Jester Crown Ferns Care Guide

Jester Crown Fern Care Guide

The Jester Crown Fern is a plant of many names. It is scientifically known as Nephrolepis exaltata. You may have heard it referred to as a Boston fern, Sunjest Jester’s Crown, or Sword Fern.  This ancient plant can be found in the rainforests of Australia and New Guinea. It may be one of the oldest plants on earth. The Jester Crown Fern is made up of dense, sturdy, deep green fronds that arch out from the base. This plant makes a lovely addition to any tabletop or windowsill.  


Obtaining the right watering balance of the Jester Crown Fern is very important. The soil needs to be moist, but not saturated with water. A waterlogged fern can develop fungal diseases. Look out for yellowing leaves. This is a sign of overwatering.  It is best to thoroughly water the fern with room temperature water when the top three inches of soil are dry. The most important factor related to watering this plant is making sure it is exposed to high levels of humidity. 

Light and Humidity 

This fern needs plenty of bright indirect sunlight. Direct sun will make the fronds burn up quickly. Partial shade will make the fronds sparse and limp. Humidity is the Jester Crown Fern’s best friend. Make sure to mist the fronds daily. This will help your fern thrive. If you live in a dry environment, it can help to place your fern in the bathroom or kitchen when humidity levels tend to be higher. Alternatively, you can move other plants around the fern to increase humidity. In extreme cases, it is helpful to place your fern on top of a tray with pebbles and water. Don’t let the container sit in the water, but just slightly above it. As the water evaporates, the soil will absorb it and welcome the much needed moisture. 

Soil and Fertilizer 

The Jester Crown Fern does best in a peaty, soil-based potting mix. Keep the soil moist and well-drained. Compared to many houseplants, the Jester Crown Fern does not need much fertilizer. Standard indoor houseplant fertilizer diluted to half strength is plenty. Make sure to fertilize sparingly. Usually, 2-3 times a year is enough. 

Cleaning and Pruning 

Excess dust can affect plant growth, so dust your Jester Crown Fern regularly with a soft brush. Routine pruning of discolored leaves can be done at any time. Make sure to remove the whole stem all the way to the base. Simply snip the frond at the soil line with a clean pair of clippers. Severe pruning is recommended once a year. This promotes healthier, prolific growth, so your fern gets stronger the longer you have it. 


The Jester Crown Fernis an easy plant to propagate. Gently tug on a healthy shoot until it comes out of the soil. It is okay if there are no roots because they will soon develop when the shoot is planted. Place the shoot upright into a pot with a peaty soil mix then lightly water it. Move the pot to a spot where it will receive indirect sunlight. You can even put a plastic bag over the top to ensure a humid environment. Remove this bag with new growth is visible.   


Jester Crown Ferns are repotted to encourage growth. In the wild, these ferns can develop 5 foot long fronds, so it will outgrow its container every few years. If your fern seems to stop growing or if the roots are coming through the drainage hole of the container, it is time to repot your fern. First, make sure to water your plant a few days before you plan to repot it in order to ensure easy removal. Next, fill your new container with 3 inches of fresh potting soil. It is best to use a container 2 to 3 inches wider than your old container. Too much space increases the likelihood of root rot. Then, take the fern in one hand, while you tilt its container with your other hand. Gently slide the fern into the new container. Fill in with potting soil, then pat down to remove air pocket. Water thoroughly, and move the repotted fern to a spot with indirect sunlight.

Conclusion and Problems 

The Jester Crown Fern is a low maintenance plant once the proper environment is achieved. It can live for years with proper care. Humidity is key to fern happiness. Overwatering can lead to root rot and yellow leaves. Too much direct light will burn up the fronds. They do not need much fertilizer and can be susceptible to some pests, but this is rare. This ancient foliage can make a wonderful addition to any home.

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