Ferns are a popular choice for indoor and outdoor gardens due to their low maintenance and ability to thrive in a variety of conditions. However, like any plant, ferns attract pests as they make an exceptional opportunity for food and shelter.

In this article, we will explore the types of pests that ferns are prone to and how to prevent and control infestations.

Types of Pests that Affect Ferns

Ferns can be affected by a range of pests, including:


Aphids are small, pear-shaped insects that feed on the sap of plants. They are common pests of ferns and can cause yellowing and distortion of the leaves. Aphids can also transmit plant diseases.


Mealybugs are small, white insects that secrete powdery wax over their bodies. They feed on the sap of plants and can cause yellowing and distortion of the leaves. Mealybugs can also produce a sticky substance called honeydew, which can lead to the growth of sooty mold.

Spider Mites

Spider mites are small, eight-legged arthropods that feed on the sap of plants. They are common pests of ferns and can cause yellowing and stippling of the leaves. Spider mites can also produce webs, which can be unsightly.

Slugs and Snails

Slugs and snails are mollusks that feed on the leaves of plants. They can cause holes in the leaves and can be particularly damaging to young ferns.

Snail on fiddleheads fern
Snail on fiddleheads fern

Preventing Pest Infestations on Ferns

There are several steps you can take to prevent pest infestations on your ferns:

Choose Pest-Resistant Ferns

Some types of ferns are more resistant to pests than others. For example, the Boston fern (Nephrolepis exaltata) is less prone to pest infestations than other types of ferns. Choosing pest-resistant varieties can help reduce the likelihood of infestations.

Proper Planting and Care

Proper planting and care can also help prevent pest infestations. When planting your ferns, make sure to choose an appropriate location with the right amount of sunlight and moisture. Ferns that are stressed due to improper care are more susceptible to pest infestations.

Keep the Area Clean

Pests are often attracted to dirty, cluttered areas. Keeping the area around your ferns clean and free of debris can help prevent infestations. This includes removing any dead leaves or branches, as they can provide a breeding ground for pests.

Use Pesticides Sparingly

While pesticides can be effective at controlling pest infestations, they can also be harmful to beneficial insects and the environment. Use pesticides sparingly and follow the label instructions carefully.

Achatina fulica a giant snail crawling on a green fern leaf
Achatina fulica a giant snail crawling on a green fern leaf

Controlling Pest Infestations on Ferns

If you do notice pests on your ferns, there are several steps you can take to control the infestation:

Physical Removal

For small infestations, you can try physically removing the pests from the plant. This can be done by hand or with the use of a jet of water.

Natural Solutions

There are several natural solutions that can help control pest infestations on ferns. For example, you can try spraying the plants with a mixture of water and dish soap or horticultural oil. Neem oil is also a natural pest repellent that can be effective against some types of pests.

Chemical Solutions

If the infestation persists, you may need to resort to chemical solutions. Always follow the instructions on the label and use only approved pesticides for ferns. Be sure to wear protective clothing when applying any chemicals and keep children and pets away from the treated area.

By following these tips, you can help prevent and control pest infestations on your ferns. With proper care, your ferns should remain healthy and pest-free for years to come.

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