How to care for Boston ferns

Boston ferns

Boston ferns are one of the most attractive and admired foliage plants. They are often seen on shady porches during the spring and summer months. Many people shy away from the Boston fern because of the attention these plants require to remain green and healthy. With proper lighting, humidity, nutrients, and care the Boston fern can be a spectacular addition to your home.

The website “Bachman’s Information Sheets”, in the publication entitled “Boston-type Ferns”, written by Margaret Purcell and published by Bachman’s Inc., provides some history on the Boston fern. It says that Boston ferns are tropical plants that were shipped to Boston for the first time in 1894. According to the website publication entitled “Boston Fern Production Guide”, written by R.W. Henley, L.S.

Osborne, A.R. Chase, and published by the Central Florida Research and Education Center, the Boston fern was grown commercially for the first time in the state of Florida in 1914. It says the Boston fern, which is also known as the sword fern, comes from the “Nephrolepis” species. The most popular species cultivated in America is “Nephrolepis exaltata”. The same article says there are many varieties of ferns that are considered a Boston fern.

“Boston Fern Production Guide” describes several varieties of the Boston fern which are grown in Florida. The first is a small variety called “Dallas”. This Boston fern is described as having short leaves (fronds) which grow and spread quite rapidly. This miniature Boston fern is a great choice for a dish garden, terrarium, or as a hanging plant.

Next is the “Bostoniensis” which is a large variety that has long, elegantly curved fronds. This variety originates from a shipment that contained some of the very first Boston ferns sent from Florida. They look beautiful in hanging baskets or in plant stands.

“Bostoniensis Compacta” is a well-favored, medium-size variety. This Boston fern is described as having dense fronds that are shorter than other varieties. This variety looks beautiful in a plant stand or as a hanging plant.

“Fluffy Duffy” is described by “Boston Fern Production Guide” as a lacy-textured, small variety that boasts wide, overlapping fronds. This variety, although diversified, is harder to grow and has a tendency to develop a disease of the foliage called “Rhizoctonia”. This particular Boston fern is a good variety to grow outdoors in a plant stand, on a table, or in a hanging basket.

Lastly is a medium-size Boston fern called “Florida Ruffle”. This plant is described as having wide based fronds that stand quite rigid. This variety does very well outdoors in plant stands, on tables, or in hanging baskets.

“Boston-type Ferns” says the Boston fern requires indirect or diffused lighting. In locations where there is not enough natural light, a grow light can be used. The website “Gardening With the Garden Helper” in the article entitled “BIG Boston Fern”, which was published by “The Garden Helper”, says a Boston fern growing under artificial or natural light requires from twelve to sixteen hours of light each day.

During active growth, “Boston-type Ferns” says these plants should be watered on a regular basis in order for the soil to remain moist. Distilled water is preferred over tap water because tap water often contains harmful chlorine. It is recommended that the Boston fern is allowed to become dry between times of watering in fall and winter months. “BIG Boston Fern” recommends setting a potted fern in a basin of water so it can soak up the moisture naturally.

Maintaining proper levels of temperature and humidity are necessary for the successful growth of the Boston fern. “BIG Boston Fern” states that Boston ferns like cool locations with lots of humidity. If the air in your home is too dry, operating a humidifier will greatly increase the humidity level. The same article says that misting your Boston fern each day will also provide much-needed humidity. When the leaves and fronds of the Boston fern become dry and brown, they should be removed in order to maintain an attractive appearance says “Boston-type Ferns”.

Water-soluble plant food applied once every two weeks during the warmer months is recommended by “Boston-type Ferns”. During winter, it says fertilizer should be applied monthly. To help achieve a rich, green color, the Boston fern can be given a mixture of two tablespoons of Epsom salts per gallon of water. The same article says this mixture can be applied two times per year.

Boston ferns add a great deal of character and charm to a home. Any style of residence can be enhanced with the beauty of a Boston fern. The Boston fern can add warmth and grace to a stately Victorian mansion or even a humble log cabin. It is no wonder why the Boston fern has been a favorite foliage plant for over a century.

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