Boston fern is a beautiful, thick green fern variety that can go just perfect with your home interior (or exterior- just in case). The fern has drooping or arching fronds, or the thick leaves which makes them equally graceful to be planted in a hanging pot, with its lovely natural cuts, rich color and look. Also known as Wild Boston fern, Boston sword fern, Sword fern, Fishbone fern, this variety is quite commonly found in humid regions or forests throughout the world.
Boston fern is a relatively much easier to handle and maintain variety of ferns. It can be brought back to a good health form a near-killed condition. Addition to its positive aspects is its place in the list of top air pollutant removers. This is owing to its heavy water requirements, due to which it constantly releases great amounts of water vapour into the air around. In simple short words, Boston fern is your ideal choice if you are looking for a low maintenance and low cost plant for indoor greener or such.
Boston fern Technical details
Scientific name: Nephrolepis exaltata
Common name(s): Wild Boston fern, Boston sword fern, Sword fern, Fishbone fern
Height: 50 to 250 cm (max growth of around 3 feet)
Light: full sun and half shade (less of bright/ sharp sunlight advised)
Soil: a mix that can hold some moisture and at the same time allow proper drainage
Moisture: regular watering needed (relatively less in winters). Moderately higher humidity levels
Hardiness: USDA plant hardiness zones 9-11
Temperature: above 150C and below 270C.
Pests: Flying insects, mealy bugs and nematodes
Diseases: Pythium root rot, Rhizoctonia aerial blight
Propagation: by division or separation of the plantlets that grow from mother plant.
Uses: removing pollutants from the indoor air, acts as humidifiers.
Boston fern care
First of all, what you need to find is an ideal location for keeping the ferns. Ferns are good with a normal or reasonable light. A sunny place or a partially shady place is okay for Boston ferns; however, it is better to keep them away from bright sunlight. Indoors best suit them, when/ where they can get sufficient non-hurting sun light. Moreover, keeping ferns in bright sun would mean more frequent dry out and resultant more frequent watering requirements (as ferns need constant moisture). If you are planning to plant it outdoors, place it beneath a tree or in such places where it can get some shade.
Keeping the fern outdoor will not be quite favorable for the fern if you live in a cold region and the temperatures can drop below 10 degree Celsius. Ideal temperatures for the growth of Boston ferns are 15 degree Celsius to 27 degree Celsius. A temperature, as low as 4 degree Celsius, can kill the plant. Moreover, in cold weather conditions, they may go into what seems like dormancy. Their growth will be all barred. This is until the weather is normal and conditions are favorable again. So, if you are looking for a constantly growing Boston fern, you would like to take note of these points and find space with some normal temperature and bit of light. If you live in a place with constant cold weather, it is better to get the fern indoors, where it can get some warmth. Though it may shed some leaved indoors, that don’t needs concern. They will gradually adjust and recover the growth.
Another thing is that just like other ferns, Boston ferns too require high humidity levels. So, where ever you keep, find a way to keep the place warm and humid.
Watering requirements are frequent for Boston ferns, just like any other member in fern family. Soil need to be kept moist all the time. If you live in moderate weather conditions, you may want to water them twice or thrice in a day, depending on the temperature in your place. The frequency of watering can however be reduced in winters. Though Boston ferns greatly appreciate moisture, it is suggested anyway, to not over-water the plant (take care the soil don’t go soggy). Also, if you live in a cold region, take a note that cold water may not be very good for them as it may create a sudden bit of difficulty for roots to function.
You need to pay attention to the matter that these are quite much sensitive to coal smokes, chemicals etc., and can adversely affect their health. So, be sure to find the location for the fern away from such chemical or wood burners etc. Also, avoid the use of leaf shine products and instead, run a shower to clear out the dust, if accumulated. Use of insecticides or pesticides on heavy quantities can end them up in poor condition or can even kill them.
As for feeding and fertilizing, adding fertilizers once every month or every few months, depending upon the size, in small proportions is enough. Anyway, don’t over use fertilizers, or it may have a totally wrong effect. Also, you don’t need to feed immediately after re-potting. The soil would have the necessary supplements for then. While talking about re-potting, you just need to re-pot Boston ferns when you want them to spread further, after their roots have filled the present pot. You can re-pot whole fern or the baby ferns, as you might prefer (in case you are looking for a propagating re-potting.)
Boston fern Propagation methods
Even though many people try to get baby ferns through spores, it may not quite work. Boston ferns produce spores as well. However, spores are not very much their means od propagation. They rather propagate by formation of baby fern attached to mother fern. They can be separated out or divided easily as a new fern. It can be re planted or re-potted, if you wish to get more Boston ferns around your place. Cold weather conditions may be unfavorable for their growth as well as propagation. It is advised to keep them in a place with some warmth and humidity to have them propagate well.
Boston Fern Common Problems
Over watering: it is true that ferns prefer moist soil all the times. Anyway, considering this, people use to over water the pot, sometimes leading to root rots.
Ferns don’t flower: no matter what all things you try, no fern, very much including Boston fern blooms, ever. All that they might produce are the spores, dark in color, observed beneath the leaves in a regular pattern.
Lower temperatures: temperatures lower that 10o C is unfavorable for the Boston ferns to survive. Ideal temperature, as mentioned above, is 15oC to 27oC.
Tips For Healthy Boston Fern
Don’t over water. If possible, use normal water for watering (instead of cold)
Keep away from regular smokes and chemicals
Don’t confuse insect infestation of any kind with the spores that can be developed underneath the fronds.
Don’t over-spray the ferns with pesticides/ insecticides. This can kill them.
Avoid keeping in bright sunlight unless you can increase the frequency of watering it.
Keep in a place where they can get ample of natural light, but keep away direct/ harsh sunlight.
Boston fern also known as sword fern is one of the most popular ferns which is grown indoors. It is very simple to grow and take care and this makes it one of the best plants to grow at home. The plant is widely admired by all because of its long and frilly leaves with the hanging fronds. So, next time you wish to start gardening, you can start with this simple plant.