Learn How To Grow Kangaroo Paw Fern

Microsorum Diversifolium (my-kroh-SOR-um, dy-ver-sih-FOH-lee-um) is an evergreen epiphytic fern species from the family Polypodiaceae.

This plant is commonly called kangaroo paw fern or kangaroo foot fern.

kangaroo paw fern
Kangaroo paw fern growing as a ground cover | Arayabandit-DepositPhotos

Microsorum is a variant of microsorium, which means small sori – the small spores located on the undersides of fern fronds. 

Diversifolium means diverse or different shaped leaves, referring to the dissimilar shapes and sizes of its leaves.

The plant is native to Australia, particularly to the Canberra region, and some parts of New Zealand.

Kangaroo Paw Fern Care

Size & Growth

Known for its glossy green leaves, which can grow up to 6” inches and often have different shapes, kangaroo paw fern is an evergreen plant with semi-wiry stems. 

Its leathery fronds are unique and atypical of fern species – they can either be smooth or have indentations on the edges. 

The plant also got its common name due to its long leaves, with reference to the long feet of kangaroo.

Kangaroo fern is also a short plant and only grows up to 6” to 12” inches in height. 

However, it can spread up to 4’ feet in width, upon maturity. 

It is also highly adaptable to a variety of growing conditions but is most suited for indoor environments with high household humidity levels. 

The plant can sometimes display epiphytic properties as well. 

Within its native range, the plant is sometimes seen growing in rock cracks and tree crotches.

Flowering and Fragrance

Since microsorum kangaroo paw is a fern species, it doesn’t produce flowers.

Temperature & Light Conditions

Kangaroo paw ferns grow best in humid conditions under indirect light. 

While it will tolerate partial shade, it doesn’t like direct sunlight. 

The ideal temperature for growing microsorum diversifolium is 60° to 90° degrees Fahrenheit (15° – 32° C).

The plant likes warm weather and isn’t much winter hardy. 

It can only tolerate temperatures down to 60° degrees Fahrenheit (15° C). 

It is only hardy to USDA plant hardiness zones 9 to 11.

Watering and Feeding

The plant requires moisture to grow properly, keep it watered regularly, throughout the year. 

It doesn’t appreciate a water-logged root ball or soggy soil, provide just enough water to maintain soil moisture.

The key to supplying the right amount of water to your kangaroo fern is water it deeply once a week and then water lightly on other days if the top one-inch layer of the soil as dried out.

Applying a 2” to 3” inch thick layer of pine straw mulch at the base of the plant helps retain moisture in the soil.

Feed the plant with slow-release balanced plant food in the spring, when the plant starts producing new growth. 

For best results, use about a teaspoon of a granulated fertilizer (14-14-14) for every 4 sq.ft. of the area. 

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Spread it evenly over the soil surface and then water.

You may need to reapply the fertilizer after 3 months. 

However, be careful with feeding kangaroo paw fern as it can burn from overfertilizing.

Soil & Transplanting

This fern species prefers acidic, well-draining, and consistently and evenly moist potting mix. 

Provided these conditions, it can tolerate a variety of soil types.

Kangaroo fern can outgrow its container every few years and hence, need to be repotted or divided. 

Spring and fall are the best times for transplanting kangaroo paw ferns.

Grooming and Maintenance

The kangaroo paw fern is overall a low-maintenance plant. 

But, it may need some pruning due to its ability to spread to large areas through its creeping rhizomes. 

The growth, however, also depends on the pot size it is planted in.

How to Propagate Kangaroo Paw Fern

Kangaroo paw fern is easily propagated from its vigorously spreading hairy rhizomes in early fall or spring.

To do this, dig up a well-grown plant and carefully divide it in half – use a sharp knife to cut the rhizomes. 

If dividing in pots, plant the divisions in a potting soil mixed with 2” inches of peat moss, leaf mold, or aged compost.

Keep the new plants in a partially shaded location, in low light, and avoid fertilizing them until they develop new roots. 

But, continue to water regularly. 

Return to normal plant care once the young plants develop roots.

Microsorum Diversifolium Pest or Diseases

Kangaroo paw ferns are not prone to many diseases and pests. 

But, it may sometimes get affected by scale insects, aphids and slugs. For slug and snail control apply Diatomaceous Earth. Learn the details on how to use and apply Diatomaceous Earth here.

NOTE: Overwatering can lead to root rot.

Prolonged exposure to very hot weather and dry winds can make the fronds dry and brown. 

Too much sunlight may also lead to the yellowing of fronds.

Kangaroo Paw Fern Uses

This Australian native plant is widely grown for ornamental purposes due to its unique shiny fronds and adaptable nature. 

It is particularly a popular indoor plant and is extensively grown both as a houseplant and in offices. 

It also makes a great display in hanging baskets and on tabletops. 

The plant is also an ideal choice for ground covers.

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