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How to Repot a Boston Fern

By Traci Joy ; Updated September 21, 2017
Boston fern
fern image by Lytse from Fotolia.com

A Boston fern is a popular houseplant with fronds that can grow 2 to 5 feet in length. Boston ferns are no-fuss plants, but before you know it they can become very bushy and outgrow the pot they are in. When this happens you will want to move the fern to a new pot to allow the roots to spread out. Re-potting Boston fern is a relatively straightforward process that requires little more than time.

Water your Boston fern well three to four days before re-potting it.

Put 2 inches of potting soil in the new pot and set it aside.

Lay out a sheet of newspaper where you will be working with your fern.

Take a long knife and run it down the pot, between the fern and the edge of the planter. This will help loosen the roots from the edge of the pot. To loosen the roots further, turn the pot onto its side and gently roll it back and forth.

Lift the Boston fern out of the pot and set it on the newspaper.

Take a sharp knife and score the sides of the root ball by slicing down it from top to bottom. Do this on four sides of the ball.

Place the Boston fern into the new pot, gently spreading and loosening the roots as you do.

Cover the roots with potting soil, and pack it down firmly. Continue filling the pot with soil until you cover the roots completely and are up to the crown of the plant.


Things You Will Need

  • New pot
  • Potting soil
  • Newspaper
  • Sharp knife


  • Instead of simply scoring the root ball in step 6, you can slice the root ball into up to three separate root balls and plant three new Boston ferns. If you choose to do this, you should cut all fronds back first.


  • Too much water can rot the Boston fern. Keep the soil evenly moist, but not wet.

About the Author


A certified nutritionist who majored in health, fitness and nutrition, Traci Vandermark has been writing articles in her specialty fields since 1998. Her articles have appeared both online and in print for publications such as Simple Abundance, "Catskill Country Magazine," "Birds and Blooms," "Cappers" and "Country Discoveries."