Fern Turning Brown: How Do I Fix My Fern Turning Brown?

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Ferns are a wonderful addition to shady areas of the garden where most other plants won’t grow.

Many types of Ferns make an attractive groundcovers.

Ferns turning brownPin

But as robust as these plants can be, there are times when they can start looking ill.

One of the most common (and alarming) symptoms is a browning of the fronds, but this is thankfully not the end.

How Do I Fix My Fern Turning Brown?

Several factors can lead to your fern turning brown.

Here are the most common reasons and how to fix them.

Low Humidity

Ferns love humidity, and anything under 30% percent can cause the fronds to turn brown.

These plants need between 40% and 70% percent humidity to thrive.

Proximity to air conditioners, vents, heat sources, or in the winter months can all cause lower humidity levels.

This problem can be solved by keeping your ferns in the bathroom or kitchen.

Alternatively, you can provide your plant with a humidifier or pebble tray.

Outdoor plants can be tougher to work with when it comes to humidity, although grouping them with other plants can help.

Root Binding

When your fern’s roots are beginning to poke out of the soil or drainage holes of its container, you can be sure it’s rootbound.

A rootbound plant can no longer efficiently absorb water and nutrients, causing it to dehydrate as if it was underwatered.

This is a simple problem with an equally simple solution.

In the case of potted plants, simply transplant your fern into a new container one size larger.

You may need to move the plant or space things out a little more for outdoor plants.


Not all plants love sunlight, and those adapted to forest or jungle floors can be more sensitive to the direct sun than an Irishman.

Ferns need full shade to thrive, although they can handle short periods of partial shade.

However, full sun can quickly scorch a fern’s delicate fronds, resulting in brown, crispy plants.

Unfortunately, scorching won’t heal over time, but you can still take steps to prevent further scorching.

For indoor plants, just move them to a spot where they’re not in direct sunlight or into a less well-lit room.

Outdoor plants can be moved, but you can also plant something taller beside them to block or filter out the sun’s rays.


Ferns prefer a temperature range of 65° to 75° degrees Fahrenheit during the day and around 10° degrees Fahrenheit lower at night.

However, temperatures above 80° degrees Fahrenheit can singe the fronds in the same way direct sunlight can.

As with other environmental aspects, it’s a lot easier to solve high temperatures with indoor plants than with outdoor ones.

The plant can be moved indoors to a cooler room, such as the bathroom.

Outdoors, shade can help to some degree, but you may need to temporarily move your fern indoors if there’s a heatwave.


Finally, underwatering can lead to brown fronds.

As with most other causes of browning ferns, underwatering will leave the plant dehydrated, with the fern turning brown and crispy.

These plants love a good soak, with it generally being time to water when the ground’s surface feels dry.

Additional Tricks To Protect Your Ferns

One of the best ways to ensure your outdoor fern can keep cool and moist is to cover the ground with mulch or pine needles.

This helps keep the moisture in and keeps the ground a little cooler.

Using organic material can also help emulate the fern’s natural habitat.

If you live in a region known to have particularly hot summers, consider potting your ferns and setting those pots in the ground.

This allows you to move the ferns indoors when it gets too hot.

Just remember that potted ferns will need more frequent watering than ground-based ferns.

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