The Complete Book of Ferns – Book Review

Indoors – Outdoors – Growing – Crafting – History& Lore By Mobee Weinstein
Published on: January 14, 2020

For whatever reason and for the life of me I cannot keep an indoor plant alive. I really like ferns. They are so green and lush and yet they struggle to survive for me. So, when I saw this book I immediately scooped it up in hopes that it can shed light for me on how to keep my last two ferns alive.


Houseplants in general are in ascendance, but no category is hotter than ferns. From the otherworldly Staghorns—mounted like antler trophies in homes throughout the world—to the classic Boston Ferns and newer varieties like Crispy Wave, ferns are definitely back in fashion. And to no one’s surprise. After all, ferns are among the very oldest plants on the planet, with a long and storied history. There are tens of thousands of known varieties of ferns. In the Victorian Era, ferns created an absolute craze for more than 50 years. They re-emerged as integral home décor accessories in the ’50s and ’60s, and who didn’t spend time in a “Fern Bar” back in the ’80s? And they are back again.

This comprehensive reference starts its examination of ferns 400 million years ago, when the first species of this group of spore-reproducing plants appeared on Earth, exploring their evolution and eventual incorporation into human culture, including the powers associated with them and their practical and ornamental uses. Then, after an exploration of fern botany—its parts, how it grows, its variability in size and form, habitats, propagation, etc.—you’ll learn how to green your indoor and outdoor environments with fernsEvery aspect of fern care is covered: potting/planting, watering, fertilizing, pest and disease control, and more.

With this knowledge absorbed, explore creative planting projects, like terrariums, vertical gardens (living walls), mixed tabletop gardens, and moss baskets. To make your survey of ferns complete, create pressed fern art, fabric wall hangings with chlorophyll-stained designs, cyanotypes, and hand-made fern-decorated paper.

In the end, you will understand why this ancient plant class continues to be all the rage.


You might think “It’s indoor, therefore it’s easy. It’s the outside ones that are difficult.” Nope – not for me, it’s actually the other way around. I’m good with outside plants. In fact, I have a good-sized vegetable gardening where this past year I grew purple sweet potatoes (Purple Molokai) and Jing Orange okra (yes – okra can be orange!) among other vegetables. But indoor plants of any kind tend to die with me. I haven’t really quite caught on to the watering frequency because each plant tends to dry out differently. The sun or indirect sun requirements confuses me too. But I really love ferns and the way they look so I am determined to figure them out so that they can live more than a few months.

Freshly dug up purple sweet potato.
My purple sweet potato pie (before whipped cream topping).

The book is broken out into five main sections. These are not what they are called within the book, but terms I am just using to describe in general: History, Botany, Growing Indoors, Growing Outdoors, Crafting/Creativity

History: Includes evolution, Victorian fern craze, lore, uses, and lots of lush green pictures.

Botany: Includes plant parts and diversity based on climate. This section includes information on how ferns propagate as well as step-by-step instructions, with pictures, on how you can propagate them.

Growing Indoors: Includes information on light, temperature, potting mix (includes 3 soil recipes), watering, and humidity. Since I suspect my personal fern issue lies within the watering and humidity area, I paid specific attention to this part of the book. The book gave some ideas of how to increase humidity, which I immediately put into action. The picture below are of some mini ferns I went out and bought and how they are in a type of holder with pebbles and water. This section also includes a trouble-shooting guide.

A good portion of this section includes quite a few pictures of indoor ferns with specific information on each fern.

Growing Outdoors: Similar to the Growing Indoor section, this one includes information on light, soil, water, temperature, seasonal care, and a trouble shooting portion. At the end is also a lot of beautiful pictures of outdoor ferns.

Crafting/Creativity: This section includes information on crafting projects, such as terrariums, vertical gardening, kokedama, moss baskets, fern mount, and more. A lot of step-by-step instructions in this sections with pictures to go with them. My next fern goal is to tackle a terrarium with ferns, so it was good to have instructions here.

Overall, a lovely, informational book on ferns that came at the perfect time for me. Pictures of the ferns are beautiful and are mostly set against a white background allowing us to clearly see the stunning green foliage. Warning, if you don’t like green then this book may not be for you.

Rating: 5 stars

Thanks to Netgalley and Quarto Publishing Press – Cool Spring Press for the advanced reader copy and opportunity to provide an honest review.

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