My House Fern Is Turning Yellow

Written by tanya khan
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My House Fern Is Turning Yellow
Care for yellow leaves on a house fern. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

Attractive additions to a home or office, ferns feature graceful foliage that provides natural colour and beauty to the indoor space. Sometimes the otherwise green foliage of indoor or house ferns turns yellow and requires immediate attention. Care for the stressed perennial plant and nurse it back to health.

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Excessive sunlight causes the delicate fronds or foliage of a house fern to appear sun scorched, yellow and grow stunted. A simple relocation to an east-facing window exposes the plant to warm, bright light that causes yellow fronds. Ideally, house ferns thrive in filtered but bright light. If you notice the fronds of your fern turning yellow after you move it, relocate it back to a west-facing window that provides the necessary sunlight exposure it needs. Remember that changes in the seasons also cause shifts in sunlight exposure.


Improper watering causes the fronds of a house fern to turn yellow. Overwatering a fern planted in waterlogged soil increases it susceptibility to fungal diseases. Ensure your potted fern has drainage holes through its base and fill the pot with loose, well-draining potting soil and organic compost. Follow a regular irrigation schedule and avoid sudden changes it the amount or frequency of water. The same symptoms appear if your house fern is getting too little water. Water the fern deeply and leave the soil to dry lightly before watering again.

Excessive Fertilizer

House ferns do not require the same amount of fertiliser other houseplants require, but thrive in lesser amounts. Excessive fertiliser causes the fern to turn yellow and fronds to drop prematurely. Feed the fern a well-balanced fertiliser at half the recommended strength every month between April and September. Use an organic fertiliser like fish emulsion as opposed to a chemical formulation. Avoid fertilising the fern during the winter. Douse the pot every few months to leech out accumulated fertiliser salts.


Fern scale causes the fronds of the house fern to slowly turn yellow and reduces plant vigour. Female scales cause yellow spots on fern leaves. Inspect the house fern for female scales that are flat, pale brown and pear-shaped insects. Avoid pesticides ferns are sensitive to, but treat infestations with two applications of horticultural or neem oil, two weeks apart.


Act quickly and treat the yellowing leaves on the fern as soon as you notice them, so the plant regains its natural colour and vigour. Hang a light curtain to shade a window with direct sunlight exposure if you must place the potted fern there. Also, avoid moving the plant more than 24 to 36 inches away from the window.

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