Famously beloved among gardeners and houseplant parents for their bright green, textured fronds, ferns come in both deciduous and evergreen varieties. There are over 20,000 known geographically diverse fern cultivars in the world.
As a rule, outdoor ferns prefer moist conditions and shady locations. Indoor ferns enjoy humidity and indirect light. While ferns are generally pretty good at taking care of themselves, if they are kept in the wrong environmental conditions they may suffer from curling or wilting fronds, yellowing leaves, wilting leaves or root rot.
When do ferns grow back?
Both deciduous and evergreen ferns experience new growth in the spring. If you cut away old deciduous fern fronds down in the late autumn and old evergreen fronds at the end of winter, new fiddleheads, or crosiers, will emerge in the center of the plant in the spring and early summer.
Pruning ferns because of natural leaf decay
Deciduous ferns naturally lose their leaves in the autumn as the season turns to winter. When their leaves begin to decay, you should prune away any dead matter and cut all the fronds down to two inches from the soil. It is normal for your fern to remain like this and to show no signs of growth throughout the winter season.
At some point over the course of the spring, you will begin to see new, tightly wound fiddleheads growing back out of the crown at the center of the plant.
Evergreen ferns remain green over the winter and die back at the beginning of spring. New growth will begin to emerge soon after the old growth dies back. The old, dead and dying fronds should be pruned away to make room for the new growth.
Ferns are perennial plants, which means that they grow back every year. As long as your fern is healthy, you do not need to worry that cutting it back will hurt it or prevent it from growing back the following spring. On the contrary, you will be helping the plant by directing all of its energy towards its new growth.
If your fern is not in good condition and is not showing signs of healthy new growth in the spring, you may want to investigate why your outdoor fern is dying, or do some research into how to save a dying fern.
Pruning ferns because of a problem
Ferns should be pruned back, both when they suffer from brown, curling leaves, as well as when their fronds die back naturally.
If your fern is suffering because of environmental factors, cut back the dying fronds and identify the cause of the problem. Then do your best to return your fern to health by giving it proper care.
New growth will emerge from the center of the plant during the spring and early summer.
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.