Blue Star Fern (Phlebodium aureum): Plant Profile, Toxicity and Care.

The Blue Star Fern, scientifically known as Phlebodium aureum, is a beautiful plant that brings a touch of the tropics to any indoor space. 

It has blue-green, wavy leaves that make it a lovely plant, it is also easy to grow, so many homeowners especially those who travel a lot buy it and keep it at home. 

In this post, we’ll explore the Blue Star Fern’s plant profile, discuss its non-toxic nature, and provide comprehensive care tips to help you keep your fern healthy and thriving.

Blue Star Fern Quick Overview

fuzzy root blue star fern
Common name:Golden Polypody
Scientific name:Phlebodium aureum
Plant Type:Perennial
Mature size:2 to 4 feet height, 3 to 6 feet width
Lighting:Bright, indirect light
Temperature:60-75°F (15-24°C)
Hardiness Zone:8-13 (USDA)
Soil type:Well-draining, mix of peat moss, pine bark, and perlite
Soil pH:Acidic
Nativity:Tropical Americas

Plant Profile

The Blue Star Fern, known scientifically as Phlebodium aureum and commonly referred to as the Golden Polypody, is a fascinating and visually appealing plant. It is native to the tropical and subtropical regions of the Americas, where it thrives as an epiphyte in forests, often growing on trees and rocks. 

This fern is also a good choice for indoor gardening. 

In terms of physical characteristics, the Blue Star Fern is easily recognizable by its unique blue-green leaves that are wavy and lobed. These leaves, which grow from creeping rhizomes, provide a striking contrast to the more common green foliage found in many houseplants. 

At full maturity, the Blue Star Fern reaches a size of about 2-4 feet in height and 3-6 feet in spread, creating a lush, full appearance.

Toxicity to Humans, Cats and Dogs

One of the best things about the Blue Star Fern plant that makes parents comfortable with it in the house is that it is non-toxic. It is safe for roaming kids, posing no risk of poisoning if accidentally ingested or touched. 

As it is with humans, Blue Star Fern is non-toxic to cats and dogs. Pet owners often have to be cautious about the plants they bring into their homes, but with the Blue Star Fern, there is no need for such concern. 

Care Tips: How do you Care for a Blue Star Fern?

blue star fern

If you want to see your plant in the best shape, you need to know how to care for a blue star fern. This is a quick one on overall things you need to do for your plant;

  • Select a location that gets medium to bright, indirect light.
  • Use a well-draining potting mix for your blue star fern.
  • Maintain even moisture, being careful not to overwater.
  • Opt for a warm spot with average to high humidity.
  • Apply light fertilizer in spring and summer.


The Blue Star Fern prefers indirect light or partial shade. It thrives in bright, indirect light but can tolerate lower light conditions.

Avoid placing it in direct sunlight, as this can scorch its delicate leaves. If the plant receives too little light, its growth may slow, and its leaves may lose their vibrant color.


Keeping the soil consistently moist is crucial for the Blue Star Fern, but avoid waterlogging. Water the plant thoroughly when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch. 

Ensure that the pot has good drainage to prevent excess water from accumulating at the bottom, which can lead to root rot. Overwatering causes yellowing leaves, while underwatering causes dry, crispy edges.

Soil and Potting

The soil for this plant is well-draining soil rich in organic matter. A mix of peat moss, pine bark, and perlite is ideal. When potting, use a container with drainage holes to prevent water from pooling at the bottom.

Repot every 2-3 years to refresh the soil and provide the plant with new nutrients.

Temperature and Humidity

This fern prefers a temperature range of 60-75°F (15-24°C). It enjoys high humidity, mimicking its natural tropical habitat. To increase humidity, mist the plant regularly, use a humidifier, or place the pot on a tray filled with pebbles and water.


Feed your Blue Star Fern with a balanced liquid fertilizer every 4-6 weeks during the growing season, typically from spring to early autumn. Dilute the fertilizer to half the recommended strength to avoid over-fertilizing, which can harm the plant.

During the winter months, reduce the frequency of feeding, as the plant’s growth slows down.

Pruning and Maintenance

Regularly clip out dead or yellowing leaves to maintain the plant’s health and appearance. Pruning helps improve air circulation and prevents the spread of potential diseases.

Keep an eye out for pests such as spider mites and scale insects, and address any infestations promptly to prevent damage to the plant.

Blue Star Fern Common Problems and Solutions

indoor blue star fern


  • Spider Mites: Spider mites are tiny pests that can cause significant damage by sucking the sap from the leaves, leading to yellowing and speckled foliage. To combat spider mites, regularly mist the plant to maintain high humidity, as they thrive in dry conditions. If an infestation occurs, treat the plant with insecticidal soap or neem oil, and rinse the leaves with water to remove the mites.
  • Scale Insects: Scale insects appear as small, brown bumps on the leaves and stems. They feed on plant sap and can weaken the plant over time. To remove scale insects, gently scrape them off with a soft cloth or cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol. For severe infestations, apply insecticidal soap or neem oil to the affected areas.


  • Root Rot: Root rot is a common issue caused by overwatering or poor drainage. Symptoms include yellowing leaves, a musty odor, and mushy roots. To prevent root rot, ensure the pot has adequate drainage, and avoid letting the plant sit in water. If root rot occurs, trim away the affected roots and repot the plant in fresh, well-draining soil.
  • Fungal Infections: Fungal infections can cause spots or lesions on the leaves. These infections thrive in high humidity and poor air circulation. To prevent fungal infections, ensure good air circulation around the plant and avoid overhead watering. If you notice signs of a fungal infection, remove the affected leaves and treat the plant with a fungicide.

Other Issues

  • Yellowing Leaves: Yellowing leaves overwatering, underwatering, or insufficient light. Check the soil moisture and adjust your watering schedule accordingly. If the plant is in low light, move it to a brighter location with indirect sunlight.
  • Brown Leaf Tips: Brown leaf tips are often a sign of low humidity or underwatering. Increase the humidity around the plant by misting it regularly, using a humidifier, or placing a water-filled pebble tray nearby. 

How to Propagate Blue Star Fern

 Spring and Summer are the best seasons to propagate this fern as the plant is still actively growing and can recover more quickly from the stress of division or spore propagation.

Rhizome Division: Steps

  1. Water the blue star fern a day before dividing.
  2. Take the plant out of its pot, shaking off excess soil to expose the rhizomes.
  3. Using a clean, sharp knife or scissors, cut the rhizomes into sections, making sure each section has healthy roots and fronds.
  4. Plant each rhizome section in its pot filled with a chunky, well-draining potting mix.
  5. Water the newly planted divisions and place them in a spot with medium to bright, indirect light. Maintain even moisture and high humidity.

Spore Propagation: Steps

  1. Wait until the fern produces spores on the undersides of its fronds. Collect the spores by placing a paper or plastic bag over the frond and shaking it gently.
  2. Use a sterilized, well-draining mix like a combination of peat moss and sand.
  3. Sprinkle the spores evenly over the surface of the growing medium. Do not cover them with soil.
  4. Cover the container with plastic wrap or place it in a plastic bag to maintain high humidity.
  5. Place the container in a warm spot with indirect light. Keep the medium moist. Spores will germinate within a few weeks to months.
  6. Once the ‘sporelings’ have developed several fronds, transplant them into individual pots with a chunky, well-draining mix.

What are the benefits of blue star ferns?

  1. Air Purification
  2. Humidity Regulation

Is Blue Star Fern indoor or outdoor?

Blue Star Ferns (Phlebodium aureum) can be grown both indoors and outdoors, depending on your climate. Here’s how you can best care for them in each setting:


  • Light: Blue Star Ferns prefer bright, indirect light. Avoid direct sunlight as it can scorch their leaves.
  • Temperature: They prefer temperatures between 60-75°F (15-24°C).


  • Climate: Blue Star Ferns can be placed outdoors in USDA zones 9-11. They prefer mild climates and do not tolerate frost.
  • Location: Use a shaded or partially shaded spot to protect them from direct sunlight.

Why is my Blue Star Fern dying?

  1. Overwatering or underwatering is what kills Blue Star Fern in most cases
  2. Insufficient light or exposure to direct sunlight cause stress which kills the plant in the long run.
  3. Low humidity and high temperatures lead to browning, blackening, or drying out of the fronds.

Why is my Blue Star Fern not blue?

The “blue” in the name refers more to the shape and appearance of the fronds rather than their color. If the fronds are not developing properly or turning a different shade, it could be due to inadequate light, improper humidity levels, or nutrient deficiencies.

How to Revive a Blue Star Fern? 

  • Provide the right amount of light (bright, indirect), humidity (high), and temperature (moderate).
  • Keep the soil moist but not soggy. Ensure the pot has proper drainage.
  • Trim away any blackened or dead fronds to encourage new growth.
  • Increase humidity by misting the plant.
  • Feed lightly with a balanced liquid fertilizer diluted to half strength once a month during the growing season (spring and summer).

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Edet Ubok-Obong
Edet Ubok-Obong

Edet Ubok-Obong is an experienced Writer with a deep passion for Gardening, Fishing and home improvement. He shares his knowledge of these fields through this website.