The swordlike massive green leaves of Macho fern often fade and wither down under poor care, like underwatering and low humidity.
Read on to learn the care dynamics of Macho ferns to maintain their giant foliage stature so you can boast about it.
Table of Contents Show
- Overview of Macho Fern
- Complete Care Guide for Macho Fern
- Macho Fern: All About Growth
- Toxicity of Macho Fern
- Propagation Methods for Macho Fern
- FAQs About Macho Fern
- Wrapping Up…
Overview of Macho Fern
Macho fern is also commonly known as a ‘giant sword’ or ‘broad sword’ fern due to its large swordlike leaves.
They are tropical evergreen plants native to Florida that easily add aesthetic tropics to your patio.
|Scientific Name||Nephrolepis biserrata|
|Common Name||Macho Fern|
|Growth Zone||9a to 11b|
|Grown For||Feathery, swordlike foliage|
|Mature Size||Up to 4 feet tall with a spread of 6 feet|
|Growth Habit||Epiphytic, Perennial, Erect|
|Foliage||Shape: Broad, Swordlike wispy leaf
Texture: Smooth soft leaf
Color: Bright yellowish-green
|Toxicity||Non-toxic to pets and humans|
|Common Pests||Scales, mealybugs, fern mites, nematodes|
|Common Diseases||Leaf tip burn|
Complete Care Guide for Macho Fern
Macho fern won’t bug you much if you are fetching the right amount of water every now and then.
1. Sunlight and Temperature
The Macho fern thrives in 4 to 6 hours of daily bright indirect sunlight with a warmth of 50 to 80°F.
Direct sun and temperature > 80°F can cause wilting, curly, crispy leaves with sunburnt brown patches.
Contrarily, low light and cold drafts result in the leggy, stunted growth of Macho fern alongside leaf discoloration.
Thus, utilize sheer drapes and incandescent lamps (8 to 10 hours) during dark winter days. Also, aim for frost blankets or heat pads to warm Macho fern.
2. Watering & Humidity
Macho ferns despise staying soggy but prefer relatively high humidity of 60 to 80%.
But do not stick with one hard and fast rule, as in summer, they need more water but once every fortnight suffice in winter.
Poor water or humidity (<35%) causes pale, wilting, yellowing leaves.
Meanwhile, consistent high humidity alongside soggy soil results in root rot and mold formation, attracting pests and fungal diseases.
You can use a moisture meter to gauge the watering needs and aim for bottom watering aided with pebbles.
3. Soil & Fertilizer
To avoid soggy soil, provide your Macho fern with well-draining, airy (6-6.5 pH) soil enriched with organic matter.
Replenish the nutrients by adding all-purpose fertilizer once in the active growing season.
That said, they are prone to suffer from overfertilization. So, dilute the strength of fertilizer before use.
Generally, excess fertilizer causes chemical burn and salt build-up leading to root rot.
Moreover, overfertilized Macho ferns have curling leaf tips with brown spots. Thus, avoid fertilizing them in winter.
4. Potting & Repotting
A pot 6 inches wide in diameter is suitable for young Macho ferns. But aim for 8 to 12-inch plastic or a terracotta pot for matured ones.
Aim for early spring or summer to repot them once the roots poke out from drain holes.
While repotting, use a pot an inch bigger than the last with multiple drain holes. If not, drill or make one.
Also, loosen the soil by soaking it the night before the repotting day to lower the repot stress.
5. Seasonal Pruning
Light pruning at any time of the year is beneficial for Macho fern but wait till active growth season for heavy pruning.
Moreover, trimming old, decaying or damaged parts benefits ferns by refocusing energy for new growth.
Pruning is crucial when pests like mealy bugs, fern mites and nematodes invade them.
Alongside pruning, you can opt for neem oil and appropriate fungicides to treat such issues.
Furthermore, pruning is the only way besides amending improper basic care to treat leaf tip burns.
Macho Fern: All About Growth
Macho fern (Nephrolepis biserrata) is a tropical perennial plant that is often compared with the Boston fern.
They actively unfurl new feathery leaves in spring and summer but stay dormant or inactive in winter.
Interestingly, single fronds of Macho fern can grow up to 4 feet long.
Thanks to such wide foliage, they are frequently used as a ground cover and landscaping.
The swordlike feathery leaves have a bright, light green color palette on the reddish hairy stems.
As they are non-flowering plants, they do not produce any flowers.
Toxicity of Macho Fern
Like most true ferns, the Macho fern is also pet-friendly and safe for humans.
According to the ASPCA, the Boston and Macho ferns are not toxic to cats and dogs.
Furthermore, there have been no reports of poisoning in humans.
That said, accidental consumption can introduce minor stomach upset, vomiting and diarrhea. Likewise, your pets and kids may choke on the large leaves.
Thus, place the plant somewhere safe from kids’ and pets’ reach to avoid unpleasant events.
For any accidental houseplant poisoning, you can rely on these hotlines.
- American Poison Control, APCC: (888) 426-4435
- Pet Poison Helpline : (855) 764-7661
Propagation Methods for Macho Fern
The Macho fern can be propagated via root division in early spring for optimal growth.
As they are non-flowering, they do not have the luxury of seed propagation.
However, propagation via spores is possible but is a sophisticated, time-consuming process.
Now, let us gather around tools like a sterilized pruner and fresh potting mix.
Root Division Method
You can divide the mature, healthy-looking Macho fern during the repotting process.
Before uprooting the plant, loosen the soil using the garden forks and thoroughly water them.
- Clean the root balls using lukewarm water and untangle them.
- Using a sterilized pruner or trowel, divide the root ball into smaller clumps.
- Plant the individual division in a small pot filled with fresh potting mix.
- Thoroughly water them to settle the soil.
- Keep them in a bright, well-lit place with moderate humidity.
- Mimic greenhouse using a clear plastic bag to maintain optimal humidity.
After a while, the newly planted division will establish roots but may appear sick, which is normal.
Proceed with regular care, and then you will be golden.
FAQs About Macho Fern
Can Macho fern survive winter?
Within 9a to 10b USDA zones, Macho fern can withstand winter even outdoors.
But they shall be overwintered indoors in zones with much colder temperatures.
What’s the difference between a Macho fern and a Boston fern?
Macho ferns grow larger (4 feet) than Boston ferns and have lighter green foliage. On the other hand, Boston ferns grow small (2-3 feet) with dark green foliage.
Should you mist a Macho fern?
To keep the humidity around Macho fern at an optimal level, you should mist them regularly in the morning.
Macho fern is an easy-going plant that even a beginner gardener can manage to make happy and bushy.
Ensure to water them in time and remember they don’t sit dry for too long to avoid withered-toothed leaves.
All The Best!