Java Fern Not Growing- How to Protect From Dying?

What to do if you find that your Java fern is not growing? Many gardeners or hobbyists having Java ferns face the problem of Java ferns not growing.

As per my experience, the Java fern growth procedure is not as fast as many other aquatic or houseplants. But sometimes, due to negligence in care, this growth rate is slowed down more.

The plant also dies if you are still avoiding it. Following this scenario, I will describe some common issues for Java fern not growing and the ways to recover them.

Why is My Java Fern Not Growing?

1. Lack of Nutrients 

If you ask me the reasons for java fern not growing, the first cause that I will explain is lack of nutrients. Though ferns are not heavy feeders, they require some basic nutrients for their development. 

For example, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are essential for Java fern development. If you want your plants to thrive, you must supply them in perfect proportion.

Due to the deficiency of nitrogen, the leaves may get yellow. On the other hand, potassium deficiency doesn’t let the plant form enough roots. 

If you find any such abnormalities in your plant, the first thing you should check about them is their fertilizer status by testing the soil.

If you find a low rate of nutrients, you can use a liquid aquarium fertilizer designed for plants or consider adding root tabs if they’re planted in the substrate.

2. Absence of Light

As you know, Java ferns typically thrive in low to moderate light conditions. They don’t prefer either direct and excessive light intensity or darkness.

If you make them exposed to too much light, they may stunt the growth. In an extreme case, the plant may die too due to the absence of light.

That’s why you should try to ensure that they’re getting the right amount of light for their development and all over growth.

3. Temperature Fluctuation 

The next one is temperature fluctuation. Like sunlight and nutrients, maintaining the optimum temperature range is also important for Java fern.

Otherwise, you won’t get the appropriate growth of your plant. High temperature makes the plant stressed by high transpiration rate. 

Also, low temperatures can create a freezing position for the plant where the plant is unable to uptake nutrients and other necessary elements. 

Hence, to facilitate the plant growth, ensure that the water temperature is typically around 68-82°F (20-28°C). Such a situation is considered best for the plant for all types of physiological activities.

4. Water Quality 

Following the temperature issue, you should also maintain the water quality of your aquarium to facilitate the Java fern. 

Water quality depends on several things like nutrient matters, pH, cleanliness, and the presence or absence of pathogenic elements.

Water contains some nutritional elements like calcium, potassium, nitrogen, and other micronutrients. But they should remain in a certain quantity. Otherwise, it will be toxic.

The water should also remain free from any types of pathogens. Otherwise, they will create disease in the plants. 

That’s why you have to make sure that the water in your aquarium is clean and all the elements are well-maintained along filtered. 

5. Burying Rhizome Beneath the Substrate

Another problem that may cease the plant growth is burying the rhizome under the substrate. The plant needs enough space to grow and nourish. 

If you’ve planted your Java ferns in the substrate, they should be attached to rocks or driftwood. As burying their rhizomes can lead to slow growth or rotting, ensure they’re not buried too deep.

6. Competition

Next, you should not allow planting other plants in the aquarium which require much more food and nutrients than Java fern. 

In such a situation, that species takes most of the nutrients leaving a little for the fern plant. As a result, they can’t get the correct ratio of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.

Though they require a little care, the basic fertilizer is a must for them. If you put them in competition with other plants, they won’t survive properly.

7. CO2 Levels

Finally, let’s end the facts with CO2  level. Though Java ferns can grow without CO2, sometimes adequate carbon dioxide levels in the water can promote their healthier growth.

Due to this reason, if the CO2  level is too low in the water line, the growth of the Java fern may cease and they won’t grow more.

Why Do You Need to Grow Java Fern Properly? 

As I am going through the problems behind Java fern growing, you may ask me why we need to be concerned so much about this.

Aesthetic Concern

Well, a properly grown Java fern can add a vibrant and natural look to your aquarium serving as an attractive background or foreground plant.

Water Quality

Healthy Java ferns can help to improve the water quality of the aquarium by absorbing excessive nutrients that are poisonous to the aquatic organisms.

Oxygen Production

Like other aquatic plants, Java fern can also contribute to oxygen production through photosynthesis which is beneficial for the overall species in your aquarium.

Habitat for Aquatic Life

Java fern also provides shelter and a habitat for small fish and invertebrates which can also be used as hiding places for fish fry.

Algae Control

If properly grown, Java fern can help prevent the growth of unwanted algae by competing for light and nutrients. 

If you can check algae in this way, it will reduce the hectic condition of manual algae removal and chemical treatments.

How to Care for Java Fern

As Java fern has so many advantages, if you want to keep them in your aquarium, you have to take enough care of them. Let’s get an idea about the way to care for Java fern.

Temperature 68°F to 82°F
LightLow to moderate light intensity, no exposure to direct light
WateringWater quality should be perfect inside the aquarium. For indoor planting, water regularly so that the soil doesn’t get dry 
Fertilizer Balanced rate of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus fertilizer 

Can I Save a Dying Java Fern? 

Yeah! You can save a dying Java fern plant by providing all the necessary elements that it requires. I have already mentioned the important parameters for them.

Hence, you should follow those properly so that you can save your dying fern plants. But sometimes, if the plant is almost dead, you may not be able to save it.

That’s why, examine the condition of the plant first. Then, follow the steps that you need to save your plant from death.


Is Java fern hard to grow?

No, Java fern can be grown easily by fulfilling their primary requirements of food, nutrients, water quality, pH, temperature, and sunlight. Check those before placing a Java fern.

Is java fern a slow-growing plant?

Yeah! Java fern is naturally a slow-growing plant. Hence, don’t provide excessive fertilizer to fasten their growth. It will be toxic for their body metabolism. 

Is there any natural fertilizer for java fern?

Yes! You can use worm castings, leaves, moulds and peats as natural fertilizers to enhance their nutrition. But these are mostly applicable to the java fern born as an indoor plant.

Final Thoughts

However, I have tried to touch on detailed information in a short session so that you can get the preliminary knowledge about Java fern not growing. 

To decorate your home garden or aquarium with java fern, you must take the basic care I described earlier. Thus, you may maintain a beautiful Java fern population. 

Otherwise, the dying plants will not only pollute the water but also will destroy the beauty of your aquarium if grown in water.

Howard Parker

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