How to Facilitate Healthy Boston Fern Growth

Although it doesn’t originate from Boston, the Boston fern is synonymous with a certain type of old-school elegance. Cheap to purchase and extremely environmentally friendly, these beautiful plants are a little on the high-maintenance side, especially in terms of water consumption. However, their look and their ability to thrive indoors and outdoors makes the extra attention required a small price to pay.

The Boston Plant: Good Plant, Bad Name?

Contrary to its name, the Boston fern does not hail from Boston, or anywhere else in New England. Like other plants in the fern family, the Boston fern comes from the tropics. If you really want to get technical about things, the plant’s scientific name is Nephrolepis Bostoniensis.

Boston Fern

Photo by Noles1984 Licensed Under CC BY-SA 3.0

The non-scientific name was given to the plant around the 1890s, when it became a staple in Victorian homes. To this day, it still remains a popular decorative choice for venues that are designed to fit this particular style.

It’s a no-brainer why this is the case. Green and graceful, a healthy Boston fern’s primary feature is elegantly drooping fronds whose naturally cut leaves give it a ruffled appearance. This organic fanciness aligns rather perfectly with the ornate stylings of the Victorian motif, both then and now.

Caring for a Boston Fern: A Video Overview

Boston ferns tend to be a little bit on the high-maintenance side of the fern spectrum – not too surprising, given their somewhat brittle appearance. Fortunately, a lot of the maintenance they require equates to deploying a few common sense-driven tactics, as this brief video demonstrates.

Bringing Home a Boston Fern

Even though a Boston fern can be a touch delicate, they’re still considered to be a terrific starting point if you’re looking to jump into the fern game for the first time. Boston ferns tend to be relatively inexpensive and abundant in number, so you shouldn’t have much difficulty finding one to your liking.

More importantly, Boston ferns have a well-earned reputation as being a plant that promotes environmental cleanliness. It’s considered one of the best plants for removing air pollutants, because of its tendency to produce copious amounts of water vapor. This increases humidity, which in turn helps keep the air clean.

Boston Ferns are Thirsty!

While a Boston fern does a great job of keeping the air clean, there is a downside to this superpower. This is a plant that has a thirst for water that can at times almost seem unquenchable. If you’re not prepared to meet the plant’s demands, you may find it difficult to keep.

There are a few things you should keep in mind in terms of watering your Boston fern. Knowing how to gauge the soil is the biggest ally you have here. The soil should almost always be moist except during the winter months, when it’s only necessary to water when the soil surface is dry.

This means that you should expect to water your Boston fern several times a week when the weather gets hot and the soil dries out quickly. However, be careful that you’re not over-doing things. As with any plant, if you oversaturate the soil, you’ll end up doing more harm than good.

Even though Boston ferns will increase the humidity around them when they’re sufficiently watered, don’t assume that its humidity needs are instantly met. A lack of sufficient humidity will cause its fronds to turn yellow. If you see discoloration, you can deploy tactics to help give the humidity a boost, such as putting a humidifier in the room where the plant resides.

Boston Fern Placement

You can grow a Boston fern indoors or outdoors – a touch of versatility that makes the prospect of owning one even more attractive. If you choose to go the latter route, you’ll find that there is a narrower margin for error.

For one thing, the fern’s environ should ideally be hyper-controlled. Ideally, it will be in a place where it can enjoy daytime temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit, and nighttime temps between 55 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit. You’ll also want to make sure the surrounding space has a humidity level of at least 50 percent.

The best way to go about creating this environment is to place your Boston fern in a semi-enclosed space, such as a porch or patio. Doing so will not only minimize their exposure to unsavory weather conditions, it can also help them fend off direct sunlight, which is another key factor to maximizing the plant’s health.

And make no mistake: Keeping your Boston fern in indirect sunlight is huge factor in assuring their overall health. This can be a tricky proposition, since this does not equate to keeping your fern in shaded conditions. However, you should know that too much sun will compromise the integrity of the fronds.

If you place your fern outdoors, you may want to make sure it’s getting some filtered light, such as minor cracks in a porch overhead or light partially blocked by an adjacent or nearby tree. If it’s indoors, you’ll want to make sure you’re rotating the plant to face various facing windows, depending on the time of year.

If You Get a Discolored Frond…

Even if you have the greenest of thumbs, you may still run into an occasional frond that doesn’t make it. You’ll know this when the frond becomes either leafless or starts losing its leaves. Needless to say, this will make you Boston fern look less than optimal.

Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to clean this up. All you need to do is pull out a pair of clean, sharp scissors or gardening shears to clip the bad frond at the fern’s base. This will not only clean things up, it will also provide room for new fronds to grow.

Wherever you choose to grow your Boston fern, you’ll undoubtedly find that it will add an elegant touch to its environment. You’ll also find it to be the ideal entry point to the wonderful world of ferns.

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