Growing Rabbit’s Foot Ferns

Davallia fejeensis, or commonly known as rabbit’s foot fern, are beautiful and relatively easy ferns to care for.

I will say that I have never really had much luck with ferns before. In my fear for over watering, I tend to underwater a little too much. Not many ferns have survived with me, but with time I have gotten a bit more accustomed to their needs. Not too long ago, I picked up a rabbit’s foot fern on a whim, and its safe to say that I am obsessed! They are not as fickle as most ferns such as maidenhair ferns. Those have never survived with me. They can do ok with a little drying out between watering and they do well without high humidity, although they do prefer it. So today I wanted to share a little history to this wonderful plant as well as some care guidelines.

Growth Habit and Water Requirements

Rabbit’s foot fern is actually a tropical fern and are native to Fiji and Australia. It is an epiphytic plant and has a relatively shallow root system. They can be found growing on rocks and trees, using their “rabbits foot like” rhizomes to cling to their surroundings. These rhizomes tend to get long over time and start to resemble tarantula legs. Don’t worry, this is perfectly normal! Aside from clinging to their surroundings, these rhizomes do also collect moisture, and burying them will cause them to rot.

I tend to water my ferns when I notice that they are almost dried out. I water their fronds and their rhizomes, and they seem to appreciate the “shower”. Every so often, I will mist their fronds between waterings. They’re not as picky with humidity needs like other ferns, though they will do better with more. To create more humidity for the plant, you can mist, or make a tray with rocks and water for the plant to sit on. The rocks will prevent the root system from staying soggy but the evaporating water will create more humidity for the plant.

Most of my rabbit’s foot ferns are mounted, which really mimics their natural growth habit. I usually fill a basin with water and let it soak for a minute or two, or let water run over it in the sink.

Temperature, Lighting, and Soil Requirements

Because this is a tropical fern, they do appreciate warmer temperatures. I would say that usual household temperatures are perfect for the plant, about 60-75 F or 16-24 C.

Since it is an epiphyte and a fern, any direct sun will cause the fronds to burn. Dappled outdoor sun is perfect and/or bright diffused light indoors is the optimum. Lighting that is bright but indirect is perfect.

When planting, make sure to use easily draining soil. Although they like moisture, they don’t like being soggy. This will cause the plant to rot. If I don’t mount my fern, I will plant it in soil with a lot of pumice or perlite in it, or I will also use orchid bark. As long as it is able to dry out and not stay soggy for too long. Orchid bark is perfect for staying moist without being too wet.

New fronds emerging from the fuzzy rhizomes.

Overall this is a very lovely plant! They are quite common and not too difficult to find in local plant shops. If you have been wanting to add a fern to your collection, this is a great one to try. They’re also non poisonous, so if you have any critters, you needn’t worry.

If any of you out there have had any experience with them, I would love to hear about it!



Little Groundwork is an online oasis documenting the everyday lessons and changes involved with cultivating a greener environment. Rooted in a love for all things nature and design, Little Groundwork hopes to spark that same passion into the hearts of many. We hope that you follow along with us and together we can learn, grow, and create a greener environment.

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