The Boston Fern in Profile - 'the easy-care fern perfect for newbies'
Boston Fern, also known as the sword fern is a species of fern in the family Polypodiaceae. This perennial herbaceous plant is a native to tropical regions in South America and consists of about 35 tropical varieties. Being one of the most popular fern varieties on the market, its growth in popularity stems from its versatility, being adaptable enough to find a home in houses and balconies. An extremely fast grower, the Boston Fern spreads outwards and downwards, making it a perfect standing or hanging plant.
You may wonder how these jungle beauties went from humid swamps of South America, to the dreary (weather, at least) UK homes of Victorians. Houses in the Victorian era wouldn’t cut it as a fancy Swedish showroom, as they were poorly lit and damp - perfect for ferns in fact (though not perfect if you’re looking for a life of good health).
When it comes to looking after ferns in the modern age there’s one simple rule - never let it dry out. The soil should remain moist, and the room should be constantly humid. We’re not talking jungle humid, but at the very least there should be a fair amount of water in the air, so a bathroom after a shower is a great place to rest it. Other than that, they take very little care (though make sure not to touch them too much - they love their space) and just need a good another of light.
From the spring to late summer, feed your Boston fern with a liquid houseplant fertiliser diluted with water once a month. You never need to fertilise your Boston Fern over the winter months.
Boston ferns like organically rich, loamy soil for good drainage. Soil which doesn’t allow good drainage can result in root rot, which is irreversible damage to most plants. For container Boston fern plants, use a peat-based potting mix.
Potting and Repotting
Pot Boston ferns in a container with plenty of drainage holes that's slightly larger than the plant's root ball - you’ll be watering them a fair amount, and you don’t want its roots sitting in mushy soil. Once you see the roots popping out of the soil either at the top or bottom, it's time to find a new home for your fern. It’s not all about the roots either - if you notice that the fern is no longer growing as fast as it once was then it may be out of space in its pot. Repotting is best done in the spring. Gently remove the fern from its old pot, and replant it at the same depth in the new pot using fresh potting mix.