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Boston Ferns

June 13, 2022


Hanging Basket!

Boston ferns are the most popular of the fern species that originated in Central America and became a fast favorite in parlors and porches in North America during the Victorian era.

Long, arching fronds densely covered with leaflets — called pinnae — makes this lush, graceful house plant ideal for a pedestal or a hanging basket.

Boston Fern


Caring for Boston ferns is easy, as long as you meet their need for high humidity. Ferns are native to tropical rainforests, where the relative humidity stays well above 70%. Short of turning your home into a misty rainforest, there are a few things you can do to raise the humidity for your plant.

Shower Power

If you have a bright bathroom, your Boston fern will be very happy there. The steam from the shower will provide your plant with the humidity it loves.

If you don’t have a bathroom with a window, you can increase moisture levels with a humidifier, or set up a humidity tray for your fern. Fill a shallow tray or saucer with water and pebbles, and put the pot on it. Don’t let the water touch the bottom of the pot. You don’t want the water to get into the drainage holes. You want the water to evaporate around the plant.

Misting will only up the humidity for a short time, but if you like, you can treat your fern to a daily spritz.

Boston Fern


Ferns grow in the forest undergrowth. And are used to being in the shade. So avoid direct sunlight, it can quickly burn the ferns’ leaves.

At the same time, don’t place your plant where it doesn’t get any light at all. Your fern wants bright filtered light.

Rotate your fern every week to expose all sides to light and encourage even growth all around.


Healthy Boston fern plants will grow to be quite sizable both outwardly and up. It is important to check for root compaction. If it seems like the growth of your fern is slowing down or if you see roots from drainage holes, it may be time to replant.

Repotting should be relatively easy. When you are ready, be sure that the new pot is 2-3 inches larger than the current pot. Also, make sure that the soil is damp so that it sticks to the roots for easier transition. Fill up the new pot with 2 inches of fresh potting soil and transfer the plant over.

Boston Fern
Boston Fern

Winter Option 1

You have two choices to keep your Boston Fern through winter. You can either keep the plant as a houseplant, or you can store it in a dormant state.

Here’s how: 

Give your plant a good pruning before bringing it in. If you are keeping it as a houseplant, prune away all older growth and just leave the youngest, newest, most recently sprouted fronds. This will help prevent older fronds from drying out and shedding messy leaves around your house. 

Option #1: Keep your Boston Fern as a houseplant by setting it up in a location where it can enjoy an abundance of bright, indirect sunlight (minimum 2 hours) during the day. Put it near (not in) a south-facing window that gets lots of direct sunlight. 

Keep the temperature in the room around 75° degrees Fahrenheit during the daytime and allow it to drop a bit at night. The temperature should never go lower than 55° degrees Fahrenheit. 

Keep humidity levels high by setting your plants’ container on a pebble tray filled with water (not allowing the bottom of the container to touch the water) and misting it a couple of times a week. 

If the air is very dry in your home, you may want to run a humidifier nearby. Very dry indoor air will cause leaf drops and may make your plant susceptible to problems with pests, such as scale and spider mites.

Keep your plants’ soil slightly moist throughout the winter. You shouldn’t water it as much as you do during the growing season, but never allow the soil to dry out completely. 

A thorough monthly watering should be enough but check frequently to be sure. When the top inch of soil is dry, provide water. 

Use filtered water or rainwater or allow tap water to sit in the open air for at least 24 hours so that chlorine and other chemicals can dissipate. 

As with most plants, don’t fertilize Boston Ferns in winter. 

After all danger of frost has passed, you can begin transitioning your houseplant to the outdoors if you wish. On warm, sunny days, give it a little time in a sheltered area where it will receive bright, indirect sunlight. 

Gradually increase the amount of time the plant spends outside so that it will be ready for outdoor living by the time the days and nights are consistently warm. 

Source: Plant Care Today:

Winter Option 2

Option #2: Let your fern go dormant. If you don’t have a good room to keep your plant happy through the winter, you can simply store it in a dark, cool (not cold) place, such as a basement or a garage. 

Cut the fronds back to a couple of inches before putting your fern in storage. 

Check the soil weekly or so. It should stay very slightly moist, never soggy. 

Use filtered water or rainwater or allow tap water to sit in the open air for at least 24 hours to allow chlorine and other chemicals to dissipate. 

Never fertilize any dormant plant. 

Early in the springtime, transition your plant to an indoor setting and begin treating it as a houseplant as described above. Once it has begun to sprout some new fronds, you can transition it to the outdoors. 

Beautiful Boston Fern