Is My Fern Dead? 6 important signs and how to be sure

Is My Fern Dead?
Is My Fern Dead?

Is my fern dead? What’s the best way to keep a fern growing? All of these questions are answered in this guide. Learn what you should be doing with your ferns to grow healthy, vibrant plants that look great!

Is My Fern Dead?

Is My Fern Dead?

Even when we try our best, ferns can sometimes wilt, get sick, or turn brown. It is not always simple to determine whether or not this indicates that the plant has been permanently gone or whether or not there is still a chance that it may be saved. So, how can you know for sure if your fern is dead?

As long as the growing zone in the rhizome and roots remains healthy, ferns may recover from stress. The only time a fern is dead is when this part of the plant is too damaged or rotten to be fixed. 

It is possible to bring back to life a fern that has lost all of its fronds, even if the fern has been damaged by the sun, has wilted, or has turned brown. The secret is to carefully inspect the roots and rhizome of the fern, and then replant it in a way that causes it the least amount of stress possible.

A fern may die back for a variety of reasons, so figuring out what caused the issue in the first place will be crucial to determining if you can save the plant. The nature of the problem, the location of the fern (indoors or outdoors), and the requirements of the particular type of fern all play a role in determining the approach that will be most effective in determining the plant’s state of health and in assisting it in making a full recovery. If you want to know if your plant can be saved, here are some questions to ask.

Read more: Why is Your Asparagus Fern Turning Yellow

Is it of the deciduous kind?

Checking to verify if the die-back is a natural part of the yearly cycle of a deciduous fern should be the first thing you do, even though it might appear evident. The majority of popular indoor plants are evergreen, although plants in the yard may have just begun to shed leaves and turn brown as a natural process in the fall. If you’re unsure, look over the list of ferns or consult a local professional.

If this is the problem, then all you need to do is wait until the next spring growth season for your fern to recover and it will be fine.

Read more: Asparagus Fern Propagation – A full Guide

Is there evidence of a pest infestation?

Pest damage is another probable cause of deterioration. In general, ferns are rather resistant to pests, and they are certainly less susceptible to having problems with pests than the majority of blooming plants.

Nevertheless, there are a few insects, such as scale insects, mealy bugs, and fern mites, that are capable of causing damage to the plant. It is uncommon for an infestation to destroy a plant, so if your fern has stunted frond growth or is wilting, you should isolate it until you can eliminate the bugs using organic means or insecticide.

As soon as the pests are gone, the fern should grow back strongly.

Read more: Asparagus Fern Care – A Complete Guide

Is there too much sunlight?

Even while there are ferns that can thrive in full light, the majority of ferns really do better in partial or complete shade. Faded, bleached-looking fronds or fronds that have become brittle and papery are both symptoms of overexposure to the sun.

It is quite improbable that an excessive amount of sunlight would kill the fern unless the stress is persistent or is coupled by a lack of water. Moving the fern to a new location is the easiest approach to repair damage caused by the sun. If the fern is an indoor plant, this means relocating the pot away from windows; if it is an outdoor plant, this means moving it to a protected, shaded area of the yard.

Read more: How Often To Water Ferns

Have you underwatered it?

Drought is another big threat to ferns. Although there are kinds that can withstand dry circumstances, the majority of them require consistently wet conditions. If the soil surrounding the fern is extremely dry, you should give your fern a thorough soaking. However, you should do this in stages, waiting for the water to completely absorb into the soil before adding more.

Drought is one of the possible causes of the plant’s demise. The only way to know for sure is to keep watering carefully while also taking precautions to prevent overwatering. This is the only approach. To increase the likelihood of full recovery, it is important to cover the surface of the soil with stones or mulch. This will assist to keep moisture close to the plant’s superficial roots and rhizomes.

The growing zone in the rhizome must then be cautiously monitored for a few weeks to see if it is still active.

Read more: Lace Fern Care – A Complete Guide

Do you see any signs of rot?

Overwatering is one of the most prevalent issues with fern health. Root rot is a problem that arises when bacteria or fungus invade soggy, drowned roots. Dead fronds can also serve as a place for the establishment of an infection.

The presence of a foul odor, heavy pots, and excessive wetness in the soil are all signs that the plant has received an excessive amount of water. There are several easy measures that may be taken to save a fern that has been overwatered, but the most effective approach to determining whether or not the plant can be saved is to inspect it personally and evaluate the level of damage.

Examine the roots of the plant after removing it from the pot. Roots that are mushy and dark indicate that they are dead and deteriorating. If this has spread throughout the plant and has reached the rhizome, then it is possible that the plant may not recover.

The best course of action is to repot the plant in new potting soil, being careful to control drainage and watering until the plant has had time to develop new roots and recuperate.

Read more: Plumosa Fern Care – A Complete Guide

Do the varieties have any unique requirements?

The last thing that could be happening is that a certain kind of fern needs special conditions that aren’t being met. There are two types of ferns, those that thrive in acidic soil and those that thrive in alkaline soil. Stunted growth will result from planting in the incorrect environment. 

Some ferns are sensitive to abrupt temperature fluctuations, such as being carried in from the outside or planted near to a heater in the house. A fast shift in environmental circumstances is known to shock Maidenhair and Boston ferns, so they will require special care if this occurs.

The fern is likely to recover successfully if the problem of mismatched soil or environment can be discovered and rectified.

Read more: Can Boston Fern Grow In Water?

How to Determine Whether Your Fern Is Still Alive?

Is My Fern Dead?

It will take some time before the fern begins to recover after addressing any insect, light, environmental, or watering issues. Setting up ideal circumstances for recuperation and then waiting to see whether new growth occurs are the only surefire ways to determine if your fern is still alive. The amount of time required may vary depending on the season, with spring being the most likely period for recuperation (especially for deciduous ferns).

The rhizome, which is the stem of the fern and from which both the roots and the fronds grow, will eventually produce new fronds. This is the area in which you should search for indications of life, but you should do it with caution! When attempting to determine the health of the plant, it is critical to avoid disturbing or damaging the rhizome in any way.

Some types of ferns, such as the Rabbit’s foot and Kangaroo paw ferns, have rhizomes that are exposed above the soil, in contrast to the majority of ferns, which have their rhizomes buried deep in the soil.

The rhizome sends new fiddleheads up into the air as well as roots down into the soil.

The rhizomes of ferns that develop as crowns will be closely packed together, with a tangle of fronds sprouting from the top. This structure is referred to as the “caudex,” and it is in this region that you should search for indications of fresh growth.

If fresh green branches start to emerge from the soil, you will finally be able to say with certainty that your fern has passed its test.

Read more: Foxtail Fern Care – A Complete Guide


Is My Fern Dead?

Even though ferns can get discolored or lose their fronds due to a variety of conditions, the plant won’t be permanently harmed unless the rhizome is destroyed. You’ll give it the best chance of recovering if you take efforts to get rid of the stress. 

After creating the healthiest environment possible for your fern, the only way to know for sure whether or not it is still alive is to be patient and wait until the spring growth season. At that point, you will have an answer to your question once and for all.

Photo by Sanni Sahil on Unsplash

Holding photo created by stockking –

Uncertain photo created by wayhomestudio –

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