Why Is My Lemon Button Fern Plant Dying? Tips for Rescuing Your Dying Nephrolepis Cordifola ‘Duffii’ 

A sweet, pretty, delicate fern that is hardy and healthy to have in your home or office, which makes the lemon button fern a winner on all fronts.  

But what if your Nephrolepis cordifola ‘Duffii’ is starting to fade? Is there anything you can do?  

Of course!  We’ve got tons of tips and tricks to try to ensure you bring a dying lemon button fern back to life.  

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A Lemon Button Fern Plant Is a Great Choice for Your Home or Office  

Because it looks so precious but behaves like a hard-to-kill plant, the lemon button fern is ideal for a busy home or office space. It will fit pretty much anywhere, right on your desk or coffee table, out of direct light, or gathered in a group of other small, green, attractive plants.  

A Lemon Button Fern Plant Is a Great Choice for Your Home or Office

This fern is unlike other ferns in that it only needs a bit of regular water and some natural indirect sunlight to thrive. All you have to do is learn to meet its basic needs, and you’re set! 

But, if you have not learned those signs yet, now is the time. 

Signs of a Dying Lemon Button Fern Plant  

Most plants exhibit many of the same common indicators that they are in distress. The lemon button fern is no exception. Your pretty little plant may be dying if you notice any of the following:  

  • Fronds becoming crispy or brown 
  • Leaves wilting or turning yellow 
  • Brown spots on the leaves 
  • Pests in the soil or on the leaves 
  • Molding or mossy soil 
  • Soggy soil 
  • Mushy stems  

Common Causes of a Dying Lemon Button Fern Plant  

But what could be killing your precious plant? Any of the following:  

  • Underwatering  
  • Overwatering   
  • Pests 
  • Too much light  
  • Too little light  
  • Not enough humidity   

Again, it is pretty hard to damage a lemon button fern, but it is not impossible. You will have to pay attention to it regularly enough to notice any of the common signs then be prepared to adapt quickly to its needs.  

Watering Needs of a Lemon Button Fern Plant  

The lemon button fern does not ask for much water. You can set a pretty regular schedule of about once a week. Take a look at this article on watering mistakes that might be killing your plant. 

While you want to be sure the plant never fully dries out, you also want to be sure it does not get waterlogged.  

Your best bet is to pay close attention to the soil in your pot. With the lemon button fern, you want the topsoil to always feel a bit moist.  

Learn to check the soil by sticking your fingers in the soil. If it feels dry, water the plant again. 

Am I Underwatering My Lemon Button Fern Plant?  

You will know the lemon button fern is underwatered by its leaves. The leaves and fronds will start to turn brown and will eventually get hard and crispy. 

Restoring Water to Your Underwatered Lemon Button Fern Plant  

If you notice these signs, remove any crispy leaves or fronds and water your plant thoroughly, to the point of soaking through and draining out of the bottom. Then place your plant back in indirect light and be sure to check your soil more regularly.  

Am I Overwatering My Lemon Button Fern Plant?  

The most common sign of overwatering the lemon button fern is yellow, wilting leaves. You might also notice mushy stems or soaked soil that does not dry out.  

Restoring Balance to Your Overwatered Lemon Button Fern Plant  

If you have overwatered your lemon button fern, you may need to take extreme measures. Root rot is not a simple fix.  

You may need to remove the plant entirely from the soil, cut off any mushy or soft roots and get the plant down to its root ball. Allow the root ball to dry out on a screen outside in the sun for a day or two. 

You can then replace your root ball in fresh soil that is well draining and a pot made of material that does not dry out too quickly, like clay.  

If you have not gotten to the point of full-blown root rot, you can simply place your plant in brighter light and ensure you have good air circulation in the room.  

Soil Needs of a Lemon Button Fern Plant  

The lemon button fern will do well in a soil that is slightly acidic and classically loamy, and, of course, well-draining. But because it is so hardy, the lemon button fern will adapt to most types of soil, so you will usually be fine if you just use whatever indoor houseplant soil you have on hand.  

Soil Drainage Needs for a Lemon Button Fern Plant  

The most important issue for a lemon button fern when it comes to soil is to make sure it drains well and that you water it regularly. This is not hugely challenging, but it may take time to find your rhythm.  

Resolving Soil Drainage Issues for a Lemon Button Fern Plant  

If you notice your soil is not draining well, you can always add pebbles or rocks to the bottom of the pot or switch it out for a more sturdy pot if you happen to have it in clay and it is drying out too fast.  

Lighting Needs of a Lemon Button Fern Plant  

You don’t want to burn this delicate, tiny-leafed plant, so keep the lemon button fern in indirect sunlight. They will often adjust to a little more or a little less indirect light, but they will not tolerate direct sun.  

Resolving Lighting Issues for a Lemon Button Fern Plant  

You may need to experiment with the placement of your lemon button fern.  

If you notice the leaves are browning or showing brown spots from too much sun, you can move it away from the light source. If you notice the color is starting to go dull, move it into a brighter space.  

Pests or Diseases that Can Cause Issues with a Lemon Button Fern Plant  

Spider mites, mealy bugs, and scale are the most common pests you might have to deal with in your lemon button fern. Be sure to check the leaves and in and around the soil.  

If you notice pests, isolate the plant so the pests don’t spread, and spray your plant twice a week liberally with neem oil, which will kill off and scare away any troublesome bugs.  

Fake Lemon Button Fern Plants Are an Additional Consideration  

In the end, if you find the lemon button fern just does not do well in your habitat, you can always go fake!

Fake Lemon Button Fern Plants Are an Additional Consideration  

You can find adorable and lifelike artificial lemon button ferns for sale that will still bring you the joy of having greenery and none of the worries of keeping a plant alive.  

If you’re worried that fake plants are not in style, check out my article on whether artificial plants and flowers are tacky here.  

What has your experience been like with the lemon button fern? Do you have any tricks or tips for keeping a lemon button fern alive? Let me know in the comments.  

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