Nephrolepis Exaltata 'Bostoniensis'

Boston Fern

The Boston fern is the most popular of all ferns grown indoors and has been found to be one of the easiest to care for and maintain.

Compared to most other ferns your going to find this plant a lot easier to care for in regards to light, humidity levels and propagating (see care instructions below).



Some ferns can only be grown in terrariums and others will not recover from neglect.....unlike this species that can be brought back from what looks like near death.

It is said that this species is a malformation from the Nephrolepis genus that became very popular after being discovered in 1894 within a batch of the original N. exaltata ferns (common name: Sword fern). The Boston displays graceful fronds (leaves) that arch over much more than it's parent plant, so it's abnormalities have become an advantage (in the eyes of plant growers). The Sword fern has very stiff and upright fronds.

Compared to most other ferns your going to find this plant a lot easier to care for in regards to light, humidity levels and propagating (see care instructions below). Some ferns can only be grown in terrariums and others will not recover from neglect.....unlike this species that can be brought back from what looks like near death.

How it looks: As mentioned above the fronds on the Boston fern arch over and grow up to about 3 ft long. The fronds are made up of a tough leaf stalk, pinnate leaflets and a rachis (leaf stalk), but in layman's terms it's a kind of long stalk with lots of small leaves on it, side-by-side....or you could say they have a large feather like appearance.

Displaying: How you display your plant will depend on it's size. The Boston fern is placed in a hanging basket mostly when it's fronds are over a foot or so long, allowing the fronds to arch over and hang boldly. Another great way to display a mature plant is to place it potted on a pedestal stand allowing the fronds to hang. A small plant can be placed near a windowsill in a normal pot.

Bathrooms are an ideal location to place this fern. this is because of the higher humidity levels provided from the water and condensation within the bathroom (a big bathroom though if the plant is mature). Conservatories with this plant planted in a hanging basket is another option and they look great, however, a grower must make sure there is not too much direct sunlight within the conservatory.

Overwintering: I will briefly mention something about overwintering that applies to those who keep their fern outside during the warmer months. If you own or your going to buy a Boston fern and live in a temperate region, you can place the plant outside within a porch, balcony or patio when temperatures are above 50ºF/10ºC....then bring it back indoors when the temperature goes down to near 50ºF/10ºC . Frost or temperatures below 40ºF/4ºC can kill the plant or make it look dead (loss of foliage) until the following growing season.

When it gets too cold this plant will go into a kind of dormancy period until conditions become correct. However, if the right conditions are provided, such as high humidity, enough indirect sunlight and warm enough temperatures, the Boston fern will be fine when taken back indoors. Many of them do lose leaves once they are brought inside, which is of no major concern.....just keep providing the right care and conditions.


Origin: America.
Names: Boston Fern (common). -- Nephrolepis Exaltata 'Bostoniensis' (botanical/scientific).
Max Growth (approx): Fronds, length and height approx 3ft max.
Poisonous for pets: Non toxic for cats, dogs

ferns in hanging baskets

Boston Fern Care

Temperature: The ideal room temperatures for Boston ferns is between 60-75ºF (16-24ºC). No lower than 55ºF (13ºC). Avoid warm air from indoor heating and cold drafts.
Light: In their natural habitat these ferns will be provided small amounts of sunshine under trees, shaded. The best light conditions to provide is indirect sunlight, although a small amount of sunlight (when it's not too hot) encourages growth. Filtered sunlight through net curtains works well. You may want to rotate the plant to encourage even growth of the fronds.
Watering: Moist soil at all times is advisable, without the soil becoming soggy.
Soil: Peat moss potting soil mixes are best suited with perlite added combined with all-purpose soil. The soil needs to be able to retain some water but also have the ability to drain fairly well. Too much peat moss then water can become clogged and too much perlite with all-purpose will drain too quickly.
Fertilizer: A balanced fertilizer diluted given to the plant every 2 weeks should suffice. Feed from April - Sept and don't feed after re-potting and changing the soil for one month (enough nutrients will be available in the new soil).
Re-Potting: Re-potting is done during spring once every 2 years while it's growing fast to a pot size bigger. Still change the top soil each spring even if a pot change is not required.
Humidity: All ferns prefer fairly high humidity levels, however, the Boston fern is slightly more resilient and can tolerate lower levels. If you can....increase levels with a humidifier and not a humidity tray because your likely to keep the plant in a hanging basket or similar, so the plant cannot be placed in a tray.
Propagation: These are propagated either by division or separating runners. The runners are small plantlets that grow from the mother plant that you will have to look out for and remove once they have grown enough to separate from the mother plant and survive independently. Dividing the plant into sections is the most popular propagation method carried out during spring. You can divide the fern into how many new plants you want by cutting though the root system for the section you require.

TIP! Add one or two tablespoons of epson salts to a gallon of water and use every six months to improve leaf color (much greener I say).

Potential Problems


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