How to Care for a Kangaroo Paw Fern

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Things You'll Need

  • Shovel

  • Peat moss, compost or leaf mold

  • Fertilizer

  • Mulch

  • Pruning shears

  • Pot or hanging basket

  • Potting soil

  • Fertilizer

  • Pruning shears

Semi-tropical kangaroo paw ferns create a lush environment in frost-free climates.

The kangaroo paw fern, Microsorum diversifolium originates in Australia. This fern grows well in pots indoors, in hanging baskets or in the landscape in frost-free areas. Kangaroo paw ferns grow in sub-tropical areas where temperatures rarely drop below freezing. This fern prefers the cooler temperatures of a sub-tropical environment to the constant heat of the tropics. Grow kangaroo paw ferns outdoors as a ground cover in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10 and 11.

Outdoor Growing

Step 1

Select a planting area that gets part to full shade. Filtered or dappled sunlight provides an ideal environment. Amend the soil by digging 2 to 4 inches of peat moss, compost or leaf mold into the top 6 to 8 inches of the soil.

Step 2

Prepare a hole the same depth and slightly wider than the nursery pot the fern came in. Grasp the base of the foliage with one hand and gently wiggle the fern out of the nursery pot. Set it in the planting hole and fill in around it with additional soil.

Step 3

Water the area thoroughly until the ground is damp down to the newly planted root ball. Keep the soil around kangaroo paw ferns damp by soaking the area when the top 1 to 2 inches starts to dry out.

Step 4

Fertilize once a month between spring and fall using a balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer diluted to half the application indicated on the package label. Remove dead fern fronds at the base using a sharp knife to keep the plants looking tidy.

Step 5

Spread a 4-inch layer of mulch over the garden bed to keep moisture in and enrich the soil over time. The Australian National Botanical Garden recommends using shredded eucalyptus leaves, oak leaves or hardwood sawdust or shavings.

Indoor Care

Step 1

Plant kangaroo paw ferns in pots or hanging baskets. Fill the pots with a peat moss-based potting soil for good drainage. Home and garden centers sell pre-mixed formulas or make your own using equal parts peat moss and quality potting soil.

Step 2

Keep ferns in areas that get filtered or dim light and away from direct sunlight. Water when the top of the soil starts to dry out.

Step 3

Fertilize kangaroo paw ferns in containers once a month using a balanced fertilizer at half the indicated strength. Remove dead fronds at the soil line.


Eulalia Palomo

Eulalia Palomo has been a professional writer since 2009. Prior to taking up writing full time she has worked as a landscape artist and organic gardener. Palomo holds a Bachelor of Arts in liberal studies from Boston University. She travels widely and has spent over six years living abroad.