If you’re in search of a hardier, yet beautiful fern, the rabbit foot fern or hares foot fern (Davallia fejeensis) is the ideal choice!
It originates from Fiji and it’s an evergreen fern with soft, lacy, and fuzzy rhizomes that cascade over and down the pot’s sides, creating an exotic and tropical atmosphere in both offices and homes.
Rabbit foot fern is easy to care for both indoors and outdoors.
It lives a long time, growing slowly and the color of the foliage ranges from light green to dark green. If you choose it as an indoor plant, make sure it’s placed in the brightest room, but not exposed to too much direct sunlight.
It’s also great for smaller spaces as it only grows around 12 inches in height and 6 inches in width.
Soothing and air-purifying, the rabbit foot fern may need higher humidity and more water than some other less demanding houseplants, but it’s totally worth the extra effort.
I really appreciate that this fern is non-toxic, according to the ASPCA, so you needn’t worry about placing it near children, cats and dogs.
The interesting common name is said to be inspired by the soft and fuzzy rhizomes that creep along the soil surface, reminding of the shape of a rabbit’s foot.
How to Care for a Rabbit Foot Fern
Rabbit foot ferns thrive on high brightness and dislike excessive direct sun exposure. Too much direct sunlight may scorch its foliage and cause browning, especially if it’s kept in low humidity conditions.
Still, a small amount of morning sun won’t cause any issues and may even encourage healthy growth.
If you want your rabbit foot fern to thrive, keep it where the temperatures are in a range between 60 degrees F and 70 degrees F.
Avoid placing it at areas where the temperature drops below 55 degrees F. When choosing a spot, make sure the plant isn’t exposed to drafts and air vents there.
Watering Rabbit Foot Fern
This plant appreciates a fair share of water and humidity. During the active growth phase in spring and summer, try to maintain the soil moist at all times, but not soaking.
Daily misting may also help prevent the rhizomes from becoming too dry and meet the plant’s humidity needs that are between 60 and 90 percent.
Combine 50 percent of regular potting mix soil and 50 percent sand to make the best medium for this plant. Also, always choose a pot that has drainage holes on the bottom.
Your rabbit foot fern will appreciate being fertilized once or twice per month during spring and summer. Use a liquid houseplant fertilizer diluted to half strength.
In case you notice that the plant isn’t producing new fronds, pause the feeding. Avoid excessive feeding because it can burn the sensitive fronds at the tips.
Repotting Rabbit Foot Fern
This plant needs repotting around every two years or so. It’s best done in spring. At the repotting stage, you can also divide the plant if it’s larger in size.
Choose a pot that’s slightly bigger than the previous one, but not too much as this plant likes to be crowded.
The removal of the fern from the current pot may be a bit tricky. If the pot is a cheaper one, cut it out to set the plant free. Otherwise, use a thin planting tool or a Hori Hori and gently pry it out by loosening the soil from the sides.
Inspect the roots and remove surplus old soil and set them into the fresh soil and water the plant well.
Rabbit Foot Propagation
- Through spores
When it’s late summer or early autumn, cut one frond from the fern and put it between two pieces of white paper. Set it in a location that is free of the draft.
Wait for two weeks before you remove the paper and check it for a reddish and dusty substance, that is, the spores.
Grow them in a microwave-safe plastic container that has drainage holes.
Put damp potting soil and microwave it for two to three minutes. The smell won’t be pleasant, so make sure the windows are open.
When the soil has cooled down, crease the paper with the spores and hold it tipped over the pot. Tap it lightly to transfer the spores over the soil. Close the container and keep it near a north-facing window.
Keep the soil damp. After six to eight weeks, you’ll notice small and green scales. Start misting them when they’re ⅜ of an inch in diameter. After six or eight weeks more, there will be tiny sprouted fronds.
Keep them covered until spring and gradually increase the period of uncovering to help them adjust to the new humidity. Afterward, set them into proper pots.
- Through the rhizomes
This is the easiest method. Cut a 2 to 3-inch rhizome (without foliage if you want to make a completely new plant).
Fill a new pot with one part potting soil and the other part peat moss. Set the rhizomes horizontally across the soil and press them lightly so that the upper part is above the soil.
Use hair pins or pieces of bending wire to pin them.
Keep the pots near a north-facing window and water them well. You can also place them under fluorescent light. Ensure they’re kept damp and new roots will form soon.
- By division
Older rabbit foot ferns can be divided into several plants.
Water the plant and then remove it from the pot. Cut the root into two to four sections.
Pot each of the pieces into new pots. Ensure the rhizomes are on top and not covered by the soil.
Best Rabbit Foot Fern Species
The common rabbit foot fern or Davallia fejeensis
This is the most common rabbit fern houseplant with fuzzy green rhizomes. It thrives on plenty of humidity and prefers brightness, but not direct sunlight.
I think it’s amazing for smaller spaces because it doesn’t grow excessively in height and width.
White rabbit’s foot fern or Humata tyermannii
This is my favorite rabbit foot fern; it’s very cool. It produces furry, silvery rhizomes. They grow outside of the pot in a cascading manner.
It also has green rhizomes, although newer growth may begin with a bronzer shade. Best-looking when grown in hanging baskets.
Squirrel’s Foot Fern or Davallia Bullata
Popular in Japan and China, this fern prefers a shady growing area. It’s also smaller in size and boasts fuzzy rhizomes covered in tiny fur-like hairs.
It’s a popular choice for hanging pots and regular pots too. Their cascading growth brings a special visual note to different indoor spaces.
Other Rabbit Foot Care Tips
I prune my rabbit foot fern when I notice sick or dead fronds. I cut at the base using clean snips dipped in denatured alcohol.
Any dry fronds should also be regularly removed. Don’t use these fronds for compost, but rather bag and throw them away.
Don’t forget to dust the foliage regularly with a soft brush. Dust may clog the pores and impede the plant’s growth.
Trouble Shooting- Common Rabbit Foot Care Issues
Problem: Yellow leaves with brownish tips
Cause: Low humidity and dry air.
Solution: Boost the humidity by misting the plant. Remove it from any exposure to drafts and air vents.
Problem: The plant isn’t growing and the fronds are pale
Cause: Not enough sunlight or too much sunlight; not enough fertilizer.
Solution: Make sure the plant gets plenty of brightness, without excessive exposure to direct sunlight. Feed it regularly in the spring and summer.
Problem: Wilting and defoliation
Solution: Brush off the mealybugs with a cotton ball dipped in rubbing alcohol. Then, apply neem oil onto the infested areas using a cotton ball.
Like to see more indoor ferns?
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