I'd a maidenhair fern for 3 months that was thriving, very lush, seemed healthy. One morning nearly all its leaves shriveled. Most were still green, but several shriveled leaves near the root had turned yellowish-brown. This was a complete surprise. I'd watered it every other day making sure the soil remained moist. I'd fertilized it on schedule. I made sure it received appropriate lighting. Basically, I followed all the instructions given by my local garden center. Nevertheless, it apparently died overnight.

I've not been able to find a satisfying answer by googling; any thoughts as to what happened?

1 Answer 1


Plants don't usually "die overnight" from natural causes. IMO the most likely reason is that you (or somebody else) watered or fertilized it with something which wasn't water or fertilizer.

Possibly you didn't completely clean some container that you had been using for weed killer or insecticide, or even a common household item like vinegar (acetic acid is used commercially as a weedkiller).

It doesn't take much to kill a potted plant, but obviously we have no way to know exactly what the cause was.

  • 1
    This is of course a difficult question to answer given how little information is available, and I appreciate your insights. I'm the only person who does the watering/fertilizing and I always water from the same container. I've many, many, other plants I water from the same container and none of them have seemed bothered. I agree plants don't usually die overnight from natural causes; that's part of why this is so perplexing. Jun 27, 2020 at 13:58
  • Did anybody spray any air freshener, window cleaner, insecticide, or whatever in the room that day?
    – alephzero
    Jun 28, 2020 at 0:45
  • I didn't, no, and I take care of the household cleaning so it's unlikely my partner did. I appreciate you helping though. Jun 28, 2020 at 1:04

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