Common Maidenhair Fern Problems | Causes and Solutions

These plants are one of the fussiest houseplants so it can be quite common for them to develop a whole range of issues.

These plants are one of the fussiest houseplants so it can be quite common for them to develop a whole range of issues. In this post, we will be covering 3 problems, leaf loss, drooping stems and curling leaves. We have also written a few more detailed guides on brown Maidenhair Fern leaves and yellow Maidenhair Fern leaves so check those out for more information on how to fix those problems. 

Why is my Maidenhair Fern losing leaves?

  • 1

    Underwatering.

    One of the most common factors that lead Maidenhair Fern plants to lose their leaves is consistent underwatering and dry soil. This is because the roots will begin to crisp up and your plant won’t be able to keep all of its leaves and stems alive anymore. Whilst this won’t happen with just one missed watering, if your Maidenhair Fern constantly has dry soil, this can cause some real issues. Confirm the issue by measuring the moisture in the soil (either with a moisture meter or the chopstick method). If you have determined that your Maidenhair Fern is losing leaves because of underwatering, water your plant a little bit once a day for a week and then return to a more normal watering schedule.

  • 2

    Cold temperatures.

    Another reason why your Maidenhair Fern may be losing its leaves is due to fluctuations in temperature. Maidenhair Ferns don’t deal so well with cold temperatures and if exposed to drafts can lose quite a few leaves pretty quickly. Also, pay attention to how close they are to air conditioning vents in summer as these can be pretty harmful to your Fern as well. It’s best to use a digital thermometer to check the temperature around your Maidenhair Fern.

  • 3

    Natural shedding.

    If it’s only the oldest bottom leaves on your Maidenhair Fern that are falling off, then this may be natural ageing. It’s normal for your Maidenhair Fern to prioritise its energy on new bigger growth, meaning it will lose its oldest leaves in order to mature. As long as your Maidenhair Fern is growing more new leaves than it is losing them, then you don’t need to worry about this at all. 

Causes of a drooping Maidenhair Fern

  • 1

    Underwatering.

    One of the earlier signs of a lack of water is a drooping plant. This usually happens before it loses leaves so hopefully, this means you have caught the problem early before it has caused more permanent damage. Underwatering will slowly dry out the roots, causing them to crisp up and die. Confirm this by checking the moisture in the soil and increase how often or how much you are watering your Maidenhair Fern and it should stop drooping in a few days.

  • 2

    Low humidity levels.

    If you haven’t been underwatering your Maidenhair Fern, then moisture still might be the issue, but actually in terms of humidity rather than soil moisture. Maidenhair Ferns need a humid environment and can struggle in really dry air as they have such delicate leaves that easily dry out. A lack of humidity in the air can cause the leaves to be a little limp and droop down. This won’t happen overnight though so if this has been gradually getting worse, then it’s likely humidity is the cause. Get into the habit of misting your plant each day and this should solve the problem quite quickly. If you don’t want to rely on yourself remembering to mist your Maidenhair Fern, then use a humidifier to stop it from drying out and drooping down. 

  • 3

    Shock or stress.

    If you have recently repotted your Maidenhair Fern, propagated it or moved it to a new spot, then it might be stress causing it to droop. This tends to be a very temporary problem so just make sure the environmental factors and care routine are right for your plant and it should stop drooping after a few days. If your Maidenhair Fern continues to droop after 7-10 days then moisture issues are most likely to blame. 

Causes of curling Maidenhair Fern leaves

  • 1

    Low humidity.

    Alongside drooping stems, low humidity can also cause the leaves on your Maidenhair Fern to curl up. This is because curling their leaves is one way that plants try to retain as much moisture as possible. This is fully reversible by giving the humidity a boost so we recommend misting your plant frequently, using a pebble tray or investing in a humidifier to stop the curling leaves from turning into a more serious problem.

  • 2

    Underwatering.

    Another common reason Maidenhair Ferns curl their leaves is in response to a lack of moisture in the soil, rather than just the air. By curling up, your plant is reducing the moisture lost through its leaves. Check the soil to see if it feels dry (use a moisture meter, the chopstick or finger method if you don’t want to remove the entire plant from its pot) and increase watering frequency. You should then see the leaves on your Maidenhair Fern start to uncurl over the next few days and keeping a consistent watering pattern will help to prevent them from curling again in future.   

To learn more about what care requirements your plant needs, check out our Maidenhair Fern care guide. 


Written by Billy Dawson


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