The Boston fern, also known as Nephrolepis exaltata or Boston Ivy, is one of the most well-known of the Fern family and is often admired for its desirable traits as a houseplant.
They are very primitive plants which once covered the majority of the vegetative surface of the Earth. They were around before plants even began to flower and remain flowerless today. Instead, they have beautiful leaves known as “fronds” which come in all shapes and sizes.
In their natural habitat, you’ll typically find Boston Ferns in humid, shady areas, like swamps and forests, in South and Central America, the West Indies and Africa. They love anywhere wet, hot and not too bright.
As a houseplant, they became popular with the Victorians - those guys loved an exotic houseplant - thriving in the poorly lit, likely damp homes of the 1800s. The Victorians consider ferns a symbol of humility and sincerity, so please don’t boast or lie in its presence.
How to care for your Boston Fern
They are relatively easy to care for; however, figuring out what this fern likes, is fundamental to keeping it in good nick. Here are some key care tips if you want your Boston Fern to thrive.
Light: They enjoy a cool place indoors away from central heating and direct sunlight. Like many ferns, they are used to living in partial shade, so they are ideal plants for a room with lower light.
Water: Dry soil is one of the number one reasons that Boston ferns die. Check the soil daily and make sure to give it some water if the soil feels at all dry. Because Boston ferns tend to be planted in potting mixtures high in peat moss, it is a good idea to soak the pot of the Boston fern once a month or make sure the peat moss is fully hydrated. Be sure to let it drain thoroughly after this.
Temperature: When you care for Boston fern plants indoors, it’s a good idea to provide additional humidity for them, especially in the winter. Most homes are relatively dry, even more, when heaters are running throughout colder months. For extra humidity care for Boston fern, try setting your fern’s pot on a tray of pebbles filled with water. You can also try lightly misting your fern once or twice a week to help it get the humidity it needs.
Food: To encourage lots of healthy growth, give your fern a feed with liquid fertiliser once per month in spring and summer.
Cleaning: If some of the leaf fronds are a little brown, run your fingers through them gently and give it a small comb. They will love you in return with beautiful fresh fronds and that delicate sweet Boston Fern aroma!
Common Problems with the Boston Fern (and how to fix them!)
Even though it can be heartbreaking to see your Boston Fern shed its beautiful foliage, in most cases, this isn’t indicative of a severe problem. Usually, the cause of Boston fern leaf loss is linked to the care they are given. Most often, when leaves yellow, dry up and drop, it’s due to one of these common problems:
- Lack of water: Although they can tolerate drier conditions than other ferns, they still should be watered every time the surface soil just starts to dry. If you’re doing this, but it appears too dry, you may need to re-pot your fern.
- Lack of humidity: Boston ferns are native forest dwellers that rely on high humidity levels to survive. It can be challenging to maintain the 40-50% humidity ideal for ferns throughout the year. While misting does help, repotting your fern in a larger pot lined with peat can help keep humidity levels up for longer.
- Leaf age: Older leaves will eventually dry and die. If you are giving your fern the correct care it needs, there’s no need to worry!
Where to place your Boston Fern at home
Boston Ferns can be displayed in any number of ways in the home, including shelving, hanging baskets, or even as lush specimen plants on the right windowsill.
Here is a mood board we’ve put together for your inspiration:
One thing to bear in mind when selecting a new space for your Boston fern is that they like a cool place indoors away from central heating and direct sunlight.
Where to buy Boston Ferns online in Ireland?
The good news is that no matter your size or budget, we have a Boston Fern plant for you!
We stock the Boston Fern in many sizes on our online plant store.
If you enjoyed this blog, why not check out some of our similar posts:
- Plant Spotlight: Air Plants
- Plant Spotlight: Devil’s Ivy
- Plant Spotlight: The Spider Plant
- Plant Spotlight: The Monstera Deliciosa
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