How to Care for Silver Lace Fern?
Although peculiar in its requirements, the Silver Lace Fern is a unique houseplant that might be just right for those corners of your home that you haven’t been able to fill yet.
With a bit of attention to its care requirements, anyone can grow the Silver Lace Fern, including beginners.
Besides the delicate fronds and silvery-white variegation in their center, this fern is also one of the few ferns that can be successfully grown indoors.
If you’re intimidated by the plant’s requirements, don’t be. The care guide I’ve put together below, will guide you through each aspect needed to grow a healthy fern indoors.
Size & Growth
With a maximum height of 35 inches, this fern will stay at a manageable size. Its individual leaves will stay at a length of 6 inches and a width of 4 inches.
Indoors, the fern will drop some of these lengths and widths, which makes the plant suitable even for growing in terrariums, especially in a high humidity environment.
Although a fast-growing fern, you can always trim it back if it gets too large for its container.
If a terrarium is not what you had in mind for this fern, rest assured that it will grow wonderfully in a hanging basket as well, with its fronds cascading down at the sides.
As long as the plant’s requirements are met, you can grow it in a hanging basket or pot as well.
In its natural habitat, the silver lace fern grows in dappled shade. This should not be understood to mean that this is an exclusively shade-loving plant because it’s not.
In order to grow and thrive, this fern needs a moderate amount of light in the form of indirect, bright light, or filtered light.
Putting this plant in a dark corner in your home will not meet its light requirements. The other extreme – direct sunlight – should also be avoided.
The gentle fronds will scorch under strong direct sunlight. Even when grown indoors, keep this plant a few feet away from a south-facing window.
Aim for a bright spot or a spot where the plant can enjoy filtered light when looking for a good spot indoors.
Watering the silver lace fern may be the trickiest part in its care. That’s because the plant has short rhizomes relatively close to the surface of the soil.
This comes with a few disadvantages:
- If the soil dries out completely, the plant suffers
- If the soil is soaking wet all the time, the plant suffers
The silver lace fern likes its soil to be consistently moist. The biggest challenge is meeting its watering requirements in spring and summer when temperatures are high, and evaporation is increasing causing the soil to dry faster.
So, my advice is this – use a soil mix rich in hummus that holds on to moisture but doesn’t get waterlogged and water the plant each time the top inch of the soil starts to lose its dampness.
Avoid using chlorinated water when watering this plant or water treated with fluoride. If possible, water with filtered water, or allow tap water to aerate overnight so chlorine can evaporate.
If this sounds like a contradiction to you, don’t worry, it’s not. The soil mix can hold onto moisture and be well-draining at the same time.
Soil mixes that include peat, perlite, and organic compost are excellent at balancing good aeration, drainage and optimum levels of moisture.
Because the roots of the fern are pulpy, they need loose soil to grow well. Soil that becomes compacted can be hard for the plant to penetrate.
The silver lace fern also enjoys slightly acidic soil in the 5.6 and 7 pH range.
Whether you create your own potting mix or choose commercially available ones, stick to mixes that offer drainage and aeration. Don’t forget that ferns also enjoy rich soil that will provide them nutrients, so pick a soil with compost or rich in hummus.
Temperature & Humidity
Hardy in USDA zones 9a to 11, the silver lace fern is a tropical plant that needs warmth and humidity to grow its wonderful fronds.
Unfortunately, the plant does not tolerate temperatures below 55 °F. Its ideal temperature range is between 65-80°F (18-26°C).
If temperatures are higher than 80 F, you’ll need to increase watering to keep up with evaporation and prevent your fern from getting dehydrated.
If grown outside during the hot summer season, make sure to place under a tree or another shaded location so the plant isn’t under direct sunlight.
Take the plant indoors in areas where winter temperatures drop below 55 °F. The plant does not survive frost and cold temperatures.
If grown in average humidity, the plant needs supplemental humidity to maintain its fronds healthy. In a low humidity environment, the plant’s fronds can curl up and turn brown.
To ensure adequate humidity levels you’ll either need to keep the plant in a naturally humid location like a bathroom or kitchen, or simply use a humidifier.
You can skip the fertilizing of this plant, especially when planted in rich soil. You can, however, fertilize every 40 days with a weak solution but only during spring and summer.
Don’t use full strength fertilizer nor should you fertilize too often – you risk burning the plant and causing its gentle ferns to turn crispy and brown.
Potting & Repotting
I mentioned how you can grow this fern in any pot or hanging basket, and even in terrariums or vivariums. I prefer growing this fern in a hanging basket so it can reach its full size without me having to trim it back.
As long as you’re meeting their requirements and the pot has good drainage (you want any excess water to easily percolate out of the pot), you needn’t worry about its type.
The type of soil is far more important, and you should invest in a suitable potting mix to make sure the plant’s rhizomes will be well-aerated to prevent rotting or fungal issues.
Repot every year or as needed. Make sure you use fresh potting mix each time you transplant the fern. Ideally, you should do this in spring.
Also, you can divide the rhizome to create individual plants, as I explain below.
How to Propagate Silver Lace Fern?
The silver lace fern is propagated through division. The rhizome can be divided, and new ferns can be grown.
Any division should be carried out in spring, or summer at the latest, to take advantage of the plant’s metabolism boost during these times.
It’s also better to do any transplanting or propagating when the weather isn’t too hot, so you don’t have to worry about the plant getting too dehydrated.
When planting the divided rhizomes, use the same type of well-draining and well-aerated potting mix you’ve chosen for the mother plant.
Keep in a warm location, make sure the soil is moist but not wet and protect from direct sunlight. In a couple of weeks, new growths should emerge from the rhizome.
Why Are the Leaves of the Silver Lace Fern Curling?
Lack of moisture and humidity are the chief concerns when it comes to curling leaves on your silver lace fern. The edges of the leaves are often crispy and brown as well.
Increase humidity levels or more the plant to a more humid location. Ferns thrive in a humid environment. When the air becomes too dry, leaves will often curl.
Is the Silver Lace Fern Toxic?
Although the silver lace fern is not categorized as being toxic to pets or kids, you should still keep a watchful eye over pets and small children around this plant.
Ingestion of the leaves can trigger allergic reactions in some individuals, or it can become a choking hazard for kids and even your pets.
Does the Silver Lace Fern Bloom?
No, unfortunately the silver lace fern does not bloom. But the variegation of the fronds more than make up for their lack of flowers.
To maintain the silvery variegation, make sure to keep the plant in bright, indirect light. Lack of sunlight can cause the variegation to fade and revert back to the normal green color of the fronds.
A delicate-looking fern, the silver lace fern needs quite a bit of attention when it comes to watering and humidity levels.
If you can manage these two aspects and choose a well-draining potting mix for the plant, you can successfully grow a healthy and thriving fern.
Not cold-tolerant or frost-resistant, make sure to protect the plant from cold exposure, changing temperature and even cold drafts.
Don’t leave the plant outside in direct sunlight and even indoors, try to prevent direct sun exposure when the sun is the strongest.
I trust this care guide on the silver lace fern will help you easily manage your plant’s expectations, even if you don’t have any previous experience growing ferns.