Any hope for Fern?

Asked March 30, 2017, 2:41 PM EDT

This fern is probably 4 years old and every year we repot it as she just grows and flourishes while she's outside. This past winter we put her in a heated basement with a grow bulb. The pictures look better than she actually looks! We're hoping to hang in there until there is no more threat of frost in Kingsville, to take her back outside. So my question is, should we just cut the plant back close to the soil or save her looks by just removing the brown stem-sticks and dead leaves? I assume the roots are still alive and she WILL come back...??? Also, any recommendations for winterizing Fern next year?

Baltimore County Maryland fern houseplant

3 Responses

You should be commended that you've had her as long as you have, as they are difficult to keep happy in the winter, and most people discard them year to year.
She looks rough, but clearly alive. You should be able to make her happy again.
Cut out the dead material to neaten.
These plants, when grown above 55 degrees need to stay moist, and above 70, they want humidity too, which is hard in our homes, unless you put it on a tray of wet pebbles or mist regularly.
Start feeding a weak standard liquid fertilizer later this month, then repeat every two weeks during the growing season if growing in a soiless or peat based mix. If in a soil mix, every 4 weeks.


Thanks, cm....when do you think it will be safe to put Fern outside for the spring and summer? Because at 60 lbs. she's not coming back in until October!!!

To keep her happy, the minimum tolerated temperatures for Fern (her fancy name is Nephrolepis exaltata) is 50 degrees....
Our average last frost date (32) is around Mother's Day.
You may need to wait until June or later unless she goes in a protected spot close to the house.
Keep an eye on the weather forecasts- particularly the low temps.
She likes it warm.
Good luck.