Crocodile ferns are some of the newest plants to become popular amongst house plant enthusiasts and fern lovers, for good reasons.
The crocodile fern, also known as a Crocodylus fern, is an unusually textured fern from Australia. The name of this fern comes from the scale-like appearance of its leaves that resembles the patterning of a crocodile, which makes it a very decorative plant to make a statement in any indoor home garden.
But how do you care for these strange plants? Keep reading to learn more about crocodile fern care and learn if this intriguing plant would make a great addition to your indoor plant collection.
Crocodile Ferns: The Basics
Crocodile ferns are tropical plants that, under the right conditions, can grow to be up to 5 feet tall. However, a crocodile fern that you grow indoors is more likely to grow anywhere between 2 and 5 feet tall. This plant is also quite wide, so expect its width to match its height.
Crocodile ferns have only gained popularity recently, so they may be more difficult to find than other fern species. If you can’t find it at your local garden store, you may still be able to order a crocodile fern online.
The ideal temperature for a crocodile fern is between 65-73 degrees, though it can tolerate slightly cooler temperatures.
Crocodile Fern Care
Crocodile ferns can be sensitive to certain environmental factors and require a bit more attention than your average houseplant. However, taking care of these plants isn’t too complicated if you follow certain steps.
Here are some tips for crocodile fern care so that your plant may thrive in its environment.
Like most ferns, the crocodile fern does not care for direct sunlight. In its natural habitat, the crocodile fern grows under a canopy. It’s used to not getting a lot of natural light, and if it is in a spot with bright light, its foliage is protected by other nearby plants.
To replicate its natural environment, place your crocodile fern near a bright window, but watch out not to put it under direct sunlight. Direct sunlight might scorn its beautiful leaves. In fact, crocodile ferns can do well in low light conditions, so it might be worth moving your plant to find out its ideal light condition.
Like most ferns, crocodile ferns love water.
Be sure to overwater your crocodile fern. The soil should be moist but not soaked, or else your plant’s roots will sit in water, which is an ideal condition for root rot to occur. To prevent this from happening, make sure you put your crocodile fern in a well-draining pot with well-draining soil to allow it to drain properly.
As a rule of thumb, feel the top two inches of soil to determine whether or not it’s time to water your crocodile fern. When the top of the soil starts to dry out, your plant needs water.
Furthermore, when watering your crocodile fern, do not drip water overhead. Pour the water around the plant. If you water directly onto the plant, water can sit in the center of the plant, leading to root rot.
Crocodile ferns come from a tropical environment; therefore, they need a good amount of humidity to thrive. There are many ways to achieve the ideal humid conditions that this plant needs:
- Lightly misting the leaves of your fern is a good idea as this imitates the conditions of their native habitat. Always mist with room temperature water. If you mist your fern’s leaves with cold water, you will notice spots and discoloration begin to occur on their leaves.
- Place your crocodile fern pot on a pebble tray filled with water to keep the moisture in the soil.
- Invest in a humidifier. Use a cool-mist humidifier to increase the humidity in the room to between 30 and 50 percent.
Look out for signs that your crocodile fern is not getting enough humidity, such as brown tips, which can also signal underwatering. If you notice that your crocodile fern’s tips look like this, you’ll want to check the humidity as well as the moisture in the soil.
The best soil for crocodile fern care is well-draining soil that holds onto a bit of moisture when you water your plant but drains well enough so the roots don’t sit in water, so you don’t have to worry about root rot. Your well-draining soil should have a blend of perlite and pine bark.
If you can’t find a pre-mixed blend of soil, you can create your well-draining soil by adding perlite and peat moss to the soil you already have to loosen it up so water drains quickly, preventing your fern’s roots from sitting in good soil.
When fertilizing your crocodile fern, be careful not to use a strong fertilizer, as it can damage the plant and cause burn-looking marks on the leaves. If you suspect that your fertilizer is too strong, dilute it a little more than you would for other plants, and be sure not to over-fertilize. If you fertilize your crocodile fern right, then you should see optimal growth.
Propagating your crocodile fern is not necessary, but it is possible. If you want to propagate your crocodile fern, you’ll want to make sure that you do it in a way that is safe for your plant and that will yield the best results.
The easiest way to propagate your crocodile fern is by root division. This method gives the best results for both your original plant and your new ones. Not every root will take, so it’s best to wait until you can propagate several of your crocodile fern’s roots to ensure the best success.
Separate the roots carefully, as significant root damage can kill your original plant and not give your new plants the best chance at survival.
Once you separate the roots, place the new plant in soil, give it a thorough watering, and set it up in an area with indirect sunlight.
Crocodile ferns are a beautiful plant that, with proper care, will thrive in an indoor environment and become your new favorite plant. For proper crocodile fern care, you want to make sure that you are giving your plant plenty of water, using well-draining soil, keeping it away from indirect sunlight, and maintaining the proper humidity levels.
Pay special attention to the needs of your crocodile fern, and your plant will love you for it.