Pellaea rotundifolia

Common Name: button fern 
Type: Fern
Family: Pteridaceae
Native Range: Australia, New Zealand
Zone: 9 to 11
Height: 0.50 to 1.00 feet
Spread: 0.50 to 1.00 feet
Bloom Time: Non-flowering
Sun: Part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Leaf: Evergreen
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Rabbit, Drought


Winter hardy to USDA Zones 9-11 where this fern is easily grown in filtered shade with regular water. Some tolerance for both sunny and shady conditions, but is best grown in part shade. Site in locations protected from strong winds. Tolerates clay soils better than most ferns. Tolerant of somewhat dry soils on occasion (likes to dry out between applications of water). Intolerant of overly moist soils. May survive temperature dips in winter to as much as 25°F.

This is a popular container plant in areas north of Zone 9 including the St. Louis area where it is best grown in an acidic, humus-rich, peaty potting mix with sand added to improve drainage. Misting of foliage is not necessary. Indirect bright light is preferable in winter. More subdued light is preferable in summer. Propagate by breaking off pieces of rhizome.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Pellaea rotundifolia, commonly known as button fern, is a small evergreen fern with pinnate arching fronds rising and spreading to 12” tall and as wide. Each frond is covered with small, slightly-glossy, round, deep green pinnae (leaflets to 3/4” diameter). Leaf stalks turn a dark red with age. This fern is native to New Zealand, Australia and Norfolk Island where it is most frequently found growing on limestone cliffs, rocky crevices and moist open forested areas, but is occasionally found in drier woodland areas. North of Zone 9, it is primarily grown as a house plant in hanging baskets or in ornamental containers on tables.

Genus name comes from the Greek word pellaios meaning dark in reference to the dark colored stalks.

Specific epithet from Latin means having rounded leaves in obvious reference to the shape of the leaflets.


No serious insect or disease problems.


Popular house plant.