Lemon button fern care

Growing Nephrolepis (Lemon Button Fern)

Latin Name Pronunciation: nef-ro-lep’iss

Known as the Lemon Button Fern, Nephrolepis cordifolia ‘Duffii’ prefers bright, indirect or filtered light indoors, evenly moist soil, and air that is not dry (see below for ways to increase humidity around your plant). Provide warm temperatures (60 ° F and above). Fertilize monthly in early spring and again in summer with a water-soluble fertilizer (20-20-20) mixed at ½ the recommended strength. Can summer outdoors in a shady spot.

Humidity: Most houseplants are native to tropical or subtropical regions of the world, where relative humidity is typically very high. They suffer in the dry air produced by furnaces and woodstoves. The best way to increase the humidity around your plants is to run a humidifier nearby. You can also set plants in trays filled with pebbles or gravel. Add water to a level just below the tops of the pebbles (if the potting mix in the pots comes in contact with the water, the mix will draw water into the pot, which will cause the mix to become saturated, eventually leading to rot). Refill trays frequently to replace water lost through evaporation. (Our Humiditrays perform the same function without the need for pebbles.)

Lemon Button Fern Care – Tips For Growing Lemon Button Ferns

Highly regarded for their use in shaded landscapes and flower beds, ferns are a welcome garden addition for those wishing to add dramatic height and texture to plantings. With an extensive range of varieties from which to choose, creating a visually interesting landscape using ferns may prove to be quite the difficult task for growers. One variety specifically, ‘Lemon Button’ fern, is a great choice for containers, for use as houseplants, and as planted in small shaded spaces in suitable regions.

What is a Lemon Button Fern?

Lemon button fern plants (Nephrolepis cordifolia “Duffii” or “Lemon Buttons”) are a small variety of Boston fern. Usually growing no larger than 1 foot (30 cm.) tall, these ferns are excellent additions to arranged outdoor container plantings, as well as great for use indoors as a houseplant.

Requiring a shady location with filtered light, growing lemon button ferns outdoors in the ground will require a frost-free growing zone. However, once established, ferns which receive optimal growing conditions are known to multiply.

Before planting, always make certain to check with local agricultural officials, as many varieties of fern may become invasive. Proper research before planting will ensure that other native plant species are not disturbed or displaced and continue to thrive.

Growing Lemon Button Ferns

Due to the nature of these plants, it is best to start with transplants, as seeds may not always grow true to type. While it may be possible to find these plants at local garden centers and plant nurseries, it is readily available online. When ordering plants online, always order from reputable sources as to ensure the arrival of high-quality and disease-free transplants.

Next, select a location or container suitable for transplant. Ferns require consistent moisture and indirect sunlight in order for optimal growing conditions to be met. Dig a hole or fill a container in/with well-draining soil. Carefully fill soil around the plant, and then water thoroughly.

Due to their tropical nature, plants will appreciate additional humidity when grown indoors. Harsh winter conditions can be especially stressful for these plants when grown indoors. While many houseplant enthusiasts choose to use a humidifier, others may place containers on top of plant trays filled with pebbles. Water is then added just below the level of the pebbles. Avoid allowing the planter to come into contact with the growing container as this may encourage fungal growth.

Nephrolepis, Lemon Button Fern, Erect Sword Fern, Ladder Fern, Tuberous Sword Fern ‘Duffii’



Water Requirements:

Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings

Sun Exposure:

Light Shade


Grown for foliage

Foliage Color:

Unknown – Tell us


6-12 in. (15-30 cm)

12-18 in. (30-45 cm)


6-9 in. (15-22 cm)


USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 °C (15 °F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 °C (20 °F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 °C (25 °F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 °C (30 °F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 °C (35 °F)

Where to Grow:

Can be grown as an annual

Suitable for growing in containers



Bloom Color:


Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown – Tell us

Bloom Size:

Unknown – Tell us

Bloom Time:


Other details:

Unknown – Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Unknown – Tell us

Propagation Methods:

By dividing the rootball

Seed Collecting:

N/A: plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Bellflower, California

Bloomington, California

El Cerrito, California

Stanford, California

Bartow, Florida

Hollywood, Florida

Jacksonville, Florida

Harlem, Georgia

Richmond, Texas

Kalama, Washington

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Button Fern, Pellaea rotundifolia: “Dark and Round”

Lately I’ve been in the market for a houseplant to add some life to my small apartment bathroom. My two requirements: It must be able to survive in the windowless and humid atmosphere of a Manhattan bathroom, and it can’t be too spiky (lest I accidentally bump into it after a shower). I’ve finally found the perfect solution: the button fern. These petite houseplants have soft, velvety leaves and thrive in humidity. Here’s what you need to know before adopting your own button fern.

Above: A button fern is $7.95 from Minnesota plant shop Spruce Flowers and Home.

The button fern, also called the round-leafed fern, is an evergreen fern (of the Pteridaceae family) with small dark green leaves attached to a thin stem. “Rotundifolia” refers to the roundness of the leaves, and the genus name, Pallaea, comes from the Greek word meaning “dark,” a reference to the stems that turn dark red with age. Plants in the genus are also sometimes referred to as “cliff brakes.”

Above: In temperate weather, button ferns are happy on a windowsill in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, with companions cyclamen and winter heath. Photograph by KM via Flickr.

The plant’s leaves and stems become darker as the plant grows. A button plant in a 4-inch pot is $12 via Pernell Gerver.

Above: Button ferns and orchids mingle in a Kew Gardens garden bed. Photograph by Jim Linwood via Flickr.

Though native to New Zealand and Australia, button ferns can be grown outdoors in USDA growing zones 9 through 11. Though they can be slightly fickle when grown indoors, with enough care and attention to its needs, a button fern makes an excellent houseplant.

Button ferns are small compared to other fern varieties (they only grow 12-18 inches tall), making them ideal candidates for small spaces. Their small leaflets become more oval-shaped as the plant grows.

Don’t confuse button fern with the similarly named lemon button fern (Nephrolepsis Cordifolia), a small plant that looks similar from a distance but is unrelated.

Above: A detail of a button fern’s rounded leaflets and deep red stem. A plant in a 2.5 inch pot is $4.49 from Josh’s Frogs.

Cheat Sheet

  • Choose a vessel with ample drainage in the bottom; it’s important that the soil drains efficiently between waterings.
  • Its affinity for humidity makes the button fern an ideal houseplant for a guest bath. Place it on a shelf or not-too-bright windowsill for visual intrigue, or place it in a hanging basket.
  • Want more button ferns? In spring, simply divide your existing button fern with a sharp knife and repot the sections.

Keep It Alive

  • Button ferns like enough water, but detest soggy soil. Let the top portion of soil dry out between waterings. If the fronds are green and not wilted, you’ve found a perfect happy medium.
  • House your button fern in a bright or even slightly shady spot, but not in direct sun. A sun-filled kitchen or living room is a good choice.
  • Make sure to keep your button fern in a humid environment (ideally, in 50 percent humidity). In winter, when heat and fires in the fireplace dry out the home, be sure to occasionally mist the leaves, particularly when they look droopy.

Above: Photograph via Josh’s Frogs.

It might take some time to figure out what exactly your picky button fern wants, but stick with it: once adjusted, this is a fairly easy-to-care-for houseplant. I’ll be purchasing one to perch on the edge of my bath.

For more plants-in-the-bath inspiration, see our posts:

  • DIY: Maidenhair Fern for Bathroom Greenery.
  • World’s Best Plant for a Bathroom.
  • 5 Favorites: Bathroom as Garden.

Button Fern

a.k.a., Cliff Brake – Round-Leafed Fern – Tarawera
Pellaea rotundifolia

The Button Fern can be successfully grown by a patient beginner or an intermediate Indoor Gardener willing to pay attention while it establishes itself in new surroundings.

Once settled in, this is an easy-going fern, needing less care than many of its delicate, lacy relatives.

Very small, round, leathery leaves with a slight sheen to them grow along thin stems.

The branches stretch to only about a foot long with a slight, gentle arch to them. They grow quickly but stay small; you won’t need anything larger than a 6- to 8-inch pot.

If happy, it can surprise its Indoor Gardener with up to 12 fronds curling up through the soil at once, usually in spring.

As it ages it changes: the leaflets become more oval-shaped; the stems turn a dark red; the arches grow more pronounced; and spores appear.

If the plant gets raggedy, you can trim back old growth down to the crown; you can also trim back any brown stem ends.

Also called the Cliff Brake, the Button Fern naturally grows on limestone cliffs and rock faces. Even as a houseplant, it prefers to dry out a bit between waterings and likes less misting than other ferns. If you do grow other ferns, keep this one on a different care schedule.

Finding the best water balance will be the tricky part. How often you water the Button Fern depends on the soil mix, the type of container (plastic, terracotta, ceramic), the season, the amount and kind of light, drainage, and the temperature and humidity of your home. As long as you don’t over-water the Button Fern, you have a bit of leeway to experiment. Watch the tips of the fronds – if they’re green, keep doing what you’re doing!

Be careful not to confuse the Button Fern with the Lemon Button Fern – they look quite a bit alike from a distance but have a different taxonomy, origin, and very different care needs.

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If you’re serious about growing ferns – or someone you know is – a membership and subscription to the American Fern Society

and their magazine is almost essential. Keep up with new varieties to grow, techniques for planting, and how to maintain health for your ferns. The magazine provides info for both indoor and outdoor enthusiasts.

For the Indoor Gardener


The Button Fern is a little tricky in its needs, so try one pattern of care, watch your plant, and try something else if it doesn’t look happy. Brown tips mean it needs more humidity.

Sources differ on the amount of light needed, how to water, misting, amount of humidity, dryness of soil, even soil mix – which is unusual. The only thing that seems to kill it quickly is a soggy root system, so be sure the soil is dry enough before you water again.

Otherwise, it’ll try to hang in there with you until you figure out what your fern needs.

  • LIGHT: indirect, bright light, especially in winter; more subdued light in summer
  • WATER: moderate; warm; never let it stay soggy; wait until soil’s dry before watering
  • SOIL: well-draining soil and peat moss; some sources add sand
  • HUMIDITY: moderate; use damp stone tray
  • MISTING: sources say everything from no to occasionally to frequently; watch your plant’s reactions
  • FERTILIZER: spring-summer weekly; water soluble, half strength
  • TEMP: normal room temperature; can tolerate a little cooler air than other ferns; avoid drafts


  • HEIGHT: 8-12 inches
  • WIDTH: a bit over 12 inches


  • scale (rare)
  • some sources mention mealy bugs, aphids, thrip
  • repot in spring; use well-draining shallow container

COST: inexpensive for young plants


  • Spores: on older plants only
  • Division



Once you’ve negotiated a successful care program with your particular Button Fern in your particular home, the plant becomes a very pretty, easy-to-care-for addition to any Indoor Gardener’s collection.

The Pallaea rotundifolia did not show up on any toxic-to-pets list consulted.


The combination of dainty looking but leathery leaves makes the Button Fern interesting. One of the smaller ferns who’s very happy being the center of attention, it’s quite the show-off once it’s settled into a proper care pattern. In spring, it can shoot up to a dozen new fronds from the soil at once.


  • Small hanging basket
  • 6- to 8-inch pot
  • Some success as a terrarium plant

For Botanists, Scientists,
Outdoor Gardeners,
and School Reports

ORIGIN: New Zealand (temperate forests)
Some sources add: Australia, North America, Asia, Africa, Norfolk Island, Madagascar


  • cliffs and rocks – “cliff brake”
  • especially limestone cliffs
  • perennial


Pallaea Rotundifolia

KINGDOM: Plantae
SUBKINGDOM: Tracheobionta (Vascular plants)
DIVISION: Pteridophyta
CLASS: Filicopsida
ORDER: Polypodiales
FAMILY: Pteridaceae (some sources: Sinopteridaceae or Adiantaceae)
GENUS: Pellaea
SPECIES: rotundifolia

DISCLAIMER: Indoor-Gardener.com reports information from research and does not guarantee any of the plants mentioned, for medicinal, decorative, or other uses. Neither the FDA nor any physician have endorsed the uses of plants mentioned on the website. Use plants as food or medicinal products only at your own risk.

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Lemon Button Fern (Nephrolepis Cordifolia Duffii)

Lemon Button Fern

Get the beautiful air purifier plant today!

Lemon Button Fern is a species of plants family lomariopsidaceae, native to tropical and subtropical rain forests all over the world. A common characteristic of the plants are that they possess branched stems, complex leaves and roots. Having dual organs, these plants are capable of self-fertilization. The spores, being relatively light are able to transport themselves through long distances, ensuring survival of their species. Below are the specifications of offered plant:

Plant name: Lemon Button Fern
Plant size: 6-10 inch approx
Potting medium : Potting mix
Pot size: 6 inch plastic pot
Location: Indoor, Shade
Light: Shade, artificial light
Watering: Frequent, likes moist soil
Temperature: 16 to 32 degree celsius

Ferns are perfect houseplants which survive in adverse conditions for a plant, these are adaptable to low or artificial light and human livable temperature range at ease, these will not disappoint or need much of your attention to bring tropical look and clean harmful pollutants from the indoors air. While growing as houseplant, ferns require moderate bright light, little humidity and over watering. Ferns have existed from prehistoric period due to their ability to adapt and self-reproduce, they will continue to thrive in the most extreme conditions.

Due to the extensive number of species, different types of ferns are able to grow under different type of climatic conditions. Their needs are diverse and extreme. Some species of ferns can tolerate extreme heat and drought whereas some grow well with enough water and warmth. Typically, most ferns are found in the tropical regions where the climatic conditions are most feasible.

Ferns are known to have the ability to remove chemical pollutants in the air, specifically Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata ‘Bostoniensis’) and Kimberly Queen Fern (Nephrolepis obliterata) were part of NASA clean air study and found to be effective in removing formaldehyde, xylene and toluene. Ferns are extensively used as indoor landscape plants to beautify the surroundings.

We have tested its different varieties by placing them at living rooms, bedrooms, bathrooms, thick shades at Delhi weather conditions for more than couple of years and it works. The plant does not require to be fed or watered frequently, watering it once in a month and a spoon of fertilizer every spring in the indoor conditions, makes it more than happy.

Go ahead and buy the plant online or by visiting our offline store for more exclusive collections, the plant tolerates ignoring nature, adds exotic elegance to the interiors design, improves air quality and helps to fight sick building syndrome.

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