How to grow and care for Lemon Button Fern Indoors

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Houseplant, Lemon Button Fern

Botanical name: Nephrolepis cordifolia 'Duffii'
Family: Nephrolepidaceae

Lemon Button Fern also called Button Sword Fern, Fishbone Fern or Little-leaved Sword Fern is a compact, small-sized, hardy fern which bears gracefully drooping stems about 1 ft long. The leaves are small, round, button-like and they release a lemony aroma when crushed, hence the common name "Lemon Button Fern". The fern spreads by means of underground rhizomes; clumps of wiry stems that grow beneath the soil surface. The fern is native to the Pantropical regions of the world where it grows in swampy, damp forest-like conditions. Due to its compact growth, it is ideal for a terrarium or for small spaces.

How to Grow Lemon Button Fern

Light

Bright indirect light is the best for Lemon Button Fern. Keep it away from direct sunlight as it may scorch the fronds. Turn the pot regularly to ensure even growth. Learn how to ensure your plant receives the correct light in this guide on understanding light for houseplants.

Water

For optimum growth of Lemon Button Fern, keep the soil evenly moist at all times, never allow it to dry out. Reduce watering during cold months. Avoid waterlogging as it can lead to rotting. Learn more on how to water houseplants.

Temperature

Average warmth between 12-250C is ideal for Lemon Button Fern. Find out more on temperature for houseplants.

Humidity

Lemon Button Fern thrives under high humidity. The fern is suitable for humid areas like the bathroom and the kitchen. Employ these techniques to raise humidity for this fern.

Feeding

Feed Lemon Button Fern with a balanced water-soluble fertilizer once a month during the growing period. Withhold feeding during the cold season as growth is reduced. Find out more on how to feed houseplants.

Pruning

Remove dead and damaged fronds. As the plant ages, the older fronds turn brown. Cut them off at the base to maintain the plant looking neat and tidy.

Repotting

Repot Lemon Button Fern every 2-3 years at the beginning of the growing season to provide adequate room for the growth of the rhizome. One sign of an overcrowded fern is wilting leaves. Failure to repot an overcrowded Lemon Button Fern can result in death of the plant. Use a pot that is 1 size larger and one that has drainage hole(s) to avoid waterlogging. Use loose, free-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. The plant can also be divided into several sections and potted individually.

How to Propagate Lemon Button Fern

Lemon Button Fern can be propagated by division at the beginning of the growing season. Carefully remove the fern from its pot and divide it into several sections. Ensure each section has adequate roots. Pot up these sections into individual pots. Place the pots in a warm shaded place and maintain the soil moist through out until the plants are well established. Lemon Button Fern can also be propagated from spores but they are difficult to grow.

Common problems in growing Lemon Button Fern

  • Brown dots or lines on the underside of fronds
  • These are spores which can be used for propagation. They indicate that the frond is mature and healthy. These spores drop to the soil and may grow into new plants.

  • Yellowing fronds, brown tips, no new growth
  • The cause of yellowing fronds, brown tips and no new growth in Lemon Button Fern is too dry air. Employ these techniques to raise humidity.

  • Yellowing leaves
  • Waterlogging is the reason for yellowing leaves in Lemon Button Fern. Ensure the pot has a drainage hole and the soil is free-draining.

  • Wilting leaves
  • Wilting leaves in Lemon Button Fern is an indication of overcrowding in the current pot resulting in underwatering of the fern. Repot the fern into a larger pot or divide it up for more plants.

  • Excessive leaf drop
  • Leaflets drop in Lemon Button Fern is indicative of underwatering. Maintain the soil consistently moist but not soggy. Do not leave the soil to dry out.

  • Isolated brown and yellow leaves
  • Browning and yellowing in isolated areas of Lemon Button Fern are a result of excessive salts in the soil either from watering or fertilizers. Flush out the salts by repeatedly running a steady stream of water thorough the soil and avoid overfertilizing in the future.

  • Brown shells scattered on fronds
  • Brown shells scattered on fronds in Lemon Button Fern is an indication of a infestation by Scales. Isolate the affected plant to avoid spread to other houseplants.

  • Pests
  • Common pests in Lemon Button Fern are Scales and Mealy Bugs. Isolate the affected plant to avoid spread to other houseplants.

Toxicity

Lemon Button Ferns are non-toxic to humans and pets. The plants are safe to grow indoors.

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