How Cold Can Ferns Tolerate?

Ferns – they bring a touch of Jurassic Park to our living rooms and gardens, don’t they? With their lush fronds and captivating shades of green, they have a way of transforming spaces into magical green havens. As beautiful as they are, ferns are also shrouded in a bit of mystery. One question that often springs up is: How cold can ferns tolerate? Whether you’re looking to plant them outdoors or wondering if your indoor fern can withstand a chilly draft, this article is here to clear up your doubts. Buckle up, it’s time to unravel the fern’s frosty relationship with cold!

Understanding Ferns and Their Cold Hardiness

To begin our journey, let’s first understand the term ‘cold hardiness.’ In simple words, it’s a plant’s ability to resist damage from cold temperatures. Just like people, some plants bundle up and brave the cold, while others prefer to bask in the warmth.

Now, where do our leafy friends, the ferns, stand in this chilly spectrum? The answer is not as straightforward as you might think. This is because ferns are a diverse group. With over 10,000 known species, they’re like a big family with members spread across different climate zones. Some ferns thrive in the steamy jungles, while others flourish in cooler, temperate regions.

What this means is that the cold tolerance of ferns is largely dependent on their species and where they naturally come from. Just like you wouldn’t expect a person from a tropical island to enjoy a snowball fight, you can’t expect all ferns to withstand frosty weather.

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Now that we’ve established this, let’s meet some of the hardy members of the fern family who love a good chill.

Examples of Cold-Hardy Ferns

Now it’s time to spotlight some of the tough ferns who can stand up to the cold. First up is the Christmas fern. This festive green beauty gets its name from staying green all year round – yes, even during Christmas! It’s comfortable in USDA zones 3-9, which means it can handle pretty cold temperatures.

Then we have the lady fern, a real lady indeed who’s capable of weathering cold temperatures down to USDA zone 3! She flaunts delicate, feathery fronds and adds a touch of elegance to any garden.

Lastly, let’s not forget the ostrich fern. With fronds resembling ostrich feathers, this fern can brave the cold down to USDA zone 3. This plant also offers a little snack – the young fiddleheads are a springtime delicacy.

Caring for Ferns in Cold Weather

While these ferns may be more tolerant to cold, they still need a little extra care to weather the winter season. Think of it as helping them put on their winter coats.

  1. Mulch: Before the frost hits, lay down some mulch around your ferns. This acts like a cozy blanket, trapping heat in the soil and protecting the roots from freezing.
  2. Watering: Give your ferns a good drink before a cold spell. Well-hydrated plants are better at surviving cold temperatures because the water acts as insulation.
  3. Covering: For those extra chilly nights, consider covering your ferns with a frost blanket. This is especially helpful for ferns in pots that can’t be moved indoors.
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Remember, even the toughest ferns appreciate a little TLC during the cold months. With these tips, you can help your ferns not only survive but thrive in the winter season.

Indoor Ferns and Cold Temperatures

Let’s not forget our indoor ferns. Even though they’re safe from the icy wind, they can still feel the chill from drafts, cold windows, or a drop in indoor temperatures. They may not need a frost blanket, but they do need your attention.

Keep your indoor ferns away from drafty windows and doors during the cold months. They love their warmth, remember? Also, while we’re at it, let’s not forget that indoor heating can dry out the air. Keep your ferns happy with a regular misting or a humidifier nearby.


Ferns are truly fascinating, aren’t they? With a little understanding of their needs and some simple care steps, you can help your ferns thrive, whether they are braving the winter outside or cozying up indoors. Remember, it’s all about understanding your particular fern’s needs. A happy fern makes for a happy plant parent.


  1. Can all ferns survive in the cold? No, not all ferns can survive in the cold. Their cold tolerance depends on the species and their natural habitat.
  2. How can I protect my outdoor ferns in the winter? Mulching, regular watering, and using a frost blanket during extra chilly nights can help protect your outdoor ferns.
  3. Can indoor ferns handle cold drafts? Indoor ferns prefer warmer temperatures and should be kept away from cold drafts.

So, whether you’re a fern enthusiast or a curious gardener, remember this: just like people, ferns have their own unique cold tolerance. And with the right care and a little love, your ferns can continue to bring joy, no matter the temperature.

How Cold Can Ferns Tolerate?