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House Plants/House fern dying


My house fern is close to 100 yrs. old from my great grandmother.  It is on a stand near an east window, and is mostly in filtered light.  Over the summer, it has many brown fronds, losing leaves.  The "breathers" are now getting brown and dying. I watered it 7 to 9 days in the summer ---or when the soil felt dry.  My mother told me never to touch the tips of the fronds because that would cause the frond to die, so I am careful.  What can I do to save it?

Hi Shirley

Ferns are very temperamental plants and they do suffer from ailments that do not seem to be present to peoples eyes.

It may be suffering from dry air or the leaves that are dying off are old leaves.

It may be pot-bound, but do not re-pot it until spring when it is in active growth. When you do this, with your plant being so old, try not to disturb the roots more than necessary and use the same kind of compost that it is already growing in.

Keep it watered and keep the air humid around its fronds. Keep it shaded and do not expose it to the sun as ferns are shade loving plants. You also need to try feeding it and you can also foliar feed to keep it healthy.

With a fern as old as yours, this may be 'touch-and-go' as old plants can suffer from a lot of stress and do not settle down too well.

But you can try it and I hope I have helped you.


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Jonathan Alderson


I cannot answer questions about difficult and rare houseplants but I can with all the rest of the popular or even uncommon types.


I have grown houseplants for a lot of years and as always, I started off with a cactus and a Chlorophytum. I know all about the growing conditions, watering, feeding, humidity and propagation. I also know about the winter care and the pruning of flowering houseplants and the lighting for the foliage plants. I can also tell people the difference between pot plants and permanent plants and how to keep the pot plants for another season if that is possible for that particular plant.

Trade Base Community Allotment Association.

I have an NVQ Level 1 in horticulture.

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