Transplanted Indoor Fern Stinks When Watered

Question From: M. Busbey - El Prado, New Mexico, United States
Q: A friend recently wanted to transplant an old indoor fern who's clay pot was falling apart. When we took the plant out of its pot---it was actually practically an air plant--only had a few roots; the soil below was yucky muck. We put the plant in a new pot with new potting soil--largely peat--and ooched the new potting medium around and into the fern fronds. Now my friend says, when she waters, a foul smell ensues and she has to get rid of the water that comes through. is this rot? is there anything that can be done for this fern????help!--thanks...

A: Sounds like a mess to me and yes foul smell usually spells rot. Remove the fern and wash off all the soil. Remove the soil from the pot and wash the pot and then rinse it a 10 percent bleach/water solution. Repot the fern using a potting soil that contains Canadian Sphagnum Moss and Perlite that has been pre-moistened using one part water to three parts soil the day before potting. Use rain water or bottled water to water the plant. Sounds to me like your friend is overwatering her fern big-time. She should invest in a Luster Leaf moisture meter found in the house plant departments of garden centers. Keep the soil moderately moist. Do not fertlize until spring. Hopefully the plant is not too far gone. Best And Happy Yardening, Nancy.