6 Tips For Caring For Your Boston Fern - Backyard Boss
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6 Tips For Caring For Your Boston Fern

Boston ferns have gorgeous foliage that gracefully cascades down windowsills and balconies. Its claim to fame is the lush green foliage that quickly fills up space in your home. The boisterous fronds are sword-like in shape and laden with numerous tiny leaflets.

The plant is known for being tough, surviving in moist and bright conditions while also withstanding the occasional dryness. The Boston fern is used to hot environments, thriving outdoors in zones 9 and above. However, providing this beautiful houseplant with proper care is still necessary to keep its charm intact. Discover below six tips to help you take better care of your Boston fern.

1. Keep it in a Bright Spot

Boston fern on a desk
Image credits: Unknown Wong via Unsplash

Ferns are notorious for being difficult houseplants, but Boston ferns are easier to care for and more forgiving regarding ideal light conditions. 

Place your Boston fern where it can enjoy slight shade accompanied by indirect light. You can expose your plant to the gentle morning sun but keep it shaded from the harsh afternoon rays. Similar rules apply when planting the ferns outdoors, so plant them in a shady spot with exposure to the morning sun and protection against scorching midday light. 

Prolonged exposure to direct sunlight can make the vibrant green leaves look bleached out and turn yellowish-green. In comparison, low light can lead to the continuous shedding of leaves.   

2. Maintain the Temperature

wooden temperature gauge
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Boston ferns are native to South America, Mexico, and Florida so it’s no wonder they flourish in a warm, humid environments. When growing this fern indoors, the average room temperature that does not drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit works perfectly for the plant. Also, it does not enjoy temperatures exceeding 95 degrees Fahrenheit. 

The ferns planted outdoors grow best when the daytime temperature is between 65 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit, and the nighttime temperature stays above 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you have potted plants gracing your gazebos, patios, or balconies, you can leave them outdoors until the nighttime temperature drops below 45 degrees Fahrenheit. In other words, you’ll need to bring your Boston ferns indoors during the colder months if you live in a cooler climate. 

3. Water Frequently

woman watering boston fern
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Keep your fern happy by providing it ample water to keep the soil moist yet not soggy. Whether your plant is outdoors or indoors, allow the soil to guide your watering routine for the best results. The soil can use some hydration when it feels slightly dry to the touch. 

Water the plant until you see excess run out from the container’s base. Drain this extra water to prevent waterlogging that can cause root rot. To ensure that you are not underwatering your plant, check the soil often, especially the outdoor plants that can dry out faster in the summer heat. Once winter rolls around, you may notice a decline in your plant’s water requirements. Signs you’re underwatering your Boston fern include greyish, yellowing foliage and dropping leaflets. 

When watering your fern, use room-temperature water, as too hot or too cold water can shock your plant. Fill a jug with water and allow it to rest on a countertop for a day or two, and use that water for hydrating your plant. 

4. Regulate Indoor Humidity

brown color humidifier
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Indoor air is often too dry for this tropical fern, and low humidity levels can lead to unattractive yellow leaves. This fern will enjoy medium humidity  levels around 40 to 50 percent. 

To increase humidity place a humidifier near the Boston fern to supplement moisture levels. You can also place the plant pot on a pebble tray filled with at least ¼ inch of water at all times.

Moreover, mist the leaves daily to mimic the humid environment of the tropics. You can also keep the plant in the bathroom, which is a perfect spot for this moisture-loving fern. 

5. Enrich the Soil

Soil Fertilizer
Image credits: via Neslihan Gunaydin on Unsplash

Provide your fern with fertile, well-draining soil. You can use a peat-based potting mix or mix one part soil-based mixture with one part leaf mold. Encourage fern growth during spring and summer by fertilizing the soil with a balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer about every four weeks. Use a liquid fertilizer every two weeks for a peat-based potting mix. Reduce the frequency in fall and winter to avoid over-fertilizing.

Provide the plant with fresh soil if you bought your Boston fern from a big store instead of the local nursery. Gently remove the root ball from the container and check the roots. If they are overgrown, repot the fern in a new, one-size bigger container. Otherwise, replace the plant in the same pot with new soil.

6. Prune and Repot in Spring

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Trimming the fronds leads to new growth and bushier foliage. You can prune the plant to maintain its appearance by cutting away any longer or less feathery fronds. Remove any yellow or brown fronds you see to preserve the plant’s resources.  

In addition, repot your plant in the spring every few years to encourage new vegetation and to keep the plant healthy. To repot first remove the root ball from the pot and cut it in half using a sharp knife, ensuring that each half has several fronds on it with a healthy rhizome. Place each part in a new pot, along with the potting mix, and thoroughly water. 


Boston fern is a versatile plant that looks lovely around your home, both indoors and outdoors. To care for your fern, keep it in a bright spot with indirect light, water it routinely, and provide ample humidity. 

Use fertile soil with plenty of drainages, and don’t forget to feed the plant during the growing period. Keep your fern looking glorious with careful pruning, and report it when it outgrows its container.

Would you like to add some tips for caring for the Boston Fern? Share below in the comments!