Rabbit’s Foot Fern: Care For Davallia Fejeensis

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If you’ve struggled growing ferns in the past…

I’ve got a recommendation for you: Davallia fejeensis. You might be thinking, “That sounds like an alien creature!” Its common names are much more recognizable: rabbit’s foot fern or rabbit fern.

This low-maintenance epiphytic fern is a wonderful choice for those of you (like me) who have struggled to keep ferns alive in the past.

Good Products for Rabbit’s Foot Ferns:

Quick Care

Davallia fejeensis makes an excellent indoor houseplant or outdoor, low-growing ground cover
Davallia fejeensis makes an excellent indoor houseplant or outdoor, low-growing ground cover. Source: 917press
Common Name(s)Rabbit’s Foot Fern, Hare’s Foot Fern
Scientific NameDavallia fejeensis
FamilyDavalliaceae
Height & Spread12 inches long and 6 inches wide
LightModerate to bright light
WaterKeep the soil moist from spring to fall; let the top 1 inch soil dry between watering in winter
SoilAny good potting mixture with good drainage
Fertilizer
Pests & DiseasesMealy bugs and scales

All About Davallia fejeensis

Native to the Fiji Islands of Oceania, it’s an epiphytic fern, which means it grows easily on trees and rocks. It gets its nutrients from the rain, air, and debris that falls down from the forest canopy. These growing conditions make it a wonderful houseplant option.

Commonly known as rabbit’s foot fern, it gets this peculiar name from the fuzzy brown-haired rhizomes that look like a rabbit’s foot. Many people consider it to be a good luck charm. The rhizomes of the plant tend to crawl on top of the rocks and barks as they absorb moisture and nutrients from the soil, making the plant look like it has giant tarantula legs or is some kind of alien creature! The lacy-like fronds extend around 12″ long and 6″ wide, and are attached to thin stems, giving it the plant a typical fern-like appearance.

Rabbit’s Foot Fern Care

Rabbit's foot fern has a delicate, gorgeous structure when contrasted against the light
Rabbit’s foot fern has a delicate, gorgeous structure when contrasted against the light. Source: Sherri Barras

Light & Temperature

Rabbit fern requires moderate to bright light to grow. You can place it on an east-facing window with bright, but indirect light. If you’re growing in a south-facing window, place it at least a few feet away so as not to expose it to too much light.

Being a fern, direct light can lead to scorching of leaves, so make sure you choose the plant location carefully. During the day, the ideal temperature for rabbit foot fern is between 70-75°F (21-24°C) and a slightly cooler temperature range at nights. An important thing to remember is that rabbit fern is chill sensitive. So make sure the temperature doesn’t fall below 55°F (13°C).

Water & Humidity

As an epiphyte, it’s used to growing in quite a bit of water, so keep your soil moist throughout the plant’s life. Make sure to never let it dry out completely. You can even give it a “plant shower” by raining water from above, wetting the foliage, rhizomes, and soil at the same time.

As fall and winter approach, water a bit less. Wait until the soil is dry to 1″ before watering again.

Soil

For ideal growth, use a soil mixture that’s high in peat and chopped bark. You may want to take a standard potting mix and add a 50% mixture of peat and bark to make a soil mix that’s perfect for your fern.

Fertilizer

During the growing season (beginning of spring to end of fall), fertilize once or twice a month with a liquid houseplant fertilizer diluted to 50% strength. If you plant stops producing new fronds, stop fertilizing it. Be careful not to over-fertilize, as the sensitive fronds can burn at the tips.

Repotting

If you’re going to repot, which isn’t necessary too often, do it at the beginning of spring to a pot that’s 1-2″ larger. It usually needs repotting when the rhizomes and roots start overgrowing the pot.

Propagation

Propagation for rabbit’s foot fern is pretty simple:

  • Take your fern out of its pot.
  • Divide 2″ sections of a rhizome, making sure to have at least 1 stem and front attached.
  • Secure in fresh, moist potting mix and wait for new growth to start showing up.

You can also propagate the plant by division by pulling the plant apart gently to find its natural divisions. Use a knife to cut through the tangled roots whenever necessary.

Pruning

There are no particular pruning needs because the plant isn’t invasive or aggressive. However, you can trim the fern if you find it growing a bit misshapen.

Troubleshooting

Growing Problems

If your fronds are yellowing with dry tips: Low humidity, high temperatures, or a lack of water are the likely culprits.

Slow growth and light green fronds: You need to fertilize with a 50% strength liquid houseplant fertilizer. Another potential issue could be an improper amount of sunlight.

Fronds are drooping: You’re over-watering your fern, so dial your watering schedule back a bit.

Pests

Mealybugs and scales are common for rabbit fern. If you see the infestation worsening, you will have to cut off the entire frond. Using commercial pesticides is not encouraged for these ferns as they can damage the fronds. You can remove the bugs using cotton swabs dipped in alcohol, or read our in-depth guides for these two annoying pests.

FAQs

Q. Why is my rabbit fern yellowing?

A. You’re probably under-fertilizing the plant, or exposing it to too much or too little light.

Q. Are Rabbit Foot ferns toxic?

A. Cats love to mess with your ferns due to the fuzzy rhizomes. Fortunately, it’s not toxic, so they can play all they want!

Q. What pot size is best for rabbit’s foot fern growth?

A. Shallow pots work well for growing this houseplant. Make sure to change the pot every few years!


The Green Thumbs Behind This Article:

Kevin Espiritu
Founder

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