The Boston fern, also known as a sword fern or fishbone fern, is native to tropical forests and swamps but is now one the most common houseplants. The leaves of the plant are light green and have a feathery appearance. Boston ferns thrive in bright filtered sunlight and humid conditions. A fern that loses its leaves or becomes lifeless is most likely not being cared for properly.
Plant the Boston fern in a container filled with an organic potting soil mix that drains well. Place the Boston fern in a location that offers direct sunlight from an east or west window and a temperature that is 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
Mist the fern to increase the humidity levels once the temperature is above 70 degrees for extended periods of time. Place the fern on a tray filled with stones and water to increase the humidity around the plant during the hot summer and dry winter months.
Water the fern once the soil dries out to several inches. Ferns do not respond well to being over-watered or being placed in standing water. Monitor the moisture levels more frequently during the hot summer months as the soil will dry out more quickly.
Fertilize the Boston fern with a 15-5-15 fertilizer twice a month at the same time the plant is being watered. Ferns do not respond well to slow-release fertilizers. A fern that is not growing well may be over-fertilized.
Repot a Boston fern once the plant becomes root bound in the container. Pot the fern in a container that is 2 to 4 inches wider in diameter. Move the plant to the new container without disturbing the root ball.