Virtues: Blue star fern is an easy houseplant that does well in the lower light conditions found in most interiors. It enjoys moist soil, so it’s hard to overwater this fern. Its scrappy leaves and dusky green color make it an interesting addition to the room.
Common name: Blue star fern
Botanical name: Phlebodium aureum
Foliage: Unlike many ferns that have delicate-looking fronds, blue star fern has wider, strappy leaves with a shape and posture somewhat reminiscent of the foam “#1” fingers you find at sports stadiums.
Habit: This fern typically grows to one foot tall and wide.
Origins: Blue star fern is a plant that comes from tropical rain forests of South America. In the wild it grows on trees, using them for support but not drawing nutrients or moisture from them. In this way it’s similar to air plants and Christmas cactus.
Season: Year-round as a foliage houseplant.
Exposure: This fern tolerates low light. Place it in indirect light toward the center of the room, or keep it in an east-, west- or north-facing window, where it will not receive sunbeams all day.
How to grow blue star fern: Provide indirect light and regular watering. The potting mix for blue star fern should be loose and quick draining. When watering and potting, keep in mind this fern’s natural habitat and growth habit: it lives on tree branches in the rain forest, so it likes frequent watering but it doesn’t like to stand in water/wet soil. A potting mix sold for orchids is a good choice. Repot only when the plant outgrows its pot; at that time move it to a pot a couple of inches larger.
Normal room temperature is fine for blue star fern, but this rain-forest plant does prefer higher humidity. Keep it in a more humid room, such as the kitchen or bathroom, or stand its pot on a tray of damp pebbles. Clustering houseplants together will also contribute higher humidity.