Boston Fern Plant Bio: Podcast Ep#53

The lush and fluffy Boston Fern is a classic houseplant for anyone to love! It can be a little finicky and messy but the impact makes it worth it.


Botanical Name: Nephrolepis exaltata ‘Bostoniensis’


Common Names: Boston Fern, Sword Fern, Dwarf Feather Palm

- Nephrolepis exaltata also has other cultivars with different leaflet patterns and colors like Tiger, Compacta, Fluffy Ruffles, Golden Boston, etc.


Sun Requirements:

Boston Ferns are tolerant of bright, indirect light to low light. Usually these are considered understory trees in nature so they are usually receiving medium light. Avoid direct sunlight because the leaflets will burn if it is in too much light.


Water Requirement

This plant needs consistent moisture but not saturated. Water only when the top layer of soil is dry to prevent leaflets from turning brown and dropping.


Humidity, just like the consistent moisture, is also important to keep your leaves consistently green and prevent browning tips.


Fertilizer

As I always say, there are LOTS of ways to fertilize plants. Unless you are extremely over-fertilizing your plant, there isn't necessarily a wrong way to do this. I currently use Fox Farm's Grow Big Liquid Fertilizer and I fertilize every 2 weeks when I water my plants, starting around the end of February through October. I honestly probably only fertilize once or twice in winter because the plant isn't as active! I use about 1/2 to 3/4 the recommended amount of fertilizer because I would rather under-fertilize than over-fertilize my plants. Based on the below info from Fox Farm it looks like I could increase my fertilizing a bit if needed!


University of Wisconsin- Madison recommends the following: "Boston fern does best in rich soil or with regular fertilization (liquid or slow release houseplant fertilizer at half strength) every 4-6 weeks when actively growing; the amount should be cut back a lot in winter."


There are MANY ways to fertilize and it is completely up to you! There are tons of products out there you can try but an overall rule of thumb for houseplants is that it is best to under-fertilize, rather than over-fertilize. Always use the recommended amount, or less, when applying your fertilizer to houseplants.


Propagation

Best way to propagate is dividing when the plant is more mature or big enough to divide.


Other Facts

  • Part of the Lomariopsidaceae family.

  • Native to South America, Mexico, Florida, and West Indies.

  • The Boston Fern can frow upwards of 7 ft.

  • The leaves on the Boston Fern are called fronds with leaflets on the stem.

  • Fronds contain spores instead of seeds that form on the underside of the leaflets

  • The bottom fronds commonly brown and can be cut at the base of the plant. This can encourage new growth.

  • Non-toxic to pets and humans. Check out Podcast Ep#31 for more info or the corresponding blog post!

Instagram Q&A

I asked followers if they had any specific plant questions I could address in this podcast and blog. Here are the questions and answers for the Boston Fern...


"What causes browning on the stem tips?"

  • This is mostly caused by lack of moisture. As long as the soil is well draining, keep your Boston Fern moist to help prevent this. A lack of humidity could also cause browning tips so increasing humidity and/or consistently misting you fern could help. Over-fertilizing your fern could also cause browning leaves, but usually it is caused by a lack of moisture.

 

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Always written with extreme plant passion!

Love, Holly (Owner & Creator of Houseplant Homebody LLC)

 

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