Boston ferns care guide. How to take care of Boston ferns

Boston ferns are the large, inexpensive ferns often sold in hanging baskets in the spring. Many people buy them to hang on a porch or patio in summer
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Boston ferns care guide. How to take care of Boston ferns

Boston ferns (commonly called sword fern) are the large, inexpensive ferns often sold in hanging baskets in the spring. Many people buy them to hang on a porch or patio in summer. Boston ferns are descended from a mutation that turned up growing in a parlor in Boston around 1890.

Fern-facts

How long does Boston ferns lives?

With proper care, Boston ferns can live up to 2 years or so when growing in containers. Indefinitely when propagated by division. The fronds may grow from 12–36 in/30–90 cm long, depending on selection and growing conditions.

Boston ferns are the large, inexpensive ferns often sold in hanging baskets in the spring. Many people buy them to hang on a porch or patio in summer
Boston ferns are the large, inexpensive ferns often sold in hanging baskets in the spring. Many people buy them to hang on a porch or patio in summer

What are the benefits of Boston ferns?

Besides the obvious benefit of providing aesthetic pleasure that soothes your soul, Boston ferns increase humidity thus makes the air more pure and fresh.

These plants are very useful in removing harmful particles from the environment. According to this classic NASA study, Boston ferns are very effective in remove formaldehyde from the air

Boston ferns very effective in removing formaldehyde from the air according to NASA Clean Air study

Here is a comprehensive list of major air pollutants removed by Boston fern:

  • Formaldehyde: emits from cooking, smoking, cosmetics, paints activity, indoor wooden furniture with formaldehyde resin paints
  • Xylene: comes from petroleum products, paint, wooden furniture. A high level of xylene can cause sick building syndrome.
  • Toluene: from gasoline, solvents in paints, plastic and soda bottles, paint cosmetics, and other organic chemicals

Exposure to indoor airs with these toxic particles can cause immune system disorders, neurological problems, chronic fatigue syndrome, multiple chemical sensitivities, allergies, and hormonal disturbances point to environmental factors. By reducing the level of toxicity in the air, Boston ferns can help to safeguard your family.

Boston ferns are descended from a mutation that turned up growing in a parlor in Boston around 1890
Boston ferns are descended from a mutation that turned up growing in a parlor in Boston around 1890

How to propagate Boston ferns

5 steps to propagate Boston ferns. And common mistakes to avoid

There are other methods of propagation by using ferns runner or using pores. But propagating by division is by far the easiest and most efficient way

The easiest and most popular method is to divide clumps, preferably in spring. New plants grow from the outside of the parent clump. These can be cut away and replanted, or you can allow the plants to develop into a larger mass and then cut them into smaller clumps before replanting them.

The easiest propagation method is to divide Boston ferns’ clumps in Spring

Step by step guide

  • Before propagating the plant, let the soil to dry out a little bit
  • Digging out your fern, and remove it from the container
  • Use a sharp knife to cut the root ball in half and then in a quarter. If your plant is big enough, you can cut it into a smaller chunk of 1/8 of the original root ball
  • Prepare a 4-5 inches pot with a drainage hole. Cover the hole with a rock or a piece of broken pot. Put the chunks into smaller and fill the pot with well-drained soil.
  • Water the pot thoroughly for the root to settle in, and let the exceeds water to come out
The easiest propagation method is to divide Boston ferns' clumps in Spring

Checklist for a successful propagation

  • Each smaller clumps should have a section of healthy root
  • Give the new clumps good condition: with warmth and plenty of humidity
  • Do not overwater the poor plant. Keep the soil moist but not too soggy
  • In the first several days, some fronds can wilt and loose leaves. You can cut it to the base of the plant

There are other methods of propagation by using ferns runner or using pores. But propagating by division is by far the easiest and most efficient way

Boston ferns specification

Light: Filtered light from a south or west window.

Temperature: Indoors: At night, below 60°F/16°C; during the day, about 70°F/21°C. Outdoors: Adapts to a range of 60–70°F/16–21°C nights and 80–85°F/27–29°C days.

Water: Constant light moisture. In warm summer weather, large baskets often need to be rehydrated

Soil: Half-and-half mixture of peat moss and potting soil.

Repotting: Annually, in late spring or early summer.

Fertilizer: Year-round, feed every 2 weeks with a balanced houseplant food mixed at half the normal strength.

Longevity: 2 years or so; indefinitely when propagated by division.

Propagation: Division of clumps, preferably in spring.

Display tips: Hanging baskets are the ideal way to grow Boston ferns.

Boston ferns varieties

Numerous of Boston Ferns cultivars are available:

  • Compacta: grows to only 18 in/45 cm tall and 30 in/75 cm wide.
  • Bostoniensis: is larger, with long cascading fronds that may reach 36 in/90 cm in length.
  • Fluffy Ruffles: is stiffly upright.
Boston fern compacta grows to only 18 in/45 cm tall and 30 in/75 cm wide
Boston fern compacta grow to only 18 in/45 cm tall and 30 in/75 cm wide
Fluffy Ruffles is stiffly upright
Boston Fern Fluffy Ruffles is stiffly upright

Boston Fern care

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