Button Fern House Plant

Botanical Name: Pellaea rotundifolia

Button fern is a dependable plant that grows well indoors with little care.

Arching fronds densely covered with small, round leaflets makes this New Zealand native an eye-catching accent for any brightly lit room. Place this fern on a plant stand among other tropical plants or put it in a hanging basket and allow the trail of leathery, button-shaped leaflets to cascade over the side.

You may find P. rotundifolia in garden shops in spring and summer, although it's not as easy to find as other types of ferns. If you come across this fern, buy it. With good care (it's easy) you'll enjoy it a long time.

Caring for button fern is easy. Unlike most ferns, Pellaea tolerates fairly dry conditions. One thing this fern won't tolerate is soggy soil.

Repot in spring, when the roots have filled the pot. Move the fern to a pot that's only slightly larger. Use a pot with a drainage hole to prevent soggy soil. This is a good time to divide the fern, if you want.

Shed some light. Keep this evergreen in bright, indirect light and constant room temperature. It won't go dormant. With consistent care, it will grow year-round.

Brown leaf tips are caused by high temperatures (above 75°F/24°C) or dry air. Trim off dry leaflets and raise the humidity around your plant.

Button Fern Care Tips

button fern, button ferns, caring for button fern

Origin: New Zealand 

Height: Up to 1 ft (30 cm) 

Light: Bright light, but no direct sun

Water: Water thoroughly, then allow the top 1 in (2.5 cm) of soil to dry out slightly before watering again. Fronds that are yellow and wilted are a sign of overwatering. Cut back on water and trim off damaged fronds. Check the plant's roots to see if they have rotted -- if they're mostly black, get rid of it. It's too far gone.

Humidity: Moderate to high humidity. Raise the humidity around your fern with a room humidifier or set the plant on a humidity tray.

Temperature: Normal room temperatures 60-75°F/16-24°C

Soil: Peat moss based potting mix with added perlite or sand to help drainage.

Fertilizer: Feed monthly year-round with a 20-20-10 liquid fertilizer diluted by half.

Propagation: Division. In spring, divide the plant into 2 or 3 sections with a sharp knife and pot them up. Be sure to get roots with stems attached. Fern spores can be propagated, but germination takes a few months and is not always reliable.


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