Macho ferns (Nephrolepis biserrata) are huge, beautiful ferns with thick, bright green fronds that can grow to be 3 to 4 feet long. This makes them much bigger than common ferns like Boston ferns and Kimberly queen ferns.
Macho ferns come from Florida and do well both inside and outside. Macho ferns grow well in large pots or planters outside and can also be used to add a touch of green to a large room inside.
Macho ferns aren’t the most fragile ferns, but they do need to grow in a certain way to stay alive.
Macho Fern Care
Taking care of a macho fern is not too different from taking care of other kinds of ferns. Macho ferns grow naturally near swamps and other wet places in the southern United States, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.
They do best in places that are warm, shaded, and have a lot of water. This beautiful fern grows well both inside and outside and doesn’t usually need much care.
But if you tend to water your plants too much, the macho fern probably isn’t for you.
Make sure you buy your macho fern from someone you can trust.
Macho ferns should be grown outside in a place that is shaded or has some shade. Usually, they are grown in big pots under covered porches or in the shade of an outdoor patio.
Don’t put these ferns in places that get direct sunlight all day, especially in the afternoon when it’s hot, because the fronds are delicate and can easily burn.
Macho ferns thrive in medium to strong indirect light indoors, but may even endure low light conditions.
Macho ferns need soil that is moist but drains well, is light, has a lot of organic matter, and is slightly acidic.
Since these ferns grow on other plants, it is important to keep the soil from getting too heavy and packing down around the roots.
When choosing the soil for your fern, keep in mind that macho ferns are frequently seen growing naturally near ponds and swamps.
Normal potting soil, peat moss or coco coir, perlite, and orchid bark mixed together make a good soil mix for Macho ferns that you can make yourself.
Make sure the soil around your macho fern stays moist but not soggy. Macho ferns can’t handle dry soil, so don’t let the soil completely dry out.
Depending on the weather, macho ferns grown indoors should be watered once or twice a week.
Temperature and Humidity
Macho ferns do well in USDA zones 9a to 10b and like it when it’s warm and humid. These ferns are only found in Florida, Louisiana, and Hawaii, where the temperature and humidity are just right.
Macho ferns, like most ferns, can’t handle the cold, so they need to be brought inside or grown as a houseplant in colder areas.
Mature and well-established Macho ferns need less fertilizer, and a balanced, all-purpose fertilizer applied once a year works well.
Propagating Macho Ferns
The best way to make healthy, full-grown Macho ferns is to divide them. Dig up the plant to reveal the rhizomes and roots before dividing it. Cut a piece of one of the rhizomes away from the main plant.
Depending on how the rhizome system works, you may need to use a sharp knife to cut through parts of the rhizome.
Then, plant the split clumps in different containers or areas of your garden and properly water them.
Potting and Repotting Macho Ferns
Macho ferns may handle being relatively root-bound, but they benefit from regular repotting to give them more space.
Move your Macho fern up one pot size at a time when repotting it, and be careful not to hurt too many of the tiny roots.
Macho ferns can be grown outside all year in USDA zones 9a through 10b, but they need to be brought inside for the winter in other areas. Use a preventive pest treatment whenever you bring plants from outside into the house to keep pests from coming in.
If you can, put the plant in a separate area for at least one to two weeks so that any pests on it don’t spread to your other indoor plants.
Pests and diseases are more likely to attack outdoor ferns than indoor ones. However, macho ferns don’t usually get pests or diseases.
Some common pests to watch out for are mealybugs, scale, aphids, and fern mites. Use rubbing alcohol or a pesticide on plants that have bugs to get rid of them.