Indoor Gardening: A Comprehensive Guide to Successfully Grow Davallia Species

Indoor Gardening: A Comprehensive Guide to Successfully Grow Davallia Species


Indoor gardening is a popular and rewarding hobby that allows plant enthusiasts to bring nature inside their homes. One fascinating group of plants suitable for indoor cultivation is the Davallia species, commonly known as rabbit’s foot ferns. These unique ferns are characterized by their delicate, finely divided fronds and furry rhizomes resembling a rabbit’s foot. This comprehensive guide will provide you with essential insights and practical tips to successfully grow Davallia species indoors, enhancing your home with their beauty and charm.

Understanding Davallia Species

Davallia species belong to the family Davalliaceae and are native to tropical and subtropical regions. They are epiphytic ferns, meaning they grow on other plants, often in the crevices of trees or rocks. Rabbit’s foot ferns are known for their distinctive rhizomes, which creep along the surface of the potting medium. These rhizomes are covered in brown hairs, resembling a rabbit’s foot, hence the common name.

Choosing the Right Species

Several Davallia species are suitable for indoor cultivation, each with its unique characteristics. Some popular species include Davallia fejeensis, Davallia trichomanoides, and Davallia tyermannii. Research the specific requirements and appearance of each species to choose the one that best suits your indoor environment and preferences.

Ideal Growing Conditions

  1. Light: Davallia ferns prefer bright, indirect light. Place them near a window with filtered sunlight, but avoid direct sun exposure, which can scorch their delicate fronds. Artificial grow lights can also be used to provide the necessary light spectrum for healthy growth.
  2. Temperature and Humidity: These ferns thrive in warm and humid conditions. Maintain a temperature range between 65°F to 75°F (18°C to 24°C) and ensure a humidity level of at least 50%. Regular misting or placing a humidifier nearby can help create a suitable environment.
  3. Potting Medium: Use a well-draining, rich, and slightly acidic potting mix. A mix of peat moss, perlite, and pine bark works well. Ensure the pot has drainage holes to prevent waterlogging, which can lead to root rot.

Planting and Repotting

  1. Planting: When planting Davallia ferns, ensure the rhizomes are place on the surface of the potting medium, allowing them room to spread. Avoid burying the rhizomes, as they need access to air.
  2. Repotting: Repot the ferns every 1-2 years to refresh the potting medium and provide more space for growth. Choose a slightly larger pot and carefully transfer the plant, ensuring the rhizomes are positioned on the surface. Trim any dead or damaged roots during repotting.

Watering and Feeding

  1. Watering: Keep the potting medium consistently moist but not waterlogged. Water the ferns thoroughly when the top inch of the soil feels dry to the touch. Watering from below by placing the pot in a shallow tray of water can ensure the roots receive adequate moisture without waterlogging the soil.
  2. Feeding: During the growing season (spring and summer), feed your Davallia ferns with a balanced, diluted liquid fertilizer every 2-4 weeks. Reduce feeding frequency or stop altogether during the dormant winter months when the plant’s growth slows down.

Pruning and Maintenance

  1. Pruning: Regularly remove yellow or damaged fronds to encourage new growth and maintain the plant’s appearance. Use clean, sharp scissors or pruning shears to make precise cuts without injuring the healthy parts of the plant.
  2. Cleaning: Keep the fronds clean by gently wiping them with a damp cloth or sponge. Dust and debris can block sunlight absorption and hinder the plant’s growth.

Common Challenges and Solutions

  1. Pests: Keep an eye out for common indoor plant pests such as spider mites and aphids. Regularly inspect the foliage and undersides of leaves. If infested, isolate the affected plant, and treat it with insecticidal soap or neem oil.
  2. Diseases: Davallia ferns are susceptible to fungal diseases, especially in overly damp conditions. Avoid overwatering and ensure good air circulation around the plant. If signs of fungal infection (wilting, yellowing, or spotted leaves) appear, consider using a fungicide according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  3. Yellowing Fronds: Yellowing fronds can be a sign of overwatering, poor drainage, or insufficient light. Adjust your watering schedule, repot the plant if necessary, and ensure it receives adequate, indirect light.


Growing Davallia species indoors can be a delightful and rewarding experience. By understanding their specific requirements and providing them with the right care, you can enjoy the beauty of these unique ferns in your home. Remember to be attentive to their needs, provide the ideal growing conditions, and address any issues promptly. With patience and dedication, you can create a lush, green haven indoors, showcasing the elegance of Davallia species and enhancing your living space. Happy gardening!