Phlebodium aureum: A Hands-on Guide to the Blue Star Fern

Phlebodium aureum is a fascinating fern with two distinct (and somewhat opposing) common names.

With large, elongated fronts in a characteristic greyish/bluish-green hue, it’s clear where the Blue Star Fern name comes from. Whereas, the Golden Polypody name is a bit more subtle and in fact comes from the golden colour on the fuzzy rhizomes at the base of the plant.

This tropical fern is very easy to grow and thrives in a closed terrarium environment.

Despite being on the larger side, this is an epiphytic fern, and so it opens up a range of planting opportunities in terrariums large enough to accommodate it. However you use it, it’s sure to bring some dynamic colour and foliage!

Where to Buy the Blue Star Fern

See the links below to purchase from reputable terrarium plant shops and marketplaces (may include affiliate links). 

US – See on Etsy
UK – See on Etsy

Blue Star Fern Care & Growth

Plant TypeFern, epiphyte
LightingBright indirect light
Temperature50-80°F (10-26°C)
WateringModerate, even moisture
HumidityMedium to high humidity (55-80%)
Growth3 inches to 6 feet


Being an epiphytic plant Phlebodium aureum usually grows on top of other plants, especially trees. Because of this, they have evolved to flourish on moderate, dappled light – always climbing to reach just that much more sun.

In a terrarium or home environment, a Blue Star Fern likes bright but indirect light.

Though their fronds are thicker than most other fern leaves, they still do not like direct sun for long periods of time. The color of this plant’s fronds can vary slightly depending upon how much light it receives from its grayish, bluish green to an almost Bird’s Nest Fern green.

My Blue Star Fern displays a variety of beautiful blues and greens, giving it an almost iridescent look.


The Golden Polypody, as with most ferns, love their water and like to maintain a moderate to high level of moisture.

When initially placing this fern in your terrarium, you can submerge it and its starter soil in water until it stops releasing air bubbles. This will provide the moisture it needs to be planted and to maintain itself for a long period of time.


Because this is an epiphyte, the Blue Star Fern prefers a loose, well-draining soil – something that holds moisture but has excellent aeration.

Add perlite or bark to the mix as necessary.They’d be happy to receive extra fertilization from worm castings too, but do not require it as much as other types of ferns.

Temperature & Humidity

Being of the fern family, you can tell that the Phlebodium aureum enjoys its fair share of warmth and high humidity. Though this plant reigns from South to Central America, it can even be found in the southern parts of the United States, such as Florida and Georgia.

The Blue Star Fern appreciates higher levels of humidity and temperatures ranging from 50-80°F (10-26°C), though it doesn’t like to experience the cold for more than a few days at a time.

Try to keep the terrarium this plant baby calls home away from drafty windows in the Wintertime.


The Blue Star Fern showcases fronds on the larger side, extending up to 50 inches (127 centimetres) long at their most mature and spread out.

In a closed terrarium, a younger specimen of this kind can stay as small as only a few inches tall and wide.

Even in an enclosed space, this fern can quickly make itself the star of the show, so keep an eye on it to make sure it isn’t taking all of the precious space away from your other plant babies.


In the wild, Golden Polypodies can release spores to continue their family line, but under the watchful human eye indoors, it’is best to propagate this plant using the division method.

Depending upon the age of plant, the parent can produce dozens of babies at a time, each with their own section of the rhizome/root structure.

A new baby frond sprouting from the fluffy rhizome of my Blue Star Fern.

Varieties & Similar Plants

While plants of the fern variety are extremely varied, the Blue Star Fern itself is one of a kind. It is almost unheard of to find a variegated or oddly colored version of this plant, but rumors are always out there.

Many other plants use the nickname “Blue Star” to describe a similar colour, but these can range from Juniper Trees to perennial flowers.

> For more great fern species (blue or otherwise), see our Definitive List of Closed Terrarium Plants.

Common Problems

The Phlebdoium aureum is one of the most hearty and resilient of the fern family, so pests and disease are not as often seen as in other plants.

However, the Blue Star Fern can be known to start dropping its leaves from over fertilizing and not overwatering as you would usually expect. An overload of nutrients when initially placed in a closed terrarium environment is the biggest culprit of leaf drop or death in this plant