The Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata) plant is a natural statement piece that has bountiful sword-like fronds. This plant is known for its humidity-loving characteristics and can adapt to both indoor and outdoor settings.
If the Boston fern is happy where it’s planted, this plant is notorious for having rapid growth. With its widespread and abundant foliage, this plant brings a dramatic effect to any home or outdoor garden.
This bushy evergreen is native to the forest of South America and Mexico, growing up to three feet tall. The Ferns have a reputation for being the oldest growing plants on the planet, dating back to 360 million years ago (older than dinosaurs!). This specific species was first introduced to America as an ornamental plant in the 19th century. It received its name from the shipment of plants received by a Massachusetts florist in the late 1800s. It began to earn notoriety for being Victorian-era style and was found in parlors as a staple houseplant.
Boston Ferns prefer organic soil that is rich in nutrients. An ideal mix would include peat moss and perlite to improve drainage and airflow. This Fern will also benefit from liquid fertilizer every few months in spring and summer to encourage growth. You will want a fertilizer with nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium to improve the Ferns root system. Your Ferns pH level is optimal on the more acidic side, somewhere between 5.0-5.5 Be sure not to over-fertilize as this can cause your plant to turn brown or crisp at the edges. When planted in a large container, Boston ferns tend to be invasive and can take over a large space if planted in the proper climate. Have an area of your home you’re trying to hide? Look no further than the Boston fern!
POTTING + WATERING
The Boston fern is not sensitive to having its roots messed with. That being said- if you have a larger Fern, you can split this plant in half and create two separate plants! Add about 1-2 inches of new soil to the bottom of your new pot before planting to improve nutrient intake. You’ll know it’s time to re-pot your plant when you begin to see roots coming from the bottom of your plant’s pot. If the water is running right through your plant when you water this is also a sign it’s time to re-pot.
Given that the Boston fern is the most drought tolerant of the ferns, you won’t have to water as much as the others. This plant is vascular, so it can hold nutrients in its tissues along with water. However, you will want to ensure that the environment is more humid for this plant before you hold out on watering. When the top of the soil is dry to touch, it’s time to water your fern.
If there’s one thing to know about Boston Ferns (and all ferns for that matter) it’s that humidity can make or break the survival of your plant. These plants derive from tropical zones where humidity can range from 50% to 85%. They typically live in shady areas, and can even be found in swampy forests of Florida where moisture levels are extremely high. When placed inside, be sure that your fern has at least 6 hours of bright indirect sunlight. Ideally, your Fern will live in temperatures between 65-75 degrees. To recreate the Boston Fern’s desired climate, keep this plant in your bathroom or on a covered balcony.
…DID YOU KNOW?
Ferns reproduce through spores and don’t have seeds or flowers. Instead, these spores (sporangia) are produced on the bottom side of the fronds and can be used to propagate this plant!