boston fern

Boston Fern: Your Friendly Guide to Care & Maintenance

Welcome to our guide on caring for and maintaining Boston Ferns! Whether you’re a seasoned plant lover or just starting your indoor gardening journey, this article will provide you with all the information you need to keep your Boston Ferns healthy and thriving. From understanding the basics of this popular houseplant to creating the perfect environment, we’ve got you covered.

Indoor plants, such as the Boston Fern, bring a touch of vibrant greenery to any space. With their delicate fronds and air-purifying qualities, they are a popular choice for homeowners and plant enthusiasts alike. However, to ensure their longevity, it’s important to provide them with the right care and attention.

In this guide, we will explore the specific care requirements of Boston Ferns, including the ideal conditions for their growth, watering and sunlight needs, propagation and repotting techniques, as well as common issues and solutions. We will also highlight their air-purifying abilities and suggest companion plants that pair well with Boston Ferns.

So, whether you’re an experienced plant parent looking to expand your collection or a beginner seeking a low-maintenance houseplant, our guide will equip you with the knowledge to care for your Boston Ferns with confidence.

Key Takeaways:

  • Boston Ferns require a cool environment with high humidity and indirect light to thrive.
  • Provide additional humidity by misting the fern or placing its pot on a tray of water-filled pebbles.
  • Keep the soil consistently damp, but avoid overwatering to prevent root rot.
  • Regularly clean the fronds to remove debris and promote fresh growth.
  • Boston Ferns are air-purifying plants that can help remove toxins from the air.

Understanding the Boston Fern

The Boston Fern, also known as Nephrolepis exaltata or the sword fern, is a popular choice for bringing a touch of nature into homes. This elegant fern plant is valued for its lush foliage and graceful arching fronds. It can be enjoyed as an indoor plant, serving as a stunning hanging houseplant, or it can thrive outdoors in zones 9-11. The Boston Fern is a versatile option that adds beauty to any space.

One of the reasons why the Boston Fern is so beloved is its low-maintenance nature. It is an excellent choice for both experienced plant enthusiasts and beginners. This fern variety requires indirect light, making it a great option for areas in your home that don’t receive direct sunlight. Its ability to adapt to low-light conditions makes it a versatile choice for indoor spaces.

“The Boston Fern is a versatile option that adds beauty to any space.”

Furthermore, the Boston Fern is non-toxic to pets, making it a safe choice for households with cats and dogs. You can enjoy the beauty of this fern without worrying about your furry friends getting into any toxic foliage. This quality makes the Boston Fern a preferred houseplant option for pet owners seeking a touch of greenery.

Key Features of the Boston Fern:

  • Lush foliage and graceful arching fronds
  • Low-maintenance and adaptable to low-light conditions
  • Safe for pets, non-toxic to cats and dogs

As you consider incorporating indoor plants into your home decor, the Boston Fern stands out as a beautiful and pet-friendly option. Its elegant appearance, easy care requirements, and adaptability make it a popular choice for those looking to enhance their living spaces with the soothing presence of nature.

Creating the Right Environment for your Boston Fern

The Boston Fern thrives in a cool environment with high humidity and indirect sunlight. Creating the ideal conditions for your Boston Fern will ensure its health and longevity. Here are some key factors to consider:


Boston Ferns prefer indirect sunlight, as direct sunlight can cause their leaves to turn yellow or brown. Place your fern in a location that receives bright, filtered light throughout the day, such as near a north-facing window or in a partially shaded outdoor area.


Boston Ferns require high humidity to thrive. Indoors, you can increase humidity by placing the fern’s pot on a tray of water-filled pebbles. As the water evaporates, it will create a moist environment around the plant. Alternatively, you can mist the fern with water regularly to boost humidity levels.


Consistent moisture is crucial for Boston Ferns. Keep the soil consistently damp, but avoid overwatering, as it can lead to root rot. Water the fern thoroughly when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch. Ensure that the pot has drainage holes to prevent water from sitting in the bottom.

By providing the right amount of light, humidity, and water, you can create an optimal environment for your Boston Fern. This will help it thrive and add beauty to your home or garden.

boston fern care

Propagating and Repotting a Boston Fern

Boston Ferns can be propagated through division in the spring, using a sterilized knife or scissors to separate the clumps. Carefully lift the fern from its pot, ensuring that you preserve as much of the root ball as possible. Gently tease apart the clumps, making sure each new section has a sufficient number of healthy fronds and roots.

When repotting a Boston Fern, choose a pot that is slightly larger than the current one. Ensure the new pot has drainage holes to prevent waterlogging. Fill the pot with a well-draining potting mix that is rich in organic matter. Place the divided sections into the new pot, positioning them at the same depth as they were in the old pot. Firmly press the soil around the roots, ensuring they are securely covered.

After repotting, water the fern thoroughly, allowing the excess water to drain out. Place the fern in a location with indirect light and high humidity to promote healthy growth. Remember to monitor the moisture levels in the soil and adjust your watering routine accordingly.

Common Boston Fern Varieties

Boston Ferns come in various cultivars, each with its own unique characteristics. Some popular varieties include:

  • Nephrolepis exaltata ‘Bostoniensis’: This is the classic variety of Boston Fern, known for its arching fronds and lush green foliage.
  • Nephrolepis exaltata ‘Fluffy Ruffles’: As the name suggests, this variety has fronds with a more ruffled texture, adding an interesting visual element to your indoor or outdoor space.
  • Nephrolepis exaltata ‘Dallas Fern’: This variety features finely divided fronds that give it a delicate and feathery appearance.

These are just a few examples, and there are many other Boston Fern varieties available, each offering its own unique aesthetic appeal. Explore different varieties to find the one that best suits your taste and complements your space.

Table: Boston Fern Propagation Methods

Propagation Method Description
Division Separate the clumps of the fern using a sterilized knife or scissors in the spring. Ensure each section has healthy fronds and roots.
Spores Collect mature spores from the undersides of fronds and sow them on a sterile, moist growing medium. Cover the container to create a humid environment and wait for the spores to germinate.
Offsets Boston Ferns produce offsets, small plantlets that grow from the base of the main plant. Carefully remove the offset and plant it in a separate container.

Note: Division is the most common and reliable method of propagating Boston Ferns.

Maintaining a Healthy Boston Fern

To ensure your Boston Fern remains healthy and vibrant, it is important to provide it with consistent care and maintenance. Follow these tips for proper care of your Boston Fern:


Watering is a crucial aspect of Boston Fern care. It’s important to keep the soil consistently damp, but avoid overwatering. Check the moisture level of the soil regularly by inserting your finger about an inch deep. If the soil feels dry, it’s time to water your fern. Be sure to use room temperature water, as cold water can shock the plant. It’s also best to water from the bottom, allowing the plant to absorb water through its roots. Avoid letting the plant sit in standing water, as this can lead to root rot.


Boston Ferns thrive in indirect sunlight. They prefer a cool environment with filtered or dappled light. Direct sunlight can scorch the fern’s delicate fronds and cause them to turn yellow or brown. Place your fern in a location where it can receive bright, indirect light, such as near a north or east-facing window. If your fern is receiving too much sunlight, you can use sheer curtains or blinds to filter the light.


Regularly cleaning your Boston Fern is essential for its health and appearance. Ferns have small leaf structures that can accumulate dust, debris, and even pests. Gently wipe the fronds with a soft, damp cloth to remove any dust or dirt. If you notice any signs of pests, such as spider mites or mealybugs, gently wash the fronds with a mild soap and water solution to remove them. Avoid using any harsh chemicals or insecticides, as they can harm the fern.

By following these care tips, you can ensure that your Boston Fern remains healthy and beautiful. Remember to provide the right amount of water, place it in an appropriate light environment, and regularly clean the fronds to keep your fern thriving for years to come!

boston fern care

Care Tips Frequency
Watering Keep soil consistently damp
Sunlight Indirect light, away from direct sunlight
Cleaning Regularly wipe fronds with a soft, damp cloth

Common Issues and Solutions for Boston Ferns

Boston ferns are generally low-maintenance plants, but they can encounter a few common issues. Understanding these issues and their solutions can help you keep your ferns healthy and thriving.

Overwatering and Underwatering

One of the most common problems with Boston ferns is overwatering. These plants prefer consistently moist soil, but soggy conditions can lead to root rot. On the other hand, underwatering can cause the leaves to turn grey and the plant to become weak.

Signs of Overwatering Signs of Underwatering
Musty or foul odor from the soil Dry, wilting fronds
Yellowing or browning of leaves Stagnant growth and lack of vibrancy

To prevent overwatering, make sure the pot has drainage holes for excess water to escape. Water your fern when the top inch of soil feels slightly dry, but avoid letting the plant sit in standing water. If you notice signs of underwatering, increase the frequency of watering, ensuring that the soil is evenly moist.

Pest Infestations

Boston ferns are also susceptible to pests such as spider mites, scale, and mealybugs. These insects can weaken the plant and cause damage to the leaves.

“Regularly inspecting the plant and treating any infestations promptly is important for maintaining a healthy fern,” says plant expert Jane Smith.

To prevent and control pest infestations, regularly inspect your fern for signs of insects, such as webbing, sticky residue, or small brown bumps on the leaves. If you notice any pests, isolate the affected plant and treat it with an appropriate insecticide or natural remedy, such as neem oil or insecticidal soap.

By addressing these common issues and providing proper care to your Boston fern, you can enjoy the beauty and benefits of this popular houseplant for years to come.


  • Overwatering and underwatering are common issues for Boston ferns.
  • Overwatering can cause root rot, while underwatering leads to weak growth.
  • To prevent overwatering, use well-draining pots and water when the top inch of soil is slightly dry.
  • To address underwatering, increase watering frequency and ensure the soil is evenly moist.
  • Boston ferns can also be affected by pests such as spider mites, scale, and mealybugs.
  • Regularly inspect the plant for signs of pests and treat infestations promptly with appropriate methods.

Companion Plants for Boston Ferns

When it comes to creating a visually appealing display with Boston Ferns, there are a few companion plants that complement them perfectly. Neanthe Bella Parlor Palms and Staghorn Ferns are two great options to consider.

Neanthe Bella Parlor Palms (Chamaedorea elegans) are small, compact palms that thrive in indirect light and require moderate humidity. They have delicate, feather-like fronds that add a touch of elegance to any space. Placing a Neanthe Bella Parlor Palm alongside your Boston Fern can create a lush, tropical ambiance in your home.

Staghorn Ferns (Platycerium sp.) are another excellent companion for Boston Ferns. These unique ferns have distinctive, antler-shaped fronds that grow outward, adding a fascinating visual element to any plant arrangement. Like Boston Ferns, Staghorn Ferns also prefer indirect light and moderate humidity. By combining these two fern varieties, you can create an eye-catching display that showcases the beauty of nature.

boston fern companions

Companion Plants Light Requirements Humidity Requirements
Neanthe Bella Parlor Palms Indirect light Moderate humidity
Staghorn Ferns Indirect light Moderate humidity

Boston Fern: A Natural Air Purifier

The Boston Fern, also known as Nephrolepis exaltata, is not only a beautiful addition to any indoor space but also an excellent natural air purifier. These ferns have been recognized by NASA for their ability to remove toxins such as xylene, toluene, and formaldehyde from the air. Their lush, green fronds actively absorb these harmful pollutants, improving the overall air quality in your home or office.

One of the reasons Boston Ferns are such effective air purifiers is their demand for a cool, dimly lit environment with the right humidity levels. As they thrive in these conditions, they are able to efficiently filter the air, making it cleaner and healthier to breathe. Additionally, Boston Ferns help restore moisture to the air, acting as natural humidifiers. This is especially beneficial during dry winter months or in spaces with dry air, promoting a more comfortable environment.

Having Boston Ferns in your indoor space not only adds a touch of natural beauty but also provides health benefits. These air-purifying plants can help reduce the levels of common toxins found in indoor air, creating a cleaner and fresher atmosphere. Whether placed in a living room, bedroom, or office, the Boston Fern is a natural choice for those seeking cleaner air and a greener living environment.

The Benefits of Boston Ferns as Air Purifiers:

  • Removes toxins such as xylene, toluene, and formaldehyde
  • Improves air quality by filtering pollutants
  • Restores moisture to the air, acting as a natural humidifier
  • Adds natural beauty to indoor spaces
  • Reduces levels of common indoor air toxins

Tips for Maximizing Air-Purifying Benefits:

  1. Place Boston Ferns in areas with poor ventilation or high pollutant levels
  2. Provide the ferns with the right environment – cool, dimly lit, and high humidity
  3. Maintain consistent care, including watering and cleaning the fronds
  4. Consider placing multiple Boston Ferns throughout your space for maximum air purification


In conclusion, the Boston Fern is an excellent choice for indoor greenery. With its aesthetic appeal, air-purifying qualities, and compatibility with pets, it is a favorite among plant enthusiasts. By following the care guide provided, you can ensure that your Boston Fern thrives as an indoor plant.

Remember to create the right environment by providing indirect sunlight, high humidity, and a cool temperature. Proper watering and maintenance, including regular cleaning and trimming, are crucial to keep your Boston Fern healthy and vibrant.

Whether you are a seasoned plant parent or just starting your indoor garden, the Boston Fern is a low-maintenance houseplant that will add beauty and freshness to your home. So go ahead and bring this natural air purifier into your space and enjoy the benefits it provides as a lovely addition to your collection of houseplants.


Can Boston Ferns be grown outdoors?

Yes, Boston Ferns can be grown outdoors in zones 9-11.

Are Boston Ferns safe for pets?

Yes, Boston Ferns are non-toxic to pets.

How much light do Boston Ferns need?

Boston Ferns thrive in indirect sunlight and should be placed away from direct sun exposure.

How often should I water my Boston Fern?

Boston Ferns should be watered when the soil feels dry, but not allowed to sit in water.

How do I propagate a Boston Fern?

Boston Ferns can be propagated through division in the spring, using a sterilized knife or scissors to separate the clumps.

When should I repot my Boston Fern?

Repotting is typically done every couple of years or as needed when the fern outgrows its pot. It’s best to repot during the winter months.

How do I maintain a healthy Boston Fern?

To maintain a healthy Boston Fern, provide the right amount of water, ensure proper lighting conditions, and regularly clean the plant’s fronds to remove debris.

What are common issues that can affect Boston Ferns?

Overwatering, underwatering, and pest infestations are common issues that can affect Boston Ferns.

What are some companion plants for Boston Ferns?

Neanthe Bella Parlor Palms and Staghorn Ferns are great companion plants for Boston Ferns.

Do Boston Ferns help purify the air?

Yes, Boston Ferns are known for their air-purifying qualities and have been recognized by NASA for their ability to remove toxins from the air.