Boston Fern Care

The Boston fern, known for its lush and feathery fronds, is a popular houseplant that thrives in indoor environments. Proper care is essential to maintain its beauty and health. In this article, you’ll learn how to nurture your Boston fern so it can flourish, bringing a touch of nature’s elegance into your home.

Scientific Classification

When you talk about the scientific classification of a plant, you’re listing the groups it belongs to. Think of it like sorting your clothes. You place your socks in one drawer, shirts in another. Scientists sort plants and animals in a similar way. This helps them study and talk about living things. The Boston Fern is sorted like this:

  • Kingdom: Plantae
  • Division: Pteridophyta
  • Class: Polypodiopsida
  • Order: Polypodiales
  • Family: Nephrolepidaceae
  • Genus: Nephrolepis
  • Species: N. exaltata


Boston Ferns need just the right amount of light to thrive. They enjoy bright, but not direct, sunlight. Picture a spot in your home that’s like a shady day outside. That’s the kind of light they love. Putting them in direct sunlight can harm their leaves. Yet, too little light makes their growth slow down. Aim for a place that gets plenty of light, without those harsh sunbeams touching the ferns directly. If you notice the leaves turning yellow or getting crispy, it might mean too much sun. If the fern seems slow to grow or has sparse fronds, it might be too dark. Find a happy medium, and your Boston Fern will be happy too.


When caring for your Boston Fern, water plays a vital role. This plant likes its soil to stay moist but not soggy. Imagine the soil as a wrung-out sponge – it should feel damp to the touch. To strike the right balance, water your fern when the top inch of soil feels dry. Depending on your home’s environment, this might mean watering it once or twice a week. It’s important to pour the water evenly around the plant until it starts to drain out the bottom. This method ensures the roots get enough water without drowning them. If the leaves start turning yellow or the soil stays wet for too long, you’re probably giving it too much water. On the other hand, if the soil dries out completely, the fronds may wither and brown. Therefore, keep a close watch on the soil’s moisture to keep your Boston Fern thriving.


The soil you use for a Boston Fern is important. Think of soil as the home where your fern’s roots live. You want this home to be comfy and have everything the roots need. The best soil for your Boston Fern should be rich and well-draining. This means it should hold nutrients to feed your plant but also allow water to flow through easily. You don’t want the roots to sit in water, because this can cause them to rot. A mix of peat, sand, and loamy garden soil usually works well. Peat helps to hold moisture, while sand allows excess water to drain. Together, they create an environment that keeps your fern happy and healthy. Make sure to keep the soil lightly moist but not soggy. By doing this, you give your Boston Fern a good foundation to grow.


The Boston Fern likes to live in cool places but not cold. Think of a spring morning, that’s the kind of warmth it enjoys. It’s happy when the air around it stays between 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit during the day. At night, it prefers it a little cooler, but not below 50 degrees. If it gets too cold, like when frost bites, the fern might get hurt and start to look unhappy. If your house gets chilly in the winter, keep your fern away from drafty windows. Place it in a spot where it doesn’t get too hot or too cold. This will keep your fern feeling just right.


Humidity is the amount of water vapor in the air. It’s like invisible mist that can make the air feel damp. Your Boston Fern loves humidity—it thrives in it. In fact, it does best in conditions that mimic its natural tropical habitat. If the air is dry, your plant might get brown tips on the leaves or start to look sad. But, you can easily keep it happy by increasing the moisture around it. You can mist the leaves with water from a spray bottle or set the pot on a tray filled with pebbles and some water. By doing this, you create a little bubble of moisture for your fern, so it can feel right at home. Remember, your Boston Fern doesn’t want to sit in water; it just enjoys the air around it to be moist.


Fertilizer is like vitamins for your Boston Fern. It helps your plant grow healthy and strong. You should feed your fern with a balanced, liquid fertilizer. This is the kind you mix with water. It’s important not to overdo it. Too much can harm your fern. Use the fertilizer about once a month, but only during the growing season. This is usually from April to September. Remember, in the winter, your fern doesn’t grow much. So, it doesn’t need fertilizer then. Stick to this simple feeding schedule, and you’ll keep your Boston Fern thriving.

Size & Growth Rate

The Boston Fern is a plant that can grow quite large. If you take good care of it, it can reach a size of up to 3 feet tall and wide. Its leaves, or fronds, are long and graceful, and they can grow to be about 4 to 5 feet long. This fern grows at a medium rate, which means it doesn’t grow too fast or too slow. In a year, it might grow a few inches, but the growth will spread out over the whole year. The Boston Fern will grow best if you give it the right care, like the proper light, water, and humidity. So, if you are patient and take good care of your fern, you will see it get bigger and fuller with time.

Common Issues

Boston Ferns, like all plants, can run into some problems. You might see brown leaves or sections where the plant looks dry. This often happens if the air around the plant is too dry. Sometimes, if the lighting isn’t right or the water is too much or too little, the leaves can turn yellow. Pests can also be troublemakers. Small bugs like spider mites and mealybugs may try to live on your Boston Fern. These pests suck on the plant’s juices, which can weaken or even kill the fern. To keep your fern healthy, check its leaves for these common issues. By spotting problems early, you can take steps to fix them. This helps ensure that your Boston Fern stays green and vibrant.


When you care for a Boston fern, you should know about toxicity. This term talks about whether a plant is poisonous to people or pets. Lucky for you, the Boston fern is not toxic. That means it is safe to have in your home, even with curious cats or dogs that might nibble on leaves. However, some people can still be allergic to plants or get skin irritation, so it’s always good to wash your hands after handling any plant. With the Boston fern, you don’t have to worry about making your loved ones sick, making it a great choice for a household plant.

Pro Tips

Taking care of a Boston Fern isn’t just about the essentials like light and water. Think about these extra tips to make your plant thrive:

  • Prune regularly: Cut off any brown or dead fronds to keep your plant looking fresh.
  • Choose the right pot: A pot with drainage holes will help prevent overwatering.
  • Be gentle: When you handle your Boston Fern, do it softly to avoid damage.
  • Keep it clean: Dust the leaves occasionally for the plant to breathe and absorb light better.
  • Repot as needed: Every couple of years, give your fern a new home with fresh soil to encourage growth.
  • Stay watchful: Look out for signs of pests or diseases, and act fast if you spot any problems.
  • Learn from experience: Notice how your fern reacts to care, and adjust your routine as needed.
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