Information About Kangaroo Paw Fern

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Kangaroo Paw Fern Info: Tips For Growing Kangaroo Foot Ferns

By Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist

Kangaroo fern care takes its cues from the native range of the plant, where it is a feature of the Canberra region, growing in sunny locations near rocky outcrops. Click this article for more kangaroo paw fern info, including its cultural requirements and features.

Phymatosorus Species, Kangaroo Fern


Water Requirements:

Sun Exposure:


Foliage Color:




Where to Grow:

Can be grown as an annual

Suitable for growing in containers


Bloom Color:

Bloom Characteristics:

Bloom Size:

Bloom Time:

Other details:

Soil pH requirements:

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:

By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)

Seed Collecting:

N/A: plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Gardeners' Notes:

On Feb 20, 2013, RosinaBloom from Waihi,
New Zealand (Zone 1) wrote:

Microsorum pustulatum, also known as Hound's Tongue and Kowaowao, is native to Australia and New Zealand, and common in our coastal and montane areas. It is also common on all the three main islands, subantarctic islands, and on the Chatham islands. It is often epiphytic (growing on trees) usually in slightly drier areas. The glossy green fronds which vary in shape, are uncut and strapped in young plants, and once-cut on mature plants. They spread by fragmentation of the green and brown large, hairy rhizomes. Hound's Tongue Fern coming from the likened shape of a dog's tongue.

On Oct 3, 2009, mswestover from Yulee, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

I mostly water it once a week. Under drifting shade in a pot. I bring it into the garage in winter. Lizards love to hide in it when I water it they come scrambling out. Zone 9a, NE Florida

On Jan 1, 2007, bekados from Pensacola, FL wrote:

The roots of my fern have a delicious almost tarragon fragrance.

On Oct 28, 2004, hanna1 from Castro Valley, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

Is epiphytic, glossy, bright green fronds, can vary in shape and size. Easy to grow, well-drained potting mix. best use 1 part course sand/ 1 part pine bark/ 1 part peat moss, and charcoal/ can use bone meal 1 tbs to 3 parts mix. do not let dry completely. Restrict watering somewhat in winter, keep at 50-60F. rhizones best divided Feb-march.

On Sep 16, 2003, broozersnooze from Jacksonville, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

I've had one of these living outside for about 18 months now. Our temps dip down into the 20's & sometimes the teens but do not remain there for more than several hours. This plant did very well.

This spring I divided it into 4 parts - one going back into the hanging basket which gets a good dose of afternoon sun. It has already outgrown the basket. I'm hoping I won't have to divide it again until the spring.

The other sections were planted into a chunk of hollow oak along with some bromeliads in an area that doesn't get as much sun & they have not done as well.

On Mar 13, 2003, kennedyh from Churchill, Victoria,
Australia (Zone 10a) wrote:

This fern is a climber of the wetter forests in South-Eastern Australia, often climbing on the stems of Soft Tree Ferns, Dicksonia antarctica. It's name of Kangaroo Fern, refers to the shape of the fronds. On a young plant, the fronds are unbranched, but eventually develop multiple broad pinnae. There is an intermediate stage, where some of the fronds have a single branch pinna on one side only. This frond shape then resembles a kangaroo's footprint, which has one long toe and one slighly shorter toe beside it. I pegged a piece of Kangaroo Fern, to the stem of my Soft Tree Fern some years ago, and it has thrived there ever since, now wrapping itself several times round the tree fern stem, and regularly producing spores, although no new plants have arisen. I water the tree fern stem in summ. read more er to keep it moist.

Too Little or Too Much Sunlight

The Kangaroo Fern can tolerate low light conditions, but there won’t be much growth. The foliage will thin out as older fronds die off and new ones are slower to emerge. In low light, new fronds will appear with fewer “fingers” on the “paw” and a simpler structure. See our article on determining if your plant is getting enough sun for more information.

Too much sunlight, on the other hand, can burn the delicate fronds and cause browning. Kangaroo fern cannot tolerate direct sunlight. As with most ferns, you’ll need to get the amount of light just right for the best results.

SOLUTION: Place your plant in a bright, north- or east- facing window. Do not grow Kangaroo Fern directly in a south-facing window. If necessary, move back a few feet from a south-facing window to protect the delicate foliage from direct sunlight while still allowing adequate indirect light. A sheer curtain placed over a window will help filter the light if you suspect your plant is getting too much.

How to Care for a Kangaroo Fern

Related Articles

A native of Australia, kangaroo fern (Microsorum diversifolium) is an attractive, cool-climate fern distinguished by its firm fronds, which grow to various lengths. Height of the plant at maturity is about 1 foot, with a spread of 2 to 3 feet. It is sometimes grown as ground cover. Because of its unusual growth habit and oddly shaped leaves, this shade- and moisture-loving plant has deservedly earned the moniker of kangaroo paw fern. Kangaroo fern is suitable for planting in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 9 through 11.

Water kangaroo fern deeply once every week throughout the year, providing enough water to soak the roots. Between deep waterings, water lightly every day if needed to keep the soil evenly moist. Don't sprinkle the foliage. Instead, use a drip irrigation system or allow a garden hose to trickle at the base of the plant.

Fertilize kangaroo fern annually in spring, using a general-purpose or slow-release garden fertilizer with a ratio such as 10-20-10 or 14-14-14. You can also use an organic fish emulsion. Never feed late in the season, and never over-fertilize. Ferns are light feeders that are damaged by too much fertilizer.

Apply a product containing chelated iron if the fronds take on a yellow or bleached appearance, which indicates an iron deficiency. Iron chelate is available in both dry form, applied to the soil, and spray form, applied directly to the leaves. Iron-deficient foliage usually turns green within a month after application, and doesn't require re-application for several months.

Cut off brown and dry fronds as they appear, as the fronds won't rebound. Dry fronds are usually the result of long exposure to hot, dry wind.

Protect the fern from slugs, which often prey on the foliage of moisture-loving plants, especially during rainy or humid weather. Regular application of commercial slug bait is usually the most effective treatment. However, various natural treatments are also available.

Kangaroo Paw Fern (Microsorium diversifolium)

Do you have to winter this fern inside?

Yes it is very tender.
Unlike a lot of tender ferns though it is VERY forgiving.
We have three in hanging pots that maybe get watered once a week in the GH.
If you miss watering they will droop and tell you it's H2O time.
If they do too long they will go dormant, waking up w/ a good drenching.
Most tropical ferns just shrivel up and die.

I've acquired one from my sister who had it in a 10" high tiny pot and I repotted it today. There are long. what looks like roots, coming from it. In some spots are leaves coming from them. If I bury one, will it grow?
I'm in California and noticed they don't grow here, but it will be on the patio and I'm courageous. Anything special I need to know? Need a lot of room? Misting? Food? if so, what type.

A few months ago, my mother in law gave me a plant that she has had for over 30 years! She didn't know what it was but, after much rooting around (no pun intended), I believe that it is a kangaroo paw fern. It had been poking along for a number of years before I got it but after carefully repotting it, I put her in a pretty shady spot on the terrace. I have kept a watchful eye on her and she has had a rebirth! There are over a dozen new fronds coming up and several of the larger new leaves have spores on them! Would love to hear any suggestions for continued success with my new 'baby'! I am in Virginia so I know I have to bring her inside for the winter. Any tips concerning that would be great!! Thanks, Susan

Susan if your MIL has had the plant for that many years she's FAR better informed than I to give tips . lol!
Just watch the water and sun. New fronds and spores you, are well on your way!
We freshen up the soil each Spring and off they go.
A VERY forgiving fern.

I have 2 Plants, that I am experimenting with, and have only had since Spring. I see that the Northern owners, advise Wintering inside. Does anyone here in Central Fl. have one and do you bring it in in Winter, as well? We are in Zone 9. Thanks, Valerie

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