Arguably one of the most sensitive and fussy houseplants out there, the Maidenhair Fern is no stranger to common problems, commonly yellow leaves! These can pop up if your Maidenhair Fern is only the slightest bit uncomfortable with any care or environmental factors so sometimes it can be difficult to pin down exactly what is wrong.
But don’t fret, we have written this detailed guide to help you understand all the possible causes of yellow Maidenhair Fern leaves, allowing you to diagnose the issue as well as follow the right steps to stop the problem from causing any more damage to your Fern.
A lack of sunlight could cause yellow foliage in Maidenhair Ferns
Although there isn’t much worse for Maidenhair Ferns than too much sunlight, too little can also cause issues such as yellowing leaves. This can be especially common over winter where the days are shorter and the sun is weaker so just make sure to amend the position of your plant depending on the season.
Too much sunlight
As we mentioned above, Maidenhair Ferns don’t like bright direct sunlight and this can very quickly scorch the leaves. Maidenhair Ferns have very delicate leaves so the issue can become a real problem very quickly.
Sunburn will show itself in patches of yellow across the leaves on the side which is facing the window. Unfortunately, these patches are irreversible so you are best trimming them off if the leaves are quite severely damaged.
Make sure to move your plant away from the direct light to a shadier spot in your home and this should prevent any more yellow leaves from forming on your Maidenhair Fern.
Stress – They hate being moved or repotted!
This is something that isn’t really talked about much but plants get stressed and shocked, and Maidenhair Ferns can be especially sensitive to this sometimes. Maidenhair Ferns especially don’t like it if they are moved to a different spot or are repotted. When there is such a drastic change in their environment, they can develop yellowing across some of the leaves. As long as the new environment is good for them, they will adjust and the yellowing will stop.
It’s important to bring in any changes gradually to avoid this stress. When moving your plant, move it in increments, allowing it to adjust to the change in environment slowly. Of course, if you are moving house etc there isn’t any way to slowly allow your plant to adjust. In this case, just keep an eye on your plant and make extra sure that it’s getting the right care.
Using a digital thermometer, light meter and moisture meter can help you keep track of your Maidenhair Fern’s environment so you can respond to any major changes.
Natural ageing is also a factor to consider
If it’s only the oldest (and most commonly smallest) leaves on your Maidenhair Fern that are turning yellow then this may be simply natural ageing. As your Maidenhair Fern matures, it is completely normal for it to lose some leaves so that it can focus its energy reserves on new growth. These leaves will usually turn yellow before falling off the plant.
Maidenhair Ferns will regularly lose leaves, that’s just the way with Ferns so it’s more about realising what is natural shedding and what is a problem. As a general rule, if your Maidenhair Fern is growing more healthy new leaves than it is losing old ones, then this is often OK. Another thing to look out for is the rate of yellowing speeding up as this is also a sign something isn’t right.
Should I trim away the yellow leaves on my Maidenhair Fern?
You might be wondering if it is best to leave the yellow leaves on your Maidenhair Fern and wait until they naturally fall off, or trim them away. We always recommend removing the worst affected areas of the plant. If there are sections of your Fern that have turned yellow completely, then trim these away. If there is just the odd yellowing leaf dotted here and there then leaves these until they naturally fall off.
The reason for this is that removing the large yellowing areas means your Fern isn’t wasting energy on keeping those bits alive or trying to revive them.
If you were lucky and managed to catch the issue quite early and the problem hasn’t spread to the entirety of your Maidenhair Fern, then you should be able to fairly quickly solve the issue. However, if the leaves are yellowing at a rapid rate, then we recommend thinking about propagating some of the healthy parts of the plant in case the mother plant doesn’t make it.
To learn more about how to propagate your plant, as well as other general care advice, check out our Maidenhair Fern care guide.
Written by Billy Dawson