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Care of Boston Fern Plants

By Willow Sidhe ; Updated September 21, 2017

The Boston fern plant, a perennial herbaceous native to North America, serves as a popular houseplant in the United States. Hardy outdoors in USDA Hardiness Zones 8 through 11 only, Boston ferns perform well in hanging baskets and containers throughout the rest of the country. Gardeners prize Boston ferns for their long, elegant fronds, low-maintenance and adaptability to household conditions. Boston ferns were widely used in Victorian times as an indoor decoration. While tolerant of low light, a Boston Fern plant requires moist, warm air and consistent care to thrive.

Keep Boston ferns in a location that receives partial shade throughout the day, such as a north- or east-facing window. Maintain a constant temperature of 60 to 70 degrees F year-round for the best results and keep away from drafts of cold air.

Increase relative humidity by misting Boston ferns twice each day. Use a spray bottle filled with lukewarm water to spray the plant in the early morning. Keep a humidifier running near the plant to further increase the humidity if necessary.

Water once every five to six days to keep the soil consistently moist, yet not soggy. Apply water directly to the soil to reduce the chance of disease. Decrease the frequency of watering to once every 10 days during winter.

Feed once every four to six weeks using an all-purpose houseplant fertilizer. Apply at the rate dictated by the manufacturer's instructions. Water both before and after applying the fertilizer to release the nutrients into the soil and prevent root injury.

Prune Boston ferns once every three to four months to increase the aesthetic appeal of the plant and encourage the formation of new fronds. Remove damaged or diseased fronds as needed, cutting off the foliage as close to the soil as possible.


Things You Will Need

  • Spray bottle
  • Humidifier
  • Houseplant fertilizer


  • Grow Boston fern outdoors in Hardiness Zones 8 through 11. Plant in a partially shaded location with moist soil, feed once per month and prune as necessary. Misting outdoor ferns is not required if the soil retains enough moisture.
  • Use distilled water to mist if possible, as Boston ferns are sensitive to impurities in tap water.
  • Browning leaves typically indicate a lack of humidity. Increase misting or use a humidifier as necessary until the plant recovers.

About the Author


Willow Sidhe is a freelance writer living in the beautiful Hot Springs, AR. She is a certified aromatherapist with a background in herbalism. She has extensive experience gardening, with a specialty in indoor plants and herbs. Sidhe's work has been published on numerous Web sites, including Gardenguides.com.