Have you ever wondered how to fertilize your ferns?

Do you wonder why your ferns look so sad half way through summer?

I am going to show you the easiest way to get your ferns to stay as green as they were the day you purchased them!

I am actually willing to bet your ferns will be so happy, they will be even more green than the day you brought them home.

THAT MEANS ALL SUMMER LONG……AND ALL THE WAY THROUGH FALL for all of you zone 8 gardenistas out there in this world! 

Are you ready for my secret?

Here goes nothing…..

Fish Fertilizer!!!!!!

This post does contain affiliate links.  This means if you click on certain links and purchase a product I recommend, I will receive a small commission.

Check out this macho fern David gave me for our anniversary last year? I wish I had a picture from that day. You could truly see how much she has grown in just one single year.

How to fertilize a macho fern - J Dub By Design
A macho fern on my back porch

Why Do I Love To Fertilize My Ferns?

Fish fertilizer is an excellent source of nutrition for your ferns.

  • This fertilizer is safe around children and pets.
  • It is a low cost method of fertilization.
  • This fertilizer strengthens the fern’s root system.
  • It improves the organic matter in the soil.
  • The results are immediate…… you will most likely see inprovement within 24 hours.

When Do I Use This Fertilizer?

When spring has sprung each year, I pull all of my ferns out of the greenhouse.

My first order of business is to give them a nice bath in some fish fertilizer.

Below is the step by step video I created to walk you through exactly what I do.

Exactly what I do when I fertilize


I repeat this process ONCE A MONTH THE ENTIRE GROWING SEASON my ferns are out of the greenhouse.

I am a Texas Hill Country Texas gardenista.

So, this time frame spans from the middle of March through the middle of November.

This time frame also depends on Mother Nature’s hilarious sense of humor.


5 gallon bucket

water hose

Alaska Fish Fertilizer

Instructions to Fertilize Ferns

  1. Water ferns deeply before you fertilize so that you do not risk burning the roots.
  2. Make sure the lid to the fish fertilizer is on tight.
  3. Give the fertilizer a few heavy duty shakes to mix it up.
  4. Pour enough liquid fish fertilizer into the bottom of the bucket so that it completely covers the bottom of the 5 gallon bucket.  I do not measure exactly because this stuff smells like nothing I can adequately describe.  Caution:  When I first pour it into the bucket the smell is noticeable, but it quickly subsides – or maybe I am just delusional from the smell. Actually, this particular brand of fertilizer contains a deodorizer that really helps diminish the smell.
  5. Fill the bucket with water.  Do not turn the hose on full blast as this will cause the fertilizer to splash out and hit you in the face.  This is not something you want to happen.
  6. The gentle water pressure from the hose will mix the fish fertilizer into the water.  However, feel free to use a yardstick to give it a stir.  A fallen branch from a tree works well in a pinch.
  7. Slowly pour this mix over each fern.  One 5 gallon bucket will adequately fertilize three of my ferns.  However, Fronda, my whopper fern, gets one bucket all to herself.  
  8. Repeat this process depending on how many ferns you own.  Currently, I own 12 ferns so I repeat this process five or six times depending on how big they have gotten over the last growing season.

A Few Notes on J Dub’s Fern Fertilization ….…..

fertilizing ferns - J Dub By Design
Fertilizing the ferns out in the courtyard

I realize that you might be hesitant to try this because you are worried about the smell.

I am telling you that the smell is more than worth it.

And, it doesn’t last long.

Why is it worth it?

Your ferns will thrive on this liquid gold.

You can almost see them turning a deep shade of green right before your eyes as you pour the mix onto them.

The next day, neon green new growth magically starts to appear.

I have found nothing else that works nearly as well as this fish poop.

Need more proof on the smell fading fast….?

Some of my ferns are so large that I can not easily move them. Because of their enormous size, I have to fertilize them directly on my patio.

large fern - J Dub By Design
Fronda…..she’s so huge. I can’t move here except to put her back in the greenhouse each year

The smell evaporates within the hour.

And yes, you can enjoy sitting on your patio.

So, try it once, or sucker your significant other or a small child into fertilizing them for you.

You may become an avid fan….

P.S.  This fish fertilizer works well on other green leafy container plants as well.

Just do not fertilize them out in the hot afternoon sun. Instead, fertilize in the early morning or evening. Or, make sure you are in a shady, sheltered area protected from the sun’s heavy duty rays.

For plants that have blooms, use this fertilizer instead.

Do You Love DIY’s?

I just completed my favorite DIY of 2021. Click here to see the major refresh and refinish I completed on our outdoor dining set.

Here’s another simply DIY you can complete in less than 30 minutes. My DIY Spring Moss Wreath will give you the wow factor you need for your outdoor spaces.

Use my DIY Aged Pot Tutorial to create the perfect container for all your floral arrangements.

And, if your outdoor windows and doors need a little TLC, my method is truly the The Best Method to Clean Your Mirrors and Windows.

Want More Gardening Tips?

Click here to read about my favorite agave known as the Whales Tongue.

If you are looking for the perfect vine to cover a wall or trellis check out my review of Sweet Autumn Clematis.

I am always on Instagram stories sharing my life and gardening adventures in real time.

Do you love orchids, but struggle to get them to re-bloom? Here are some easy tips to get your orchids to re-bloom over and over and over!

Want to know how how I got the gardening bug? My Love Affair with Grass explains it all.

How About Some Spring Recipes?

Have you tried my Carrot Cake Banana Bread? It is outstanding – and you can leave it naked or ice it with my light vanilla cream cheese icing.

Strawberry White Chocolate Cookies anyone?

My Blueberry Banana Pie is the perfect pie for your Easter brunch. Your entire family will be begging you to share this recipe.

Try my Vanilla Pound Cake a la Darlene. My recipe makes a huge loaf cake that you can easily freeze for later.

My dill pickle dip is the perfect appetizer to serve at Easter brunch or at your next pool party.

This creamy balsamic salad dressing will become your new favorite.

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