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Why Is My Fern Dying? 5 Reasons to Watch Out For

Ferns are excellent houseplants for your kitchen, bathroom, and greenhouse plants collection. However, there are some common problems associated with these houseplants, and one of them is the risk of your fern dying.

It can be pretty frustrating when your fern is dying, and you have no idea why. “Why is my fern dying?” is a common question amongst most people with this houseplant, and this article aims to answer this question.

In most situations, it is easy to save a dying fern if you know why it is dying. Keep reading to discover five leading reasons your fern is dying and how you can make it healthy again. This information can help you take the right step to save your fern.

Why Is My Fern Dying
Does anyone know why this fern is dying – via Reddit

Why Is My Fern Dying5 Reasons

Although most ferns are hardy, it’s not unusual to find them drooping or losing their lush foliage. If you find that your fern is dying, there’s no reason to panic. You can still revive this plant if you find out why your fern is dying; keep reading for the top reasons why.

1. Overwatering

Overwatering is a common cause of death amongst ferns. Ferns like well-hydrated soil and require it to remain healthy. However, the soil should be medium which means while it remains moist, it should never be soggy. Therefore, overwatering is one of the top reasons your fern is dying.

You can easily tell an overwatered fern by its wilting leaves. The waterlogged soil will cause the plant to develop root rot and several other diseases. Once this disease sets in, saving your fern plant can be pretty tricky. So, the best step is preventing overwatering.

Symptoms of Overwatering

Some people find it hard to tell when their fern is dying due to overwatering. Therefore, below are some top symptoms that’ll inform you if your fern is dying.

  • Your fern is drooping even with a wet soil
  • The fronds turn yellow, beginning with the lower fronds
  • Brown frond tips, despite adequate humidity and plenty of water
  • It takes a while for the fern soil to dry out once you water it
  • There’s an offensive smell coming from the soil; this is usually an indication of root rot in your fern plant

How to Fix a Fern Dying from Overwatering

Does your fern have any of these symptoms? It’s a clear sign that your houseplant is dying from overwatering. Therefore, you can fix your dying fern by following the steps outlined below.

  • Firstly, slide your fern gently out of the pot and remove excess soil to inspect the roots efficiently.
  • If your fern has rotten roots, it will be black/brown, mushy, fragile, and it’s sure to give off an offensive smell. Prune off the affected roots with sterile shears. If many roots are affected, you should also prune the foliage so the remaining roots can support the plant.
  • Next, rinse the healthy root to remove as much of the old soil as you can. This is important because the soil contains pathogens causing root rot. Therefore, you’ll have to plant your fern in fresh soil.
  • Choose a new pot that’s a bit larger than the houseplant and ensure it features plenty of drainage holes.
  • Report your fern using a well-draining potting mix
  • Ensure you only water your fern plant when the top 1-2 inches of soil feels dry rather than following a watering schedule.

2. Humidity Issues

Ferns enjoy humidity. Therefore, if the air in your home is dry, it could cause your fern to start dying. You need at least a 50% humidity level to keep your houseplant in excellent condition. Therefore, it is noteworthy that humidity levels tend to reduce in winter as heating systems dry the air.

You can purchase a humidity meter to monitor the humidity level in your home. It will inform you when you need to take necessary actions to boost humidity levels for your fern. You should also avoid placing your fern close to warm drafts like heating vents, fires, or radiators.

How to Improve Humidity 

  • Ensure you group your houseplants. The collective transpiration from the foliage could improve the humidity level.
  • You could also use a humidity tray. You can create one by placing pebbles in a large, shallow dish and then placing your plant on the pebbles. You should then fill the tray with a shallow layer of water, ensuring the water level is below the top of the stones.
  • You can use a humidifier to significantly improve the humidity level for your houseplant effectively.
  • Avoid misting your houseplant. Contrary to popular opinions, it is ineffective with raising humidity levels and can cause fungal and bacterial diseases.
Why Is My Fern Dying 2
Boston fern dying – via Reddit

3. Lighting Issues

If you’re asking the question, ‘why is my fern dying?’ a good reason could be because of lighting issues. Ferns love bright indirect light; that’s why you should place it near a window that gets enough indirect sunshine. If your houseplant is shedding leaves too much, it might be a sign of inadequate light.

Your fern will blossom if you place it where it can get some morning sun and then lots of indirect sunlight later in the day. While your fern plant will not die when kept in a shaded location, it is doubtful it will grow and flourish either.

The low light situation could also increase the risk of overwatering and leave your plant susceptible to pests and diseases. At the same time, you’re not looking to expose the plant to too much direct sunlight. It could scorch its tender foliage and lead to the frond tips turning brown.

4. Under-Watering Issues

Under-watering is a common mistake as it’s easy to forget it’s time to water your plant. While this feature is harder to identify, it is also a top reason why your fern is dying.

Ferns need soil that never fully dries out. Therefore, when you leave your fern without water for even a short period, the fronds start turning brown.

How to Fix Under-Watering 

  • Place your fern somewhere you’ll see it regularly rather than tucked in a corner. When it is easy to see, you’ll easily spot signs of trouble when they arise.
  • Develop a habit of checking your fern. Add this to your daily routine, so giving your houseplant a quick check becomes typical.
  • If you find that you’re forgetful or might be away for some time, you should consider using a self-watering pot to ensure your plants never dry out.

5. Pest Infestation Issues

Like most houseplants, ferns are pretty susceptible to pest infestation. These pests can damage your plants and lead to your fern dying if not treated immediately.

You can easily identify most pests if you pay close attention to your fern. However, there are some like spider mites that are easy to overlook.

Several pests can damage your fern and cause it to develop brown leaves. The best way to ensure pests don’t cause too much trouble for your fern is to inspect it regularly. Check the leaves on both sides for any evidence of pests.

How to Fix Your Fern Dying Due to Pest Infestation

  • The initial step to take is to quarantine your plant from other houseplants. This step will prevent the pest from spreading to other plant parts.
  • You should also try to remove as many pests as you can individually or with a showerhead or hose. Using this helps to wash as many pests off the fern as possible.
  • Once you remove the pests, use a horticultural oil spray or any other solution to treat your plant from fest infestation.
  • When you’re sure your plant is free of all pests, then you can bring it back in contact with other houseplants.

Final Thoughts

Taking care of your fern is a constant learning process; this article helps to keep you better informed. If it looks like your fern is dying, it must be due to one of the issues mentioned above.

Thankfully, most of these problems come with a solution and are easy to identify once you take a closer look at your plant.

While root rot and pest infestation require immediate attention, other issues can be dealt with through simple adjustments to your plant care.

You can sometimes save a dying fern by getting a humidity meter or a self-watering pot to prevent underwatering. If you have comments or inquiries, please share them with us below, and we’ll reply as soon as we can.