How to Grow and Care for Boston Ferns - Backyard Boss
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How to Grow and Care for Boston Ferns

A Boston fern is a beautiful plant for your porch, underneath a gazebo, or in a shady area in your backyard during the warm seasons. Its lengthy green leaves and arching shape make the plant ideal for hanging baskets, though it is also a stunning houseplant, especially in cooler climates. 
While Boston ferns are ideal for both indoor and outdoor spaces, providing the proper care can seem a little tricky. Don’t worry! Below, you’ll find all the tools and tips you’ll need to grow and care for Boston ferns!

Tools You’ll Need to Care for Boston Ferns

Gardening tools on wooden work bench
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To help your Boston ferns grow, there are a few tools you’ll need. Check out the essentials below.

  • Slightly shady space with bright indirect light
  • Pot with drainage
  • High-quality potting media
  • Fertilizer
  • Humidifier
  • Misting bottle
  • Sterilized scissors or pruning shears

How to Grow Boston Ferns

Lighting and Pots

Fern shrub hangs on balcony's roof
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Boston fern plants thrive in bright indirect sunlight, so it’s best to place them in a slightly shady spot in your backyard or indoors, in a place where it receives medium indirect light. Of course, you can also plant Boston ferns in the garden, as long as you keep them in bright indirect sunlight. With that in mind, outdoors, the plant will do best on a porch or under a pergola where it will receive filtered sunlight in the morning and shade in the afternoon.
When it comes to planting, Boston ferns will do best in hanging baskets and taller pots that allow their long fronds to hang down. Raised garden beds and plant stands are also a good option. While the plant will add height to any garden, it is ideal for a container garden full of color and texture. Remember to opt for a pot with drainage.

Potting Media and Watering

Soil to repot indoor plants
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Boston ferns do well in a soilless or well-drained potting medium. Opt for mixtures that include peat moss, perlite, and pine bark to ensure plenty of aeration and drainage. While the plants like consistent moisture, they are also more drought-tolerant than other ferns. Do your best to keep the potting medium moist, especially during warmer weather, but don’t fret if you miss a watering. Remember that overwatering a plant can be just as dangerous as under-watering!

Temperature and Humidity

boston fern in bathroom
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Boston ferns prefer a warm, humid environment, so you may notice crisping leaves during the winter months. The plants prefer a temperature that does not go higher than 95 degrees Fahrenheit or lower than 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

You can bring your Boston fern indoors during the colder months if required. The bathroom is a great location for Boston ferns because of its humidity! You can also spritz the plant with water or use a humidifier indoors to keep the humidity high.

General Maintenance for Boston Ferns

Woman cutting leaf of fern at white table indoors, closeup
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To provide Boston fern plants with the proper care they need to thrive, there are a few general maintenance tasks to remember. Checking for bugs, such as mealybugs, scales, and slugs, is one of the most important things. No matter how small, creepy crawlies can cause these plants a lot of damage, so it’s important to keep your eyes peeled. By the same token, wiping dust off the leaves will keep the plants clean and healthy.
Keep in mind that if you see dark spots forming in a pattern on the underside of the plant’s leaves, there is likely nothing wrong with your plant. These are in all likelihood the Boston fern’s spores. 
Boston ferns benefit from fertilizing every four to six weeks during the warmer months when they are growing. Follow the directions on your fertilizer for the proper technique. Cut back on this schedule during the winter to avoid over-fertilizing. You should also repot or divide every few years in the spring to encourage new growth and keep the plants happy and healthy.

Pruning will encourage bushy growth for a fuller plant. When you’re ready to divide or repot, remove any dead or bare foliage with sharp pruning shears. You can also trim the fronds for a more rounded, arching shape and remove any legginess from the plant.

Have a Little Fern With It!

A Boston fern is a great option for your indoor hanging garden, decorating your patio with stunning foliage, or using it as a seasonal accent plant. Thankfully, if you follow these tips, caring for your Boston fern can be very easy.

Remember that Boston ferns require indirect light and love humidity. But, they can also survive in a shady location and a few missed waterings, so they make a nice option for the forgetful gardener.

Do you have any tips for growing a Boston fern indoors or outdoors? Share in the comments below!