A Rabbit’s Foot fern, Davillia fejeensis, is the only fern in the Davalliaceae family and is in the order Polypodiales. Originally from Southeast Asia and Fiji, this is a very unique looking, compact plant that never makes a mess like other indoor ferns such as a Boston Fern. A Rabbit’s Foot fern is a type of epiphyte which means it can grow in rock crevices and on trees. When growing in this manner, the plant gets the nutrients and moisture it needs from rain, the air, and other plants not from the soil. This fern looks lovely in a hanging basket that often gets covered with the fern’s long, creeping rhizomes.
Rabbit’s Foot Fern Description
The lacy, leathery, medium green, arching fronds of a Rabbit’s Foot Fern have an almost bluish tinge. This upright, airy looking plant is about 16”-18” tall and 18”-20” wide. As the plant matures it develops furry, rhizomes (fleshy roots) that grow on the surface of the soil and cling to the edges of the pot. These rhizomes, which do not like to be buried in the soil, are covered with brown hairs that make them resemble the feet of a rabbit. The large, triangular shaped fronds grow out of the rhizomes. If you like the look of a Rabbit’s Foot fern you might want to check out some of its close “footed fern” cousins such as the Hare’s Foot fern, the Squirrel’s Foot fern, the White Rabbit’s Foot fern, and the Bear’s Foot Fern.
White Rabbits Foot Squirrels Foot Fern Bear’s Foot Fern
Quick Care Tips for a Rabbit’s Foot Fern
Medium light no direct sun
Allow top 1/4 of the soil to dry out before you water
Prefers high humidity. Fronds turn yellow and develop brown tips when the air is too dry.
Edges of the fronds turn brown from too much plant food
Brown dots, arranged in a line, on the back of a frond are spores used for propagationLearn how to propagate plants by plant division at https://www.houseplant411.com/glossary not a sign of pests or diseases
A Rabbit’s Foot fern is a uniques looking, low maintenance plant. It is more drought tolerant than other ferns and tends to be more forgiving if you forget to water. This fern is also more tolerant of the cold though still needs to be protected from temperatures below 50°F (10°C). The fronds are fragile and need room to grow. A Rabbit’s Foot fern is safe to have around cats, dogs, and small children.
I am not a big advocate of misting plants. I don’t think it does much good and water on the leaves of a plant encourages fungal and bacterial infections. You can increase the humidity by putting a small humidifier near the fern, grouping plants together, or setting your Rabbit’s Foot on a tray of wet gravel. Be sure your plant is sitting on the stones and not in the water.
Brown spots on the back side of fern fronds (leaves) are usually spores not scale. Spores are similar to seeds in other plants and are the way Rabbit’s Foot ferns propagate in nature.
It sounds like your fern has Mealy Bugs. A Rabbit’s Foot doesn’t like to be sprayed with any kind of pesticide. Carefully wipe the sticky stuff off with a Qtip dipped in alcohol. Try to locate the tiny white oval Mealy Bugs that are leaving the white stuff on your plant and remove them in the same manner. If the infestation in really bad, cut off the entire frond.
There are a couple of reasons why the fronds could be turning brown. Too much fertilizer causes salts to build up in the soil: these salts can burn the leaves. Direct sun will also burn the leaves.