Why Are My Ferns Turning Light Green? [Causes & Tips]

Ferns are a favorite among many gardeners and houseplant enthusiasts with their lush green fronds and delicate appearances. They can bring a touch of the forest into our homes and gardens.

However, sometimes, those beautiful dark green fronds take on a lighter hue, leading to the question: Why are my ferns turning light green? Let’s dive into this issue to understand the reasons and remedies.

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Why Ferns Turning Light Green?

The below represents all the causes and solutions to prevent ferns from turning light green:

Insufficient Light

Why Light Matters for Shade-Lovers:

Even though ferns naturally grow under forest canopies, they’re accustomed to a filtered light environment, not complete darkness. Their chlorophyll production—responsible for the green pigment—relies on receiving enough light.


  • The Role of Windows: East and North-facing windows provide gentle light, making them ideal for indoor ferns.
  • Artificial Lighting: Grow lights can supplement natural light, especially during shorter winter days. LED or fluorescent grow lights mimic the sun’s spectrum and can be beneficial.
  • Outdoor Positioning: Look for spots where trees or structures break up sunlight. Morning sunlight is gentler than the harsh afternoon sun.

2. Overwatering

The Balance of Hydration:

Ferns love humidity but hate soaking feet. Overwatering can suffocate the roots, making it hard for them to absorb nutrients.


  • Feeling the Soil: This age-old technique is reliable. If the topsoil feels moist, wait before watering again.
  • Self-Watering Pots: These pots provide consistent moisture without over-soaking the roots. They can be especially useful for forgetful plant owners.
  • Monitoring Pot Size: A pot too large for a fern will retain more water, increasing the risk of root rot.

3. Poor Soil Quality

Soil: The Foundation of Growth:

The soil offers ferns more than support—it provides the essential nutrients they need. Without a healthy soil base, ferns can’t sustain their vibrant hue.


  • Organic Matter: Incorporate compost or worm castings into the soil. They naturally enrich the soil and improve its structure.
  • Avoid Over-Fertilizing: While feeding plants frequently is tempting, over-fertilization can lead to nutrient burn. Always follow the product’s instructions.
  • pH Levels: Ferns prefer slightly acidic soil. If your fern looks unhealthy, consider checking the soil’s pH and adjusting it if necessary.

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4. Pests and Diseases

Telltale Signs of Infestations:

Sticky residues, webbing, or unusual spots on the fronds can indicate pest presence.


  • Biological Control: Introducing predatory insects like lacewings can naturally control pest populations.
  • Isolation: If you notice an infested fern, isolate it immediately to prevent pests from migrating to other plants.
  • Natural Fungicides: Neem oil or baking soda solutions can prevent and treat many fungal infections.

5. Natural Aging Process

Frond’s Journey from Birth to Senescence:

Every living thing ages, and fern fronds are no exception. Their lifecycle involves sprouting, maturing, aging, and eventually withering.


  • Regular Maintenance: Besides being unsightly, older fronds can also drain energy from the plant. By pruning them, you direct energy to newer growth.
  • Promote New Growth: Sometimes, giving your fern a little extra attention with a mild fertilizer can help encourage the growth of fresh, young fronds.
Ferns Turning Light Green

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A fern’s transition to a lighter shade can signify multiple things – from environmental factors to natural aging. As caretakers, our role is to observe, understand, and adjust. You can enjoy the serene beauty of healthy, green ferns for years by ensuring the right conditions and promptly addressing potential issues.