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  • Boston Ferns

    7 posts, 5 voices, 3468 views, started May 13, 2011

    Posted on Friday, May 13, 2011 by Denise Richardson

    • Diamond

      One of the most popular varieties of fern is the Boston fern. With its frilly leaves and long hanging fronds, it's easy to see why this houseplant is so widely admired. Boston ferns that are full and flourishing are a wonderful addition to the home. They add elegant charm and classic beauty unlike any other houseplant available.

      The Boston fern is closely related to the Sword fern, which is found growing wild in Florida and in the tropical regions around the Pacific Rim. Since the Victorian era, the Boston fern has been a favorite houseplant, and it’s just as admired today.

      Many people buy Boston ferns to adorn their decks and porches during the warm months of spring and summer. They grow beautifully in humid locations that receive plenty of indirect sunlight, but when the threat of frost arrives in the fall, they must be brought indoors if they are to survive.

      When brought inside to weather the long, cold months of winter, Boston ferns don’t always continue growing and thriving as they did outdoors. More often than not, they begin shedding their leaves not long after they‘re brought inside. Dried leaves accumulate on the floor, and they create an ongoing mess. It’s for this reason that many people shy away from growing Boston ferns. After buying and losing one Boston fern, some aren’t willing to give it another try.  

      Boston ferns have specific requirements, and when those requirements aren’t met, they slowly dry up and gradually shed their leaves. Although they aren’t the easiest houseplants to sustain, they really aren’t difficult to care for. When placed in an ideal location, with regular watering and care, a Boston fern can thrive as well as survive indoors.

      Ideal Growing Conditions

      When thinking of wild ferns, people envision dark, shady locations, but Boston ferns require lots of light. Place your Boston fern near a window that receives plenty of indirect sunshine. A bright east or west-facing window is an ideal location. They can endure dimly lit locations, but they won’t flourish and grow.  

      Boston ferns prefer daytime temperatures that range from 65°F to 75°F. Evening temperatures should be a little cooler. Temperatures ranging between 55°F and 65°F are ideal. Place your plant in a naturally cooler location of the home, or in a room where heat vents can be closed if the recommended evening temperatures are too cool for comfort.  

      Also, keep in mind that areas closer to the ceiling are naturally warmer than lower levels. If your Boston fern hangs near the ceiling, check the temperature, and adjust it if necessary. Otherwise, consider placing in a sturdy plant stand or on a table.

      Providing Humidity

      Humidity is essential to Boston ferns, so they must receive an adequate amount in order to survive. The average home doesn’t provide anywhere close to the amount of humidity required, especially during winter months when the home is heated. Forty percent humidity is good, but the more humidity the better. Fifty percent humidity is ideal.

      When temperatures rise above 70°F, you can provide your Boston fern with some of the humidity it requires by misting it on a daily basis. The humidity provided through misting is helpful, but it’s not the complete answer. When the drops of water evaporate, so do the benefits.

      During the hot months of summer, a Boston fern on a table or stand can be placed on a saucer filled with stones and water. As the water evaporates, humidity is naturally provided to the plant. Simply fill a plant saucer with gravel, and fill the saucer with water, just below the top of the gravel. Place the pot on the gravel, and refill the saucer as necessary.

      A humidifier is by far the best way to ensure your Boston fern is receiving the humidity it requires. For best results, run a humidifier in the room where your plant is located, especially during winter months when the air is warm and dry. A humidifier is a great investment since it provides countless benefits to the home and family as well as to moisture loving plants.  

      Consider buying a hygrometer to measure indoor humidity. This handy gauge will enable you to attain the correct level of humidity for optimal health and vigorous growth. Hygrometers are available in many stores that sell outdoor thermometers, plants, and garden supplies.

      Watering and Feeding

      In warmer months during the growing season, provide your Boston fern with enough tepid water to keep the soil evenly moist but not saturated. Water it more frequently during the hottest months of summer, and try not to let the soil become dry before watering. The foliage will lose its bright green healthy glow if it becomes too dry.  

      In the winter, allow the surface of the soil to become a little dry before watering. When new fronds begin to appear, begin watering more often. Generally, you’ll notice the appearance of new growth as the end of winter approaches.  

      During spring, summer, and fall, apply a monthly dose of nitrogen-rich water-soluble houseplant food that’s diluted to half of the recommended strength. Don’t feed your Boston fern during winter months.


      It’s not necessary to repot a Boston fern unless you want a larger plant. When the roots fill the pot, trim them to provide more space. Another option is dividing the root bound plant into smaller plants. Choose containers wisely. The larger the pots, the larger the plants will grow, so keep this in mind when shopping for replacements.  

      To make a potting mixture suitable for Boston ferns, combine 2 parts peat moss, 2 parts sterile potting soil, 1 part perlite, and a handful of charcoal granules. Repot your plant, and care for it as directed. With proper care and attention, your Boston fern will grow and thrive for many years to come.  

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        • 0 votes vote up vote up

          Denise Richardson wrote May 13, 2011
        • With the onset of warmer temps here in Michigan I'm beginning to see more and more of these plant. Me my self have never tried to grow a Boston Fern but have admired them from afar. I do rememeber my ex neighbor gifting me with some fern plants from her yard, now what varity they were I have no clue, but I do know they were very hardy and multiplied like crazy lol. I love the look of the fern baskets I see in the stores, maybe I'll get an artificial one just to put in my bathroom, its due for a makeover time to re-do my color scheme there lol.happy

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        • 0 votes vote up vote up

          Denise Richardson wrote May 14, 2011
        • Eva, my hubby takes daily showers that have the whole bathroom stream up to the point I’m always having to clear my mirrors so this is why i thought to add one there be cause of this very reason all the humidity it would get there and there is a nice amount of light that comes into the window.

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        • 0 votes vote up vote up

          Kyah wrote May 14, 2011
        • Never liked ferns, too fragile atmosphere wise. I like my Phalaenopsis Orchids, African Violets, Wandering Jew and Purple Passion.

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