Is your Kangaroo Paw Fern dying?
This usually happens due to under or overwatering, but it can also be related to sunlight (either too much or too little), pests, and diseases.
In this guide, we’ll explore the basics of Kangaroo Paw Fern care, their common issues, and how to know when they are dying. We’ll also go through the steps you can take to save your Kangaroo Paw Fern if it is dying.
Let’s get into it.
- Kangaroo Paw Fern Basics
- How To Use This Guide
- Common Kangaroo Paw Fern Problems
- Understanding Kangaroo Paw Fern Diseases & Pests
- Kangaroo Paw Fern Care For Specific Problems
- Frequently Asked Questions
- In Summary
Kangaroo Paw Fern Basics
Kangaroo Paw Fern, known scientifically as Microsorum diversifolium, is a popular houseplant native to Australia and New Zealand. Belonging to the Polypodiaceae family, its unique fronds and easy-care nature have made this fern popular among many plant enthusiasts.
In the wild, they can reach a height of 1 foot and a width between 3 and 4 feet, making them perfect for indoor growth.
The Kangaroo Paw Fern thrives in a well-draining potting mix containing some organic matter, such as compost, perlite, or pine bark. A good temperature range for your fern is between 60° and 75°F, and it’s important to keep it away from drafty areas like heating and air conditioning vents or drafty windows.
When watering, keep the soil evenly moist without letting it get soggy. Overwatered soil is a common reason for Kangaroo Ferns drying, as it can suffocate the roots and lead to root rot.
Feeding your plant with a complete houseplant fertilizer during the spring and summer growing seasons will help promote healthy growth. Cutting back on watering and withholding fertilizer during the fall and winter can help your fern adapt to its natural dormancy period.
Now that the basics are out of the way let’s explore the common issues that Kangaroo Paw Ferns face and what you need to do in each case.
How To Use This Guide
If you think your Kangaroo Ferns is dying, identify its problems from the list below (yellowing leaves, wilting, etc).
From there, each section will outline the most common causes for this issue, which will be addressed later in the article.
For example, if your Kangaroo Paw Ferns leaves are turning brown, you can find the most common reasons below. From there, if you think overwatering is the issue, learn how to water your plant properly later in the article.
Common Kangaroo Paw Fern Problems
Kangaroo Paw Ferns are easy to grow but are still susceptible to a few problems, some of which can lead to the plant dying.
Here are three common problems and how to fix them.
1. Yellow/Brown Leaves
If you notice multiple yellow or brown leaves on your Kangaroo Paw Fern, it clearly shows that something is upsetting your plant.
Yellow or brown leaves can be due to a variety of things:
- Sun Scorch
- Fertilizer Burn
It’s normal for your Kangaroo Paw Fern to lose some leaves every so often due to age, but if multiple leaves change color quickly, your fern could be dying.
2. Wilting Leaves
Wilting leaves on your Kangaroo Paw Fern indicate something is wrong with your plant – here are the most common reasons for it:
- Nutrient deficiency
- Lack of sunlight
Wilting leaves is usually not a sign that your plant is dying, but if the cause isn’t identified and fixed, it can lead to more serious issues.
3. Slow Growth
Slow growth in Kangaroo Paw Ferns is often an early indicator of problems that can become more serious if not dealt with.
Here are the most common culprits for the slow growth of Kangaroo Ferns:
- Lack of nutrients
- Lack of sunlight
- Low temperature
Addressing these common issues can keep your Kangaroo Paw Fern healthy and thriving. Hopefully, this section and the next will give you an idea of exactly what is wrong with your plant.
Understanding Kangaroo Paw Fern Diseases & Pests
Diseases and pests are serious problems for Kangaroo Paw Ferns, so we’ve included them in their own section.
These should be much easier to identify, aside from root rot which requires a bit more investigation.
Root rot can be a common problem for Kangaroo Paw Ferns, especially if grown in poor drainage conditions.
Root rot occurs for two main reasons:
- Roots suffocate due to a lack of oxygen and start to rot as they die.
- Root rot can also occur due to fungi in the soil that are favored in overwatered conditions.
Overwatering and poor drainage are the two main causes of overwatered soil, leading to root rot, so getting these right is important to prevent root rot.
Pest infestations can occur in Kangaroo Paw Ferns, potentially causing damage to the plant.
Some common pests that may infest your fern include aphids, mealybugs, and spider mites. To prevent such infestations, monitor your plant regularly for signs of pests, such as tiny insects, webbing, or sticky leaf residue.
Kangaroo Paw Fern Care For Specific Problems
Hopefully, by this point, you’ve got an idea of what problem your Kangaroo Paw Fern is dealing with.
This section will cover every aspect of care so you can quickly get your Kangaroo Fern back to full health.
To maintain your Kangaroo Paw Fern’s health, providing it with the right nutrients is important.
Fertilizing with a complete fertilizer once per month during the growing season is a great starting point, as well as adding compost to your soil mix to boost its nutrient profile.
During fall and winter, avoid fertilizing.
Temperature and Humidity
Kangaroo Paw Ferns thrive in a moderate climate with a temperature range between 60°F and 75°F.
They also prefer high humidity levels, making them perfect for a bathroom or kitchen where humidity is typically higher. You can also use a pebble tray to increase humidity or a humidifier.
Bright, indirect sunlight is ideal for Kangaroo Paw Ferns.
They can tolerate more shaded positions, but the growth rate will be slower in these locations.
It’s important to find a balance, though, as too much direct sunlight can scorch and dry the leaves.
Proper watering is essential to avoid overwatering and promote healthy growth.
The goal is to keep the soil moist but not saturated with water, so only water when the top one to two inches of soil becomes dry.
Soil and Potting Mix
A well-draining soil mix is crucial for your Kangaroo Paw Fern. Adding perlite or bark will improve the aeration, while peat moss or coco coir will help retain moisture.
This combination ensures a healthy root system and prevents common problems like root rot.
Repotting and Propagation
When your Kangaroo Paw Fern outgrows its current pot, repot it into a slightly larger container with fresh potting soil.
The best time to repot and propagate kangaroo paw ferns is during their growth season, typically in the spring and summer.
Grooming and Pruning
Regular grooming and pruning help your fern maintain a healthy appearance. Remove dead or yellowing fronds by trimming them off at the base.
This process encourages new growth and keeps your fern looking fresh and vibrant.
Pests like mealybugs, spider mites, and scale insects can sometimes infest Kangaroo paw ferns. Regularly inspect your fern for signs of infestation and treat any issues promptly.
You can use insecticidal soap or neem oil to combat these common pests, ensuring your fern remains healthy and pest-free.
Treating Root Rot
If the soil has been overwatered for a long time, there’s a good chance that root rot has started to affect the roots.
Gently remove your Kangaroo Paw Fern from the soil and brush away any soil around the roots to inspect them. If any roots have changed color, gone mushy, and started to smell, they must be pruned.
The remaining roots can then be treated with fungicide, and the plant repotted in a fresh soil mix. Depending on the severity of the rot, it may take anywhere from a few days to weeks for your Kangaroo Paw Fern to show signs of new growth.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some other frequently asked questions we receive about Kangaroo Paw Ferns regularly.
Is Kangaroo Paw Fern Safe For Cats?
Yes, the Kangaroo Paw Fern (Microsorum diversifolium) is generally considered non-toxic and safe for cats.
However, it’s always a good idea to keep an eye on your pets around houseplants to ensure they don’t cause any damage to the plant or accidentally ingest any parts of it.
Why Does My Kangaroo Paw Fern Have Aerial Roots?
These roots help the fern to absorb moisture and nutrients from the surrounding air. It’s important to keep the humidity level in your home high enough to support the health of your fern.
If you notice the aerial roots growing excessively long or the plant is struggling, consider increasing humidity by placing a tray of water near the plant or using a humidifier.
Why Does My Kangaroo Paw Fern Smell?
If you notice an unpleasant smell coming from your Kangaroo Paw Fern, the plant may be suffering from root rot due to overwatering or poor drainage.
The only way to check this is to remove it from the soil and gently brush away any soil around the roots to inspect them.
If any roots are rotten, you’ll have to deal with them as outlined previously.
In most cases, your Kangaroo Paw Fern won’t be dying but rather just showing signs of struggling.
As long as you can identify the cause of the issue quickly and fix it, your fern should live for a long time and thrive. Problems due to overwatering or those relating to pests and disease are much more serious, so don’t wait around.
Dying plants is one of the most common queries that we get, so feel free to check out some of our other articles on the topic below: