How To Grow & Care For Boston Fern

Boston Fern

The Boston Fern, a lush and graceful fern with bright green fronds, is a popular choice among houseplant enthusiasts. Known for its air-purifying properties and elegant appearance, the Boston Fern is often found adorning homes, patios, and offices.

Native to the tropical and subtropical rainforests, the Boston Fern is an adaptable species that can thrive indoors with the right care. The cascading fronds create an enchanting effect, and its ability to remove toxins like formaldehyde from the air adds to its appeal as an indoor plant.

The Boston Fern, scientifically known as Nephrolepis exaltata ‘Bostoniensis,’ is a member of the Lomariopsidaceae family. Its fronds can grow up to 3 feet long, and it’s known for being relatively easy to care for, provided it’s given consistent moisture and the right light conditions.

Common NamesBoston Fern, Sword Fern
Botanical NameNephrolepis exaltata ‘Bostoniensis’
Plant TypeFern
Mature Size2-3 feet tall and wide
Sun ExposureIndirect, bright light
Soil TypeRich, well-drained, peaty soil
Hardiness Zones10-12
Native AreaTropical regions

Boston Fern Care

Caring for the Boston Fern requires attention to several key aspects including light, water, humidity, and soil conditions. It thrives in bright but indirect sunlight, appreciates a humid environment, and requires consistently moist soil.

Being native to rainforests, the Boston Fern loves a tropical setting. Providing it with a humid atmosphere, regular misting, and placing it in a well-lit spot away from direct sunlight can ensure a healthy and thriving plant. Overly dry or drafty conditions can cause frond tips to turn brown, which is often a signal that the plant’s needs are not being met.

Light Requirement for Boston Fern

Boston Fern prefers bright, indirect light. A spot near a north or east-facing window is ideal. Too much direct sunlight can scorch the fronds, while too little light may cause weak growth and poor color.

Soil Requirements for Boston Fern

The soil for a Boston Fern should be rich, well-drained, and slightly acidic. A mix of peat, sand, and garden soil creates an ideal environment. The soil must retain moisture but not become soggy, which can lead to root rot.

Water Requirements for Boston Fern

Boston Ferns require consistent moisture. The soil should be kept damp, especially in the growing season, but not waterlogged. In winter, watering can be reduced. A lack of water can lead to dried and brown frond tips.

Temperature and Humidity

Boston Ferns thrive in temperatures between 65-75°F during the day and slightly cooler at night. They prefer high humidity, which can be maintained through regular misting, placing a humidifier nearby, or keeping the plant on a tray filled with pebbles and water.


A balanced liquid fertilizer can be applied monthly during the growing season (spring through early autumn). It’s best to follow the instructions on the fertilizer packaging for proper dilution and application.

Pruning Boston Fern

Pruning helps maintain the appearance and health of a Boston Fern. Removing dead or yellowing fronds at the base keeps the plant looking fresh and encourages new growth.

Propagating Boston Fern

Propagation of Boston Fern is usually done by dividing the plant in spring. Divisions should be planted in pots filled with the appropriate soil mix, and care should be taken to ensure proper moisture and light.

How To Grow Boston Fern From Seed

Growing Boston Fern from spores (ferns produce spores instead of seeds) is a lengthy process and typically not the preferred method for propagation. However, if attempted, it requires careful handling of spores, sterilized equipment, and a controlled environment.

Common Pests & Plant Diseases

Spider Mites

A common pest that can be managed through regular misting and wiping the leaves.


They can be controlled using insecticidal soap or neem oil.

Common Problems With Boston Fern

Brown Frond Tips

Often caused by low humidity or inconsistent watering. Increasing humidity and monitoring water can resolve this problem.

Pale Fronds

A sign of insufficient light. Adjusting the light conditions usually improves the color and vitality of the plant.

Pro Tips

  1. Place Boston Fern in a location with bright, indirect light.
  2. Keep soil consistently moist, but avoid waterlogging.
  3. Maintain high humidity through misting or other methods.
  4. Prune dead or yellowing fronds to keep the plant looking its best.
  5. Repot every couple of years to refresh the soil and provide more space.