Home Houseplants Fern Turning Brown and Crispy?

Fern Turning Brown and Crispy? – GIY Plants

Fern turning brown and crispy.

Ferns are a popular choice for indoor and outdoor gardens alike. However, if you’ve noticed your fern turning brown and crispy, it’s a sign that something is amiss. This comprehensive guide will delve into the reasons behind this phenomenon and offer solutions to keep your fern lush and green.

Why Do Ferns Turn Brown?

Ferns can turn brown for various reasons, including environmental factors and diseases. According to a study published in the Journal of Botanical Sciences, ferns are particularly sensitive to humidity and light conditions changes. Overwatering or underwatering can also lead to root rot, a common cause of browning in ferns. Pests like spider mites can suck the moisture out of the leaves, leading to dry, brown fronds.

Lack of Humidity

Ferns are native to humid environments. Dry air, mainly due to indoor heating during winter months, can cause the leaves to turn brown and crispy.


Ferns love consistently moist soil. Underwatering leads to dry soil, causing brown tips on the fronds.

Overwatering and Root Rot

Too much water can lead to root rot, resulting in brown leaves and a dying plant.

Direct Sunlight

Ferns prefer indirect light. Exposure to direct sunlight can scorch the leaves, making them brown.

Types of Ferns Most Susceptible to Browning

Different types of ferns have varying levels of susceptibility to browning. Here are some common types:

1. Boston Ferns are highly susceptible to low humidity levels and require consistent moisture.

2. Maidenhair Ferns: Known for their delicate fronds, they quickly turn brown if exposed to direct sunlight.

3. Staghorn Ferns: These unique ferns prefer high humidity and indirect light. Browning usually occurs due to over-fertilization or low humidity.

Seasonal Care for Ferns

Ferns require different care routines based on the season:

Spring and Summer: This is the growing season for most ferns. They need more water and a balanced fertilizer.

Fall and Winter: During these months, reduce watering and avoid fertilizing, as most ferns are dormant.

How to Prevent Your Fern from Turning Brown

Increase the Humidity

Place your fern in a humid environment. Use a humidifier or place a pebble water-filled tray under the plant.

Proper Watering

Keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. Make sure the pot has a drainage hole to prevent root rot.

Indirect Light

Place your fern in an area with indirect light. Too much sun can cause brown and crispy leaves.

Fertilizing Wisely

Over-fertilizing can lead to brown fronds. Use a balanced fertilizer and follow the recommended guidelines.

How to Revive a Brown and Crispy Fern

Snip Off Brown Fronds

Remove any brown or affected leaves to encourage new growth.

Re-Evaluate Watering Schedule

If the soil feels dry, you may need to water your fern more frequently.

Move Your Fern

If your fern is outdoors and experiencing too much sun or wind, consider moving it to a more sheltered location.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my fern turning brown and crispy?

There can be several reasons why fern leaves turn brown and become crispy. One common reason is underwatering, which means your fern is not getting enough water. Another reason could be that your fern needs to receive more humidity. In addition, too much sun exposure can also cause the fern’s leaves to turn brown and crispy.

How can I increase the humidity of my fern?

To increase the humidity of your fern, you can mist the leaves of the fern with water or place a humidifier near the plant. Another method is to create a humid environment by placing a tray with water near the fern.

Can an outdoor fern turn brown and crispy?

Yes, outdoor ferns can also turn brown and crispy due to lack of water, excessive sun exposure, or low humidity levels in their environment.

How often should I water my fern?

The frequency of watering your fern depends on various factors, such as the type of fern, the humidity levels in your environment, and the potting medium used. Generally, ferns prefer moist but not soggy soil, so allowing the top inch of the soil to dry out before watering again is essential.

What can I do if my fern’s leaves start to turn brown?

If your fern’s leaves turn brown, you can prune or snip off any brown or crispy leaves. This will help the fern redirect its energy to healthy growth.

Can indoor ferns turn brown and crispy?

Yes, indoor ferns can also turn brown and crispy for similar reasons, such as lack of water, low humidity, or excessive sun exposure.

What are some signs of underwatering for ferns?

Some signs of underwatering for ferns include dry and brittle soil, wilting or drooping fronds, and brown, crispy leaf edges.

How can I prevent the leaves of my fern from turning brown?

To prevent the leaves of your fern from turning brown, ensure adequate water and humidity for the fern. Additionally, avoid exposing the fern to direct sunlight or dry, hot drafts.

What is the ideal temperature range for ferns?

Ferns prefer a temperature range between 60°F (15°C) and 75°F (24°C). Excessive cold or heat can affect the health of the fern and lead to brown foliage.


Understanding why your fern is turning brown and crispy is the first step in reviving it. You can enjoy lush green ferns throughout the year by providing the right conditions and care.

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