Lemon Button Fern Care InfographicThe Lemon button fern of the Nephrolepidaceae family is the perfect choice for those with busy lifestyles who struggle to keep a plant alive indoors. This plant gives that much-needed pop of color and freshness in our house.

Lemon button ferns of the genus Nephrolepisare are relatively easy to grow, and a little bit of neglect does not shake their resolve to thrive, making them ideal for novice growers.

In this detailed guide, we bring you all the care nuggets you need to know to keep your plant happy and healthy.

What Is Lemon Button Fern?

The Lemon button fern is a small, hardy plant that is known for its sweet scent and for being resilient. It is also known as the Neprophilis cordifolia, Button sword fern, fishbone fern, and Erect sword fern, and is a dwarf variety of the common Boston fern. This compact plant is native to pantropical areas.

Lemon Button Fern Care

The Lemon button fern is a hardy plant that is known for being resilient and a lot less finicky than many of its relatives.

Moreover, its small size and the slight lemony scent make it all the more pleasurable to grow indoors. This makes it a fresh addition to your house, especially during the summer and spring seasons.

The Lemon button fern is a rhizome that generally requires low maintenance and is easy to grow.

The most it needs is standard houseplant soil, water, and your affection to thrive to become its most radiant form. Read the following to get acquainted with some requirements that should be kept in mind when taking care of a Lemon button fern care.

WaterWater Requirements

Lemon Button Fern VineLemon button fern watering must be moderate. It is advisable to check that the top inch of the soil is dry when you are watering it to ensure that the soil has properly drained.

This also prevents the risk of overwatering the Lemon button fern. Remember, you must never overwater your plants.

LightLight Requirements

All plants need a “light” snack to thrive and grow. The light requirements for a Lemon button fern are not that hard to meet as it thrives in indirect sunlight and medium light.

What’s incredible about it is that being a woodland plant, it can thrive in the abundant shade as well. How incredible is that?

Being one of the most adaptable plant varieties available, the best location is to place your Lemon button fern indoor.

Place it near your workstation to reduce stress, in your bathroom for a natural room freshener, or near your reading nook. Just remember to never place your Lemon button fern directly under sunlight since that might burn its delicate leaves.

SoilSoil Requirements

Lemon button ferns grow best in moist, well-draining soil that is acidic. The soil you use for this plant must be able to drain water effectively so as to avoid waterlogged conditions, which can lead to root rot.

Aside from this important attribute, regular houseplant soil will be good enough for this adaptable plant.

Lemon button fern requires well-draining soil that has a PH level of 4.5- 5. pH levels higher than that are discouraged and will hinder the growth of your Lemon button fern.

HumidityHumidity Requirements

As with most ferns, Lemon button ferns require an adequate humidity level of up to seventy percent or higher.

While it appreciates consistent moisture, be careful to not overwater your Lemon button fern since that may waterlog the soil and lead to root rot. It is enough to water it at least once a week. 

Remember to buy a humidifier if you live in a dry area and never place your Lemon button fern in direct sunlight or near a stove since the lack of moisture in these dry places would lead to its leaves starting to brown.

Moreover, it is advisable to keep your fern on a pebble or gravel tray or a saucer would do too. Then, whenever you have to water your plant, pour water into the tray it is kept in.

This prevents the potting mix from drawing too much water, considerably decreasing the chances of your fern rotting. Over time, the excess water in the tray would evaporate instead of harming your Lemon button fern.

TemperatureTemperature Requirements

The Lemon button fern thrives in a warm, humid environment. The optimum temperatures range for it to grow properly is from 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Be mindful of not placing your fern where the temperature fluctuates a lot. Also, do not place it near an east or south-facing window since that puts the plant directly under sunlight, which might lead to its foliage burning.

Remember, your Lemon button fern is native to tropical and subtropical forest floors of Asia, where the temperature stays within a much-regulated range. Keep your fern warm and well-loved!

FertilizingFertilizing Requirements

As a loving plant parent, use a very mild liquid fertilizer to feed your Lemon button fern. That too should be paced monthly or fortnightly.

This is because ferns do not require excessive or stringent fertilization routines. Moreover, when you buy the fern from your local nursery, you do not know when it was last fertilized.

After buying it, wait at least two months before fertilizing your Lemon button fern. This reduces the risk of over-fertilization.  

Grooming 1Pruning

Lemon button ferns are a very compact potted plant. Due to its small size, it does not require aggressive or excessive pruning.

However, during the winter or autumn season, some of its fronds might wither and die, so it is advisable to remove these dead fronds to keep your fern happy and healthy. This will also keep your pot tidy and encourage the growth of new fronds.



A Lemon button fern could be propagated by two methods: division and spore propagation. The division is when you trim off the baby fern from the runners. Runners are classified as the long tendrils that seem to “run” from the base of the plant.

On the other hand, spore propagation is more common in ferns since ferns do not have any seeds. Hence, they reproduce through their spores.

Let us now take a deeper dive into the world of the Lemon button fern’s propagation. You can also separate an already rooted rhizome from any mature and thriving Lemon button fern.

– Division Method

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to do this method of propagation:

  1. Gently wiggle the pot away from the root ball. This will assist in removing the entire Lemon button fern from its former plant pot
  2. Determine and identify the section of the fern that you want to remove from your main clump.
  3. Gently tease apart the roots of the new section of fern with your hands. Be careful that you do not put too much pressure on the roots since that may lead to the roots breaking. This process is to remove the frond you want to propagate from the old plant.
  4. Pot your plants in separate containers. Make sure the container you place the sections in would keep your fern well-drained. Add soil and water the plant thoroughly. 

Additionally, you could even put your stem clipping in a slightly perforated can along with moist soil and cover it to trap in humidity, then you will be able to witness the growth of roots.

This makes for a simpler propagation method. This is also relatively more convenient for plant repotting.

– Propagation With Spores

Along with using division to propagate your Lemon button fern, propagating through spores could also be used. Spores resemble little dots on the underside of the fern leaf.

Dealing with them needs time and experience. So, if you are a new plant parent, it would be easier to use the division method.

  1. Remove and put a healthy frond from your Lemon button fern into a plastic bag. Wait for this to dry out.
  2. Once the leaf is dry, you have to thoroughly shake the plastic bag it is kept in. This will help separate the spores from the frond.
  3. Next, take an unglazed pot and place the spores in it along with a peat mixture. Make sure it is kept properly moist. It is advisable to keep your pot in a tray or saucer of water. That will let the moisture seep through the entire mixture.
  4. Cover this pot with a plastic bag and place it in a sunny, warm place. 
  5. Make sure wherever you locate this pot does not exceed the temperature of around 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
  6. Soon, a slimy, green coating will start appearing on the surface of your peat. This is an indication that the propagation process has begun successfully.
  7. Wait patiently for many months to let the fern start growing. 

Tips for Growing Plants in Containers

Conclusively, a Lemon button fern is not a fussy plant and you could keep it in any kind of container. All that needs to be made sure is that you water it periodically and do not let its container flood.

Let us now go over some other essential pointers:

  • The optimal season for repotting your Lemon button fern is spring.
  • If you have placed your fern in a container that has no drainage, then layer the bottom with pebbles or rocks. This prevents the roots from standing in water.
  • However, it is appreciable if the pot you use should have proper draining holes so the soil does not get waterlogged.
  • There should be adequate soil in the pot when you repot your lemon button, preferably an inch above the top of the pot.
  • Make a small hole in the soil and gently place your Lemon button fern in it. Pack it with more soil and water.
  • Keep your fern warm and well-loved! Make sure it remains well-drained and that it is periodically watered and located in a warm and humid space. 

Best Places to Plant Lemon Button Fern

Lemon button ferns do not require much sunlight and need to be watered only at least once a week to not completely dry out. The following are some indoor locations where you could place your Lemon button fern to spruce up every corner of your home:

  • In the bathroom: This room is sufficiently humid, which will help your fern thrive. However, keep it near a window so it receives some sunlight. Make sure to remove it from the direct sunlight if you notice the leaves wilting or turning brown.
  • Keep it on a shelf in your living room.
  • Place it on a partially lit patio that is shaded but receives indirect to medium sunlight.
  • Make a cozy reading nook and place your Lemon button fern there. This will help you imitate a little of nature’s freshness right where you are reading or studying.


Generally, if you keep your Lemon button fern well-watered in a pot that has proper drainage and is placed in a warm place, it would not face many problems. However, as a living thing, it is bound to experience some difficulties too.

Do not fret and keep your green thumbs working in making your Lemon button fern happy and healthy. All you need to do is look out for the following signs and remedy them in time.

– Leaves Turning Brown

 A Lemon button fern generally has vivid green leaves. So, if you see the leaves of your fern turning crisp and brown, it is a sign that it might not be receiving adequate water and humidity. Make sure to water your thirsty plant and provide extra humidity using a humidifier or a pebble tray.

– Wilting Leaves

This could be an indication of two common problems a Lemon button fern may be facing. If the stem of your fern is turning mushy along with the wilting leaves, that is a sign of overwatering.

Otherwise, if only the leaves are wilting, then that is a sign of sun damage. Bring the plant into the right lighting conditions to solve the problem.

– Dull Leaves

Naturally, the Lemon button fern has vibrant and thick leaves, so when its leaves start getting dull, it is a sign that they are not getting proper moisture.

Periodically spray its leaves with calcium-free water, or add a few drops of neem tree oil in water and spray the leaves of your Lemon button fern with it. 

They will be back to their radiant vibrancy in no time, while the neem oil will not only restore their luster but also help the fern get rid of pests and insects.

– Leaf Loss and Leaf Drop

This can be a problem in the winter season when the air is very dry. This is because Lemon button ferns need proper humidity to thrive, so in the frosty weather, indoor plants are at risk of drying out if not watered properly.

– Pests

Similar to any other plant, the Lemon button fern is susceptible to pest infestations as well. As house plants, Lemon button ferns attract spider mites that cause their leaves to turn yellow. However, they are not much of a threat and could easily be got rid of by using neem oil or other pesticides.

Moreover, mealy bugs could occasionally infest your plant. This could be remedied by rubbing cotton dipped in rubbing alcohol over the affected area or making use of available pesticides, depending on the severity of the infestation. 

– Diseases

Many plants are affected by anthracnose, which is also known as “leaf blight disease.” This causes the leaves of your Lemon button fern to acquire tan-colored spots. It could spread to other parts of the plant as well.


Is a Lemon Button Fern an Annual or Perennial?

The Lemon button fern is a perennial plant that is mostly grown indoors. Its distinctive features are its small, button-like leaves that make up its foliage.

Do you water Lemon Button Fern from the top or bottom?

Lemon Button Ferns should be watered from the top, allowing the water to thoroughly saturate the soil.

Why is my Lemon Button Fern not thriving?

A lack of water or exposure to direct sunlight could cause a Lemon Button Fern to struggle. Check the soil moisture level and adjust watering and lighting accordingly.


Growing a Lemon button fern is the best way to make your dream of planting a tropical garden at home come true. Let us now go through the essential care guidelines once more:

  • Lemon button ferns flourish in any basic soil one might use for a houseplant. However, regularly watering your fern is advisable. Do not overwater Lemon button fern though.
  • Lemon button ferns also enjoy indirect or medium sunlight, but it is best to keep them in the shade if they are planted outside. Never expose them to frosty weather or the scorching sun because it can be fatal for them.
  • You can propagate this plant through division or spore propagation. 
  • A typical Lemon button fern does not have a high growth rate, so they do not need plenty of space to grow. 
  • They typically grow only 12 inches in the entire growing season. With our comprehensive guidelines, you should be able to care for your Lemon button fern easily.

You just need to give them a little love and affection while ensuring they receive plenty of warmth and sunshine. These small tips and our guide are the ultimate recipes for helping your Lemon button fern thrive cheerfully in your garden!

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