
Already purchased a fern basket? No worries! Feel free to skip to the fern hanging basket care tips to get some tips on keeping your basket beautiful all summer long!
We put together this guide to go over some things to consider when planting your own hanging basket with ferns in it.
It’s recommended that you either purchase young fern plants for your hanging basket.
We don’t recommend growing ferns from seed directly in the hanging basket. You’ll first want to plant fern seeds in a smaller container and transplant the young plant into the hanging basket when the plant is ready.
This advice goes for any plants grown from seed.
First, a little bit about choosing flowers for your hanging basket.
Hanging baskets with ferns
Growing ferns in a hanging basket is a popular choice by gardeners. A fern plant can be grown by itself in a hanging basket or in a combination with other plants.
Plants that grow well with ferns in a hanging basket
It’s important to choose plants to grow with ferns that have similar growth tendencies and care.
How to plant fern hanging baskets
If you have your ferns and you are ready to pot them up in a hanging basket, here’s the process.
1. Preparing your hanging basket
Grab your hanging basket and fill it up to a few inches shy of the brim with potting soil.
2. Unpacking your fern plants
Pull the fern plants from their pack or pot by squeezing the bottom of the container and gently pulling the plant out. You can turn the container upside down as you do this to get gravity on your side.
3. Staging your fern plants
Stage your plants in the hanging basket how you would like them.
Tip: If the fern plants are rootbound (meaning their root cubes are very tight and interwoven), you can do the plant a favor by gently pulling the root cube apart a few times. This encourages the plant to spread its root out in the new soil.
4. Planting the fern hanging basket
Cover the fern plugs up to match the soil line of the plants.
5. Watering the plants in
Watering ferns in a hanging basket is similar to watering the plants in a pot or in landscapes.
Water the fern basket and apply slow-release fertilizer (if not already included in your potting soil).
Tips for planting ferns in a hanging basket
1. Don’t overpack your basket
You don’t want to make the mistake of filling your fern basket too full when the plants are small. Many varieties of ferns have the potential to overcome other plants in a hanging basket if they don’t have enough space to grow.
If planting your basket with just ferns, you could get away with just one plant per hanging basket, but many will plant three to really get a nice display (stick with odd numbers). This will depend largely on your basket size, but for a general 12″ basket, 3 plants will easily be enough.
If you are planting ferns with another plant in a hanging basket, be careful as to not crowd any of the plants.
2. Choose a hanging basket with good drainage
Choose a hanging basket with good drainage holes. This will help protect the fern from root rot.
3. Plant the hanging basket early
Since ferns are great growers, even late plantings will flourish.
But, as it is with any annuals, the earlier you can safely plant them outside, the better. This will allow you to cure that cabin fever and get an early look at some blooms.
Be careful about planting annuals outside too early. Planting outside too early and they may freeze from a late frost. One thing to keep in mind is whether the fern plants you have are hardy enough.
Located in PA life myself? You can check what your growing zone is here, which can act as a guide to determine when to plant ferns outside.
4. Fertilize throughout the summer
Even if your hanging basket’s potting soil has slow-release fertilizer in it already, we still recommend fertilizing the hanging basket throughout the summer.
Some growers recommend fertilizing hanging baskets every third watering, but this will vary on how much fertilizer the potting soil had in it, how the ferns are looking, and how much sun the hanging basket is receiving.
5. Consider the sunlight requirements of the hanging basket plants
Keep in mind the sunlight requirements of all the plants in the hanging basket, not just the ferns.
Without enough sun, you may notice some plants not blooming as much or getting stunted growth.
We cover hanging basket plants that grow great in shade here and other plants that grow great in full sun here.
6. Cut back the fern for fresh growth
We find that cutting back ferns will promote growth and encourage future blooms.
Feel free to cut back the fern in your hanging basket if you see that it’s getting straggly or overcoming other plants in the basket.
7. Keep the hanging basket watered but don’t overwater
While ferns love the sun, they’ll be relying more heavily on you for water when planted in a hanging basket. Make sure to keep the basket well-watered throughout the summer, especially over sweltering days.
For the heat of the summer, you may have to water the hanging basket once or more a day.
Be careful that you don’t overwater it.
A great way to tell if it needs some water is to see if the first inch or so of soil is moist. Or, you can lift the basket from underneath to test its weight. A fern hanging basket that is in need of watering will be noticeably light.
8. Plant with slow-release fertilizer
Since the need for a consistent supply of nutrients is so important, we recommend growing your hanging basket of ferns with a slow-release fertilizer.
Slow-release fertilizer can be applied with small pebbles in the potting soil. These pebbles break down over the summer and slowly release fertilizer for the plants.
We plant our fern hanging baskets with slow-release fertilizer pebbles, but also recommend that the hanging basket is fertilized additionally as well (water-soluble fertilizer is fine).
The slow-release pebbles will help the plants along during periods when it’s not being fertilized and the additional fertilizer will help the plant prosper.
Overall, ferns are great annuals to include in your hanging basket. With the proper care, ferns will thrive when grown in a hanging basket.