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Boston fern (Nephrolepis exaltata), also known as sword fern, is a popular fern species that grows in many tropical areas around the world. It thrives in swampy, humid and forested areas. It’s sword-shaped, blue-green foliage which makes it outstanding and beautiful to grow.
However, the plant requires some care and maintenance in order to bloom well and reproduce healthy offsets.
In this article, we will walk you through all the necessary steps that you must take in order to have the best growing period.
10 Steps to Care For Boston Ferns
Below are the best ways that you can care for your boston fern plants. Following these steps will help your plant to grow healthy. These steps are as follows:
Step 1: Suitable Soil Mix
The best suitable soil mix for your Boston ferns is organically rich, loamy soil with good drainage. The pH level must be acidic to neutralise with amended organic matter. Without good drainage soil, your soil will be easily overwatered which will result in root rot or even the death of the plant.
However, you can create your own soil mix by using a peat-based potting mix and perlite which will help to increase the drainage holes capacity.
To make your own soil mix, follow these steps:
A. Put your mixture and plant into a clean pot that must have good drainage holes in the bottom.
B. Plant the fern for about half of the way to the top of the pot so as to give enough space to the soil.
C. Fill the rest of the pot with more potting mixtures and leave about 1 inch free from the soil.
Step 2: Temperature And Humidity Level
Boston fern will thrive in a cool to mild room temperature within the range between 55°F(13°C) and 75°(24°C), though they’re happiest on the cooler end of this range. They can’t tolerate extreme heat or extreme cold environments.
If the temperature rises above 95°F, it will damage the plant, while also, a temperature below 35°F will cause the plant to die. Ensure that the plant is placed in a room with the right temperature rate.
Furthermore, the humidity level must be around 80% and a level above or lesser than that will result in serious problems for the plant.
So, ensure that the room is constantly at the right temperature, you can regularly mist the plant or even place it in a bathroom with the right temperature.
There are some other ways that you can increase the humidity level such as the installation of a humidifier, saucer with pebbles and water.
Read More: How To Plant Boston Ivy
Step 3: Light
Boston ferns thrive in indirect, filtered sunlight. So, if they are placed outdoors, there is a need to place them somewhere where they will get sunlight through tree branches, or cracks in a porch roof or even more.
However, If they’re grown indoors, you need to place them near a window where they will receive fresh air as well as adequate sunlight. Lack of sunlight for your plant can cause your plant to develop problems.
Step 4: Watering Requirement
Your Boston fern will need constant watering as it is essential for its growth. The consistency will depend solely on the amount of light exposure.
However, water your plant twice in a week, especially during the growing period. Afterwards, reduce the amount of water when it is cold weather or during the fall season. Doing so will help to keep your plant moist and avoid drying out.
To be able to measure the amount of water that your plant needs, you can purchase a moisture meter or you can simply drip your finger deep into the soil to know its level of moisture.
Step 5: Fertilizer Preference
Fertilize your Boston Fern with a diluted liquid houseplant fertilizer of about ½ strength. This must be done once a month from spring to the early fall.
If you are growing your Boston fern plant indoors, you must ensure that you amend the soil with 1 inch of compost and mulch annually and this will help to maintain a good condition for your plant.
Similarly, if you are growing outdoors, you must ensure that you feed your plant with fertilizer once in a month during the summer and spring using 20-10-20 liquid houseplant fertilizer at half strength.
You must avoid fertilizing your boston fern between late fall and winter when the plant is dormant.
Must Read: Tips for Growing Boston Ivy in Pots
Step 6: Pruning
Pruning your boston fern will help your plant to grow bushy and resist the infestation of pests and diseases. The best time to prune your indoor plant is when you are set to repot the plant. To do so, cut off any damaged leaves or brownish leaves and clip back a leafless runner.
Give your fern a good trimming off the side fronds at the base with clean sharp shears. While doing so, carefully avoid cutting off the top of the plant, preferably trimming the edges to the desired shape of your choice.
Furthermore, if you are growing your plant outdoors, you should crop out four inches above the ground. Outdoor plants can be cropped to four inches above the ground to overwinter. They may gradually put out new growth in the winter but will flourish come spring.
Step 7: Propagation
The best and easiest propagation for this plant is through plant division. To propagate your boston fern, follow these steps below.
A. Gather a sharp pair of garden shears, a garden trowel especially if you are growing Indoors while for adult, you can get a space shovel, a pot, and potting soil.
B. In the spring, carefully separate a section of your fern with healthy roots attached.
You can use a garden trowel to separate indoor plants, and a spade shovel to use outdoor plants.
C. Fill a drainage pot halfway full with potting soil for indoor plants or you can dig a new hole in the garden for outdoor plants.
D. Plant your division into either the mix or on the ground. Mounter takes care to fully cover the roots when you backfill the hole with soil.
E. Water the new division, and keep the soil lightly moist at all times. Keep indoor plants in a warm spot away from drafts, coldness and temperature fluctuations, and out of direct sunlight.
F. After a few weeks, gently pull on the base of the fronds. However, if you feel resistance, it is a clear indication that your Boston fern has taken root.
Step 8: Repotting
To repot by this plant, follow these instructions:
A. Select a pot size that is slightly larger than the plant’s root ball, or size up your pot by 2 inches than the old one.
B. Gently remove the fern from its old pot, and replant it at the same depth using a fresh potting mix.
C. Take care to bury all the roots, and then water your plant.
D. Place your pot in a warm area in your home and avoid exposing it to direct sunlight.
Step 9: Overwintering
However, trying to continue its growing cycle indoors often results in a smattering of brown fronds on the carpet. Instead, cut your potted plant back to 4 inches above the soil and store it in a cool, dry area, like a basement or garage.
Do well to water your fern once a month until spring, and then transfer it outside for a few hours each day, once outdoor temperatures warm up.
For your garden ferns, perform a late fall cutback and withhold fertilization. Spread a thin layer of compost and mulch at the base of the plant and water it throughout the winter, as needed, to keep the soil barely moist.
Step 10: Pests & Diseases
The most common pests that infect your boston fern are whiteflies, mealybugs, and chewing insects, like snails, slugs, and caterpillars. To handle the infestations of these pests, treat them with insecticidal soap, neem oil and any other horticultural oil. You can also handpick the pests off your plant.
You should also avoid overwatering your leaves as wetness tends to attract pests.
Furthermore, your ferns can also suffer from blight, a fungal infection that will leave the plant covered in a brow web-like mycelium.
This condition can be treated naturally by simply repotting the plant in a sterile container and discarding the diseased soil in the process. If there isn’t any improvement, you can opt for fungicide applications.
1. Do Boston Fern Like A Lot Of Water?
Boston Ferns enjoy weekly watering sessions, keeping their soil moist but not wet. Allow the top 2′ of soil to dry out between waterings during winter.
2. How Often Should I Water A Boston Fern?
Boston ferns should be watered as often as necessary to keep the growing medium slightly damp at all times. However, depending on your climate, this may involve watering anywhere from every 2 to 3 days or once a week.
3. What Is The Best Homemade Fertilizer For Your Boston Ferns?
This is one of the best DIY Fertilizers for your plants. Just like coffee, acid-loving plants enjoy tea as a fertilizer. Because tea contains citric and tannic acid which helps maintain the pH levels of the soil.
4. What Are The Benefits Of The Boston Fern?
Boston Fern is one of the best air-purifying houseplants. It helps to rid the home of harmful toxins and improves humidity by helping to restore moisture to the air naturally too.
5. Are Boston Ferns Male Or Female?
Unlike most flowering plants, individual ferns are either male or female, not both. Their sex doesn’t become fixed until after germination.
We hope that this article has been able to walk you through every step that you must take in order to have healthy blooming boston ferns.
Provide the right amount of sunlight, the best soil mix, place the plant in the right conditions, water the plant only when necessary as well as feed the plant with the appropriate amount of fertilizer.
Let’s know how helpful this step must have been in your growing process. Your feedback means a lot. However, for more clarity, comment your questions in the comment section below.