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Growing Button Fern: The Ultimate Guide for Indoor Care

Button Fern is a compact and easy-to-care-for plant. It’s beloved by many in the houseplant community because of its distinctive appearance and feel.

In this post, we’re letting you in on the secrets of keeping the Button Fern in its best health! We also share purchasing options if you plan to take one of these homes. Keep reading to learn more about this gorgeous Pallaea!

What Is Button Fern?

The Button Fern (Pellaea Rotundifolia) is known to some as Round-Leafed Fern. It is a compact plant made famous for its cute foliage.

This perennial belongs to the Pteridaceae family. Plants from this genus are all known as Cliff Brakes for their fantastic ability to grow on rocks and limestone cliffs in their native environment.

Nephrolepis Cordifolia, or Lemon Button Fern, is often mistaken for this plant for their similar-looking fronds and button-shaped leaves. This plant’s leaves tend to be lighter green and smaller in its juvenile stage. As it matures, the leaves darken to a deep forest green shade and grow slightly bigger and rounder.

Unlike other fern varieties, this beauty has an uncharacteristic tolerance for moderate temperature and humidity (still in highly humid conditions). Still, essentially, this is a hardy plant that will do well in most indoor garden settings.

If you are in hardiness zones 9-11, you can raise your Button Fern outdoors.

Button Fern Origin And Family

The Round-Leafed Fern is a member of the Pteridaceae family. This variety of Pallaea comes from the forests of New Zealand and Australia. It thrives as an indoor plant in most homes where it has easy access to humidity.

This evergreen fern was first described in the 18th century by Johann Georg Adam Forster.

Where To Buy

If you’re looking for a chance to get a deal on a Button Fern, Etsy has some of the best and most diverse plant selections online.

The pretty affordable prices of a Button Fern are approximately between $15 for small plants to $35+ for larger and more mature plants.

Button Fern plant sold on Etsy

Button Fern Plant Size

The Button Ferns grow to 12-18 inches tall as indoor plants. It’s a slow grower that flourishes when placed near a north-facing window.

Button Fern Care Needs

Though Button Fern is not a difficult plant to care for, growing it to its maximum growth requires certain conditions. With its attractive foliage, the Button Fern loves humidity and needs evenly moist soil to thrive.

Water your Pallaea when the top half of the soil is dry. Make sure your pot has proper drainage so that the soil can be hydrated appropriately. When watering according to a timetable, don’t be afraid to fully soak the soil. Regarding lighting needs, this exquisite plant will thrive in bright indirect light.

Find out more about the detailed and in-depth care requirements for your plant below!

Button Fern Care Difficulty

In terms of care difficulty, the Button Fern is easy-to-care-for. The most significant considerations for this beauty are the well-draining soil and the amount of light.

Button Fern Growth Rate

When grown indoors, the Round-Leafed Fern plant grows to 12-18 inches. It grows the fastest during its growing season (spring and summer).

Most Pallaea species, including the Rotundifolia, have a slow-growing speed.

Button Fern Potting

This Rotundifolia plant wants good drainage, and a small-sized plastic, terracotta, or clay pot works fine. It also looks extremely lovely, cascading from a hanging basket.

Drainage holes are a must for Round-Leafed Ferns because they need to be watered when the top half of the soil is dry.

Button Fern Repotting

As your plant grows and expands, you might consider upgrading from your current pot to a bigger pot on an as-needed basis. Typically, the need to repot occurs every 2-3 years because this plant grows slowly.

When repotting, you can use a new batch of standard commercial potting soil which is the ideal growing medium for this great houseplant.

Button Fern Soil

A standard commercial potting soil is the best option for the Button Fern. To mix your soil, use peat, perlite, coco coir, and earthworm casting. To ensure that the final combination is well-aerated, adjust the ratio as necessary. Always keep in mind that this plant prefers a growing medium that stays evenly moist.

To prevent rot and other diseases, the soil type should always support proper drainage. We advise selecting potting mixtures like the ones listed below:

Photo Title Price Buy
Miracle-Gro Indoor Potting...image Miracle-Gro Indoor Potting Mix 6 qt., Grows beautiful Houseplants, 2-Pack $13.37 ($0.03 / Ounce)
Burpee, 9 Quarts...image Burpee, 9 Quarts | Premium Organic Potting Natural Soil Mix Food Ideal for Container Garden-Vegetable, Flower & Herb Use for Indoor Outdoor Plant $12.99 ($0.04 / Ounce)
Sun Gro Horticulture...image Sun Gro Horticulture 8-Quart Black Gold 1310102 Purpose Potting Soil With Control, Brown/A $16.28 ($0.06 / Fl Oz)
Miracle-Gro Potting Mix,...image Miracle-Gro Potting Mix, Potting Soil for Outdoor and Indoor Plants, Enriched with Plant Food, 2 cu. ft. $34.26
FoxFarm Ocean Forest...image FoxFarm Ocean Forest Potting Soil Mix Indoor Outdoor for Garden and Plants | Plant Fertilizer | 12 Quarts | The Hydroponic City Stake $23.99 ($0.06 / Fl Oz)

Button Fern pH

For this Round-Leafed Fern, you’ll need a soil pH of around 5.0-6.0, which is acidic. To check your soil’s pH, you may get a cheap pH meter equipment online.

You may increase acidity in your soil by adding sulfur or aluminum sulfate if the pH is too high.

On the other hand, you may replenish your soil with baking soda, calcitic or dolomitic lime, or wood ash if the pH is not sufficient.

Button Fern Water

The watering frequency will depend on the temperature and humidity in your plant’s surroundings. Generally speaking, your Round-Leafed Fern prefers an evenly moist growing medium.

Avoid overwatering your Round-Leafed Fern. You should give your plant a drink when the top portion of the soil is dry. Water the soil directly, being careful not to drench the leaves so as to prevent fungus illnesses.

Make sure the bottom of the pot has a drainage hole since the button fern detests damp soil. If your plant is in a collection tray, don’t forget to empty it.

Button Fern Light

Button Fern prefers bright indirect sunlight. Keep in mind that you’re attempting to replicate how it grows in the forests of New Zealand and Australia. In most cases, placing this plant near a north-facing window works fine.

When its delicate foliage gets scorched, you’ll know your Button Fern is getting too much light. Conversely, if its cute little leaves may droop, the plant needs more light. Avoid putting your Button Fern in direct sunlight, as this could cause serious damage or even kill it.

Button Fern Fertilizer

For houseplants to flourish, they require soil, water, and sunlight. Plant food has to be added to soil as it might lose nutrients over time.

During the spring and summer, fertilize your button fern once a month for it to thrive. If a very concentrated water-soluble fertilizer is what you want, make sure to dilute it first.

Typically, you don’t need to fertilize during the winter months.

Propagating Button Fern

If your Button Fern has grown too tall, trim the stem if necessary, then save the cuttings for propagation. We’ve included step-by-step instructions for a variety of propagation techniques below.


Round-Leafed Ferns can be propagated through a process called division. While this method is used for vegetables with distinct bulbs, stolons, tubers, rhizomes, and suckers, it can also be utilized for houseplants with stems that grow in clumps.

This strategy may be applied to houseplants with clump-growing stems, as well as crops with discrete bulbs, tubers, stolons, rhizomes, and suckers.

1. Dig up. First, remove the plant from its container. When working with plants and soil, wear gardening gloves.

2. Separate. The areas where the roots and stems naturally split apart should be visible. Make a little separation with your fingertips. Where the portions converge, cut the roots.

3. Repot. Each segment should be placed in new pots with the same soil.

Humidity And Aeration for Button Fern

Button Fern is an adorable perennial that loves high humidity. We suggest that you maintain the air humidity levels around 60%-90% for best results.

Your plant will require sustenance from the moisture in the air in addition to water that it absorbs via its roots. You may keep bowls of water around to evaporate or buy a humidifier that is more consistent in improving humidity for your plant. You can also create a pebble tray to help increase humidity.

Button Fern Temperature

Your Round-Leafed Fern will prosper in a warm area, so keep the temperature between 65-80 degrees Fahrenheit. Unlike the typical ferns, this plant can tolerate lower temperatures.

Like most Pallaea plants, this compact houseplant will appreciate steady temperatures throughout the year. When watering your plant, do not use hot or cold water. Keep it safe from heat sources (such as furnaces and vents) and cold (such as open windows in the colder climate).


Button Fern won’t poison children and pets. ASPCA states that ingesting it will not harm pets like dogs or cats, and there are no toxic components in the plant.

Toxic To Pets? Care Specifics
Botanical Name Button Fern
Common Name Round-Leafed Fern, Button Fern
Plant Family Pteridaceae
Origin New Zealand and Australia
Plant Type perennial
Leaf Shape round
Leaf Color deep green
Recommended Home Placement near a north-facing window
Growth Rate slow
Light bright indirect light
Soil standard commercial potting soil
When To Water Water when the top half of the soil is dry.
When To Fertilize once a month during growing season
Preferred pH 5.0-6.0
Humidity Range 60%-90%
Toxic To Pets? No
Common Pests & Diseases spider mites, brown tips, powder mildrew, white flied, scale insects, yellow leabes, root rot, aphids, mealy bugs, drooping leaves

Pests, Diseases, And Other Problems for Button Fern

In most situations, the Button Fern is a disease-resistant and pest-resistant plant. There are, however, some common issues that can affect it.

Below we’re discussing common problems and solutions to protect your Button Fern.

Spider Mites

Spider mites are an unpleasant but frequent issue, particularly with Round-Leafed Fern. Small, brown, or yellow patches will at first be seen on the leaves of this plant due to spider mite damage. Stunted growth or leaves that take an eternity to unfold might also be noticed.

Spider mites create webs because they are linked to spiders. The primary distinction is that a spider’s web has a more complex pattern and will only have one or two spiders living in it. On the other hand, you may have a spider mite infestation if the web you see is fine, sticky, and filled with several little red bugs.

To combat spider mites on your Round-Leafed Fern, take your plant outside and give it a thorough hose down to remove the bugs. When you bring it back inside, keep it away from your other plants until you’re sure it’s free of spider mites.

If that doesn’t work, applying organic products like neem oil or horticultural oil and insecticidal soap will do the trick.

Powdery Mildew

Powdery mildew is a fungal infection that usually appears as round, powdery white patches on the foliage and stems of your Round-Leafed Fern. Juvenile leaves are particularly vulnerable.

To treat, dissolve one tablespoon of baking soda and one-half teaspoon of liquid soap in one gallon of water. Liberally spray the mixture on your infected plant.

By placing your plant in a space with sufficient airflow, you can also keep the leaves dry.

White Flies

Whiteflies, soft-bodied winged insects, may be drawn to the Round-Leafed Fern. While adult whiteflies are usually harmless, they will lay eggs, which will develop into larvae that eat on the leaves of your plant.

Some insecticides can kill whiteflies at all phases of development, but choose one that is safe to spray indoors. Here are some options we recommend:

Neem oil, horticultural oil, and insecticidal soap are great organic alternatives too!

Scale Insects

Even though adult scales are dormant and coated in a waxy layer, they can give birth to small crawling bugs.

Armored scales can be removed, but you must do it carefully using an old ID card or with your fingers. Take care not to rip the button-shaped leaflets off your Button Fern.

Use insecticidal soap, horticultural, or neem oil to get rid of scale insects. When you detect these active crawlers, spray your plant with a general pesticide. Make sure to follow it up with a second application after a week. We recommend some products below:


Small insects called aphids will consume the sap of your Button Fern. Aphids come in both crawling and flying varieties. Among many other colors, they may be found in brown, black, red, green, and white.

Aphids can be located on the underside of leaves, on unfurling shoots, and on fragile stem sections. Act swiftly if you see these insects (which are generally in a group) to prevent them from spreading to other houseplants!

First, make sure to cover the soil with a plastic bag. After that, thoroughly wash your plant with soap and water. To make sure all surfaces are coated, you may even use a sponge. After cleaning, keep your plant isolated in a cool, shady place with sufficient airflow to prevent soap burn on the foliage.

If the aphids come back, spray your Button Fern with neem oil, horticultural oil, or rubbing alcohol. Remember to dilute these products first.


Mealybugs may infest your Round-Leafed Fern. These small parasites weaken your plant by consuming the sap. They can also increase fungal illnesses through the honeydew they emit.

Mealybugs are oval, easily recognizable insects that cover all plant sections in cottony heaps. They will either remain still or slowly creep.

Take a cotton swab, saturate it in rubbing alcohol, and massage it over the rounded leaves or any other affected parts of the pant to combat a mealybug infestation. Neem oil and water together make a great preventative spray.

Brown Leaf Tips

Brown leaf tips on your Round-Leafed Fern can originate from low humidity, underwatering, root damage, and soil compactness.

Occasionally, you may need to flush out excess minerals, salts, fertilizers, and chemicals in the soil by letting the water flow through for a few minutes. You shouldn’t worry about accidentally drowning your plant’s roots if you have a fast-draining substrate and a pot with drainage holes.

Drooping Leaves

Mealybugs and other pests that infest the Button Fern can cause drooping leaves. This issue can also be due to underwatering, lack of humidity, and lack of nutrients.

Yellow Leaves

If you notice that the leathery leaves of your Button Fern are turning yellow, you will need to trace any recent adjustments in your usual care practices or the weather.

Overwatering, underwatering, overfertilizing, under-fertilizing, too much light, lack of light, root damage, temperature swings, and pests can cause yellowing leaves.

Root Rot

The overabundance of water, which leads to root rot, is often fatal for the Round-Leafed Fern. It is difficult to stop rotting once it has begun. When propagating a cutting, your greatest chance is to fully chop off the root system and restart your plant.

Naturally, there are steps you may take to stop root rot. Give your plant a quick-draining, well-aerated soil mix to start. To create air spaces and allow the roots to breathe, you may add chunky materials to your soil.

Next, make sure you choose a pot for functionality, not just for aesthetics. An essential requirement for houseplant ferns is drainage. If your pot has no drainage holes, don’t be afraid to use your driller!

Finally, wait to drink your plant until you are sure the soil is no longer wet from your last watering. Stick your finger into the soil, or use the classic wooden skewer trick to check for moisture.

Similar Plants to Button Fern

Love Round-Leafed Fern? Here are some other similar plant options you should try:

Indoor Fern – This beautiful and low-maintenance decorative plant is renowned for its stunning beauty and ability to filter the air. It’s an excellent houseplant you can keep indoors or add to your terrarium plants.

Asparagus Fern – Despite its name and outward appearance, the asparagus fern is not a true fern. It’s a flexible, beautiful creeper with lace-like leaves and white blossoms that produce red berries that attract birds. Such a cute little bundle with so many beautiful traits!

Boston Fern – The Boston fern is a traditional tropical houseplant that looks excellent anyplace. This lush plant will bring beauty to your home no matter how you use it. You may hang it, put it on table tops, or fill any empty area.


The Button Fern is a great choice if you’re looking for a houseplant with some wow factor. Follow the tips we’ve shared above, and you’re on your way to reaching your plant’s full growing potential!

Can’t get enough of Pallaea plant guides? Check out these other options from Two Peas In A Condo!

Help us grow! This post contains affiliate links, which means we receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something recommended. All opinions, however, are our own, and we do not accept payments for positive reviews.

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