Houseplants forum: Blue Star Fern (Phlebodium aureum) dropping leaves

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Mahuizoh
Aug 27, 2017 11:29 AM CST
Hi,
I recently acquired a Blue Star Fern, but it keeps losing its leaves and bluish color. Some of the leaves even dry out at the tips. I've read about its needs so I positioned it in a lower light environment than my other plants. I mist it 2-3 times a day with bottled water and I even placed it on a tray of water over some rocks. At this stage it lost half of the leaves that it had when I bought it (a week ago). It was losing leaves even as I bought it, but it looks like its even worse now. I've read that the Blue Star Fern is an epiphyte, so right after I bought it, I changed its original potting soil (which was very wet and water absorbent) to a loose orchid mix which I maintain damp (watering it a little every 3 days). I really like this fern so I would like to save it from dying, but at this stage I have no idea what to do more. Is it possible that when repotting it and removing some of that wet soil on its roots I bothered it too much and now its suffering ? Would the air current of the continuously running AC bother it (It's 35-40 degrees Celsius here in summer) ? Any idea what to do more to try saving it ?
Thanks.
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Name: Will Creed
NYC
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WillC
Aug 27, 2017 1:48 PM CST
Your speculation that your Fern is reacting to its roots being disturbed when it was repotted is probably accurate. Epiphytic roots have a way to adapt to the way they are potted. The potting mix that yours was grown in was probably the best one for it. A course Orchid mix appropriate for Phalaenopsis Orchid would be too porous for this Fern. If the original root ball and potting mix are still mostly intact, then it will probably recover okay. Otherwise, it will depend on your ability to adjust your watering accordingly. Like most Ferns, yours does not tolerate dryness very well.

The best light for it is very close to a north windowsill or a few feet from an east window.

As long as the AC is not blowing directly on the foliage, it should not be a problem. The pebble tray will help keep the air moist around it; misting is of little help in that regard.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care

Mahuizoh
Aug 27, 2017 2:46 PM CST
Thanks for the tips. I've change the original soil because of what I've read and because it was actually suggested there that "loose orchid mix" would work better. This was probably a mistake, but I don't want to bother it further right now. The orchid mix that I used is not extremely woody or porous as its the part at the bottom of the orchid mix bag. When I repotted the plant I've kept part of the root ball with the original potting mix and planted it in the orchid mix. I'll give it my best to save it, hopefully it will recover.

Ketzler
Oct 15, 2017 9:46 AM CST
Hi! I was just wondering how your fern is doing? I also bought a blue star fern. I’ve read the same about and orchid mix being best. I was actually planning on reporting today, but now I feel unsure.
Name: Will Creed
NYC
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WillC
Oct 15, 2017 10:32 AM CST
Ketzler - It is very unlikely that you can improve on the potting mix your Fern is already in. That is the mix that the plant is already adapted to. I suggest that you not repot at all unless you need to water it every day or so to keep the soil moist. If so, then move it into a pot one size larger using a potting mix similar to what it is now in.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care

Meganplantpot
Apr 12, 2018 4:15 PM CST
Hi Guys! Sorry if this is the wrong way to go about asking a question about the blue star fern!

I am new to this website (intact to owning and keeping plants alive in general)

I have a blue star fern in my bathroom, witch does not provide too much light but some. I mist regularly and I check daily if the soil is moist in the pot (it always is) I only ever water if i feel it is dry or If I haven't done it in a while and feel its about time.

However, lately its started drooping and going a bit brown almost like its dying? I don't really know why as I feel like I am doing all the things I should be.

The only things I can think of that could be doing it are:

- it is across from a radiator witch keeps the bathroom quite hot when on (I live in Scotland and its really cold here at the moment) but I figured it would not matter since I am regularly misting?
-Ive over water it?
- its TOO dark?
-It maybe needs repotted?

If anyone can give me any advice I would appreciate it


thankyou
Megan

Smiling

Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Apr 12, 2018 5:33 PM CST
Megan - If you posted a photo of your Fern, it would be easier to make a definitive diagnosis.

Although Ferns want protection from direct rays of the sun, they are not really low light plants. I suspect that the light in your Scottish bathroom may be too little for it. If possible, move it to a location right in front of a north or east facing window.

It should be watered as soon as the surface of the soil feels nearly but not quite dry. Misting will not help, although it does no harm. The radiator is not a problem as long as the soil and roots are kept properly moist.

Struggling plants should never be repotted.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: Tommy
Hudson Valley of N.Y.
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tommyr
Apr 13, 2018 4:53 PM CST
There is no need to mist as it does nothing for the plant to help with humidity. It dries too fast for it to help. My Blue Star is in an east shaded window. I water then let it get nearly dry before watering again.
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Jeannelones
Jun 1, 2018 8:52 AM CST
hello. I am taking great care of this fern. Its not a new plant Ive had it for nearly a year. I hope the pictures are enough description. please notice the white dots on the leaves and how the root is even white. The leaves brown around the tips and never look healthy I usually clip them once they look too bad. Is this a parasite or fungus? How can I get the new leaves to stay healthy?

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Hamwild
Jun 1, 2018 10:21 AM CST
I believe the white spots are normal (at least my Blue Star Fern had them too). I'm not sure why it's browning, but it looks like the new fronds are dying too? Do you keep it moist or let it dry out some? What kind of lighting is it getting?
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Jeannelones
Jun 1, 2018 10:47 AM CST
I do think I let it get a bit too dry this last month or the month before. I am doing better about good watering. it goes from the livingroom to our bathroom both places have all day indirect lighting. I have heard of a parasite that looks like dust on the leaves and I was hoping it was an easy answer like that. Are your feet white like this also?
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Region: Georgia Enjoys or suffers hot summers Dog Lover Houseplants Cactus and Succulents Annuals
Foliage Fan Birds Critters Allowed Hummingbirder Butterflies Bee Lover
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Hamwild
Jun 1, 2018 10:52 AM CST
I understand. I have found that these like to dry a little, but not like bone dry. Do you mean that you alternate its location from one to the other? I believe the bathroom would be the best place for it. That is where I kept mine. Plants seem to sulk when moved, it's like once they've found a place they like, they don't like to be moved somewhere else (granted, that could have more to do with a change in environmental conditons like lighting and humidity).

I don't have mine anymore. I made the dumb decision to move it from our bathroom to our livingroom and apparently the lack of humidity didn't do it too well. But, when you say white feet (I'm having a hard time seeing it in the pictures), do you mean the tips of the feet or the entire foot? Because if it's the tips, they tend to do that when they start growing. My rabbit's foot fern looks the same way (I believe it's the hair that is white).
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Jun 1, 2018 11:05 AM CST
I cannot see the clusters of white spots tell enough to be able to ID them. The dustlike "parasites" that you referred to are spider mites, but that is not what you have.

Ferns don't tolerate dry soil very well at all. Try to avoid watering lapses. Cut off the discolored fronds as they will not re-green. Try to wipe the white spots off with a soft cloth.

Your Fern does not want direct sun falling on its leaves, but it otherwise wants very bright indirect light not far from a window.

Watch for healthy new growth as an indication that you are on the right path.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Raleigh, Nc
Houseplants
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Jeannelones
Jun 1, 2018 9:18 PM CST
I do think I let it get a bit too dry this last month or the month before. I am doing better about good watering. it goes from the livingroom to our bathroom both places have all day indirect lighting. I have heard of a parasite that looks like dust on the leaves and I was hoping it was an easy answer like that. Are your feet white like this also?
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Jun 2, 2018 7:51 AM CST
The "dust-like" spider mites are not a good thing and be happy your Fern does not have them. Don't worry about the discoloration you see on the rhizomes (feet).
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care

Dashan
Aug 14, 2018 10:45 AM CST
I bought a Blue Star Fern about 6 months ago and have it hanging above my kitchen sink that has a north window. It seems to be doing ok. It's not dying, but it doesn't seem to be thriving neither. Is there a specific fertilizer or food to give it? It's still in the same planter that it came in and I am going to repot it (came in ugly, cheapo pot) without disturbing any of it's original soil. Also, the window is drafty and we have harsh cold north winds in the winter. Should I move it to another room?
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skylark
Aug 14, 2018 12:23 PM CST
it likes acidic soil - peat in the soil is good. You can use Miracid fertilizer (acidic fertilizer formulated for acid loving plants).
after reading the above posts i want to add that i have grown this type of fern (and others) for like 15 years running successfully (for most time ;).
it really does not like root disturbance. also it likes a very shallow planting - so use short wide pots and fill them half way with styrofoam pellets to get them even shallower. it's normal for rhizomes to creep over the rim of the pot and hang around it. don't try to cover them with soil - they should always be on the surface.
it will go dormant in winter and can drop all or most of the fronds if it's too cold for it and not enough light. at that time you should keep it much drier for sev months. however when the conditions are bright and warm it should persist thru winter.
i would recommend part sun - dappled light or thru sheers at all times. NE or NW late or early sun.
it definitely likes that and will grow faster.
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Aug 14, 2018 1:46 PM CST
Ferns are slow growers and cannot be forced into growing faster by repotting of using fertilizer. It does best in lots of bright, but indirect light such as from a north or east facing window. Sheers may block out too much light.

I suggest that you leave it in its plastic pot and double pot that into a more attractive planter and then cover the surface with Spanish moss. The less you disturb the roots, the better.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care

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