Why Ferns Get Brown Leaves

Hello Judy, I purchased this plant in a 2inch pot from my local grocery store. It did not have a tag with details about the plant included. I thought it would be easy to identify online but after some months have been unsuccessful. Please help me so I can care for it properly.
P.S. I have moved the fern like one out of the windowsill and bought a spray bottle to mist it as the brown leaves seem to point to lacking humidity.

Hi Hannah,

Your plant is a Neprolopsis fern, probably the exalata gloriosa variety; but it will be hard to determine the exact variety until it gets a bit larger. It takes the same care as the Kimberly Queen fern in the Popular Houseplant setion of the website.


I have found that brown leaves on ferns can be caused by several things not just lack of humidity.

Using water that has too much chlorine, fluorine, or salt in it. If your home water has a lot of these things in it, allow the water to sit out over night before using it. Never use water that had passed through a softener.

Too much light or cold. If your fern is close to a window, keep it out of the direct sun and do not allow the fronds the touch the window.

Poor drainage, be sure there are drip holes in the bottom of your pot

Too much 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 a fern monthly in the spring and summer and every other month in the fall and winter with a balance plant food at 1/2-1/3  the recommended strength. Never feed a fern that has dry soil, it will burn the fronds.

Lack of humidity: Place a small humidifier in the room or set the plant on a wet pebble tray. Be sure the plant sits on the pebbles and not in the water!