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Boston Fern Care: Discover the Secret to a Healthy Boston Fern

This post is all about Boston Fern Care.

boston fern care

The Boston Fern is a classic houseplant that is often used as a decoration in homes and offices. Its lush, green fronds add a touch of nature and freshness to any room.

The Boston Fern is a relatively easy plant to care for, but there are some specific requirements to keep it healthy and happy. In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about Boston Fern care.


Boston Fern Overview

​Common Names

​Sword fern, wild Boston fern, tuber ladder fern, or Boston Blue Bell fern

Scientific Name

Nephrolepis exaltata




Up to 3 feet tall and 5 feet wide


Bright, filtered light but can tolerate low light conditions


​Peat moss, one part sand or perlite, and one part garden loam


Water them whenever the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch

Pests & Diseases

Mealybugs, Scale insects, Spider mites, Thrips, Root rot, Leaf spot

Boston Fern Care

boston fern care

Light & Temperature

boston fern care

The Boston Fern thrives in bright, indirect light. Direct sunlight can burn the leaves, while low light can cause the plant to become leggy and lose its fullness. A north-facing window is an ideal location for the Boston Fern.

The temperature should be kept between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit, and the plant should be kept away from cold drafts.

RELATED: Top 5 Best Grow Lights For Indoor Plants

Water & Humidity

boston fern care

The Boston Fern requires consistent moisture to thrive. It is important to keep the soil consistently moist, but not waterlogged.

Water the plant thoroughly when the top inch of soil is dry to the touch. The Boston Fern also requires high humidity to stay healthy. You can increase the humidity by misting the plant with water or by placing a tray of water near the plant.

RELATED: Top 10 Watering Cans to Keep Your Garden Thriving


boston fern care

The Boston Fern prefers well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. A mix of peat moss, perlite, and vermiculite is an excellent choice for the Boston Fern. It is important to ensure that the soil does not become too compacted, as this can lead to root rot.

RELATED: Dirt Matters: A Guide to Choosing the Right Soil for Your Plants


boston fern care

The Boston Fern benefits from regular fertilization during the growing season. A balanced, water-soluble fertilizer can be applied every two weeks during the growing season. It is important not to over-fertilize, as this can lead to burned roots.


boston fern care

The Boston Fern should be repotted every year to keep it healthy and prevent root rot. The best time to repot is in the spring when the plant is actively growing.

Gently remove the plant from its pot, loosen the roots, and repot it into a slightly larger container with fresh potting soil.


The Boston Fern can be propagated by dividing the plant in the spring when it is being repotted. Gently remove the plant from its pot, separate the rhizomes into sections, and repot each section into a new container with fresh potting soil.


boston fern care

The Boston Fern does not require much pruning, but you can remove any yellow or brown fronds to keep the plant looking healthy and full.

RELATED: 10 Pruning Sheers that will Give your Garden a Professional Touch


boston fern care

If the fronds of your Boston Fern turn yellow or brown, it may be a sign of underwatering, overwatering, or too much direct sunlight.

Adjust your watering and lighting habits accordingly. If the leaves of the plant begin to droop, it may be a sign of too little water or too much heat.

Growing Problems

The most common growing problem with the Boston Fern is root rot. This can be caused by overwatering or compacted soil. It is important to ensure that the soil is well-draining and not too compacted.


boston fern care

The Boston Fern can be susceptible to mealybugs, spider mites, and scale insects. Regularly inspect your plant for any signs of these pests, and treat them promptly with insecticidal soap or neem oil.

RELATED: 9 Organic Pest Control Methods For a Healthy Garden


The Boston Fern can be susceptible to fungal diseases, such as leaf spot and root rot. These diseases can be prevented by ensuring that the soil is well-draining and not too compacted. If you notice any signs of these diseases, treat them promptly with a fungicide.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you water a fern from the top or bottom?

You can water ferns from either the top or the bottom, depending on your preference and the type of fern you have. Watering from the top is more common and involves pouring water into the soil or over the foliage until it drains out the bottom of the pot.

Watering from the bottom involves placing the pot in a tray of water and allowing the plant to absorb water through the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot.

Some ferns, such as those with delicate fronds, may be more susceptible to damage from overhead watering and may benefit from bottom watering. It's important to avoid letting the soil dry out completely or become waterlogged, regardless of which method you use.

Should I mist my Boston fern?

Yes, misting can be beneficial for Boston ferns as it can help to increase humidity around the plant, which they prefer. However, misting alone may not be enough to keep the plant hydrated, so it's important to also water the soil regularly.

What does an overwatered Boston fern look like?

An overwatered Boston fern may exhibit some of the following signs:

  1. Yellowing fronds: Overwatering can lead to root rot, which can cause the fronds to turn yellow and wilt.

  2. Blackened roots: If you remove the fern from its pot, the roots may appear blackened, slimy, and have a foul odor.

  3. Mushy soil: If the soil is constantly waterlogged, it can become mushy and have a bad smell.

  4. Drooping leaves: The leaves of an overwatered fern may start to droop and eventually fall off.

  5. Stunted growth: Overwatering can hinder the fern's growth and may cause it to produce smaller leaves than normal.

If you notice any of these signs, it is best to cut back on watering and ensure that the soil has proper drainage to prevent further damage to the fern.

What kind of pots do Boston ferns like?

Boston ferns prefer to be grown in pots that are made of a porous material, such as unglazed clay or terracotta.

These types of pots allow for better air circulation and drainage, which helps to prevent overwatering and root rot.

It is also a good idea to choose a pot that is one size larger than the current pot the fern is in, to allow for growth and to avoid the need for frequent repotting.


Boston Ferns are a beautiful and popular houseplant that can bring a lush and green touch to any room. While they can be a bit finicky, with the right care and attention, they can thrive and bring joy for years to come.

Remember to keep them in a cool, humid environment with indirect light, and water them regularly to keep their soil consistently moist.

Fertilize them with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer every two to three months during their growing season, and consider repotting them every year or two.

By following these tips and keeping an eye out for potential problems, you can enjoy the beauty and benefits of your Boston Fern for a long time to come. So go ahead and bring one (or more!) into your home and watch them flourish.

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