I have a rabbit's foot fern I will be repotting soon, and everything I read says to make a mixture of 2 parts peat moss, 1 part sand, 1 part perlite or 2 parts peat moss, 1 part loam, 1 part sand/perlite.

However, upon doing further research I see a lot of things suggesting that peat moss has a very low pH and that it is necessary to add garden lime to correct this. Unfortunately, nobody is able to describe the required ratios, and to complicate matters further it sounds as though garden lime has a slow effect over time.

Is it really necessary to neutralize the peat moss, or is it fine to use as purchased?

For example, this site says to use 2 parts peat, 1 part soil, 1 part sand/perlite: https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/houseplants/rabbits-foot-fern/repotting-rabbits-foot-fern.htm#:~:text=Use%20a%20potting%20mix%20with,the%20edge%20of%20the%20pot

However, these websites all say that rabbit's foot fern prefer a neutral pH soil:

https://bantam.earth/rabbit-foot-fern-davallia-tyermannii/#:~:text=Soil%20with%20a%20pH%20of,level%20of%206.6%20to%207.5. (pH 6.5 to 7.5)

https://www.wikihow.com/Grow-a-Rabbit-Foot-Fern (neutral pH of 6.5 to 7.5)

https://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/54822/%20http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/54822/ (6.6 to 7.5 (neutral))

https://plantcaretoday.com/rabbits-foot-fern.html (neutral pH, but goes on to mention the same recipe)

1 Answer 1


If what you're potting into the mix you mention is a Rabbit's Foot fern, that is the correct potting mix for it, because these ferns prefer a low soil mixture. I don't know what other references you've been looking at, but presumably, these refer to other uses or to other plants which will not appreciate such a low soil mixture https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/houseplants/rabbits-foot-fern/repotting-rabbits-foot-fern.htm#:~:text=Use%20a%20potting%20mix%20with,the%20edge%20of%20the%20pot.

I think you're getting hung up on the ph of the actual peat on its own - by the time it's mixed with the other ingredients for the potting mix, it won't be too acidic. As you point out, other links suggest the correct ph, but also show that the 'recipe' for the potting mix is what is described in various links, including those that quote a desirable ph. I was more interested in where you saw a reference to the need to neutralize the peat for the purposes of potting this particular plant...

  • 1
    Thanks for the answer - a quick Google search (and what I'd read elsewhere) suggests that rabbit's foot fern prefers a pH of 6.5 to 7.5 (a neutral pH.) Can you provide a source?
    – John M.
    Jun 4, 2020 at 22:50
  • 1
    See updated answer - I'd like to know what other info you've been looking at in regard to this fern and the need to neutralise the peat moss ...
    – Bamboo
    Jun 5, 2020 at 13:50
  • Thanks I was hoping for a source on the pH range. I updated my original question to links of multiple sites saying it prefers a neutral pH of 6.5 to 7.5.
    – John M.
    Jun 5, 2020 at 16:12
  • 1
    See updated answer
    – Bamboo
    Jun 5, 2020 at 17:42
  • I repotted (repeatedly) a hares-foot fern into cheapest potting mix in a hanging basket - doing fine 22 years later. Jun 5, 2020 at 23:03

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