Blue Star Ferns


Phlebodium aureum



Contents

  1. Top Tips
  2. Location, Water, Humidity & Fertilisation
  3. Common Issues
  4. Origins, Temperature, Propagation, Repotting & Toxicity.

For queries or questions, comment in the section below or send us a message via this link!




Top Tips & Info

  • Care Difficulty - Easy to Moderate 
  • Provide a bright, indirect location with adequate humidity. Introducing a pebble tray is advised for those situated in dry air below 40%.
  • Good soil moisture throughout the year is mandatory for the fern's health. Periods of droughts will result in the browning or yellowing of foliage that'll take months to rectify.
  • Supplement every two to four weeks using a houseplant feed, depending on the season.
  • Repot tri-annually with a houseplant-labelled compost in the next sized pot; this is the perfect time to perform rhizomatous cuttings as seen in the 'Propagation' section.




Location & Light - 🔸🔸

Blue Star Ferns can withstand all ranges of indirect light, meaning that most locations in the home are accepted. Prolonged exposure of the sun's rays will result in severe dehydration and bleaching. For information regarding the rejuvenation of crispy specimens, scroll down to the "Common Issues' section.


Water - 🔸🔸

Allow the soil's top third to dry out in between irrigations, along with wetting the rhizomes (gold hairy stems) from time to time for the hydration of new growth. Do not, under any circumstances, promote periods of droughts due to the species' reduced ability to endure dehydration. Under-watering symptoms include crispy or greying of leaves, little to no growth and brown patches forming on the fronds. Since the foliage has a bluish-grey tinge, under-watering symptoms are typically masked until it's too late. Over-watering symptoms include yellowed fronds, rotten rhizomes and a general decline in health. These issues are commonly the product of too little heat or light, waterlogging or an overly-large pot used during the repotting process. 


Humidity - 🔸🔸🔸

Moderate to high humidity should be at the forefront of a Blue Star Fern. Introducing a pebble tray will not only keep the leaf-tips from browning over, but it'll also slow the risk of drying soil and potential dehydration. A gentle monthly hose-down will also benefit the specimen, as it'll hydrate the leaves and reduce dust particles resting on its foliage.


Fertilisation - 🔸🔸

Supplement the soil every two weeks using a houseplant-labelled fertiliser, reducing this to monthly in the autumn and winter. Over-fertilisation may lead to the burning of roots, so keep this in mind when diluting concentrated alternatives.



Immature spores that can be propagated once browned over. Scroll down to 'Propagation' for further information on this.


Common Issues with Blue Star Ferns

When a fern is severely dehydrated, most of its fronds will yellow and crisp-up - leaving you with a naked plant. Although it may spell the end of juvenile plantlets, there may still be light at the end of the tunnel for more established specimens. If its rhizomes are still plump without any signs of retraction, prune-away the severely affected areas and contain the plant (with its pot) in a transparent bag. Keep the soil continually moist, providing a good level of indirect light and temperatures above 15°C (59°F). Remove the bag every few days for around an hour to allow a fresh batch of air to circulate the stem and soil. After a few weeks, new life will form in the nodal junctions on the rhizomes' tips, signalling the start of its recovery process. Maintain a sealed environment for the following month until you feel it's necessary to release it back into the open air. For the prevention of environmental shock, be sure to introduce a humidity tray for higher levels of atmospheric moisture around the plant. Not only will this ease the specimen back into healthy functioning life, but it'll also reduce the rate of transpiration (water-loss in the leaves), and therefore downplay the risk of dehydration and further decline.

An under-humid room will not favour them in the slightest. Humid air and an absence of dry soil are what keeps this genus happy, so dry air will lead to browning leaf tips and weakened growth. Either mist weekly or introduce a humidity tray to keep life manageable. Avoid situating any fern within four metres of an operating radiator, as the dry air will spread up the process of browning leaf-tips.

Due to the genus' sensitivity to chemicals, Leaf Shine shouldn't be used to improve the appearance of the foliage, and instead should be cleaned using warm soapy water. Failure to do so may cause yellowed, mottled spots that cannot be undone.

Yellowing leaves are the result of either over-watering or excess moisture settling on the foliage, typically promoted by dark locations. Instead of pouring water directly onto the foliage, irrigate carefully at the soil line by lifting the foliage at the side to prevent wetting the leaves unnecessarily. Do not to over-water your fern if it's situated in a dark location as the combination of both overly moist soil and improper light will allow Rhizoctonia to develop beneath the soil line. For further information about this disease, click on this link. In some instances, yellowing leaves may be caused by under-watering. If this is the case, and the fern has endured persistent droughts, increase irrigations and avoid direct sunlight at all costs. The time in which it takes the specimen to bounce back solely relies on the cultivation and the quality of its current environment.

Never allow temperatures to dip below 10ºC (50ºF) as irreversible damage will occur in the likes of yellow foliage and weakened health. When this happens, remove the severely affected areas and immediately improve growing conditions - never cut through softened yellow growth, and only around brown, crispy squares. As rehabilitation can take several months because of its slow-growing nature, be sure to provide a stable location with better growing conditions to speed this process.

Mould developing on the soil means two things - too little light and over-watering. Despite the harmlessness of the mould, it'll prove unsightly to most gardeners and is therefore removed once known. To remove, replace the top two inches of the soil for a fresh batch of houseplant compost. Either increase the amount of light received slightly (no direct sunlight) or decreased the frequency of waters slightly. If yellowing older fronds accompany the mould, you may also have a case of root rot.



The 'x Phlebosia' is an artificial hybridisation of between the Phlebodium and Pyrrosia created just a few years ago.



Origins

Phlebodium is a genus of four species that originate from tropical America. During the mid-1750s, Carl Linnaeus initially classified this genus as part of the Polypodium family; however, several genetic testings found that they were, in fact, a separate genus with comparable attributes. The most common of the four species, the P. auruem, is a hybrid between P. pseudoaureum & P. decumanum. 'Phlebodium' can be translated from Latin to ''lots of veins', with the species' aureum translating to 'gold' in reference to the rhizomes' colour.


The distribution of Phlebodium aureum.


Temperature

12° - 26℃   (54° - 78℉)
H1b  (Hardiness Zone 12)  - Can be grown outdoors during the summer in a sheltered location with temperatures above 12℃  (54℉),  but is fine to remain indoors, too. If you decide to bring this plant outdoors, don't allow it to endure more than an hour of direct sunlight a day as it may result in sun-scorch. Regularly keep an eye out for pests, especially when re-introducing it back indoors.


Spread

Up to 1m in height and 1.2m in width. The ultimate height will take between 5 - 8 years to achieve, with several new fronds being developed each season.


Pruning & Maintenance

Remove yellowed or dying leaves and plant debris to encourage better growth and improve the all-round appearance. Pruning must be done with clean scissors or shears to reduce the chance of bacterial and fungal diseases - remember to make clean incisions as too much damage can shock the plant


Propagation

Via Spores, Division or Rhizome Cuttings. 

Spores (Easy) - You may have noticed little brown spots under the leaves - those are reproductive spores that can be propagated in the same way as seeds, once matured. These zygotes will develop on the under-leaves of each frond; you'll know when they're ready to be propagated, as they'll brown over and begin to crisp.

  1. Choose an appropriate potting-mix; we'd recommend a houseplant-labelled compost as it boasts a good balance of aeration and water retention. Place the soil into a plastic pot (any size is fine) that has adequate drainage holes.
  2. Separate the spores from the under-leaves using your hands. If the spores are brown and crispy, but can't be removed, cut the entire frond off. Make sure that the diameter of the pot is wider than the frond's span; however, you can cut the frond (sideways) to fit the desired container better.
  3. Place the spores or fronds ON TOP of the compost, making sure that they sit flat against the soil-line.
  4. If you've managed to separate the spores, maintain moist soil by misting the top layer every few days. Do not submerge into the compost as this will reduce the rates of success. For those who still have entire fronds, place the foliage on top of dry compost. The dehydration will allow the spores to detach from the leaf, settling on the soil below.
  5. Place the potted spores/fronds into a transparent bag and situate it into a bright, indirect location. Provide temperatures above 18°F (64°F).
  6. Keep the spores moist, misting the top layer of the soil every few days. The fronds, however, must stay dry until you start to notice missing spores from the under-leaves. Once the majority have detached, discard the frond and begin misting the soil to aid hydration.
  7. As long as you provide high humidity (aided by the transparent bag locking in moist air) and good soil moisture, germination should begin. This process can take up to two months, but don't discard until it hits five months of nothingness.

Once the spores have developed their first frond, place them into their own pot to grow. Safely remove the transparent bag and follow the care requirements listed at the top of the article.

Division (Easy) - The best time to divide is during the repotting period. Gently tease away some of the soil, separating fleshy rhizomes with sections of the original root systems and plenty of foliage. Place the separated plantlets in a moist, well-draining potting mix and avoid direct sunlight with prolonged droughts. Although this method is quite easy, be mindful of transplant shock and do not perform this method if the plant is displaying signs of stress. Always moisten the soil 24hrs before repotting or division to avoid shocking the root systems.


Rhizomes are modified stems that'll house both the roots & leaves of a plant, and is usually the easiest method of propagating a specimen.


Rhizome Cuttings (Easy) - Choose the healthiest, most established rhizomes that show no signs of damage or disease. This method can be taken from spring to early summer, using between two to four fronds within each rhizomatous section. Cut directly below a node using a clean knife, and separate its root systems from the rest of the root ball. Make sure the propagated rhizome is at least 8cm in length so that it has enough stored energy to continue growing. Plant it straight into a moist, well-draining medium to avoid root rot. Sprinkle a half a centimetre of soil onto of the rhizome to lock in surrounding moisture and wait for new growth that may take up to several weeks. Avoid direct sunlight and offer high humidity with temperature (15°C, 59°C) for success. After its second new leaf, treat it like a normal specimen, following the care tips above!


A perfect specimen for propagation; 5cm of rhizomatous growth sporting healthy leaves.


Flowering

True ferns will not flower and instead must be propagated by either spores, rhizomes, plantlets or stems, depending on the species.


Repotting

Repot biannually in spring using a houseplant-labelled compost and the next sized pot with adequate drainage. Hydrate the plant 24hrs before the tinkering with the roots to prevent the risk of transplant shock. For those that are situated in a darker location, add a thin layer of small grit in the pot's base to improve drainage and downplay over-watering. Click here for a detailed step-by-step guide on transplantation, or via this link to learn about repotting with root rot.

If you're still unsure of what to do, never hesitate to send us an email or direct message to get our expert advice on transplantation.


Pests & Diseases

Keep an eye out for mealybugs, aphids, spider mite, scale, thrips, blackfly, vine weevils & root mealybugs that'll locate themselves in the cubbyholes and undersides of the leaves, with the exception of the latter two in the soil. Common diseases associated with Blue Star Ferns are root rot, leaf-spot disease, botrytis, rust, powdery mildew & southern blight - click here to learn more about these issues.


Toxicity

Not known to be poisonous by consumption of pets and humans. If high quantities are eaten, it may result in vomiting, nausea and a loss of appetite.


Retail Locations

Dobbies,  IKEA,  Online Stores.



If you need further advice with indoor gardening, never hesitate to send us a message or leave a comment in the section below. 



Comments
* The email will not be published on the website.