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Is Your Fern Turning Brown or Yellow? (5 Common Causes)

Is Your Fern Turning Brown or Yellow? (5 Common Causes)

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Ferns are some of the most popular houseplants around, and you likely really enjoy having them in your home. Whether you have multiple ferns or just one, it’s going to be a good plant to keep in your home to add some aesthetic appeal to the place.

You’re going to want to do your best to care for your fern so that it will look great for as long as possible. If you’re new to caring for ferns, then you might be still learning the ropes about what you’re supposed to be doing.

This is why it’s going to be so concerning if you notice that your fern is turning yellow or brown. What could be happening to the fern to cause it to change colors this way?

Keep reading to learn a bit about why ferns might turn brown or yellow. This should give you a good idea of what’s going on so that you can make good decisions to try to save your plant and get it back to normal.

1 – Watering Problems

Spray Bottle Next to Potted Fern

The first thing that you should know is that watering problems will be to blame for ferns turning brown or yellow most often. Typically, when you notice that your fern is turning yellow or brown, it’s going to be because you aren’t watering it enough or you’re watering it way too much.

If you’re caring for your fern indoors, then you’re going to want to try to water it consistently using the recommended methods. Generally, ferns are going to enjoy evenly moist soil and should be watered regularly.

It can be stressful for the plant to have the soil become completely dry, and this means that you should water before the soil becomes bone dry. Some types of ferns are a bit tougher to water than normal because of how bushy they are, but you want to try to get down to the center of the plant to give it a good watering.

The best thing to do is to use a watering can that has a long spout. This should allow you to get the water right where you need it to go even if your fern is quite bushy and hard to part.

If you’re worried that you have been watering the fern too much, then you should try to scale things back. See if you can water the fern a bit less and get better results.

You should avoid watering the fern until the soil is sopping wet. The soil is just supposed to be evenly moist, and this doesn’t mean that it needs to become a swamp.

People often make mistakes with ferns because of how finicky they can be about water. It’s easy to water them too much because of how you’re not supposed to let them dry out completely.

Just be mindful of what you’re doing and try not to get overzealous when watering these plants. If you continue to water the ferns incorrectly, then they could wind up dying on you.

2 – Humidity Issues

Fern Near Sink

Humidity issues can cause ferns to turn brown and become dry over time. Ferns are plants that really need high humidity levels to thrive and low humidity levels won’t allow them to keep the green, healthy fronds that you want to see.

If you’re keeping ferns in your home, then it’s possible that your house might not be humid enough for the plants. Some people live in dry areas of the world, but this doesn’t mean that you have to give up on caring for ferns.

There are artificial ways that you can raise the humidity levels in your home. This should help you to keep your ferns from turning brown and drying out so long as you take action soon.

The most practical thing to do to fix humidity issues is to buy a small humidifier. You can simply place a humidifier in the same room as your ferns to ensure that they’re getting the humidity that they need.

If you don’t have a humidifier, then you could try to mist your ferns semi-regularly. This can help things out, but it might not be enough to keep the fern healthy and green, depending on how bad the humidity levels are in your home.

Some people have had good results when placing ferns in areas of their homes that have higher humidity levels. For instance, your bathroom is likely going to be more humid due to how often you’re running the water and taking showers.

Thankfully, humidifiers aren’t all that expensive, and you’re going to be able to get one easily if you want to. You could buy a small humidifier for just one room, but you could also try to find a larger humidifier that will help your entire home if you’re so inclined.

3 – Sunlight Issues

Hanging Ferns in Natural Light

Sunlight issues can cause ferns to change color as well; most commonly, you’ll find that too much direct sunlight will turn ferns brown. When ferns get scorched by hot direct sunlight, the fronds are going to start to look crispy and brown.

It’s important to note that most ferns that you will find will not do well with bright sunlight. There are some exceptions to that rule such as the Boston fern, though.

The best thing to do is to look up specific information for the type of fern that you’re caring for. This will give you a better idea of the best sunlight situations for the fern.

Generally, you should be able to get good results by giving ferns indirect sunlight. When a fern receives far too little light, you might notice some yellowing issues and the plant might die eventually.

So long as you’re following good sunlight recommendations for your fern, it’ll be possible to turn things around. Even if you didn’t have the fern in a good spot before it’s going to be possible to reposition it so long as the plant isn’t too far gone.

4 – Too Much Fertilizer

Adding Liquid Fertilizer to Watering Can

Using fertilizer on a fern is fine and it can help it to grow strong and stay healthy when you use it right. However, it’s possible to take things too far and use more fertilizer than is necessary.

When you use an abundance of fertilizer on a fern, it’s going to be possible to cause the plant to burn. This could make the fronds turn brown and dry out if you went overboard, and you’re going to want to avoid this.

For this reason, it’s going to be necessary to be cautious when using fertilizer on ferns. Many types of houseplant fertilizers come with instructions that wind up being too much or too powerful for ferns.

You can alter things and dilute the fertilizer so that it is at half-strength. This should allow you to see some benefits from using the fertilizer without having to worry about the consequences of using too much.

Of course, you’ll still need to be careful not to fertilize your fern too often. Many fern enthusiasts say that they enjoy good results by fertilizing their ferns once per month from April through September.

5 – Transplant Shock

Transplanting a Fern

Have you recently transplanted a fern or planted it in a new pot? Sometimes ferns can go through what is known as transplant shock, and this can lead to the tips of the fronds turning brown.

Brown tips might be very concerning, and it’s definitely something that you should pay attention to. Moving ferns during certain times of the year will make it more likely that they will experience transplant shock.

For instance, if you’re keeping ferns outside, transplanting them too late in the year will lead to more transplant shock than usual. Transplanting ferns in the early spring will be a lot safer, and the plant might not even experience transplant shock.

Always be careful when transplanting or repotting ferns. Try to lift them carefully and do your best to put them in spots where they can thrive.

Final Thoughts

There are a number of different things that can cause ferns to turn brown or yellow. Thankfully, there are good ways that you can recognize what’s going on so that you can try to fix things.

Often, ferns are going to turn brown or yellow due to watering issues. This is the most likely situation since ferns can be finicky about water, but it’s still important to consider other factors.

You now know that ferns can turn brown due to not having enough room to grow in a pot. They can even get brown tips due to transplant shock.

So many things can impact ferns and cause them to have a tough time. You even need to be particular about the humidity levels in your home when caring for ferns indoors.

With so many things that can go wrong, you might think that ferns are a bit of a bother. It really isn’t that tough when you know what you’re doing, though, and ferns are still great plants to keep in your home.

Take all of this advice into account so that you can have a good experience caring for ferns. Doing so will allow you to enjoy your ferns for a long time, and they’ll be able to look as lush and green as possible.

Before you go: Now is the perfect time to start tracking your gardening progress, and I created a garden journal to do exactly that. Click the image below to see it in action and to get your own copy.

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