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Plant of the Week: Boston Ferns

Nephrolepis exaltata 'Bostoniensis'

Plant of the Week: Boston Ferns

Boston Ferns are one of the most popular ferns grown. Graceful and elegant, this fern adds tons of texture and softens any room or garden it is applied to. They are forgiving, easily rejuvenated plants that are easy to grow. Here is how you can grow them indoors or outdoors. 


  • Dimensions: 2-3 feet tall and 3 feet wide
  • Growth Habit: Mounding and weeping, fast growing
  • Foliage: Evergreen (not going dormant during the winter in this case), long sword-like fronds that week
  • Blooms: Non-blooming
  • Hardiness: Can tolerate mild cold, should be brought indoor during freezing periods
  • Toxicity: Non-toxic to people and pets

Care Requirements: 

  • Light: Full shade or indirect light is best
  • Water: Water as needed during spring and summer, soil should stay damp to ensure humidity levels are sufficient. This need changes depending on if the fern is kept indoors or outdoors. DO NOT OVERWATER as root rot can occur.
  • Soil: Peat moss potting soils work best if potted, while still draining well
  • Fertilizer: Liquid fertilizers are fine to use every 2 weeks during the spring and summer. Granular fertilizers like Osomocote Indoor/Outdoor Plant Food work just as well and only needs to be applied every 3-4 months
  • Pruning: Dead or yellow frond can be removed selectively as needed. If the whole fern freezes, you can cut the whole plant back and see if it comes back (these are some tough plants!)


  • Can be used inside the home as a handing basket or as a potted plant draping from a fixture. Keep in a location where the fern will receive only indirect light. Bathrooms and kitchens are wonderful spaces indoors because the space naturally has a higher humidity level due to its use.
  • Boston Ferns can be grown in hanging baskets or in the ground or pots outdoors as well. Pick a shady area of the garden and watch them flourish! Dappled sun areas will work as well. Watch the fern for scorch (sunburn) and move accordingly until it adjusts to its new environment.

I grew up with Boston Ferns my mom kept them in the courtyard. It was a great spot for them since it faced east and they were under the eve of the roof. Each winter, we would have to go outside and cover the shrubs in the courtyard with old sheets and, of course, take the ferns inside. I didn't realize at the time how easy they were. With very little effort and care, you too can enjoy these beautiful ferns like I did and still do today.