Growing Requirements for a Boston Fern

Written by damien campbell
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Growing Requirements for a Boston Fern
Boston ferns make excellent indoor plants. (fern image by Anna Chelnokova from

The Boston fern, a popular cultivar of the sword fern (Nephrolepis exaltata), grows in the wild throughout Florida, the Neotropics and Africa. Its large size and ease of care makes Boston fern a popular indoor plants. Boston ferns have large, densely clustered fronds, or fern leaves, that grow up to 4 feet in length. Boston ferns have minimal care requirements.

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Boston ferns prefer shady environments in the wild, but when grown indoors they should be placed in a location where they receive plenty of light. Boston ferns show signs of improper lighting conditions. If the fern is receiving too little light, the fronds will be few in number, long and have a dark-green appearance. Move the fern to a brighter location and provide extra attention to rejuvenate the plant. Too much light results in a pale, light-green colouration of the fronds; the plant should be moved to a darker location.


Boston ferns grow quickly in soils that are continually moist, but not soggy. Water your fern frequently to maintain proper moisture in the soil. In summer months, when the fern receives more sunlight, water more frequently than in winter. Boston ferns grow best in locations with high humidity, such as a bathroom or kitchen. However, they can be grown in any location if frequently misted. Cover the fronds with a generous misting early in the morning and late at night for best results.


Boston ferns are versatile plants that grow well in flowerpots and hanging baskets. They have a shallow root structure, so small containers can produce large ferns; 10- to 12-inch containers are ideal for a large, healthy Boston fern. The soil mix should drain well but retain moisture. Regular potting soil or coarse peat combined with a 40- to 50-percent mix of vermiculite or perlite is a good mixture to keep Boston ferns healthy. Supplementary slow-release fertiliser, placed on the surface of the potting soil, is helpful for establishing and maintaining strong growth in your fern.

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