A Complete Lemon Button Fern Care Guide [Updated 2021]
Caring for a Lemon Button Fern

A Complete Lemon Button Fern Care Guide [Updated 2021]

If you’re looking for an easy houseplant that will look great anywhere you set it, the Lemon Button Fern is your answer! We love this beautiful and compact plant and highly recommend it for any new plant parents. As you will see in this guide, Lemon Button Fern care is fairly easy which makes this a great ‘no fuss’ beginner plant.

The Lemon Button Fern, scientifically known as Nephrologist cordifolia ‘Duffi’, is native to Asia and Northern Australia. The ‘lemon’ in the name is said to come from its golden green color and the citrus scent emitted when its leaves are crushed, though I have never been able to bring myself to crush any of its leaves. ‘Button’ comes from the adorable round leaves that are very unique for a fern. These ferns are actually the smallest species of the Boston Fern and certainly are one of the easiest and cutest ferns to grow indoors. 

Our No Fuss Plants Guide will also give you a few more ideas for hardy houseplants.

Watering Your Lemon Button Fern

Lemon Button Ferns prefer their soil to be consistently moist, but not sopping wet. To maintain this, the fern should be watered once the top inch of soil is dry. Slowly water it until water comes out of the drainage hole to ensure thorough watering. If the leaves appear limp and droopy, this is a likely indicator that the fern could use a drink. If foliage is turning yellow, this may indicate that the soil is consistently soggy, leading to root rot. If this occurs, cut back on watering and the plant will likely bounce back.

Lemon Button Fern care guide in a greenhouse

Sunlight and Humidity

As with the majority of ferns, Lemon Button Ferns are a plant that naturally grows under the protective foliage of trees. In the wild they are partially shaded, receiving mostly filtered light peaking between trunks, branches, and leaves of trees. To emulate this lighting in your house, it is best to keep this plant a few feet away from a South or West facing window. That being said, this is a plant that will likely do well in any direction of light. If placed near a bright window, adding a sheer curtain is a good way to filter light to avoid burning the leaves.

As for humidity, Lemon Button Ferns enjoy moisture just like other fern varieties. However, lemon button ferns are not as reliant on humidity to thrive as some other ferns. Unless your home is especially dry, a more common issue in the wintertime, your lemon button fern should be fine without any humidity modifications. Spritzing the fern once or twice a day never hurts though. If your house is on the dryer side, you can meet the lemon button fern’s humidity needs by simply placing it in a bathroom or on top of a pebble tray.

To make a pebble tray under your fern, cover a small plate or saucer in pebbles and place your planted pot on top of this. Pour water over the pebbles, but make sure the bottom of the pot is not making contact with the water level as this can lead to root rot. As the water evaporates from this tray, it will raise the humidity in the surrounding area.

Propagating a Lemon Button Fern

The easiest way to propagate Lemon Button Ferns at home is through division. This can be done by taking the plant out of the soil and using clean shears or a knife to cut the plant into two or three sections, ensuring that each has both roots and fronds. The other way to propagate is through fern spores, but this method is tedious and takes months. If you wish to propagate your lemon button fern at home, I strongly recommend the division method.

Benefits and Toxicity

Ferns filter airborne pollutants including formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene from the air. Boston ferns specifically, which include lemon button ferns, also help to raise indoor humidity levels which can prevent illness and dry skin, especially in the colder months.

For more plants that do double time of looking beautiful and cleaning the air, we think you’ll also like: Best Plants for Air Purification 

lemon button fern care for this house plant in a 4 slate planter

Cleaning and Pruning

Ferns often require some periodic tidying up to look their best. Some unsightly and dead growth may be found on the underside of the plant, the site of the oldest growth, and can be clipped with clean pruning shears or scissors. This process only needs to be done every couple of months.

Fertilizer and Type of Soil

Lemon Button Ferns should do well in any well-draining potting soil. Fertilizing every 2 to 4 weeks with a half-strength mix of fertilizer designed for house plants (20-20-20) will give it a boost during the growing season.

Best Type of Soil for Optimal Lemon Button Fern Care

Lemon Button Ferns should do fine in neutral potting soil but will grow fastest in soil that is slightly acidic. To make your soil more acidic you can mix in some sphagnum peat or coffee grounds before potting with it, but this is by no means necessary to keep your lemon button fern happy and healthy.

Pests and Problems

Lemon Button Ferns are susceptible to both mealybugs and spider mites, but fortunately, they are unlikely to get either pest. Signs of mealy bugs include stunted growth and wilting. To check for mealybugs, look at the underside of fronds and stems for white, oval-looking bugs that should easily be visible to the naked eye. Signs of spider mites include small and tightly packed yellow spotting on the leaves, and thin white webs stretching between parts of the plant.

To get rid of either pest you should thoroughly rinse the fern with a study stream of water to dislodge and wash away any bugs. Then it is best to spray the plant down with a mixture of soapy water or Neem oil. Both the rinsing and spray treatment should be repeated every 3 to 4 days until there are no more signs of the pests.

Lemon Button Fern leaves


Lemon button ferns are not particularly picky about the pot you give them to call home. Given their small size, there is not much of a reason for them to ever be homed in anything bigger than a 6-inch pot, but it will not harm them if you choose to do so. They also are an amazing terrarium plant as they love the humidity.

Love ferns just like us? Our 2021 Fern Care Guide covers every aspect of care for your ferns! Have you heard of the Maidenhair Fern or the Autumn Fern? There’s a different fern for every corner of your home!

Final Words for Lemon Button Fern Care

The perfect bathroom, terrarium, or side table plant, lemon button ferns add a dashing touch of yellow-green color and fluffy foliage to any room. Commonly sought after for their small size and ease of care, these ferns are cute as a button anywhere.


Buy Lemon Button Fern Plant


We here at Cellar Door Plants aim to help bring nature into your home. We feel like people nowadays are more distant from nature than ever before. How can we protect the earth with so much distance from everything living around us? While we are based in Seattle, Washington, our greenhouse is located in San Marcos, California.

We are avid plant lovers so every plant sold is packaged and protected with care to guide it to your home safely. We have a wide selection of houseplants with care requirements ranging from easy-to-care-for home additions for beginners to more complicated varieties that require a more experienced grower.

If you’re interested in adding a Lemon Button Fern to your collection of plants, head over to our plant shop to purchase!

However, if you’re still not sure which plant is for you, check out our Mystery Plant Subscription Box and you can have a different 4″ indoor plant delivered to your front door every month. This subscription box is perfect for plant lovers who have a hard time deciding on just one!

Frequently Asked Questions

How much light does a Lemon Button Fern need?

These plants in the wild typically grow under a collection of trees so they do best with mid-light conditions. If you are going to put it by a window, we recommend adding a sheer curtain to protect the leaves from burning.

How do you take care of a Lemon Button Fern?

A Lemon Button Fern is fairly easy to care for. They like to live in consistently moist soil with a little bit of sunlight but not direct.

Do lemon button ferns like to be misted?

Similar to other ferns, the Lemon Button Fern likes its moisture but unlike the others, they don’t require any additional humidity modifications. A spritz of moisture 1-2 times a day never hurts though!

Are Lemon Button Ferns easy to care for?

Yes! Lemon Button Ferns are hardy, low maintenance, and great plants for beginners

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