Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Friday - August 28, 2015

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Ferns
Title: Dieback of river fern and maidenhair fern in the Texas summer
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

My river fern and maiden hair fern are dying back. I know it is hot, but they are in shade and watered regularly. The river fern is dying back from the tips. Any fungus or bugs I should be looking for?

ANSWER:

Ferns are rarely affected by insects or fungi.  Scale insects can be a problem.  Snails and slugs sometimes devour younger fronds.  But I think your problem may be a combination of low humidity and high temperature.  That is suggested by dying back of the frond tips.  Make sure that the soil around the ferns remains moist (but not soaking wet) between waterings.  If necessary, add more compost to the soil, especially if the ferns are in a spot where dry breezes can drop the humidity during the hottest part of the day.  Check to see if the frond tips of Thelypteris kunthii (Wood fern) that are facing out of the foliage mass, and are therefore more susceptible to drying, are the ones turning brown. 

It is not unusual to see some dieback of Adiantum capillus-veneris (Southern maidenhair fern) during the summer.  Pruning the dying fronds off will encourage new growth. 

Some tips on growing ferns are found in this reference.

 

More Diseases and Disorders Questions

My weeping willow is not doing well - Taneytown, MD
June 15, 2009 - I have a weeping willow tree. It is in a very wet place, soil gets plenty of water, but the bark on the tree is raising up and blistering up. The leaves are very sparse on it this year. I can't se...
view the full question and answer

Why are my Rock Roses dying?
September 22, 2014 - I planted several rock roses last fall. This spring they have grown wonderfully, but all of a sudden, one shriveled and died. I took it out and replaced it. Now, another is starting to shrivel. It ...
view the full question and answer

Failure to bloom of non-native Althea in Oklahoma
August 17, 2008 - I have 2 Althea bushes that will not bloom. For the past 2 years, they become covered in buds, which eventually yellow, but never open. The buds are fully developed. This year the branches have starte...
view the full question and answer

Mountain laurel (Sophora secundiflora) refuses to bloom
March 07, 2008 - We have a Texas Mountain Laurel that gets full sunlight, but does not bloom. It is 4-5 ft tall & 3-4 ft wide & healthy. Is there anything we can do to make it bloom next year?
view the full question and answer

Leucophyllum Resistant to Verticillium Wilt
March 25, 2015 - I need to know which large shrubs are resistant to verticillium wilt? I believe that a few of our Elaeagnus have succumbed to this disease, but being over 15 years old, I am not positive. I am thinki...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.