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How to Care for a Hanging Boston Fern

green fern image by yurik from

The Boston fern (Nephrolepis exaltata), also referred to as "sword fern", has been a popular houseplant since Victorian times. These lush, tropical perennials are the perfect choice for hanging baskets, whether gracing a front porch or a living room window. They do well outdoors during warm weather, but if the temperature in your area dips below freezing, they will need to be moved indoors before winter's arrival. They aren't very fussy plants, but they do require regular care in order to look their best.

Choose the right location to hang your Boston fern. These plants do best when they receive partial sun the majority of the day. If grown indoors, a north facing window works well. If you are placing the fern outside for the summer choose a protected area such as a porch or patio and keep the plant out of direct sunlight.

Water whenever the soil feels dry to the touch. Add water at soil level taking care not to let the water pour over the fronds, as this can encourage fungal disease. Boston ferns require a lot of humidity, so unless your climate is exceptionally damp you will need to mist the plant twice daily with a spray bottle.

Fertilize once each month with a 10-10-10 fertilizer mixed at half the strength that is recommended on the package.

Remove brown or damaged fronds regularly with pruning shears, cutting as close to the soil level as you can.

Bring your Boston fern inside before the first frost is expected in your area. Water only when the soil begins to feel very dry during the winter months. The fern can be placed back outdoors in spring after all danger of frost has passed,


Boston ferns do well in clay pots.

Boston ferns shed leaves freely, so be sure to place the pot in a place that can be conveniently swept.

Turn the hanging pot weekly to prevent the fern from being "drawn" in one direction toward the sun.

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