The Q&A Archives: I am having trouble with my Lady ferns turning brown

Question: What could be wrong with my Lady Ferns. they come up very nice and green then turn brown starting at the tips then the brown spreads all the way down. They are in partial shade and in peat moss. Other ferns in my garden are OK and so is hosta's and annuals that I plant. Help!!!

Answer: Based on your description I am not certain what is happening to your lady ferns. This fern is reputed ot be somewhat more -- meaning a little more -- tolerant of sun and drier soil than other ferns so it should be easier to grow than most. Perhaps there is something about its location in your garden that causes the soil to be a bit drier than elsewhere. Is there something such as a tree root beneath them stealing their moisture, or a drainage pattern that causes the spot to drain faster than other areas, so the soil is dry? Or, perhaps the sun and shade pattern is not quite shady enough. Ferns will tolerate some direct morning-only sun or dappled light all day. But the more sun they receive, the moister the soil needs to be. In too much sun, or in hot afternoon sun, or in overall too much sun for the amount of soil moisture, the tips will brown just as you described. You might keep an eye on the lighting and also on the soil moisture and see if you can locate the cause of the problem. You may find that by midsummer when the sun is higher in the sky there is less shade than you thought where they are planted. I hope this helps you trouble shoot.

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