I have a pair of Kimberly Queen ferns on my front porch. I water them every other day or so and mist them reguarly; however, one of them is starting to show dark brown fronds, which I am taking off. First, what is this indicative of and is taking them off okay for the fern?
The Gardener’s Answer
Hello, Kathi: Kimberly Queen ferns (Nephrolepis obliterata) are large upright sword ferns that are great in containers. These ferns can handle a lot more sun than other ferns can. In fact, they are happy to grow in full sun. They can become very large, reaching 3 feet tall and wide at maturity. During the growing season, they are constantly putting on new growth, meaning they have to lose some fronds in order to make room for the new ones. I would suspect this is what is happening with your plant. If it is just a frond here or there and the overall health of the fern looks good, you should not be too concerned. It is perfectly normal for them to have dieback. This is just what they do, and yes, you are doing the right thing by removing these fronds. As fall is approaching and the daytime and nighttime temperatures drop, you can cut back on your watering. These ferns are hardy to zone 9 but they can be over-wintered quite easily. The fronds can be cut back, bring the fern indoors before the first freeze, and place it in a space with bright filtered light. They will not put on much growth indoors but take them back out next spring, give them some food, and they will be lush again before you know it.