Is My Button Fern in Trouble?

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 in, I assume, a larger pot. The fact that the soil is not drying out indicates that the pot may be too large and the soil may not be the right consistency. I don’t know what kind of potting soil you used, but the best combination would be a mixture of equal parts peat moss, good potting soil, and sand mixed with gravel. This type of soil retains moisture but still drains quickly. Water the plant when the top inch of soil is dry to the touch. You also may want to move it to brighter light until it get acclimated. 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.