Fabulous houseplants: Kangaroo Paw Fern

I have to admit I've killed a fern or two, mostly notably Boston ferns. Our house is just too dry for them and I seem to have difficulty getting the hang of providing them with the correct amount of water.

I almost gave up on growing ferns altogether. That is, until one day when I was wandering around a home center's nursery and stumbled across a Kangaroo Paw fern (Microsorum diversifolium).

The rich green color and unusually-shaped leaves caught my eye. I decided to take one home and give it a shot, although my unhappy memories of previous fern-growing attempts still lingered in the back of my mind.

It turns out I needn't have worried. This is by far my favorite houseplant and the easiest one I've ever grown. 

I started out with a small plant and as you can see by the above photo, it's done beautifully. I've had to repot it twice and it looks like I just might have to repot it again in the spring. Why, you can barely see the antique plant stand (which is about 3 feet tall) that it's sitting in!

Take a look at the beautiful, shiny foliage on the plants in this close-up. 

As you might guess, Kangaroo Paw ferns are native to Australia and New Zealand. Plants tend to be around a foot in height and 2 to 3 feet in diameter.

I water mine once a week and that seems to keep it really happy. I don't get the foliage wet, though; it's best to just water at the soil surface. You can fertilize the ferns each spring although I think they'd grow just as well without any extra food.

My fern is growing in a south-facing room but the plant is located about 10 feet from the window so it stays out of direct sunlight. They prefer rooms that aren't well-heated either, so I wouldn't place them near woodstoves, fireplaces, radiators or right on top of furnace vents.

But other than that, Kangaroo Paw ferns are about as easy a houseplant to grow as you could hope for. They are definitely worth finding and bringing home!