Crocodile Fern: Indoor Gardening Care Guide

crocodile fern leaves

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The Crocodile Fern is an attractive and easy-to-care-for plant. Many plant collectors can attest to the beauty and vibe that this Microsorum brings to any indoor space!

In this detailed care guide, we’re going through the dos and don’ts of keeping the Crocodile Fern at its happiest. We’ve listed some buying options if you’re wondering where to get this plant.

Read on to learn more about the many features that make the Crocodile Fern attractive!

What Is Crocodile Fern?

The Crocodile Fern (Microsorium Musifolium ‘Crocydyllus’) is a perennial from the Polypodiaceae family. It is characterized by light green strap-like leaves and is prized for its unique foliage. Fern lovers adore this plant for its leaves with a distinctive leathery appearance of crocodile skin, making it an irresistible tropical plant.

Also known as Crocodyllus Fern or Crocodyllus, the Crocodile Fern grows well in a bathroom or kitchen as a houseplant.

While most of this article discusses indoor growing requirements, you can keep this Microsorum plant outdoors in hardiness zones 10-11.

Crocodile Fern Origin And Family

Crocodyllus Fern is a member of the genus Microsorum and the family Polypodiaceae. It comes from the forests of Southeast Asia and Australia.

Where To Buy

Are you looking to buy a Crocodile Fern? When purchasing most of our houseplants, we usually start with Etsy, which has many plants and deals.

For pretty affordable prices, you can get a Crocodile Fern for as low as $20 for smaller plants (4-inch pots) and as high as $30+ for larger or more mature plants.

Crocodile Fern Plant sold on Etsy

Crocodile Fern Plant Size

The Crocodile Fern can grow between 3-5 feet tall and 2-5 feet wide when it reaches maturity. This plant is best suited for a bathroom or kitchen. It has a slow growth rate.

Crocodile Fern Care Needs

Though Crocodile Fern is not difficult to care for, growing it to its maximum growth requires certain conditions. With its unique foliage, the Crocodile Fern loves humidity and needs relatively moist soil to thrive.

Water your Microsorum When the top of the soil is dry. Make sure your container has sufficient drainage so that the soil can be hydrated appropriately. When watering according to a schedule, don’t be afraid to fully soak the soil. Regarding lighting requirements, this gorgeous plant will thrive in bright indirect light.

Find out more about the detailed and precise care requirements for your plant below!

Crocodile Fern Care Difficulty

The M. Musifolium is typically considered easy to care for with its light, water, and humidity needs. To successfully grow this plant, you must be meticulous with its well-draining soil and amount of water.

Crocodile Fern Growth Rate

When grown indoors, the Crocodyllus plant grows to 3-5 feet. It grows the fastest during spring and summer.

Most Microsorum species, including the Musifolium, have a slow-growing speed.

Crocodile Fern Potting

For your Crocodile Fern’s container, you want a pot made of plastic, terracotta, or clay that’s large-sized. You can also provide this beauty with a trellis or a moss pole as this is an epiphyte, so they could use some support for climbing. In their native territory, they are often found growing in trees and nearby branches.

Crocodile Fern Repotting

To keep your plant healthy, it is a good idea to transplant it to a bigger pot once it grows to a specific size. If you see roots pushing out the drainage holes, you’ll know it’s time to repot. Take extra care during this process because the shallow root system of this plant is quite sensitive.

On average, Crocodile Fern grows slowly and must be repotted every 2-3 years. Soil loses its natural nutrient components over time, so it’s better to add some standard commercial potting soil when repotting.

Crocodile Fern Soil

When it comes to growing medium for Crocodile Fern, a standard commercial potting soil is your best bet. A mixture with excellent water retention will help retain the proper moisture this plant loves. Peat moss and perlite are ideal for the soil. Aeration and drainage are a must for this plant which is easy to care for.

Here are some excellent growing medium options to choose from:

Photo Title Price Buy
Miracle-Gro Indoor Potting...image Miracle-Gro Indoor Potting Mix 6 qt., Grows beautiful Houseplants, 2-Pack $12.59 ($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
Sun Gro Horticulture...image Sun Gro Horticulture Black Gold 1310102 8-Quart All Purpose Potting Soil With Control, Brown/A $16.74 ($0.07 / Fl Oz)
Miracle-Gro Potting Mix Miracle-Gro Potting Mix $16.99
FoxFarm Ocean Forest...image FoxFarm Ocean Forest Potting Soil Mix Indoor Outdoor for Garden and Plants | Plant Fertilizer | 12 Quart + THCity Stake $21.99 ($0.06 / Fl Oz)

Crocodile Fern pH

A soil pH of roughly 6.5-7.5, which is neutral to acidic, is ideal for your tropical fern. For newbies concerned about the soil’s acidity, you can buy a simple pH meter device to evaluate it.

To lower pH levels, use sulfur or aluminum sulfate. On the other hand, use baking soda, calcitic or dolomitic lime, or wood ash to increase pH levels.

Crocodile Fern Water

Proper watering is an essential factor for houseplants. Too much, and you might invite diseases like fungal infections and root rot. On the contrary, too little and the plants might end up with browning, undernourished leaves. For optimal health, Crocodyllus Fern generally prefers relatively moist soil.

One way to check for moisture is to stick your finger in the pot. When the upper part of the soil is dry, you’ll know it’s time to give your plant a drink.

Bottom drainage holes on the pot and aerated soil are must-haves for the Crocodile plant. Rule of thumb: You don’t want your plant sitting in water or soggy soil for an extended period.

Crocodile Fern Light

As understory plants, these fern species are used to growing in a canopy of large trees and branches in the forests of Southeast Asia and Australia. Like many indoor plants, Crocodile Fern wants to be in bright indirect light. Occasionally, placing this plant in a bathroom or kitchen works fine.

When its leaves are scorched, you’ll know your Crocodile Fern needs less light. Conversely, the plant needs more light if its leaves start to droop.

Avoid putting your Crocodile Fern in direct sunlight, as this could cause severe harm or even kill it. However, this unusual plant can also tolerate lower light conditions. You can move this plant around to find the perfect spot indoors.

Crocodile Fern Fertilizer

Water, sunlight, and soil provide the necessary nourishment for houseplants. Over time, soil can lose its nutrient value and needs to be supplemented with plant food.

If you desire a successfully thriving M. Musifolium, only fertilize once a month during the spring and summer seasons. If a water-soluble fertilizer is what you want, make sure to dilute it if it’s highly concentrated.

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

Propagating Crocodile Fern

The Crocodile Fern can be propagated from the comfort of your home. Here are steps for making more of this beautiful plant.

Division

For the Crocodile Fern propagation method, known as root division, you separate the attractive plant at the roots – making two M. Musifolium plants.

You can split the stem clusters of your Crocodyllus by following these steps:

1. Dig it up. Take the plant from its container. The natural divisions are pretty straightforward.

2. Pull apart. With your fingers, gently separate the Crocodile Fern at the root. You may need to use pruners or shears to cut any tangled roots.

3. Repot. Plant each section of the Crocodyllus Fern in new pots loaded with the same soil they’re used to.

Humidity And Aeration for Crocodile Fern

The crocodile Fern is a beautiful plant that loves high humidity. Keep the humidity level between 60%-90% at all times.

Check the amount of air moisture in the vicinity of your Crocodile Fern with a basic hygrometer. The following techniques can be used to raise the humidity if the reading is too low:

β€’ Houseplants benefit from being kept near to one another since they release moisture from their leaves through transpiration.

β€’ Place your plant’s container on top of a pebble tray filled with water. The plant receives some nutrition from the water that is evaporating.

β€’ Get a humidifier so your plants. This will cause the room to become more humid by continuously releasing steam.

Crocodile Fern Temperature

Temperature ranges between 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit is best for your Crocodyllus.

Sudden temperature swings can be fatal for your Crocodyllus. During the winter, close windows and seal any openings where cold drafts may enter. Don’t place your plant near appliances that emit heat or air conditioners where it will be challenging to regulate cold temperatures.

Non-Toxic

M. Musifolium is not deemed toxic to humans, dogs, or cats! This means that whether you have pets or not, it’s a fantastic choice to have in your house!

Toxic To Pets? Care Specifics
Botanical Name Crocodile Fern
Common Name Crocodyllus Fern, M. Musifolium, Crocodyllus
Plant Family Polypodiaceae
Origin Southeast Asia and Australia
Plant Type perennial
Leaf Shape strap-like
Leaf Color light green
Recommended Home Placement in a bathroom or kitchen
Growth Rate slow
Light bright indirect light
Soil standard commercial potting soil
When To Water Water When the top of the soil is dry.
When To Fertilize once a month during growing season
Preferred pH 6.5-7.5
Humidity Range 60%-90%
Toxic To Pets? No
Common Pests & Diseases spider mites, brown tips, fungus gnuts, white flied, scale insects, yellow leabes, root rot, mealy bugs, drooping leaves

Pests, Diseases, And Other Problems for Crocodile Fern

The Crocodile Fern is a disease and pest-resistant plant. Here are some common diseases, problems, and pests, along with how to treat them.

Spider Mites

Houseplants can sometimes bring unwelcome visitors to your home in the form of pests. One example of such is the spider mite. The larvae will not be visible, but adult mites can be seen quickly scampering around when disturbed.

Spraying diluted neem oil on your plant’s leaves can help eradicate spider mites at their larval stage. There are also organic Pyrethrin sprays that are effective in killing adult mites. When spraying any pesticide indoors, make sure you choose products that are non-hazardous for humans when inhaled.

Fungus Gnats

Fungus gnats lay their eggs on the soil. In a matter of days, these eggs will hatch into hundreds of larvae that will attach themselves to the roots and slowly drain the nutrients from your Crocodyllus Fern.

To spot fungus gnats, look for grayish-black insects lethargically flying around the edge of the pot or crawling on the soil. Plants infested with these bugs will exhibit symptoms similar to root rot, such as yellowing and dropping leaves, stunted and slow growth, and wilting.

If you observe these gnats, reduce your watering schedules. It shouldn’t be enough to kill the plant but lengthen the period between waterings to dehydrate the eggs and larvae.

If the problem persists, mix one cup of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide with four cups of water and pour the solution on the soil.

White Flies

Whiteflies are tiny airborne insects that fly around when a plant moves. They are particularly attracted to the Crocodyllus Fern. They feed on leaves but rarely cause the death of plants.

If you like the taste and smell of herbs, keeping them near your pest-ridden plant has an added benefit! The aroma of mint, parsley, and cilantro are known to repel whiteflies.

Managing a heavy infestation necessitates the use of a pesticide. Here are several popular Amazon products we recommend against whiteflies:

Scale Insects

Scales are insects that feed on plant sap. What sets them apart from other bugs is that the adult scale will latch onto one part of the plant and stay put. They are called armored scales and may appear as brownish lumps on the stems or petioles of a plant.

As a preventive measure, you can dilute a teaspoon of neem oil in 500 mL of water and spray it on your plant’s leaves to discourage scales from latching onto your Crocodile Fern.

You can also release ladybugs or lacewings near your infected plant and let these beneficial bugs take care of the problem for you!

Mealybugs

Mealybugs can potentially infest your Crocodyllus. They produce a black sooty mold on the leaves and leave behind a white powdery layer and honeydew. Plants with mealie infestations have yellow-dropping leaves.

With a cotton bud bathed in rubbing alcohol, you can get rid of adult mealies. On contact, they normally perish and become orange. Spray diluted alcohol on the remaining leaves as you go.

The term “root mealies” refers to creatures that consume roots while they are in their own underground homes. Between waterings, sprinkle Diatomaceous Earth powder on the topsoil to dry them off. During watering, hydrogen peroxide can also be utilized in small doses.

Brown Leaf Tips

Browning edges on the leaves of your Crocodyllus Fern can be triggered by many factors. Possible causes are lack of humidity, excessive exposure to bright light, salt and mineral build-up from chemically-treated tap water, and fertilizer burn.

Drooping Leaves

Drooping leaves on your Crocodile Fern indicate that your plant is thirsty. In this case, your plant will usually perk back up once it’s watered. It might also help to increase the humidity.

Be careful! Pest-infested plants can have droopy and curling leaves at first but will eventually develop other signs, such as spots, stunted growth, and a general decline in health. Always check on the underside of leaves if you suspect any issues with pests.

Yellow Leaves

This unique fern occasionally has yellow leaves, which might indicate problems. Moisture stress, inadequate lighting, nutritional imbalance, fluctuating temperatures, bacterial or viral infections, insect infestations, and many more factors might contribute to this issue.

You must take into account recent weather changes or how you take care of your plant to identify the issue.

Root Rot

Root rot is a significant threat to this alligator fern. Indoor gardeners tend to overwater their plants or forget to provide proper drainage. Rotting roots will appear black and mushy, leading to a plant’s decline and eventual death. Prevention is always better than cure, just as the saying goes.

The easiest way to prevent root rot is to regulate water intake. Prolong the gap between watering schedules, especially when your plant doesn’t receive enough indirect sunlight and wind to dry the soil. Also, don’t forget to drill holes in the bottom of your pot to drain the excess water!

Soil aeration is just as crucial in preventing root rot. If your soil tends to become compact and water-logged, add chunky and airy materials such as perlite, pumice, orchid bark, horticultural coal, coco chunks, river sand, and many others.

Similar Plants to Crocodile Fern

Love Crocodyllus Fern? Here are some other similar plant options that are great statement pieces you should try:

Indoor Fern – This exquisite and low-maintenance ornamental plant is well-known for its breathtaking beauty and air-purifying properties. It’s an excellent choice to include as a great houseplant in your terrarium.

Asparagus Fern – The asparagus fern is not a real fern, despite its name and external appearance. It is a graceful, flexible creeper with leaves that resemble lace and white blooms that bear red berries that draw birds. Such a sweet tiny bundle with such lovely qualities!

Boston Fern – The Boston fern is a classic tropical houseplant that looks well anywhere. Whatever you do with this luxuriant plant will add beauty to your house. It may be hung, placed on tables, or used to fill open spaces.

Conclusion

The Crocodile Fern is a great addition to indoor gardens for its unique foliage.

If you’re considering a new plant to add to your collection or are just getting started as an indoor gardener, use the tips you’ve learned from us to start growing Crocodile Fern today!

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.

Let's grow together!

Brent Hellendoorn

Brent is excited about all things minimal, and thus environmentally sustainable. From kitchen-scrap composting to indoor herb gardens and air-purifying houseplants, he enjoys continual learning and innovation. In simple, eco-conscious living, there is always room to… grow!

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