The Kangaroo Paw fern is a houseplant fern native to Australia and New Zealand. Microsorum diversifolium is also known as the Kangaroo fern and the Kangaroo Foot fern due to the plant’s long leaves.
Kangaroo Paw Fern Appearance
The Kangaroo fern grows to a mature height of between 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30.4 cm) tall and 4 feet (1.2 meters) wide. The fern’s foliage features the same glossy appearance as the Holly fern. The green leaves grow up to 6 inches (15 cm) long with a variety of shapes on the same plant. The leathery fronds have either smooth or indented leaf edges. The fern produces no blooms.
Kangaroo Foot Fern Light Requirements
Like most ferns, the Kangaroo Paw fern prefers bright, indirect light. Use a sheer curtain to filter direct sunlight or place the fern in a sunny room away from the window. Exposure to direct sunlight will burn the leaves and is to be avoided.
Watering Your Kangaroo Fern
Provide regular watering once a week or when the top 1 inch of soil becomes dry. Water the plant until the water runs through the drainage holes but do not let the soil become soggy. Place a layer of mulch on the top of the soil to retain moisture.
Soil and Fertilizer Requirements
Provide a well-draining potting soil with a slightly acidic pH level. Amend the soil with peat moss to improve drainage and add organic matter for nutrients. Feed your Kangaroo Foot fern with a low-release, balanced fertilizer diluted to half strength. Repeat feedings once per month from early spring until fall.
Temperature and Humidity Levels
Kangaroo Paw ferns are not cold hardy and require temperatures between 60 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit (15.5 to 32 Celsius). Avoid temperature below 60 F as growth and foliage health is affected. The fern prefers high humidity, so boost moisture levels by placing a tray filled with small pebbles and water under the pot’s drip tray. Misting the foliage also helps.
Propagating Your Kangaroo Fern
Division of the fast-growing rhizomes is the easiest propagation method for Kangaroo Paw ferns. In the early spring or fall, remove the fern from its pot and divide the fern into two or three separate plants. Use a sharp and sterile knife to help divide the rhizomes, ensuring each new section has its own leaves and roots. Fill pots for each new fern with potting soil and add two inches of peat moss. Mix the peat into the soil. Place the new plants in low light and withhold fertilizer until new growth occurs. Keep the soil moist until the ferns become established, then care for them as a mature plant.
Common Pests and Diseases
Scale and aphids are pests that are common to Kangaroo ferns. Scale presents as bumps on the fern’s leaves. Aphids are tiny, green insects that leave a sticky honeydew on the plant. Remove the pests manually using a cotton swab soaked in rubbing alcohol. Larger infestations may require treatment of the entire plant with neem oil.
Root rot affects ferns that are consistently overwatered. Signs of rot first appear as wilted or yellowing fronds. Reduce moisture levels immediately and remove any damaged fronds. Remove the fern from its pot and inspect the roots. Black, mushy roots indicate rot. If only a small number of roots are affected, trim away the roots and replant the fern in a clean pot with fresh soil. Advanced cases of rot may not be reversible.
The Kangaroo Paw fern is an easy-care fern with unique-looking foliage. The large leaves cascading out of a hanging basket make an eye-catching addition to any home. Add this lush, hardy fern to your houseplant collection.
Kangaroo Paw Fern FAQ
Repot the fern every two to three years, in the spring or fall, if the fern has outgrown its current pot.
Prune your fern to remove dead leaves or to control plant size.
Brown leaves usually indicate low humidity levels or too much heat.
Yellow leaves may indicate scorching from sun exposure. Yellow and wilted leaves are indicators of overwatering or root rot.
The fern does not appear on the ASPCA’s list of toxic houseplants.