The Davallia Fejeensis – more often referred to as the Rabbit’s Foot Fern – is a fern with interesting foliage whose rhizomes look a little a furry rabbit’s foot.
The rhizomes often begin to grow over the pot and hang down, so the Rabbit’s Foot Fern looks great in a hanging basket!
It can be a rewarding plant to look after if you are able to get all of the care requirements correctly balanced.
For the novice houseplant collector however it can take a little bit of getting used to. We will cover all of the main care requirements in this guide to make sure you can get your little Rabbit’s Foot Fern to thrive!
Rabbit’s Foot Fern Care
The Rabbit’s Foot Fern requires a soil that drains well but can retain a certain degree of moisture. Humidity should be on the higher side of average if possible – ideally over 50%. Temperatures should be maintained around 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Water as required to keep soil moist.
Soil needs to be well-draining and also retain moisture. A potting mix with a peat base combined with half part sand will be ideal. Make sure the rhizomes are only slightly covered by the soil when potting, and water to keep it slightly moist.
The Rabbit’s Foot Fern enjoys sitting in a medium that is consistently lightly moist. This can be a tricky one to get right at first, as you will need to maintain damp soil without creating risk of root rot.
Mix half part peat based potting mix with half part sand, adding in some perlite if you wish for extra drainage.
As ferns can be susceptible to fungal infections, it is recommended you change out the soil of a healthy Rabbit’s Foot Fern once every couple of years. This is also a good time to inspect for any signs of fungal infections caused by excessive water in the soil.
Water as required to ensure that the soil remains lightly moist at all times. Do not over saturate, and ensure the water drains quickly through the drainage holes. Try to use rain water or filtered tap water to avoid any build-up of salts in the soil.
Water just as the soil is beginning to dry out. This will ensure the plant is being kept in the lightly moist environment it loves without becoming oversaturated. If possible, water with rainwater or filtered tap water.
This is because tap water often contains chemicals such as fluoride, to which the Rabbit Foot Fern can be sensitive. Water until the soil is damp and the liquid is running through the drainage holes at the bottom, then stop.
The lightly damp soil requirements means you may need water often but sparingly, rather than completely dousing the plant once a week as with others.
Bright but indirect sunlight is perfect for the Rabbit’s Foot Fern. Only place on a south facing window if it is covered with a filtered curtain. A bright corner of a room away from the sun will be a good option.
Native to the Pacific Islands, more specifically to Fiji, the Rabbit’s Foot Fern prefers indirect sunlight or dappled light.
You should not place the fern on a south-facing window for example, unless the light is filtered by a fine net curtain.
A north-facing window is best, or you can place the plant in the corner of a room away from direct sunlight. This will avoid any risk of the leaves becoming burned.
Temperatures should be maintained at around 65 degrees Fahrenheit. During the night time, you can permit dips to around 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Take care not to place your Rabbit’s Foot Fern directly in front of heaters.
Temperatures for this exotic plant need to be above 60 degrees Fahrenheit, more preferably 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit.
During the night the Rabbit’s Foot Fern can tolerate dips to around 55 degrees. If you need to use artificial methods to heat or cool your home, take care.
Do not place the plant in front of the heater or air conditioning unit, and pay attention to the humidity levels.
Modern heating systems for example can dry out the air, and the Rabbit’s Foot Fern prefers higher rather than lower levels of humidity. More about that in the humidity section below…….
Average household humidity levels will generally be fine for this plant, but promote optimal growth by encouraging humidity levels of over 50% with a humidity tray or by placing your Rabbit’s Foot Fern amongst other plants.
Ferns in general like higher levels of humidity than other plants, often well above 50%. The Rabbit’s Foot Fern is a little more forgiving than others, and can generally tolerate the humidity levels of an average home.
However, to provide optimal growing conditions and to avoid the leaf tips becoming brown, try to increase the levels around you to above 50% up to 60%.
You can do this easily by grouping your plants together or by creating your own humidity tray. Simply place pebbles in a tray of water and set the plant on top of it.
Other ideas include moving the plant to a humid area of the home – for example a bathroom. You can also mist the leaves regularly to prevent crisping.
Fertilize once or twice a month with a standard fertilizer but ensure to dilute it to half strength to avoid burning the leaves. Apply the treatment between spring right to the end of fall and stop over the winter period.
Fertilizing your Rabbit’s Foot Fern is a good idea in the growing season in order to provide the plant with enough nutrients for beautiful foliage.
The treatment should be applied from the spring through to the end of fall. You do not need to fertilize during the winter season when very little growth occurs anyway.
Use a standard liquid fertilizer but make sure to dilute it to half strength. This will ensure you do not burn the leaves.
It is also possible to purchase slow-release pellets if you prefer. Fertilize once or twice a month as desired taking care not to over fertilize to prevent build-up of salts and minerals.
Ensure your rhizomes have room to grow by placing them above the soil. Expect the ferns to grow to between 1 and 2 feet if properly cared for.
The Rabbit’s Foot Fern is a unique plant that has both foliage and rhizomes. The rhizomes grow above the ground, are fuzzy, and often grow up over the pot to hang down in a decorative fashion.
Take care that they are not buried below the soil level so that they can grow freely.
You can expect the ferns to grow to around 1 – 2 feet if cared for correctly. To encourage the best growth, the Rabbit Foot Fern enjoys being potted in a shallow pot.
Propagation of the Rabbit’s Foot Fern
Propagate the Rabbit’s Foot Fern through spores, division or rhizome cutting. Expect faster results with division, whereas the spore method requires a degree of patience.
The Rabbit’s Foot Fern offers plenty of methods for propagation, from the cumbersome and slightly tricky spore’s method through to easier and faster propagation by division. Let’s check them out.
Propagation by spores
If you check under the fronds – the fern leaves – you will see little light to brown coloured spots on the underside. As the warmer months progress, the spores turn darker until almost black, at which point they are ready for harvesting.
Select a couple of leaves, remove them from the plant and place them in a clear zip lock bag. As the leaf dies off, the spores will be left.
Collect the spores and spread them over a sterile growing mix, water and then cover the pot with a clear and plastic bag.
Over a period of several weeks you will eventually see sprouts appearing, and once these reach around an inch in height you can slowly remove a little of the bag every day over the period of a week.
This acclimatises the little Rabbit’s Foot Fern to its new environment. Make sure however the pot is kept in bright but indirect sunlight. Once the shoots are about 3 inches in height they can be transplanted to a potting mix.
Propagation by rhizome cutting
The furry rhizomes are the most striking part of the Rabbit’s Foot Fern and can be used also for propagation. You can do this by taking a cutting around 3 inches in length, ensuring it has a few leaves on top too.
Simply place the cutting in a small starter pot with a growing mix – preferably a peat base. Cover the pot with a clear plastic bag once you have watered it and keep it in a warm area with bright but indirect sunlight.
Water as needed to keep the soil moist, and try to use rainwater or filtered water to avoid any salts or chemicals damaging the little fern. After rooting, you can take off the bag.
Propagation by division
Propagation by division is the easiest and quickest way to get additional Rabbit’s Foot Ferns. Do this only now and again, as the plant does not like to be disturbed too often.
Remove the fern from the pot and shake off any excess soil. This is a good time to inspect the roots for any signs of fungal infections or disease.
Using a sharp and clean instrument you can cut the root ball – ideally into quarters – and separate.
You will need to ensure that each divided piece has a sufficient independent root system as well as foliage.
Repot the root balls into a peat-based mix and take care to ensure the rhizomes are above the soil line.
Water the divided plants and store the new pots in bright and indirect sunlight, with lightly moist soil.
Rabbit’s Foot Fern Problems
Common problems with the Rabbit’s Foot Fern include discoloration to the fronds. Yellowing indicates too little water, whilst brown tips is a sign of low humidity. Leaves turning pale can be a sign of too much light.
Brown fern fronds
This can be a sign that the humidity levels are too low. Whilst the Rabbit’s Foot Fern tolerates lower humidity environments than other ferns, if the levels drop consistently below 50% you may notice this.
Increase the humidity levels for your fern with a humidity tray or by placing it amongst other plants. Look out too for signs of root rot which in its later stages results also in brown leaves.
Yellowing leaves with brown tips
Often this is a symptom of too little water combined with low humidity. Increase humidity levels in the home or mist your fern, and make sure the soil is kept consistently moist but not over saturated.
This is commonly a sign of too much sunlight, so move your fern to a more shady location of the home and see if this helps.
Frequently Asked Questions about the Rabbit’s Foot Fern
What are these fuzzy things on my Rabbit’s Foot Fern?
These are the rhizomes and are often grown as a display feature as they hang over the side of the pot or basket quite nicely!
Is the Rabbit’s Foot Fern a toxic plant?
No, you do not need to worry about the Rabbit’s Foot Fern being toxic to either animals or children.
Daniel has been a plant enthusiast for over 20 years. He owns hundreds of houseplants and prepares for the chili growing seasons yearly with great anticipation. His favorite plants are plant species in the Araceae family, such as Monstera, Philodendron, and Anthurium. He also loves gardening and is growing hot peppers, tomatoes, and many more vegetables.