Ferns are lovely, versatile additions to the home and garden and are exceptionally hardy plants that are easy to grow.
On occasion, they may present problems related to their environmental conditions, but the good news is that they are easy to revive and, when caught in time, there is a strong chance that a fern can make a full recovery.
Generally speaking, dying ferns are likely suffering from underwatering, overwatering, temperature-control issues, or fertilizer burn.
How to bring a fern back to life?
If ferns are drying out due to underwatering, remove the dead roots before repotting in nutrient-rich soil and following a watering schedule. Overwatered ferns are at risk of root rot, and generally, poor drainage is to blame and should be rectified. If the fern isn’t receiving adequate light, adjust accordingly. Opt for less-is-more to avoid leaf and root burn.
How to Revive a Fern that is Drying Out and Dying
There are many types of ferns, but most enjoy quite a lot of moisture. If a fern starts to look wilted and dry, it may be dying due to dehydration.
Never fear. There are several steps one can take to bring a dying fern back to life.
In the case of indoor ferns, start by watering soil thoroughly so that the plant can be more easily removed from its pot.
Shake off excess dirt so that you have access to the roots, and gently prune away any dead growth. Similarly, dead or dying fronds should be trimmed back to 2 inches, while healthy green growth must be left intact.
Prepare the pot’s base by making sure it has adequate holes for water to run through. Put down a layer of gravel or pebbles to assist with consistent and even drainage.
Then, replant the fern in loamy, good-quality, well-draining soil. The soil around the plant should be pressed in firmly but not compacted.
Adjust your watering schedule by testing the soil with a fingertip. Once the very top layer of dirt is dry, it is time for a shower.
If outdoor ferns look dehydrated, one can place a layer of woodchips or compost around their bases. This is a great way to help them retain moisture.
Water the ferns regularly or as soon as the compost layer is dry.
If possible, keep them a distance away from water-demanding plants like big trees so that they don’t have to fight too hard for resources.
Ailing ferns should be replanted in composted, raised garden beds with a combination of peat moss and vermiculite to retain moisture and add acidity to the soil.
How to Save an Overwatered Fern
Ferns displaying limp fronds and yellowing leaves may be suffering from overwatering and inadequate water drainage. Drenched roots can develop root rot, which can be fatal to ferns.
As with dehydrated ferns, the best route to take is to replant them in well-draining, composted soil and adjust one’s watering practices.
Affected root areas should be cut away, and excess dirt must be discarded to eradicate the root rot fungus’ spreading.
In the case of potted ferns, make sure nothing is blocking the drainage holes and ensure ferns are not left standing in saucers of water. Place recovering plants in areas with good light so they can dry off a bit.
For outdoor ferns, avoid watering until the compost’s top layer is dry. If ferns are planted in raised beds with plastic lining, try removing this to improve drainage.
Kind of Temperatures and Light Ferns Need to Survive
Ferns can be pretty sensitive to temperature and humidity levels, which in turn may cause them to look like they are wilted, drying, or dying.
Adjusting their growing environments is an excellent way to bring ailing ferns back to life.
Ferns thrive in temperatures of 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit (18 to 24 degrees Celsius), with lows of 55 degrees Fahrenheit (12 degrees Celsius) at night.
If temperatures are higher than this, frequent watering will be required. When temperatures are lower, watering should be restricted until the soil’s dry.
When choosing where to place ferns, opt for areas with intermittent sunlight and partial shade. Too much sunlight can hurt ferns, and if they are facing this, they should be transplanted for a better chance of survival.
Fertilizing Ferns: Harmful or Not
Ferns receive most of the nutrients that they need from quality, nutrient-rich soil. Fertilizing can be beneficial, but when given in excess, it can burn and damage ferns.
Using a good-quality fertilizer at half-strength is a good way to avoid over-feeding your plants.
If one is a little over-zealous with fertilizer, cut away burnt fronds and repot your ferns in balanced soil.
Frequently Asked Questions about How to Bring a Fern Back to Life
Do ferns die in winter?
Outdoor ferns do not stay green in winter and may appear dead. However, they are simply reacting to the cold. Dead fronds should be cut away and a layer of mulch placed over the base of the plants. They should return to life just fine in the spring.
What diseases do ferns get?
The primary diseases that attack ferns are root rots like nematodes and Pythium root rot, fertilizer burns like lobing and leaf tip burn, and drought-induced illness like Nephrolepis. More rarely, they may suffer from bacterial or fungal infections.
Do ferns attract bugs?
Ferns can attract pests like aphids and ants, but generally, these can be dealt with by using insecticidal soap or introducing beneficial bugs like ladybirds.
Ferns don’t ask for much in terms of care, and most of the time, they can be brought back to life by simply adjusting a few aspects of their growing environments.
These hardy beauties bounce back beautifully and quickly. Learning what your ferns like will serve you in good stead for keeping them happier and healthier for longer.
Marcel runs the place around here. He has a deep passion for houseplants & gardening and is constantly on the lookout for yet another special plant to add to his arsenal of houseplants, succulents & cacti.
Marcel is also the founder of Iseli International Commerce, a sole proprietorship company that publishes a variety of websites and online magazines.