Posts in "Indoor Plants"

FERNS 101: Basic Care, Facts and Varieties


If you have a fern in your garden, you are the steward of a pre-Jurassic period plant!

Fossil records indicate that ferns evolved as the first vascular terrestrial plants over 300 million years ago.

Ferns have outlived dinosaurs, the great civilizations of man, and flourish in the wild in great numbers with no threat of extinction.





I'm so impressed with these plants that the more I learn about ferns, the more I love them.

There are thousands of fern species today and a number of them are suitable as house plants.

Unfortunately, many people have issues keeping these robust plants alive.



I'm here to guide you.


My latest gardening segment on the Home & Family show was on "Ferns 101," where I covered basic fern care and showcased a few new varieties.

Below is an informal transcript of questions and answers from my garden segment and lots and lots of photos for you to enjoy.




Ordinary plants will flower and bear seed from which a new plant is born.

A seed is basically a "fertilized plant embryo in a dormant state."

A seed is the product of male/female plant reproduction, with all the "hanky panky" already completed.

Just add water and watch it grow!


Not so for ferns.

Ferns do not grow from seeds; they "evolve" from the action of spores.

The fern's lifecycle involves two generations of plants that give rise to the fern plant as we know it.





Have you ever seen little black or brown dots on the backside of a fern frond and thought it was a pest or disease?

Far from it.

These little dots are called "sori" and they contain hundreds of spores.


A simple way to describe spores is that they are a couple of steps behind on the reproductive work of the seed and have to play "catch up."

A fern drops a spore in the ground, giving rise to an independent tiny plant called a gametophyte.


The gametophyte is charged with the job of actually creating the very male and female parts within itself needed to procreate and produce yet another life: the sporophyte!


Stay with me.


If the male part within the gametophyte's cells fertilizes the female part, it gives birth to a plant organism called a sporophyte.

We're finally there!


The sporophyte then grows into the lovely fern plants that we are familiar with. 

Wow, that takes me back to high school biology!

If you want to read more about the lifecycle of the fern with all the scientific terms and processes I left out on purpose, here's a link.


Another cool fact about ferns that distinguishes it from other plants is the function of the fronds.

The fronds, or leaves, are responsible for both photosynthesis AND reproduction.




I brought some common ferns that many people at home may be familiar with.

Notice the different frond styles, textures and colors.

There are infinite differences in ferns. Some ferns creep and grow like vines, others grow small or large tufts, while others grow trunks and are tree-like!

Let's take a look.






Australian tree fern is a slow growing fern that can reach 20 feet tall and 10 feet wide.

As a house plant, it would take many years for it to grow this large.





Another handsome tree fern is the New Zealand tree fern, seen here to the right of the Wardian chest.

The dark, large forrest green leaves create a beautiful shadow on walls.




Sword fern has erect fronds that look nice in the rectangular profile of this window box.


button-fern-in glass-terrarium-edenmakers-blog-shirley-bovshow


The Pallaea "button fern" has delicate, round, button-shaped leaves that should be enjoyed up close.

The terrarium planter helps seal in moisture so that it doesn't dry out.



Button fern in foreground and hanging Boston fern in background.




I placed the leather leaf fern and lace fern close to each other by design.

Grouping ferns helps them to maintain a higher moisture level.

Notice that I also placed the pots on top of a bed of gravel.

The gravel holds water that contributes humidity to the ferns.





A young lace fern (Woodwardia f.) stays moist and happy in the Victorian-style Wardian chest.





The Blechnum fern bears fertile leaves, with spores, and sterile leaves without spores.

These are called "dimorphic" fronds.




Fern collectors are always looking for new cultivars with interesting details.


Here are some from Plant Delights, a specialty plant mail order company.

Many of these new introductions come from Japan, China, India and Hawaii.


fern display with new cultivars from plant delights including ferns from asia


I planted the ferns in an assortment of different containers that had an aged look.

The closest one to the left is a broken finial from my garden.




This graceful fern is called “Mama Mia” (Woodwardia o.) and is slow growing to 4 to 6 feet.

As it continues to grow, the glossy fronds are topped with small plants that you can propagate! 




This bi-colored gem is actually not a fern.

'Beni Kujaku' is a Selaginella that is sometimes called peacock fern because of its lacy, cut leaves.

Beni Kujaku has a rosette form with a cup-like shape and is a deep green and maroon color.

This plant will stay small and look great in a container!




'Mt. Haleakala' (Adiantium) is a rosy maidenhair fern that will grow into an attractive 1-foot tall x 1-foot wide clump with fronds that emerge rosy red.

The spores on 'Mt. Haleakala' grow along the edge of the leaves, creating a curled effect.

As you may guess, this Adiantium is from Hawaii.




Hokaido-gem-asplenium-fern-plant-delights-shirley-bovshow-antique-white-planter-black pedestal-edenmakers-blog

'Hokaido Gem' (Asplenium) is a clumping birds nest fern with long, tongue-like strappy leaves.



'Taiwanese Tongue' fern (Pyrrosia polydactyla) will grow to 1-foot tall x 1-foot wide and boast a textural clump of velvety five-fingered dark green leaves.



Lighting and watering habits are two of the most important care practices that impact indoor ferns.

While ferns are shade plants outdoors, often growing under the canopy of taller trees, ferns do need bright light indoors!

During the summer, a south-facing window may let in harsh sunlight that will scorch your fern leaves.

It's best to set the plants away from the window, but to keep them in a room that has natural light.

Pay attention to:

–Proper location – bright but indirect light, 60-75 degrees
–Use well-draining potting soil for ferns
–Water to keep soil moist but not saturated and mist leaves periodically
–Add room humidifier or group plants to slow evaporation.
–Fertilize with slow release granules in spring.




The main challenge with keeping ferns moist is that indoor air tends to be very dry and ferns prefer a humid ambiance.

Between keeping the soil moist and periodic misting, you will eventually learn how much water is best for your fern.

Too much water feels like dripping wet hair, when it actually should feel moist, like hair that is air drying!


Look for signs of too much water, like yellow leaves, wilting leaves, soil that has a bad smell and cut back.

Water and proper soil texture go hand in hand.

Soil should drain well so that water doesn't saturate it.



Shirley explains how to water ferns on Home & Family while Cristina Ferrare, Mark Steines listen.



I found this adorable little mister at the dollar store.





Watch my garden segment video about ferns on the Home & Family Show.

Thank you for visting EdenMakers blog.

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Staghorn Fern Mount Displays From Repurposed Materials



I have  some creative ideas for displaying mounted Staghorn ferns using repurposed materials and no nails!

This tutorial was presented on the Home & Family show on the Hallmark channel where I appear as the garden lifestyle and design expert.

Fans of home and garden TV will love this unique talk show!


Enjoy this rainforest wonder plant indoors and learn how to care for it.

ABOUT STAGHORN FERNS (Platycerium bifurcatum)

Staghorn ferns grow into a huge plant under ideal conditions which are warm, temperate and humid conditions.

  • The Staghorn fern is an exotic epiphyte plant that grows directly on trees and stone and draws nutrients from falling leaves that are caught by the ferns "antlers."
  • Native to Australia and tropical, South East Asia, the Staghorn fern has two distinct leaf forms with its own function.
  • The smaller leaves cover the roots and help take up water and nutrients and are sterile, (they don't bear spores).
  • The larger fronds resemble a stag's horn and bear spores on its underside which help propagate the plant.
  • The large fronds can grow up to 3 feet long, depending on variety.



Browse some of my designs and if you are interested in replicating them, read the instructions below on "Preparing Your Staghorn Fern for Mounting."


Staghorn Fern Mounted to Acacia Wood Cutting Board


Staghorn fern mounted to an acacia wood cutting board with burlap 


After preparing the Staghorn fern for mounting, I wrapped it in burlap and hung it from the cutting board handle.

This is a unique and affordable way to display your Staghorn fern.


HomeGoods offered this acacia wood cutting board for approximately 10 dollars.

In a few years, the Staghorn fern will outgrow the cutting board and become very heavy.

At that point, the basal fronds will attach themselves to the board and not rely on the burlap for support!


Staghorn Fern Mounted to A Driftwood Photo Frame


Small Staghorn fern mounted to a driftwood photo frame.


My head started spinning with ideas when I came across this rustic driftwood photo frame from HomeGoods.

The opening for the photo measures 5" x 4"-inches, perfect for my small Staghorn fern plant.

The back of the frame is open so it will be easy to water it by taking the frame down and dipping the back of the plant into a bucket of water!

As the plant grows it will basically "swallow" the frame, enveloping it completly.

I suggest that as it outgrows the space, move it and replace it with another small Staghorn fern.


Staghorn Fern Mounted to a Black Metal Fruit Bowl


Staghorn fern mounted to a black metal fruit bowl.

A black metal fruit bowl from HomeGoods, (again!) is repurposed as a planter!

I was  looking for a contemporary style product to reinterpret as a planter- what do you  think?

Mounting the fern to the open grid was easy to do with metal wire and will be easy to take down for a good soak of water!

If I allow the plant to grow in the metal planter indefinitely, two things may happen:

  • The metal may rust after a few years
  • The plant will swallow the metal basket

I can't think that far in advance, so I'm not sure what I'll do!


Staghorn Fern Planted in Large Driftwood Stump


Staghorn fern planted in crevice of large driftwood stump.


There's a special story behind the stump of driftwood that I used as a "living sculpture planter" for the Staghorn fern.

A homeless man who I befriended entrusted the beautiful driftwood stump to me to be it's "guardian" as he had no place to keep it.

This man found the stump when he was out and about with his daughters when he still had a home and they were very young.

The memory of him being with his girls is connected to this momento so it's a precious possession for him.

He is estranged from his daughters now, making this unassuming stump even more important.

The Staghorn fern is planted in a large crevice along the top.


Now that I've served up some inspiration of repurposed Staghorn fern mounts, are you ready to make some of your own?





  • Small Staghorn fern
  • old pantyhose
  • sphagnum moss
  • fishing wire (25-50lb capacity) 

Remove any soil surrounding the roots of a small Staghorn fern and cover with wet sphagnum moss.


Wrap staghorn fern-roots-moss-and-pantyhose-edenmakers

 Place inside a piece of pantyhose. Secure with wire.


Cover the exposed pantyhose with decorative sheet moss or coconut fiber, WRAP with wire.

You are now ready to attach the prepared Staghorn fern to your selected mounting material!



  • Staghorn ferns thrive  outdoors in humid climates (50-90 degrees) or indoors in high humidity rooms such as a bathroom or greenhouse.
  • Indoors, watering should be light but often, approximately every other day in the summer and twice a week during the winter as moss dries up.
  • Apply water to  the root area which is blanketed in sphagnum moss when it feels dry.
  • During spring through summer, fertilize your Staghorn with a balanced, (1:1:1 ratio) half diluted plant food added to the water once per month.
  • Mist-spray your Staghorn regularly to maintain high humidity. 



Bright light but not direct sunlight or it will scorch your plant.



If you live in a tropical and humid area, you can grow Staghorn ferns outdoors!

Ideal temperatures are between 50 and 90 degrees.

Older, established plants may fare well in slightly colder and warmer temperatures, but this is the comfort zone.

Place your Staghorn in light to partial shade and bring indoors to humid room when temperatures dip below 55 degrees.



Why should Staghorn ferns be hung?

In nature, Staghorns are epiphytes and grow attached to tree trunks and stone and make ideal vertical plants.

The beauty of the shape of the Staghorn fronds are more visible when the plant is hung on its side.


How do you water an indoor Staghorn fern? How often?

Indoor Staghorns are dependent on you for their humidity needs and should be watered when the moss area is dry to the touch and misted regularly.

During the summer, this can be as often as every day or every couple of days, depending on how hot and dry you keep your house.

In wintertimes, you may only need to water once per week.


Apply water directly to the moss root area. 

You may need to take down your wall mount and dip the roots in a bucket of water, so plan for this when creating your display mount.

Don't drench the roots with water, water lightly as Staghorn roots and basal fronds may rot.

The rule of thumb is frequent, light watering over drenching your plant each time you water it.


How big do Staghorn ferns get?

Outdoors, under ideal temperatures and high humidity, Staghorns and their pups, (plantlets) can span 6 feet wide or more!

Staghorns can become very heavy, reaching hundreds of pounds.


What other plants can you combine with Staghorns for a pretty display?

Combine your small indoor Staghorn fern display with other epiphyte plants such as bromeliads, orchids and tsillandsias for a pretty combination.

Be aware that with time, the secondary plants will be overtaken by the larger Staghorn fern.

Succulents also combine well with Staghorns as their roots can also be wrapped in moss and watered as needed.


How long do  Staghorn ferns live?

Well maintained Staghorns can be passed down from generation to generation as "legacy plants" and live hundreds of years through their progeny.


Should the small fronds be removed as they turn brown and old?

Don't remove the small, infertile fronds that attach themselves to surfaces when they turn brown.

Your Staghorn will grow many layers of these round fronds which help capture nutrients from air and water for your plant.

The natural breakdown of these fronds provide hummus for the plant.


How do you propagate a Staghorn fern?

Staghorn ferns have spores that can be used for propagation but it's an involved process that takes patience and experience.

An easier way to cultivate more plants is by dividing small plantlets that emerge at the base of the plant.


Do you have any questions about mounting Staghorn ferns?

Please leave a comment below!




Three Reasons To Repot Your Container Plants


There are three obvious reasons to repot a container plant.

1. Your Plant is Sitting Low in the Container.


Geraniums plants, for some reason, are especially vulnerable to sinking low into their planters after a few years.

The soil erodes, creating a large space between the top of the rootball and the rim of the container.

Not only does this look ugly, but a low-lying plant is vulnerable to root rot as the water tends to pond in this space.


I replanted the geranium above into a smaller container using new potting soil and pruned off the hollow, dead stems and kept only the live stem.




This plant belongs to my mom and she is guilty of plant neglect, as many of us are.


Luckily for my mom, I presented a segment on the "Home & Family" show, (which airs on the Hallmark channel) on repotting plants, and I used her plants as an example.

She got a container garden makeover!

Hopefully, she'll enjoy some blooms after a few years of non-performance.


2. Your Plant is Top Heavy and Leaning Over Container

Top-heavy-dracanea-corn plant-needs-to-be-repotted

Mom, why did you let your corn plant outgrow this short, squat planter?


My mom isn't the only gardener guilty of keeping tall, top-heavy plants in containers that are not suitable for them.

Her corn plant (Dracaena fragrance) was root-bound, with roots exposed, and the plant was listing over the rim of the container.

When plant roots are exposed and stressed out from stretching over a container, they are unable to properly draw up water and nutrients from the soil.

That's another detail.

What soil?

The soil in the container was quickly eroding too.


I repotted the dracaena into a container that is one size larger and has a taller profile.

Pay attention to the shape of your planter and don't repot in a container larger than two times the size of the present container!


If you have a tall growing plant, make sure that the profile of the container is not shallow.

Opt for lightweight containers that make moving plants easy while you are at it.


Don't fertilize a newly repotted plants so that the roots are not stressed by fast growing foliage.

Allow your plant to recupperate from it's stressful move!


3.Your Plant is Rootbound and Has "Muffin Top" Soil!


This Asparagus fern has an interesting story.


My brother gave it to my mom for Mother's Day, 15-years ago!


The poor Asparagus fern has been stuck in this container all these years, creating a mounded, "muffin top" look to the soil!

"Muffin top" in a plant is when the root ball is exposed and mounds above and beyond the top of the container.

It looks like the plant doesn't fit in the container and "squishes" out of it.
Think of tight jeans and the extra flesh that squishes above the waistline.



Asparagus ferns actually prefer to be a little root bound, but this scenario is not the ideal.

When a plant doesn't grow after many years and sports a dull yellow color, do something!


I repotted the Asparagus fern on the Home & Family show with the help of hosts, Mark Steines and Cristina Ferrare.

In order to remove the plant from the container, Mark and Cristina had to take a hammer and break it free!

If you are in this situation, make sure to cover your pot with a towel or tarp  before hammering away.

Don't lose an eye over a plant!


Next, we opened the root ball using a knife and cutting blade to untangle the roots a little.

While repotting, separate the rootball of an Asparagus fern and create a few new plants if you like.

We didn't propagate any new plants from root cuttings, but you can if you like!


The new container was two times larger and was filled with rich potting soil to which I added a couple of handfuls of packing peanuts to create air circulation.

I can't wait to see this "legacy" plant grow and turn a rich, green color. 

I'm done with the anemic, chlorotic condition of this plant!


Watch my garden segment on Home & Family on repotting plants.

Take a look at your plants.

Do they resemble my mom's container plants and are not growing, blooming or have a healthy color?

Consider repotting them.


Please comment below if you have any questions!





Lechuza “Self Watering” Plant Containers!

Lechuza Self Watering Containers


The Lechuza, "Self Watering" Plant containers were a hit at the Independent Garden Center Show, Chicago.


Garden Center TV: Post #5


The reason why I have failed with some of my container plants is because of improper watering.

Sometimes I over-watered my plants and "killed them with kindness" and other times I didn't give them enough water and they died a slow, thirsty death.

Sound familiar?


I was intrigued when I saw an ad in a garden trade magazine for "self-watering" plant containers by Lechuza.

I wasn't paying attention to the  self watering feature at first, I just liked the way they looked.


Once I noticed that the planters were designed with a sub-irrigation system, I was curious to see them  up close.

Take a look at this short video where I interview Anton Van Zevenbergen, of Lechuza.  

 Anton explains how the planter works.


When used correctly, the planter can maintain a plant for up to 12 weeks with no human intervention!


The Lechuza self watering containers come in different styles, sizes and shapes and are available at your independent garden centers throughout the country.


 The planters are lightweight and very convenient to use.


Watch the whole video series of  Garden Center TV posts!

Post #1: "Monrovia Growers: Would You Like Some Design Inspiration to go with that Plant?"

Post #2: "Hort Couture Plants for the Plantonista?"

Post #3: "An Indoor Plant Named "Tweed that Looks Like Weed!"

Come visit me again at Eden Makers Blog,


Visit the Garden Center TV website and community to preview new garden products from around the world and share your opinion about them!


Garden Center TV: An Indoor Plant Named “Tweed” That Looks Like “Weed!”

Garden Center TV


Post #3 Independent Garden Center Show 2008, Chicago

I saw a new indoor plant from Kraft Gardens with a tag that read, "Fool the Police with this Look-Alike!"

I had to take a closer look at the suspicious looking plant to understand the tag, so I made my inspection.

I couldn't believe the uncanny resemblance this vining Anthurium polyschitum (cleverly named "Tweed") had to Cannabis sativa– commonly known as "weed!"

This was not your ordinary, innocent-looking anthurium. 





Kraft Gardens, vining Anthurium, "Tweed" is a hybrid from the Netherlands



I'm not a fan of any kind of weed myself, but I really like the way this anthurium looks.

The Tweed anthurium is a tall, lush vining plant that can be placed in a bright spot indoors, though direct sunlight is discouraged.

Tweed is comfortable in 65-80-degree rooms, just as I am, so I think we will get along just fine!


Anthurium, is a large genus of about 600- 800 (possibly 1,000) species, belonging to the arum family and is native to Central and South America.

A tropical plant, the anthurium is equally at home in the sheltered greenhouses of Netherlands, where this special variety is grown.

Unlike other anthuriums, Tweed is grown for its foliage and not flowering habit and is very elegant.


At the very least, it makes for a great ice breaker!




Watch  my Garden Center TV  video coverage of this new indoor plant.




I also previewed a new line of Dracaena marginatas from Kraft that boast "beautiful legs" like this "Marginata Candelabra Colorama" with candelabra shaped limbs.



Many Indoor plant fans are familiar with the tall foliage plant, dracaena marginata,  often used as a specimen plant to soften corners, large walls and anchor plant groupings.

The dracaena makes a great focal point, but I'm not a fan of the way it grows, exposing it's lanky bare limbs.

I must not be the only person who feels this way, because  Kraft Gardens has introduced a new line of dracaenas that boast decorative, shapely legs that will help me overcome this objection. 


Kraft Gardens "Marginata Braid" dracaena





Kraft's "Marginata Candelabra Red Prince" dracaena


Dracaena marginatas do well in a shady spot in the room-areas that usually need a little oomph!

The dracaena is relatively easy to care for as long as you keep the soil moist at all times and can tolerate slightly cooler room temperatures- around 55*F or so. 

I envision some of these sculptural dracaenas against contrasting colored walls.

Kraft Gardens offers a variety of variegated leaf colors ranging from reds, greens and cream.

The dramatic foliage makes an art statement and is an alternative to nonliving art with the added benefit of helping to purify the air.

Have you seen "Tweed" at your independent garden center or the beautifully limbed dracaenas?

Have you bought any of them?

What's your opinion on these plants?



Watch the whole video series of  Garden Center TV posts!

Post #1: "Monrovia Growers: Would You Like Some Design Inspiration to go with that Plant?"

Post #2:  "Hort Couture Plants for the Plantonista?



Come visit me again at EdenMakers Blog and please subscribe to receive updates!

“Indoor Plants” Growing Wild in Maui

Wild Tropical Plants

On my recent trip to Maui, I had the opportunity to witness tropical plants such as bromeliads, heliconias, spathiphyllums, crotons, and cordylines in their natural or “naturalized” habitat.

To some of you, these plants are strictly seasonal container plants or houseplants.

Not in Maui!

Bird of paradise plant

The  Bird of paradise plant, (Strelitzia reginae) can be planted in the ground in humid, mild winter areas such as Florida and other parts of the country.

If you follow the Sunset Garden Climate Zone Guide, you should be able to grow  the Bird of paradise in zones 22-25, 27, and in Hawai in zones H1, H2; marginal in zones 9, 12-21.

Those outside these climate zones can enjoy the Bird of paradise as an indoor houseplant, just be aware that it is a poisonous plant if eaten.

Keep the kids and pets away from this one!

Bird of Paradise Care as an Indoor Plant


It is not surprising that the Bird of paradise  has some  specific climate requirements as an indoor plant.

Indoor temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees, are ideal for your “Bird.”

Place your plant in a bright light area, (it should receive at least 4 hours of direct sunlight everyday) and do not allow it to dry out!

The Bird of Paradise plant should be kept moist at all times, but not “soggy!’

Start by watering your plant once a week and monitor the soil moisture level.

You can adjust your watering schedule depending on how fast the soil dries.

More Resources

If you are extremely busy, you may want to consider planting your house plants in  a self watering container.

I love Lechuza planters.

Lechuza planters are stylish and can keep your plants watered for up to 12 weeks once established!

The message board over at GardenWeb has some interesting talk about Bird of paradise if you would like to explore some more.










In Maui,  the “no watering, no feeding and no leaf shining” regimen, did not stop these plants from thriving.

Wild and Beautiful Tropical Plants!

Do you recognize some of these understory plants growing in the tropical rainforest?



I see ferns and heliconias!


monstera plant tropical giant


Monstera plant, the “green Swiss cheese” of the gardening world!


cordyline plants used as hedge

There were cordylines of every hue and color..



… lining the road to Hana!


Do you carry a torch for exotic plants?

Which ones?

Video: Choose Indoor Plants You Can’t Kill!

Believe it or not, there are some indoor plants that are almost impossible to kill!

Sound to good to be true?


Watch this video for suggestions from garden designer, Shirley Bovshow.