The Boston Fern is a green leafy plant that first got its name in 1894. The plant is native to South America, Central America, Florida and the West Indies. Although the fern is hard to grow and needs special care, it does make a beautiful table plant when it is smaller and a lovely hanging basket as it matures. The fern is also called a Sword Fern, or by its scientific name, Nephrolensis exalta.
Lighting and Temperature
Boston Fern grows best in temperatures between 60 and 75 degrees F. There should be bright light, but not direct sunlight. Filtered light with higher humidity will work the best. If the fern is kept outside for summer months, it must be protected from the direct effects of the sun and sheltered from the winds, which can burn the fronds (branches) and cause them to turn brown.
Keep the soil of the Sword Fern moist, but not wet during the spring and summer months. If the plant soil is constantly wet, the green leaves will turn a pale green color. During the fall and winter, the soil can dry slightly between waterings. However, mist the plant during this time to produce some humidity.
Fertilizing and Soil Cleaning
Fertilizer such as all purpose 10-10-10 plant food should be given every two weeks. During the winter months, cut feedings back to once a month. Twice a year, the plant should have a soil cleaning with two tablespoons of Epsom Salt mixed in with one gallon of water. Hang the plant in the shower or outside and pour the entire gallon of water into the soil, allowing the water to drain out the bottom.
The Boston Fern should have green foliage. If the leaves turn brown, remove the dead leaves or cut the branches down until there are green leaves. By removing the browning leaves and fronds (branches), the plant will fill in and grow quickly.