Boston Fern

8 Tips on How to Care for Your Boston Fern (Infographic)

Boston Fern (Nephrolepsis exaltata) is a popular houseplant. Your Boston Fern is your classic fern with beautiful, graceful fern leaves that looks great in any container or hanging basket. Boston Ferns are humid-loving plants and will do well in humid spaces such as bathrooms. Here are tips on how to care for your Boston Fern indoors.

Boston Fern Houseplant Infographic

Boston Fern Infographic
Boston Fern Houseplant Infographic

8 Tips on How to Take Care of Your Boston Fern

1. Your Boston Fern is Happiest in Bright indirect light 

Boston Fern will be happy in bright, indirect light. It will do well at a South facing window but make sure it’s not getting direct sunlight. You can filter the sun with sheer curtains and sheer blinds. 

2. Moderate Water is Best for Boston Fern

Water your Boston Fern when the soil feels dry. The best way to tell when it is time to water your Boston Fern is to feel the soil. Stick your finger in the soil 1 inch deep. If the soil feels dry, it’s time to water your Boston Fern.  Don’t let the soil completely dry out because the leaves will drop. It needs constant moisture. 

3. Get the Soil Right for Your Boston Fern

Your Boston Fern needs a well-draining, organic potting mix. 

4. Fertilize Your Boston Fern

Your Boston Fern should be fertilized at half strength once a month during the growing season.

5. Don’t forget to Repot Your Boston Fern

Repot your Boston Fern once a year in the summer. Repot your Boston Fern in a container with a diameter 2 inches larger than the current pot. 

6. Drainage is Essential for Your Boston Fern

Good drainage is important, you don’t want your Boston Fern to sit in soggy soil. Make sure there are drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. After watering your Boston Fern and you see water draining out of the pot’s drainage holes, make sure you empty out the accumulated water in the saucer. Don’t let your Boston Fern’s pot sit in this puddle of water. It will cause root rot!

7. Get the Temperature Right for Your Boston Fern

Your Boston Fern needs to have a daytime temperature of 70F to 80 Fahrenheit (21-26C). The nighttime temperature should be at 60-70 Fahrenheit (15-21 C).

8. Humidity is Vital for Your Boston Fern 

Your Boston Fern is a houseplant that likes humidity. You should increase indoor humidity. Mist your Boston Fern twice a week. Turn on the humidifier. Keep Boston Fern in a saucer filled with water. But make sure the pot is elevated with pot feet or pebbles so your Boston Fern is not sitting directly on the water. You can also keep your Boston Fern in a room with high humidity such as a bathroom. 

Check out: Best Houseplants for Bathrooms

2 Common Boston Fern Houseplant Problems

The two common problems for Boston Fern are spider mites and yellowing leaves.

Why are there Yellow and Brown Spots with Spider-Like Webs on the Leaves and Stems of Your Boston Fern?

Problem: There are yellow and brown spots on the leaves of your Boston Fern. You also see spider web-like webbing on the leaves and stems. 

spider mites
Spider Mites

Cause: The spider webbing and yellow and brown spots are signs of spider mites attacking your Boston Fern. Spider mites are tiny pests that are too small to see with your bare eyes. 

Solution: To treat spider mites on your Boston Fern, spray off the leaves with water from a garden hose. The force will cause the little spider mites to wash off the leaves. You can also wash mites off with soapy water or rubbing alcohol. There are also horticultural oils and insecticidal soaps that you can use to kill off spider mites.

Check out our article on how to make your own homemade pesticides using baby shampoo: How to Make Horticultural Oil and How to Make Insecticidal Soap

Why are the Leaves of Your Boston Fern turning Yellow?

Problem: If you see yellowing leaves on your Boston Fern, that is a sign that something is wrong.

Cause: If you see yellowing leaves with black dots then it could be a fungal infection. Yellow leaves can also be a sign of nutrient deficiency. Yellowing leaves can also be caused by hot, afternoon sunlight or overwatering. 

Solution: Check to see if your Boston Fern is being overwatered or placed where there is hot, afternoon sun. If so, move your Boston Fern and decrease watering. Also check to see if there is nutrient deficiency, if so, it’s time to fertilize your Boston Fern.

Boston Fern Houseplant Facts

NameBoston Fern
Scientific NameNephrolepsis exaltata
LightBright indirect light
Daytime Temperature70 to 80 F (21-26C)
Night Time Temperature60 to 70 F (15-21C)
WaterModerate Water
HumidityMedium Humidity
PottingWell-draining, organic, all-purpose potting mix
FertilizerOnce a month at half strength during the growing season
Boston Fern Houseplant Facts

Boston Fern: Frequently Asked Questions

What are Common Names of Boston Fern?

Boston Fern (Nephrolepsis exaltata) is also called Boston Swordfern, Fishbone Fern, Wild Boston Fern, and Tuber Ladder Fern.

How Can You Tell When It’s Time to Water Your Boston Fern?

Water your Boston Fern when the soil feels dry. The best way to tell when it’s time to water is by sticking your finger into the soil. Stick your finger in the soil 1 inch deep. If the soil feels dry, then it’s time to water your Boston Fern. Your Boston Fern likes humidity so it needs constant moisture. Don’t let the soil dry out completely otherwise the leaves will start to drop.  Just make sure there is good drainage, and don’t let the soil get soggy. 

Can You Use Cold Water When Watering Your Boston Fern?

Boston Fern can be watered with tap water but be mindful of the water temperature that you are using to water your Boston Fern. Don’t use straight cold water from the tap to water your Boston Fern. 

Your Boston Fern prefers cool water that is not hot and not cold. When you turn on the cold water from the faucet add a little bit of warm water. You can also get to this ideal temperature by filling a watering can or pitcher with water and leaving it out overnight until the water is at room temperature. 

What Fertilizer Should You Use for Your Boston Fern?

Use liquid or powder, organic fertilizer with a higher ratio of nitrogen on your Boston Fern.

How Big Does Your Boston Fern Get?

Boston Fern is a houseplant that can grow to 3 feet tall and wide.

How Do You Propagate Your Boston Fern?

Boston Fern Plant is easy to propagate. You can propagate your Boston Fern plant by division of its rhizomes.

Below are steps on how to propagate Boston Fern Plant by dividing its rhizomes.

1. Dig Up your Boston Fern Plant

Using a hand shovel, dig up your Boston Fern plant so you can lift out the entire plant. Be careful, don’t damage the roots and rhizomes. Dig a few inches away from the plant.

2. Divide the Boston Fern Rhizomes

Carefully divide up the rhizomes. Make sure each rhizome has its own stem, leaves, and roots.

3. Plant the Boston Fern Rhizomes in a New Pot

Plant each rhizome into a new pot. Don’t plant the rhizomes too close together. Ideally, plant each one in its own pot. Water the new plant immediately after planting. Then water every 2-3 days until the roots are established.

4. Place New Boston Fern Plant in a Spot with Bright Indirect Sun

Place your new Boston Fern plant in a spot with bright indirect sunlight. Don’t put it in direct sunlight. Keep your Boston Fern plant in a spot that is warm and humid.

You May Also Be Interested in these humid-loving houseplants: Prayer Plant, Nerve Plant, and African Mask Plant

You May Also Be Interested in Other Hanging Houseplants:

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