Button Fern in Trouble- Grow Care Advice

Hi there,

I have a button fern that I’m worried about. The problem: many fronds are drying up completely. I know this is normal to some degree, but it seems like too many dried-out fronds. No sign of pests, sunburn, or yellowing leaves. (Maybe I’ve seen a couple yellowing leaves, but not a lot.) The plant is producing new growth as well, but it isn’t keeping pace with the drying fronds.I have the plant on a pebble tray with other plants and a humidity meter that usually reads between 60 and 75% relative humidity. I try not to mist it directly because I’ve read differing advice on whether to mist Pellea, but it does get some mist when I spray its neighbors. I have had the plant about 6-8 weeks, and repotted it upon purchase. One other thing that seems odd is that the soil doesn’t dry out. It isn’t *soggy*; it’s loose and moist, but I have only needed to water it about once in a month. Could it be that the top layer of soil is staying moist, but the middle layer is too dry?

Hi Katy,


I think you have a few things going on. The first is that you should never repot a new plant when you first bring it home. It needs about 6 weeks to acclimate to new surroundings. So not only was your Button Fern shocked by new surroundings, it was shocked by new soil and being planted in a larger pot. The fact that the soil is not drying out indicates that the pot is too large and that the soil is too heavy. Here are some care tips for a Button Fern.

Soil: Use a mixture of equal parts peat moss, good potting soil, and some sand mixed with gravel. This type of soil retains moisture but still drains quickly.

Water: Water the plant when the top inch of soil is dry to the touch. Keep the soil evenly moist but not soggy.

Light: bright indirect lightVery few houseplants should be placed in direct sun. High light refers only to bright indirect light since direct sun often burns the leaves of indoor houseplants. An area that is too hot and dry encourages Spider Mites and causes blooms to quickly fade. A northern exposure really doesn't provide enough light for high light plants. These plants need to be placed directly in front of an east-facing window, within 1-3 feet of a west-facing window, and within 5 ft. of a south facing window. A high light area has over 300 ft. candles of light., but no direct sun. If you move the plant outside in the summer, be sure to keep it in the shade.

Humidity: High humidity

Temperature: Button ferns prefer temperatures above 60° and can be damaged if temperatures go below 50°.

fertilizerPlants need fertilizer only when they are actively growing. Slow growing plants in low light require very little plant food. Too much fertilizer is worse than not enough. Most plants prefer a water soluble plant food at 1/2 the recommended strength. Plants that are in bloom or dormant should not be fertilized. Houseplant food contains nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). A fertilizer containing these elements in equal proportion is considered a balanced plant food. Nitrogen helps in photosynthesis and encourages the growth of leaves and stems. Potassium and phosphorus also help in photosynthesis and aid in root and flower development. Most fertilizers have trace elements of other minerals that are lacking in the soil but are necessary for good plant growth. Fertilizers have a high salt content. If a plant is not producing new leaves and doesn’t absorb the fertilizer, salts build up in the soil. These salts can burn the roots, discolor the leaves, and cause new growth to be small.: Feed monthly in the spring and summer with a balanced plant food diluted to 1/3 1/3 -1/4 the recommended strength. Button ferns are light feeders.

If it were my plant, I’d move it back to its original smaller pot to prevent over watering and to allow the soil to dry out; use the proper soil combination, and increase your light. There is a product called superthriveSuperthrive combines vitamins and hormones to encourage plant growth both above and below the soil line. It's not a plant food so it needs to be used in addition to your regular plant food; the two can be used at the same time. Just put a few drops into your watering can & that's all that's needed to improve the health & appearance of your plants. If your plants are in real trouble, add about 10 drops per 2 gallons of water. SuperThrive works best when the soil is dry.     that does wonders for stressed plants, you can read about it in the Glossary of the website.