Want a new house plant that not only has a unique and awesome name, but also looks wonderfully attractive? Blue Star Fern is a great choice that can spruce up any room, plus it is easier to take care of than some other ferns, especially if you live in a dry climate because it thrives in low humidity.
This article covers:
- What Blue Star Fern is and what it looks like
- How to care for it properly including water, humidity, soil, and more
- Common problems and what to do about them
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Table of Contents
What is Blue Star Fern?
The Blue Star Fern plant, scientific name Phlebodium aureum, has dense foliage that offers a bright green color with a bluish tint. It is not difficult to care for when you know how and is generally thought to be one of the easier ferns to keep healthy and colorful.
It looks quite different than other houseplants, which makes it a great conversation piece, original aesthetic, or contrast to your other plant species.
While they love high humidity, they do better in dry climates than most of their brothers and sisters. The thin leaves have a texture and odd shape that some people liken to wide fingers.
Since houseplants can calm the mind and the color blue is good for promoting a healthy relaxed mindset, this house plant may be perfect for people who struggle with stress.
In addition, the plant has brownish tan rhizomes that cover the soil and can creep over the side of a pot. There are other names for the Blue Star Fern that refer to these other characteristics including golden Serpent Fern, Palm Boot Fern, and Bear’s Paw Fern.
You can grow it in a normal pot or in a hanging basket while they grow up to three feet high if they have the space.
If you want to know more about how it stacks up against other easy-going ferns, check out this informational video:
How to Care for Blue Star Fern
The Blue Star Fern may be easier to care for than many other fern types, but you still need to be careful with a couple of factors.
Knowing how much light and water you need to provide, the right soil conditions, and the humidity levels are all important for growing a healthy Blue Star Fern plant. Let’s look at these factors and more!
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Blue Star Ferns are pretty hardy and adaptive when it comes to light, but for healthy growth and distinct coloration, it is best to provide bright indirect light. Too much direct sunlight is terrible for them and can burn the leaves, but they can tolerate a little direct sunlight if necessary.
With the Blue Star Fern, you can watch the foliage to see if it is getting the right amount of light. If the color begins to fade, they have too much light, if they stop growing they don’t have enough.
We recommend placing your plant near a North-facing window because the sun will not be very direct, but can still get to the plant with indirect shine.
You should place it about 3 feet from a window no matter which way the window faces, if possible. Sheer curtains will not let enough light through in many cases, so be careful using them.
The Blue Star Fern does not like the soil to be dry, but they can also develop problems if you water them too much. They like slight moisture constantly without any flooding of the root systems. Soggy soil can damage the rhizome and cause rotting that will be detrimental to the plant’s ability to thrive.
Always wait until the surface of the soil is completely dry to the touch before watering, but try to avoid letting more than the top inch dry out thoroughly.
When you water, make sure to completely saturate it and let any excess moisture drain out. We also recommend using room-temperature filtered or distilled water if you can to prevent salt buildup that can harm the plant.
One of the most important factors for your Blue Star Fern is the type of soil that you use because it has to drain properly to prevent excessive moisture around the rhizome. It needs to be aerated and quickly drained.
We recommend using an orchid mixture because they are both epiphytes. You can also add perlite to regular potting soil. If possible, try to maintain an acidic pH to retain moisture and provide nutrients. Peat can be used, but you should be careful because it can repel water when it gets overly dry.
Like other ferns, the Blue Star Fern loves humidity, but it can thrive in dryer conditions than most others. In general, it adapts to your home’s normal humidity levels, but there are some caveats.
If the humidity level is under 40% then you may have to water more, which can increase the likelihood of overwatering.
While you shouldn’t need to utilize a humidifier or spray the leaves with water, doing so carefully may help your plant look more lively and grow more rapidly. The easiest way to promote the right humidity level without going overboard is to keep other plants nearby.
The Blue Star Fern loves warmth and will not survive in a cold environment. They become dormant with lower temperatures during the Winter and in colder areas, they will shed their leaves until the warmth returns during the Spring.
The plant works in Zones 9 and above for outdoor growth, but you don’t want it to be in prolonged temperatures below 57ºF for either outdoor or indoor growth. Try to maintain a moderate temperature that never exceeds 81 degrees Fahrenheit as well.
For interior growth, this range is probably where you always keep your home anyways.
These plants are light feeders and are fairly susceptible to overfeeding. Because of the sensitivity, you need to dilute any fertilizer you use and should avoid any strong formulas. Synthetic and organic are both okay, but dilute to at least half-strength.
In fact, we recommend diluting to a third or even a fourth of the regular strength.
A balanced blend like 10-10-10 or something with slightly more nitrogen can work well for the Blue Star Fern. You can also choose to use fish emulsion because it is gentle and offers the most important nutrients your plant needs.
However, keep in mind that it is stinky. Do not fertilize during the Fall and Winter, only during the growing season, and even then keep it to once every 1.5 to 2 months.
Pruning and General Maintenance
Pruning is essential for Blue Star Fern care instructions. You want to remove tangly stems, erratic foliage, and dead leaves regularly. This will encourage better growth and make it look much more attractive in appearance. Plus, it helps to prevent pests and diseases.
Simply snip the thin stems, but be sure to sterilize your scissors or pruning shears with rubbing alcohol first.
Repotting is one of the hardest aspects of growing a Blue Star Fern and you will have to do it approximately once every 2 years. Only do so if it has outgrown its current pot or hanging basket and do the procedure during the spring so that it can grow and recover in its new home.
Finally, never bury the rhizomes and keep them exposed to the open air.
Common Problems with Blue Star Fern
There are a few different problems that you may encounter with Blue Star Fern. From pests and disease to discoloration, it’s good to know how to address these issues as soon as they arise. Let’s look at how you can do that!
Blue Star Fern is not extremely vulnerable to infestations, but it is possible to get aphids, spider mites, thrips, scale, and mealybugs. The most problematic concern is that the pests can bury themselves within the rhizome where they remain well protected.
To get them, you will have to use Neem oil or insecticidal soap, but remember that they have to come in contact with it to be eradicated. Repeat every 5 days until the problem is eliminated.
Root rot is the most common disease with Blue Star Fern and it occurs because of too much moisture within the soil. If you get root rot, you will need to put the plant in a new pot after removing the affected portions. Then, make sure you use well-draining soil and avoid watering too much.
Southern Blight is also fairly common and it is difficult to get rid of. The most important thing is to prevent it in the first place by sterilizing pots, tools, and anything that comes into contact with your plant.
Finally, mildew is also possible, which is why you need good air circulation and should avoid spraying the leaves with water.
Fading color is usually caused by too much light, especially if the leaves also seem burnt or crisp. Make sure that the plant is receiving indirect light throughout most of the day with little to no direct sunlight. If necessary, move it a little farther away from the window as well.
Brown tips on fronds are often directly caused by the overloading of salts, minerals, and other chemicals. This can happen with tap water used for watering or over-fertilizing.
If this occurs, then it is best to stop fertilizing and return with heavily diluted formulas. You can also switch to filtered or distilled water.
Browning that occurs with more than just the tips and spreads to the whole leaves is usually caused by inadequate moisture. If this is the case, you need to raise the humidity or water just a little bit more. This is most common during the growing season and hot months.
If the foliage turns purplish brown, then the rhizomes may be too wet as well.
Final Thoughts on Blue Star Fern
This wonderful plant with a shade of blue-green is lovely and not too hard to take care of. Perfect in a pot or hanging basket that allows the rhizomes to grow naturally, this awesome addition to any room can be fun, characteristic, and attractive.