How to Care For Crocodile Fern

Thursday July 21, 2022
Crocodile Fern in Lunenburg Ceramic

Crocodile Fern, Alligator fern, or Microsorum Musifolium is typically found in Southeast Asia and parts of Australia. This unique tropical fern can be picky about its environment. Because these plants love humidity, they make great additions to a kitchen or bathroom. It is known most commonly as the Crocodile Fern due to the patterns on its leaves resembling the look of a crcocdiles skin

Although they can be slow growers, this plant makes a great statement piece and can even grow up to 5 feet. With plenty of water and bright indirect sunlight, the Crocodile Fern will stay happy and looking beautiful.


Crocodile Fern, like most ferns, is naturally found growing under trees as foliage. Because of this, your plant will like lighting that mimics the scattered sunlight like they would receive in their natural habitat. Remember that these plants like sunlight just don’t place them somewhere where they can receive long extended periods of direct sunlight (such as a windowsill). Place them somewhere where they receive ample in-direct sunlight.


A well-draining soil mix is ideal for the Crocodile Fern. Ensure that the soil is loose rich and moist. You can add peat moss and perlite to loosen up the soil if necessary, however, choosing a good potting mix from the start is more than enough.


Just like its counterpart, Crocodile ferns need lots of water. Water them thoroughly and regularly. Once the top few inches of soil are dry, water the plant until it drains out the bottom of the pot. Let the water continue draining until there are no more drips from the drainage hole. Then you can place your plant back into its pot.

The main mistake people make when watering plants is letting water sit at the bottom of the pot – which in all plant cases causes root rot and the unfortunate death of the plant. Prevent this ever happening with this simple tip. (Check out our Instagram page for further plant care reels).


A water-soluble fertilizer that has been diluted is a good option for feeding your Crocodile Fern. Use a Fertilizer that is formulated for ferns for the best results. Fertilizer your fern once a month during spring and summer to ensure it stays healthy.

Temperature & Humidity

Due to its tropical nature, the crocodile fern does not handle cold weather well. It can be grown in zones 10 – 11 but any area colder than that or any drafts of cold air can kill this plant. Keeping your fern at room temperatures is your best bet for keeping it alive. 

Because they love their humidity so much – the lack of it could make your Crocodile fern leaves crispy and brown looking. There are a few tips you can follow to help ensure that your Crocodile Ferns receive the humidity levels they need.

  1. Mist them with a mister or spray bottle mister daily.
  2. A pebble tray with a tiny amount of water will keep your fern moist. Ensure that the pot is not sitting in water.
  3. When you shower, bring your Fern to the washroom to help your plant rehydrate. Remember to move your plant back to somewhere with indirect sunlight as they may love humidity but still need the sun to survive


Unlike other plants, The Crocodile fern, and ferns in general, do not reproduce from seeds. instead, they reproduce from spores. Attempting to propagate your fern through spores is not easy and may not yield you the best results.

The best way to create more ferns is using root division. Propagate a few sections as not all of them may produce.

Remove your Crocodile fern from its pot gently. With its roots exposed now, carefully separate a part of your fern. Make sure to be gentle as you can damage the roots or kill the plants. Plant into a new pot and water thoroughly using the above trick for watering in the watering section.

Make sure to keep the soil most – especially during its first few weeks. Continue watering and monitoring the plant during the first few days of its propagation.

Potting & Repotting

Potting and Repotting a Crocodile Fern isn’t something that is done often – since they are known as being slow growers. However, when you notice its roots start getting clustered together in your current pot or if the fern is feeling top-heavy then you will want to transition your plant into a bigger pot. The best time to transition your plant is during the plant's growing season - which is between spring and summer.

Repotting is easy when you follow these tips:

To start, gently remove the plant from the pot – if the pot is made of plastic squeeze the sides to release it from the pot. If the pot is harder plastic or ceramic, give it a light tap to help release the roots from the pot. Place your fern into its new home with fresh soil and water. Do not bury your plant too deep into its new soil - due to these plants having shallow roots. 

Common issues

Root rot is a common problem in ferns and houseplants in general. Ensure that your fern is not sitting in soil that is not well-draining. The soggy soil and water sitting in the bottom of the pot can lead to root rot or fungal/mold growth.
Insects and pests such as Scale Insects can be a common issue for Crocodile Ferns. Addressing Scale insects is not always easy and requires assiduity. For an indoor plant – prune the affected stems. 
Monitor the plant and if the scale persists – gently rub the leaves with Diluted Rubbing alcohol and a cotton ball. Setting up a Crocodile Fern care routine can help you keep up with any issues and plant care for your fern.


How tall can Crocodyllus Fern (Crocodile Fern) Grow?

A Crocodile Fern can grow upwards of 2 ft - 5ft - tall & wide.

Can I grow Crocodile Fern outdoors?

Yes, you can put your Crocodile Fern outdoors in zones 10 - 11. Ensure that they do not get exposed to frost-level temperatures overnight as they can die quickly once exposed to excessively cold temperatures.