What to Do With Potted Boston Fern Plants in Indiana in the Winter?


Boston fern (Nephrolepis exalta) is common houseplant used since the Victorian days to adorn a front porch or back patio through the summer. With its lush green leaves and bushy shape, a Boston fern needs little more than a consistent water supply and a pot that drains. Because of the fern's inexpensive price, most people don't think twice of hefting it to the trash can come the cold Midwest frost. But these ferns can easily be moved inside to add new texture to any room during an Indiana winter and returned to the porch come spring.

Step 1

Move ferns indoors after the nights regularly start to dip below 60 degrees F.

Step 2

Fill a saucer that is slightly larger in circumference than your pot with small rocks or gravel.

Step 3

Place your fern container on top of the rocks, maneuvering it until it sits evenly. Do not block the pot's drainage holes. Boston ferns cannot handle wet roots and will begin to rot.

Step 4

Water carefully through the pot until the rock container is full. Check regularly to be sure that the container has water. As this water evaporates, it helps to raise the humidity around the fern.

Step 5

Place your pot in a room with indirect sunlight away from drafts. Ferns are subtropic plants that need a room temperature of around 70 degrees.

Step 6

Mist the whole plant regularly with a water bottle to help with humidity. Keep away from direct heat sources as these can dry out your plant.

Step 7

Replant fern into larger pot in spring before moving outside again. Pull the plant gently from the pot and place in the center of the larger pot. Add new potting soil by handfuls until soil covers to the crown. Water heavily in the sink or outside to move the soil down over the roots and remove any air pockets. Add more soil as needed.

Things You'll Need

  • Container saucer
  • Small rocks or gravel
  • Spray bottle


  • Purdue University Extension: Ferns for Indoors
  • Plant Care: Boston Ferns

Who Can Help

  • Florida Forest Plants: Boston Ferns
Keywords: winterize ferns, indoor plants, growing ferns in the Midwest

About this Author

Bobbi Keffer attended Kent State University, studying education but soon found her true love to be in the garden. She prides herself on her frugal skills, re-using, recycling, and re-inventing her whimsical style in her home and garden.