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 Ferns Questions

Crows foot plant for Christmas wreaths from Millsboro DE
November 04, 2012 - I am looking for a plant called crows foot to make wreaths for Christmas. Where do I find this plant.
view the full question and answer

Calcium from Eggshells for Ferns?
December 15, 2014 - I was reading recently about beneficial additions to the soil/plant. The first was about soaking used egg shells overnight and then pouring the water onto ferns. They said that the calcium in eggshell...
view the full question and answer

Scientific name for non-native staghorn fern
March 21, 2008 - What is the scientific name for the staghorn fern?
view the full question and answer

Are philodendrons, variegated ginger, sword ferns and palms toxic to horses?
February 24, 2009 - Are philodendrons, variegated ginger, sword ferns and palms toxic to horses?
view the full question and answer

Winter hardy fern for northeast Texas
May 20, 2009 - I am looking for a winter hardy fern to grown around my deck. The area would get some morning sun but afternoon shade. What do you suggest?
view the full question and answer

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