How to Take Care of a Crocodile Fern

How to Take Care of a Crocodile Fern

A Crocodile Fern is a popular houseplant for anyone looking for a good fern. The plant’s fronds resemble what you would find on a crocodile skin, which is where it gets its name. Not only is the plant fascinating to look at with its dark green veins, but crocodile fern care is a relatively straightforward process, even for beginners.


Here is how to care for a Crocodile Fern plant and more!


Common Names

  • Microsorum musifolium
  • Crocodyllus Fern
  • Crocodile Fern plant
  • Alligator Fern


What Soil Works Best for an Alligator Fern?

What Soil Works Best for an Alligator Fern

Loose well-draining soil works best for an Alligator Fern. To help keep the potting soil nice and airy, you can put some perlite, peat moss, and pebbles into the soil mix to allow the ground to breathe and drain easily.


In addition to choosing potting mix that is airy and drains well, you want the plant to be in a pot with drainage holes. Drainage holes at the bottom of the container allow excess water to flow out of the bottom of the container, which reduces the risk of root rot. Root Rot is a problem for this plant from a combination of overwatering and not having the right pot to allow excess water to leave the container.


Can You Use a Houseplant Fertilizer?

You can use a water-soluble fertilizer during the plant’s growing season in the spring and the summer. It is ideal for giving a new plant half the recommended fertilizer to help ease it into a more-rich nutrient diet. If you provide the plant, or new plant, too much fertilizer too soon, it can burn the plant, so it is best to water it after receiving a fertilizer diet.


How Much Sunlight Does a Crocodile Fern Need?

How Much Sunlight Does a Crocodile Fern Need

The Crocodile Fern does best with indirect sunlight. If possible, you should keep this plant in front of a north-eastern facing if you have it as an indoor plant since that has good indirect light levels. Have a curtain or shade over the window to create a low-light / bright light environment, which the plant will enjoy.


Direct sunlight for long periods can scorch the leaves. Be mindful of the light conditions the plant is in, and try to place it in an area in your home that has more indirect light if possible.


What Temperature Works Best for a Crocodile Fern?

A Crocodile Fern does best in room temperatures between 60-75 degrees Fahrenheit. Colder temperatures than 60 degrees can cause growth problems for the plant via slow growth. Be sure not to leave this plant near a cold window during the winter or under an AC unit during the summer.


What Humidity Requirements Does an Alligator Fern Need?

What Humidity Requirements Does an Alligator Fern Need

Since an Alligator Fern is a tropical fern, it enjoys high humidity. To help increase the humidity levels around the plant, you can regularly mist it, place it on a pebble tray, use a humidifier next to it, or place it in a bathroom with a shower. Making sure that this plant is in a humid environment will help keep it healthy and strong.


A sign that the plant is not collecting enough humidity is if the leaves become crispy and develop brown tips. Brown tips and crisp leaves can also mean that the plant is not getting enough water, so you should often mist the plant to address two concerns.


How Often Should You Water an Alligator Fern?

When the top two inches of soil become dry, you will water it. During the growing season, you can give this plant a shower, which means you water the plant until the water drains out of the bottom of the pot. A regular watering practice like this during the growing season will allow the plant to get the water it needs to grow healthy and strong without letting water sit at the bottom of the pot.


During the winter months, you can scale back the watering routine. Try and only water the plant when the top two inches of soil become dry, but hold off on the shower method. The fern won’t absorb water as quickly during the winter, so you don’t want the plant to sit in extra water during the winter months since it can lead to mold and root rot.


What Size Does a Crocodile Fern Get to Typically?

What Size Does a Crocodile Fern Get to Typically

A mature Crocodile Fern can grow 1-2 feet tall.


Most Common Bugs

Scale and Mealybugs are common bugs on a Crocodile Plant. If you notice these bugs on the plant, you can remove them with a clean cloth and some rubbing alcohol on it.


Most Common Diseases

Root rot and mold are common diseases for a Crocodile Fern due to overwatering. If you have root rot, you will need to remove the plant entirely from the soil, cut away the damaged roots, and place it back in fresh and dry soil. For mold, you want to remove the plant from the soil like you would for root rot issues and use some fungicide in the new soil to prevent the spread of future mold if there was any left on the roots.


Can You Prune a Crocodile Fern?

It is best to prune a Crocodile Fern when brown tips are on the leaves. Brown tips on the leaves can lead to the whole leaf turning brown, which means the plant will try and send nutrients to this area to help it. When the plant does that, it doesn’t focus as much on the healthy parts of the plant, which then can lead to more leaves becoming brown.


Can You Propagate a Crocodile Fern?

The best way to propagate a Crocodile Fern is through root division, but it is best to make a few attempts from the mother plant since the process is not always successful. Here are the propagation root system steps to take to create new plants.


  1. Remove the mature plant from the pot altogether. You should only attempt to propagate this plant during the early spring since it will yield the most success since that is when the plant grows the most.
  2. Separate the roots from the mother plant
  3. Set the new roots into containers with drainage holes and fresh potting mix
  4. Place the new plants in an area in your home with room temperature and indirect light.
  5. Give the plant some water and let it settle into the new environment.
  6. After a few weeks, you should tug at the plant to see if the soil’s roots are starting to form.


Can You Repot a Crocodile Fern?

A crocodile fern is a slow grower, so you don’t need to repot the plant often. However, if you notice that the roots are sticking out of the bottom of the pot, you will need to repot it. Here are the steps below for repotting a crocodile fern.


  1. Remove the plant from the current container.
  2. Move the plant into a container up to two inches bigger than the previous home with fresh potting soil.
  3. Give the plant some water and place it in an area with indirect light.


Where Does this Plant Originate from Initially?

A Crocodile Fern’s native habitat comes from Australia and Southeast Asia’s tropical rainforests.


What USDA Hardiness Zone Works Best for this Plant?

Zones 10 and 11 work best for a Crocodile Fern.


Is it Toxic?

A Crocodile Fern is non-toxic to humans and pets.


Conclusion: How to Take Care of a Crocodile Fern?

In summary, a crocodile fern is a perfect gift for fern lovers. The fern care tips for this plant include:


  1. Keep it at room temperature.
  2. Giving it fertilizer during the growing season.
  3. Staying in light and airy soil.


While the propagation steps for this plant can be challenging, if you are successful, you can have more of these plants around your home or office!


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