How to Pot a Boston Fern


A chief requirement of the Boston fern (Nephrolepis exaltata) is temperature. Because Boston ferns prefer temperatures at or around 60 degrees F, it is important to keep them away from heater vents, kitchens and any room that has a tendency to become warm. They enjoy bright light as well, so the balancing act between affording them the proper temperature and light may be a challenge when you first bring your Boston fern home. Placing any plant in a new pot is stressful for the plant. It should be done as quickly and gently as possible.

Step 1

Remove the Boston fern from its current pot. Gently loosen the roots with your fingers, allowing the old soil to fall from them. Clip off any dead fronds.

Step 2

Make three to four vertical slices, 1/2 inch deep, into the root ball. This should only be done if the root ball is particularly thick and dense. If you are able to loosen the roots significantly you will not need to make these cuts.

Step 3

Pour the potting mix into a bucket and water it well, using a stick or spoon to stir in the water. The soil should be very moist.

Step 4

Pour enough potting soil into the new pot so that the Boston fern will sit at the same level it did in the old planter.

Step 5

Place the fern in the new pot and pack the soil around the roots. Finish by filling the pot with soil to within 1 inch of the rim.

Step 6

Water the Boston fern well, allowing the excess water to drain from the pot.

Step 7

Place the fern in a cool, shady area until it becomes established in the new pot. You will know this has occurred when you see new growth. High humidity is important at this point, so mist the plant several times a day.

Step 8

Water the plant to maintain a moist, not soggy, soil.

Things You'll Need

  • Potting soil
  • Plant misting bottle


  • Alabama Cooperative Extension: Greenhouse Production of Boston Ferns
  • The Garden Helper: How to Grow and Care For Boston Ferns
Keywords: pot a Boston fern, transplant a Boston fern, transplanting house plants

About this Author

Victoria Hunter, a former broadcaster and real estate agent, has provided audio and written services to both small businesses and large corporations, worldwide. Hunter is a freelance writer specializing in the real estate industry. She devotes her spare time to her other passions: gardening and cooking. Hunter holds a Bachelor of Arts in English/creative writing.