I'm in need of help (fern related)....

Hope369October 20, 2013

.....and I'm not sure where to even start looking. I apologize in advance for the length of this post but hope someone can help me.

My wife and I split up 3 months ago due an ongoing problem I've had with prescription pain pills. It got to be too much and she walked away from our marriage. It destroyed me because she was my best friend. I'm working my way back to a better life but I'll never reach that fully without her.

I've attached a couple of pics from a fern that we've had for years. When we were married 8 years ago, there were several of these beautiful ferns lining the aisles. Her mother saved 2 of them and gave one to us and she kept one. My wife was good with plants but for some reason, never had success with the fern and it subsequently died. She would jokingly say she killed our "love fern". Her mother (who finds sentiment in everything) was able to divide out her fern and gave us another shot at it. Once again, no luck and it died for all intents and purposes.

About a month before she left me, she put the fern on our kitchen countertops and said she didn't think it was worth saving and said we should give up and throw it out. I didn't want to do that but I didn't care enough to really take charge. I had mentioned sticking it outside and if it made it, great but if not, oh well. Three months later, she was gone and the dead fern sat in the exact same spot.

As I've started to heal myself, I started to feel bad for this fern that we gave up on. That fern became sybmolic of my struggle and our failing marriage. I want nothing more than to be able to save this fern and nurse it back to health to show my wife that beautiful things can come from bleak and hopeless situations with some work, love and the right support.

I went to a local home improvement garden center and showed the photo attached. I was told to put the fern in a larger pot (12") and to put in potting soil with some fertilizer. I was also told to cut off the dead spots. I tried doing that but after reading info on the internet, I noticed that I should have put peat moss in, which I didn't do. I don't have the best green thumb and I'm trying my best to save this fern. Based on the info I've given and the attached photo (before I repotted it), is it even savable or am I wasting my time?

I'm resolved to do anything necessary to save this plant to show my wife that some things are worth fighting for. I'm sorry for the length of this post but if anyone can shed some info for me, I'd be eternally grateful. Thank you.

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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

So sorry for the troubles you are going through. But I will say that it is irrational to give such power to a houseplant. The problem in your life have nothing to do with a fern.

Seek professional professional help....for yourself, not the fern. Take some big steps forward towards the light. Blessings on you.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2013 at 7:14AM
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Thanks for the reply but that's not what I'm looking for. I'm in 20 hrs a week of group and ind therapy to get to the underlying causes of my issues and I've made big strides in short times. The fern is purely a symbol of my journey and gives me a tangible thing I can look at as a reminder of what I've been/am going through. This is my last ditch effort to get through to my wife to show her good things can come from bad situations with the right love and support.....which she is NOT giving me. I appreciate your response but I'd appreciate more if we focus on the fern and whether it can be saved. Thank you.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2013 at 10:33AM
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A clearer picture might help, it's hard to see from here. Is it an indoor plant?

    Bookmark   October 23, 2013 at 9:16AM
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bigger pic

    Bookmark   October 23, 2013 at 11:00AM
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Looks like it has a few living fronds so it is possible that it will come back. I agree with the advice to give it more soil and cut it back, which you did. My ferns grow slowly so be patient and resist the temptation to overwater. The fern's roots will rot in soggy soil. It needs filtered light, don't let it get sunburned. Hopefully you will see new growth soon. Don't fertilize for at least a month because of it being in the potting mix. Once you get a respectable little fern going you could do a little quarter strength fertilizer.

Don't fixate on the fern as your only symbol of hope, my ferns tend to decline as it gets cooler then rebound as it gets warmer. Best case scenario is that itwill be half its original size by summer. Prolonged neglect takes a long time to recover from.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2013 at 2:56PM
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Thanks fishlady. This is exactly what I needed. If it's savable, I'm going to do it. It's keeping me motivated and focused. However, I just didn't know enough to know if it was savable. A few questions:

I didn't put peat moss in and everything I read said it would have helped. I'm afraid to take the fern out after it's been repotted just to add that. Should I not worry about the peat moss or would it be best to go back and mix it with the potting soil? Second - did I trim enough off of the dead ones or should it be cut closer to the soil? Thanks again!

    Bookmark   October 23, 2013 at 3:40PM
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Oh, I forgot to mention, I also bought a humidifier and have been running that since I was told ferns dry out during the winter indoors. I've kept the temp around 70 and down to about 65 degrees at night. I've also got it facing a north bound window that gets only indirect sunlight. I read that misting the existing fronds is a good idea. Should I do that even with the humidifier running? Thanks!

    Bookmark   October 23, 2013 at 3:47PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Bagged potting 'soils' ARE peat moss, with a few other ingredients (perlite, vermiculite, for example) added for improved porosity. You do not need to add any more.

Ferns can be very challenging to grow inside. Your images are very fuzzy, but this fern looks dead, to me. Or, at the very least, all of the existing fronds seem to be dead.

Cutting it all the way to the crown is a good first step. Do you know if it's ever been fertilized? If not, it would be worth while to do so. Potting medium does not have nutrients in it, unless it has been added by the manufacturer. It will be clearly labeled, if so.

Even if all of the fronds are deader than a door nail, ferns can regrow all new leaves as long as the root system isn't dead. Indoor ferns do best in a cool, bright room away from all drafts. Keep an eye out for scale insects....which may be part of the problem from the very beginning.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2013 at 4:11PM
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You guys are great people and I appreciate the help. My photos are crystal clear on my computer but are uploading fuzzy and grainy for some reason. I know my request was a little out there, but my wife and I are done in her eyes (she won't even talk to me). She doesn't think people can come back from the dead (metaphorically). I know things are worth saving if people are willing to put in the work. I'm putting in work and ABSOLUTELY am worth her giving another shot to. Proving that things and people deserve 2nd chances through this fern ( which symbolizes our marriage) is my line in the sand. It WILL rebound. If she chooses not to allow it back in her life, so be it. It won't be because of me though.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2013 at 11:04PM
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topsiebeezelbub(z7 Al)

I am an experienced gardener, but I find it very difficult to keep ferns alive. We just can't duplicate their natural habitat. When I lived in the Pacific Northwest some things grew like weeds, but I finally had to give up trying to make them grow in the South. Take a frond to a good garden center and match it up...get a healthy one, and when it croaks get another. Your interest in gardening can be a great source of comfort and joy, so I encourage you to keep trying, but don't put too much emotion into one plant ...they do die on you, believe me. See if there are some garden clubs in your area and make some new gardening friends. Good luck!

    Bookmark   November 4, 2013 at 12:51AM
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I don't mist mine. I also wouldn't mess with the roots at this point, just let it try to recover. Remember, don't overwater. Hopefully you see new growth soon.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2013 at 1:03PM
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I don't mist mine. I also wouldn't mess with the roots at this point, just let it try to recover. Remember, don't overwater. Hopefully you see new growth soon.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2013 at 1:05PM
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