Lemon Button Fern Indoors Growing Guide

lemon button fern

The lemon button fern (Nephrolepis cordifolia ‘Duffii’) is a tropical fern native to northeastern Australia and Asia. It has plenty of common names: narrow sword fern, ladder fern, herringbone fern, tuber ladder fern, erect sword fern, fishbone fern, and tuberous sword fern. The lemon button fern is mostly grown as an ornamental plant indoors.

The lemon button fern is an evergreen fern that can grow up to 1 foot (0.3 meters) tall and wide. It’s small, easy to grow, and loves moisture making it an ideal plant for bathrooms and kitchens. Fishbone fern is also more resilient than some other famous ferns that are often grown indoors. It has long stems with little tiny button-shaped leaves, which is a cute look for a plant. Its leaves even give off a citrusy fragrance!

How To Grow?

Growing narrow sword ferns is very simple since they can tolerate many types of environments. If you have failed to grow ferns before, you should give lemon button fern a try. These ferns are incredibly hardy, but there are a few nuances you should know about.


Lemon button ferns are not toxic according to ASPCA, this plant can be safely grown around children and pets.


Lemon button ferns thrive in warm, high-humidity environments. The perfect place for this houseplant is a bathroom with enough light. Normal household temperatures are usually fine for lemon-scented ferns. You can also grow them in low-humidity environments, but it might be best to take some steps to up the humidity level. Place the fern near a humidifier or on a tray with pebbles and water on it to increase humidity. You can also mist the plant regularly.


Ferns should never have dry soil, lemon button fern is no different. Usually, this green houseplant should be watered once a week quite deeply. Although, keep in mind that overwatering the plant will cause root rot. Keep the soil slightly moist at all times.

Soil & Fertilizer

The perfect soil for lemon button ferns is slightly acidic, well-draining, and loamy. Lemon button fern is quite a slow grower, so providing it with the right soil can help it grow faster.

Lemon button ferns do not need a lot of fertilizer, feeding it an all-purpose balanced fertilizer diluted to half strength will be enough. Do this 2 or 3 times during the growing season.


Lemon button ferns are not very demanding when it comes to light conditions. Ideally, the fern should be exposed to moderate indirect light. Do not place this beautiful fern in full sun, intense sun will scorch the foliage. It is also possible to grow this fern in low light conditions, however, it will not grow as fast.

lemon button fern
Lemon button fern Source: Sherri


The easiest way to propagate lemon button ferns is by dividing rhizomes:

  1. Remove lemon button fern from the container carefully
  2. Find a good spot to divide the rhizome
  3. Divide the rhizome by hand gently, breaking as few roots as possible
  4. Plant the divided fern into a new container and care for it as described before


If you want to keep the fern looking attractive and tidy, you should prune off dead foliage. This happens naturally all the time and is not a cause for concern. Pruning off the dying or dead leaves will make room for new ones. However, if you want a rustic more natural feel, you do not have to prune.

Pests & Diseases

Spider mites and mealybugs are the most common pests of lemon button fern. Both can be removed by showering the plant. Do not waterlog the soil in the process. The lemon-scented fern will enjoy the moisture. If the infestation does not go away, try using insecticidal soaps or oils, like neem oil.

Lemon button fern does not suffer from any diseases except root rot, which is caused by overwatering the plant.


The lemon button fern is a low-maintenance houseplant, that thrives in humid and warm environments. It has cute green foliage and should ideally be grown in a kitchen or a bathroom. Follow the guide provided by us to ensure growing a healthy, stunning lemon button fern.

Why are fronds of lemon button fern brown and crispy?

Fronds of lemon button fern will turn brown and crispy when the plant is underwatered or the humidity level in the room is too low. If the soil is sufficiently moist, you should probably find ways to increase humidity in the room.

Why is the lemon button fern getting yellow?

Lemon button ferns turn yellow when exposed to full sun. Full sun can scorch the foliage easily, resulting in yellow fronds. It can also be caused by overwatering the plant.

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