Maidenhair fern browning

Asked December 18, 2020, 6:11 PM EST

Hi, my maidenhair ferns have quite a few fronds turning brown, is this a normal seasonal event or something more nefarious like a fungal issue? They’re panted in the shade in the ground. Merry Christmas!

Clackamas County Oregon

1 Response

Maidenhair ferns are elegant, lovely plants. The keys to keeping them happy are water and light. Maidenhair ferns do not like drying out. Drainage is very important when you’re keeping the soil moist. You don’t want waterlogged soil. You have several fern plants in your area and they look healthy. The ferns may be fine, and the browning is just normal aging. The brown fronds and/or tips can be trimmed off. It’s a little hard to tell if something else is going on just from a photograph.

Checking the drainage, though, is always a good idea. Just dig out a hole in the area; fill it with water, let it drain, then fill the hole again and time how quickly the water drains out. If the water tends to sit in the hole, improving drainage will help your plants. You can improve drainage by adding organic material. You can also create a “raised bed” by planting the ferns on a mound of soil on top of the native soil. Water will flow away by gravity to the native soil level below.

There are several varieties of maidenhair ferns with very different looks. This article shows a few of them, Maidenhair Ferns

Maidenhair ferns prefer partial to complete shade and protection from strong sunlight, and the heat of late afternoon sun and heat.

Finally, our native maidenhair ferns are well-adapted to our slightly acidic native soils. Maidenhair ferns from other climates may like a more neutral pH, so adding a bit of lime to the soil would be to their liking. Test your soil pH and identify your fern before adding lime. This article has additional information, Maidenhair Fern

Have a Very Happy Holiday Season!