Lemon Button Fern Care

Lemon Button Fern

The Lemon Button Fern is a darling and easy-to-maintain plant that introduces texture, color, and a faint lemony scent. Ferns can be hard to grow indoors because they are particular and crave high humidity, but the Lemon Button is adaptable. People who have not had success with ferns in the past typically do well with the Lemon Button, so if you’re reluctant to get a fern after a past experience or the imposing reputation of ferns in general, then the Lemon Button may be for you. Here is everything you need to know about Lemon Button Fern care. 

Plant Details

The Lemon Button Fern is a dwarf variety of the Boston Fern and features a thin midrib dotted with circular greenery or leaflets. The foliage has a faint lemon scent, although it’s more pronounced when the leaves are crushed, so it may not be very noticeable when the plant is left alone. This plant hails from Asia and goes by the botanical name Nephrolepis cordifolia ‘Duffii’ while going by the common names fishbone fern, button sword fern, and little-leaved sword fern. This fern differs from the Button Fern (Pellaea rotundifolia).

Lemon Button Fern Light Needs

Ferns are known for loving low-light conditions, and the Lemon Button can happily live in low light, but this plant is flexible. The Lemon Button Fern can live in low, medium, or bright indirect sunlight. Any amount of sunlight is fine as long as it is indirect. Direct sunlight will burn the foliage, so beware of black spots on the leaves. Rotate the plant every few weeks so each side receives even sunlight and growth is consistent.

Nephrolepis cordifolia ‘Duffii’

How Often to Water Duffii Fern

Ferns like damp conditions, but too much moisture damages the roots, so it’s a balance. Water the Duffii Fern when the top few inches of soil are dry. Bottom watering is an excellent way to hydrate the roots without overwatering your fern. 

Plants that receive too much water will have brown tips, while underwatered plants will have droopy stems and wilted foliage.

Best Soil

Moist but well-drained soil is ideal for Lemon Button Fern care. Ferns like dampness, but excess water must drain to avoid root rot. Slightly acidic soil is best to support growth.

Temperature for Fishbone Fern

Normal household temperatures are good for Lemon Button Ferns. Keep the plant away from drafts or heating or cooling vents, but generally, the plant will do well in average room temperature conditions.

Lemon Button Fern Humidity Needs

Ferns crave increased humidity, and the Lemon Button will thrive in extra moisture, but it isn’t necessarily required. The Lemon Button can live in average humidity, but low humidity won’t cut it. Brown, crispy foliage indicates low humidity, which can be damaging.  

Lemon Button Fern

Lemon Button Fern Fertilizer

Ferns are not heavy feeders, and too much of a good thing can be problematic. Fertilize the Fishbone Fern using a balanced fertilizer once per month during the growing season. Do not fertilize the plant when it is dormant in the fall and winter. Water first or use a water-soluble plant food to prevent fertilizer burn.

Does the Duffii Fern Bloom?

The Lemon Button Fern does not bloom. Ferns generally do not bloom, but the lovely fronds make up for the lack of flowers.

Fern Pruning Tips

The Lemon Button isn’t very big and naturally maintains an aesthetically pleasing form, so pruning isn’t often necessary. Remove dead or damaged growth; otherwise, you won’t need pruning sheers often.

When to Repot Duffii Fern 

Repot the Lemon Button Fern every two years or sooner if the plant shows signs that it is ready for a new pot. Time repotting to the spring, when the plant begins to grow actively. Use fresh soil to support continued growth.

Lemon Button Fern Propagation

Propagate the Lemon Button Fern through division. It’s easier to divide a plant when repotting since it needs to be removed from the container. Gently separate the rhizomes, which grow in a clump, creating new smaller plants, and repot each new plant into a container one to two inches larger than the root ball.

Nephrolepis cordifolia ‘Duffii’

Is Lemon Button Fern Pet Safe?

The Lemon Button Fern is non-toxic, making it safe in homes with pets, including cats and dogs. Eating too much of anything can cause an upset stomach, so monitor your pet if they eat the fronds, but rest easy knowing this fern is not poisonous.

Lemon Button Styling Tips

The Lemon Button often reaches about one foot tall and wide, making it a good size for a plant stand, shelf, or hanger. The fronds slightly bend or stand upright, giving the plant a rounded and lush appearance. Give this fern a decorative container to complement the fronds.

Lemon Button Fern Care Tips

The Lemon Button Fern is picky but less finicky than many other fern varieties, making it a good choice for people who like the look of ferns but are intimidated by the high-maintenance reputation of most ferns. This plant will thrive in high humidity, but it can comfortably live in average humidity. Plenty of water and warm temperatures ensure this plant grows full and lush.