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Sifting out the secret to growing big ferns.

Two really big Boston ferns

Two really big Boston ferns

Ferns and palm trees spell the tropics to everyone, I dream of a garden with huge lush ferns everywhere. I found the secret to growing big ferns on pinterest.

Reading the article I learned; ferns like moisture, check, that is’t a surprise; ferns need excellent drainage, most plants do, nothing new; ferns will grow to fill their pots, I never gave that much thought.   I have several many an overwhelming amount of  ferns, 2 types of asparagus ferns, artillery ferns, sword ferns, and Boston ferns I even have fern whose name I don’t know.  I like to grow Bostons in shallow pots, so I looked for larger pots in the shed.

All the hanging pots in my stash are too small unless I wanted to divide the ferns. My goal being growing big ferns, not having a bunch of small ferns, I looked for an alternative. Looking around, I ruled out recycling anything I already had.  Sometimes, even I just have to buy something new.

While in Home Depot, I checked out their pot selection. They had one large plastic hanging planter in the right style for around $10 usd.  Remembering that the plastics store, Simon, on Calle 65, had large hanging planters earlier in the year, I headed there.


lime colander waiting to be repurposed into a hanging planter

Simon’s planter selection is located in the farthest reaches of the store. As I penetrated into the interior, I threaded my way past stacks of brightly colored plastic containers, waste paper baskets, buckets, and colanders-huge colanders ranging from a foot to almost a yard across.  All the hanging planters were gone, disappointed, I trudged back.  A thought crossed my mind, I’ve planted in plastic containers before, maybe I could find a basin and use it instead?  Then, I really looked at the colanders noticing the three holes in rim for hanging. Hmm, adequate drainage, check, already set for hanging, check, large size, check! I had a winner. I decided upon the second to the largest size, priced a mere $43 mxn (about $4 usd) each , I bought  two lime colored ones to start. The largest size is only $10mxn  more but just seemed huge. if I had bought the largest one, I still got two for the price of one planter.

Concerned about the holes being too large, I sifted potting soil into the vessel. I needed a soil barrier, I decided to raid the fabric stash. I decided on a  poly-cotton from my muslin making stash of reject fabrics.  I measured a square of fabric by laying it inside and letting it hang over the sides.  After filling the pot, I cut the fabric below the line of soil.   I reused the wires from the old planter.

Now that I know the secret to growing large ferns, a place to buy inexpensive well draining planters, I am ready to DIY some more. How is your DIY life going?

About Theresa Diaz Gray

Born in New York City, I grew up in California, and have lived in 3 countries and 6 states. I'm a first generation Cuban-American who lives in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico. I'm committed to living an abundant and creative life and helping others do so too through DIY!


  1. My garden is filled with ferns. But they are planted directly in the ground. And the leaf-cutters love them. Fortunately, they grow back quickly. At times, I feel as if I am still in the Pacific Northwest. With the ferns, that is. Not the ants.

    • Steve,
      I remember meadows full of giant ferns in Northern California, but Merida is short on soil and meadows. It’s that limestone shelf that causes us gardeners so much grief. We do have lots and lots of ants though. More kinds of ants than you can shake a stick at.


  2. Hey Theresa, isn’t Simon a great store? If anything can possibly be made out of plastic, Simon will have it (at some point…) I didn’t know that ferns will grow as big as their pot… thanks for passing that on

    • Joanna,
      I think the key is large shallow pot, excellent drainage, and lots of humidity! The last one is super easy this time of year!

      When I first moved here the Simon on C65 had two big stores, one on each side of the street. Now they have the big one on the north side and a small one on the south side.

      It’s amazing how our attitudes change, I would never have bought a big plastic planter NOB, but the truth is that plastic is lighter weight, less expensive, and holds up just as well as some of the clay pots.

      I have to go back and get some more colanders to re-pot more of my ferns. I love the lush look.


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