As a plant enthusiast and avid indoor gardener, I have always been captivated by exotic and unusual plants that can transform my living space into a verdant sanctuary. One such plant that has caught my attention recently is the enchanting crocodile fern (Microsorum musifolium). With its unique reptilian-like appearance and mesmerizing charm, the crocodile fern has become the pièce de résistance of my indoor garden, earning a special place in my heart and home.

Native to Southeast Asia and Australia, the crocodile fern boasts elongated, dark green fronds that resemble the skin of a crocodile, lending it a distinctively exotic and eye-catching look. The textured, scaly pattern on its leaves sets it apart from other ferns and adds a touch of tropical intrigue to my home.

As a slow-growing, evergreen fern, it has seamlessly integrated into my collection, and I am eager to share my experience in caring for this captivating plant with fellow gardening enthusiasts.

How to Care for your Crocodile Fern

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Despite the crocodile fern’s distinctive appearance, which might seem daunting at first, it is actually a relatively low-maintenance plant that can flourish with some basic care. To ensure your plant remains healthy and vibrant, follow these essential guidelines:

  1. Light Requirements: Situate your crocodile fern in an area with bright, indirect sunlight. Avoid direct sun exposure, as it can cause the leaves to scorch and turn brown. A well-lit room with filtered sunlight or a spot near a north or east-facing window would be ideal.
  2. Watering Techniques: Consistent moisture is crucial for Microsorum musifolium, but avoid overwatering. Water the plant when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch, ensuring the soil remains damp but not waterlogged. Overwatering can result in root rot, which is detrimental to the plant’s health.
  3. Maintaining Humidity: Crocodile ferns thrive in environments with high humidity, similar to their native tropical habitats. To achieve the desired humidity levels, place your fern near a humidifier, group it with other humidity-loving plants, or set it on a tray filled with water and pebbles. Regularly misting the fern’s leaves can also help maintain humidity.
  4. Choosing the Right Soil: A well-draining, peat-based potting mix is ideal for crocodile ferns. The soil should retain moisture to keep the roots hydrated, yet allow for adequate drainage to prevent root rot. Adding perlite or orchid bark to the potting mix can improve drainage.
  5. Fertilizing Schedule: Provide your plant with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer diluted to half-strength every four to six weeks during the growing season (spring and summer). This will ensure the plant receives the necessary nutrients for optimal growth and health.
  6. Proper Pruning Practices: To maintain your fern’s attractive appearance, regularly inspect the plant and remove any dead, yellowing, or damaged fronds. This will encourage new growth and help maintain a healthy, vibrant look.

By following these essential care tips, you can nurture a thriving crocodile fern that will serve as a striking focal point in your indoor garden.

Benefits of having a Crocodile Fern in your home

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In addition to its striking appearance, this plant brings several valuable benefits to your indoor environment, enhancing your overall well-being and living conditions:

  1. Air Purification Properties: Microsorum musifolium, like many other fern species, is effective in purifying the air within your home. It works by absorbing airborne toxins and pollutants, thus improving indoor air quality and promoting a healthier environment for you and your family.
  2. Stress Reduction and Mental Well-Being: Numerous studies have shown that the presence of indoor plants, including the crocodile fern, can help reduce stress levels and enhance mental well-being. The act of caring for plants and being surrounded by nature can have a calming effect, improving mood and promoting relaxation.
  3. Natural Humidity Regulation: Microsorum musifolium, due to their preference for high humidity levels, can help maintain a comfortable indoor atmosphere, particularly during the dry winter months. As the plant transpires, it releases moisture into the air, contributing to increased humidity levels in its surroundings. This not only benefits the plant but can also alleviate issues such as dry skin and respiratory discomfort that are commonly associated with dry indoor environments.

By incorporating a crocodile skinned plant into your home, you can enjoy not only its distinctive beauty but also the numerous advantages it offers in promoting a healthier, more comfortable living space.

Choosing the Right Pot for Crocodile Fern

crocodile fern in pot

Selecting the right pot for your plant is essential for its growth, health, and overall well-being. Various factors, such as material, drainage, and stability, play a crucial role in determining the best pot for your plant. Here are some options and their characteristics to help you make an informed decision:

  1. Terracotta Pots: Terracotta pots are a popular choice for many gardeners due to their porous nature, which allows for better air circulation around the plant’s roots, reducing the risk of root rot. However, this porosity also means they tend to dry out more quickly, requiring more frequent monitoring of soil moisture to ensure your crocodile fern remains adequately hydrated.
  2. Ceramic Pots: Ceramic pots with proper drainage holes can be an excellent option for crocodile ferns. They are better at retaining moisture compared to terracotta pots, which means less frequent watering may be required. Additionally, ceramic pots come in a wide variety of designs, colors, and styles, allowing you to choose one that complements your Microsorum musifolium’s exotic appearance and enhances your indoor décor.
  3. Plastic Pots: Plastic pots are an affordable and lightweight alternative for housing your crocodile fern. When selecting a plastic pot, look for one with drainage holes to prevent waterlogging and ensure proper moisture management. It is also essential to choose a sturdy, well-balanced pot that can support the potentially large size of the plant without tipping over.

When choosing a pot for your crocodile fern, keep in mind the plant’s unique requirements and select a pot that will best support its growth and health. Additionally, consider your personal preferences and how the pot’s appearance will fit into your indoor space.

Planting and Repotting

To ensure the optimal growth and health of your crocodile fern, it is crucial to follow proper planting and repotting procedures. These essential steps will help you establish a strong foundation for your fern’s continued success:

  1. Select an appropriate pot: Choose a pot with drainage holes to prevent waterlogging and the potential for root rot. The size of the pot should be suitable for the current size of your crocodile fern, allowing room for growth.
  2. Prepare the potting mix: Fill the pot with a well-draining, peat-based potting mix that retains moisture while preventing waterlogging. This type of soil will provide the ideal environment for your plant’s roots.
  3. Remove the fern carefully: When transferring the fern from its current container to the new pot, gently remove it, taking care not to damage the delicate roots. Loosen the root ball slightly if it appears to be root-bound or compacted.
  4. Position the fern in the new pot: Place the fern in the new pot, ensuring that the root ball is positioned slightly below the pot’s rim. This will provide adequate space for the soil to support the plant’s growth.
  5. Add soil and remove air pockets: Fill the pot with the prepared potting mix, gently pressing the soil around the roots to eliminate any air pockets that may have formed. Ensuring good soil contact with the roots is vital for proper nutrient and water uptake.
  6. Water and situate the fern: Thoroughly water the plant, allowing excess water to drain from the pot’s bottom. After watering, place the crocodile fern in a location that receives bright, indirect light to encourage healthy growth.

Are Crocodile Ferns toxic for Cats

Upon further investigation, I found conflicting information regarding the toxicity of crocodile fern (Microsorum musifolium) for pets. Some sources claim it is non-toxic, while others suggest that it contains calcium oxalate crystals, which can cause irritation and discomfort if ingested.

Calcium oxalate crystals can cause irritation to the oral cavity, throat, and esophagus in cats and dogs. Symptoms may include drooling, vomiting, refusal to eat, or difficulty swallowing. If you suspect that your pet has consumed a crocodile fern, contact your veterinarian for advice and monitor your pet’s condition.

To prevent potential issues with pets, it is best to place the Microsorum musifolium and other plants in locations that are inaccessible to cats and dogs. If you have doubts about the safety of a particular plant for your pets, it is always better to consult with a veterinarian.

In summary, the information available on the toxicity of crocodile ferns for pets is conflicting. It is essential to take necessary precautions to keep your pets away from the plant and consult with a veterinarian if you have concerns or if your pet shows signs of distress after ingesting any part of the plant.

Can Crocodile Ferns thrive outdoors?

USDA zones

Crocodile ferns can indeed be grown outdoors, but their ability to thrive depends on the specific climate conditions of your location. They are best suited for USDA Hardiness Zones 10-11, where the average minimum temperature ranges between 30°F (-1°C) and 40°F (4°C). Some states that fall within these zones include southern California, southern Texas, Florida, and parts of Arizona, Louisiana, and New Mexico.

To successfully grow crocodile ferns outdoors, consider the following conditions and care guidelines:

  1. Temperature: Crocodile ferns prefer consistently warm temperatures and are not frost-tolerant. Ensure that the temperature remains above 50°F (10°C) throughout the year.
  2. Light: Provide your crocodile fern with dappled shade, as direct sunlight can scorch its leaves. Placing the fern under a tree or canopy can offer the ideal amount of light.
  3. Soil: Plant your crocodile fern in well-draining, peat-based soil that retains moisture without becoming waterlogged.
  4. Watering: Water your outdoor crocodile fern when the top inch of soil feels dry. Keep the soil consistently moist, but avoid overwatering to prevent root rot.
  5. Humidity: Maintain high humidity levels by regularly misting the plant, especially during hot and dry periods.
  6. Fertilization: Apply a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer diluted to half-strength every four to six weeks during the growing season.
  7. Cold protection: If your area experiences an occasional cold snap, protect your crocodile fern by covering it with frost cloth or moving it to a sheltered location temporarily.


By following these guidelines, you can successfully cultivate a healthy and vibrant crocodile fern in your outdoor garden, creating an exotic and tropical ambiance.

This plant is a captivating and exotic addition to any indoor or outdoor space, perfect for plant enthusiasts who wish to bring a touch of the tropics into their environment. Its unique, reptilian-like appearance sets it apart from other plants, making it an excellent conversation starter and a stunning focal point.

With proper care and attention to light, water, humidity, and temperature requirements, the crocodile fern can flourish and contribute to a healthy and vibrant living space. It is not only visually appealing but also offers benefits like air purification and stress reduction.

This remarkable plant is an excellent choice for gardeners, plant collectors, and anyone looking to enhance their surroundings with a distinctive and striking green companion.


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Author Anna Parker

I am a designer and florist. My love for plants and flowers has been with me since I was a child, thanks to my parents who encouraged me to take care of our home garden and taught me the basics of plant care.

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