In this Boston Fern Care article, you will gain some interesting background information on this popular indoor plant, as well as all the tips you’ll need to keep it looking healthy and attractive.
Nephrolepsis exaltata Bostoniensis or the Boston fern or sword fern is a cultivar of a fern species which can grow up to 7 feet in its natural habitat. It’s part of the Lomariopsidaceae family and it’s an evergreen perennial herbaceous plant.
The Bostoniensis is a smaller variety, a popular fern which has long been admired as an indoor plant – with its fountain of arching, finely divided green fronds.
Although it looks fragile, don’t let it fool you-it’s relatively strong and easy-to-propagate, with higher tolerance to low light and dryness, compared with other species.
Plus, you can display the plant in many ways, such as, in hanging baskets, on pedestals, as part of a group or as a lush specimen on windowsills.
It’s not a bad choice for beginners too as Boston fern care is relatively stress free; however, it might attract problems like scale and white flies.
Despite being sturdy, it needs proper care to prosper. Otherwise, you’ll not get to enjoy its rewards.
By applying some of the most important tips below, you can grow a vibrant and productive Boston fern plant that will bring a tropical atmosphere into your home or office.
By placing it indoors, you’ll be breathing a cleaner air as well-according to the NASA Clean Air study; it’s a plant with ability to filter out xylene, toluene, and formaldehyde from the air.
Moreover, it’s a good choice for people with pets like cats or dogs, as the plant is non-toxic to them just as it is to humans, according to the ASPCA.
How to Care for a Boston Fern
This plant will enjoy indirect light indoors. Although some species can be trained to do well in full sun, most of them want filtered and dappled light.
Although the plant is able to withstand occasional cold blasts as low as 50 degrees F for several hours, the plant does the best when the temperature range is between 60 and 75.
Water & Humidity
Make sure you keep the root ball moist all the times.
In other words, water them once or twice per week in the growing season and always use lukewarm water. And, avoid leaving the soil to dry completely between watering.
In terms of humidity, it wants it to be no lower than 80 percent, so if you have lower humidity in your indoor space, mist it frequently and place it on a wet pebble tray.
Choose a loamy and rich organic mixture as the plant’s potting soil. Go with the one that drains well and a 5-6 inch pot with a good drainage system, to decrease the chances for root rot.
Adding some perlite or peat moss to the soil helps better the airflow to the roots and boosts the drainage. Make sure you add a balanced amount, not too much or too little.
Boston Fern Fertilizer
In spring and summer when it’s the plant’s growing season, feed it with a liquid or slow-release fertilizer.
In case you’re not satisfied with its progress and lushness, increase the feeding slightly.
Repot your Boston fern into fresh compost, every 2-3 years if it becomes root bound.
Other ways to see if it needs repotting is through overcrowding and droopy leaves.
Take this very seriously as failing to repot it can cause it to die! When repotting, you can also do some division and share or increase your collection.
This is an easy plant to propagate. Do it when you repot it in the spring.
A small division will suffice if you give it a lot of warmth and humidity. Each of the divisions should have healthy roots.
Spore propagation is another option; however, this one may be a bit more challenging.
Best Boston Fern Species
This cultivar is smaller and denser and has impressive fine-textured feather-like fronds.
This one is similar to the general variety, but this one has yellow-green fronds.
This variety is shorter, more compact, and grows more upright.
When pruning the fern, make sure you don’t cut the top of it. Rather, cut off the side fronds at the bottom.
Make sure you always take out old and colorless fronds near the soil so new growth can come through.
If you bring a new fern home, give it several days to accommodate to the new climate. Don’t immediately despair if the fronds droop slightly these first few days.
Trouble Shooting- Common Issues
Problem: leaves turning brown
Cause: Lack of humidity
Solution: Boost the humidity by daily misting or place on a tray of damp pebbles. A well-ventilated bathroom can be an ideal home for a Boston fern.
Solution: Boost the watering to prevent the foliage from going gray.
Problem: fronds become long and pendulous
Cause: Low light.
Solution: Make sure you provide it with at least 2 hours of indirect light throughout the whole year.
Problem: fronds turning gray & wilted
Cause: Root rot.
Solution: Check the plant’s roots- if they are brown and lifeless, it’s best to replace the plant with a new one.
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