How Can I Revive My Boston Fern?

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Boston ferns are good for hanging baskets. Their fronds are very long and full. They do well in gentle sunlight and high humidity. They don't like dry heat. They don't like being brought inside for the winter, as most houses are very dry indoors in the winter because of the furnace. It's not unusual to bring in a Boston fern and have it wilt badly, shed leaves and turn brown. Not to worry. You can revive most damaged ferns if there's some green left on them.

Daily Care

  • In the summertime, Boston ferns like to be watered every day when it's hot. In cooler weather, check the soil several times a week for moisture. Keep the soil moist but not wet. In hot dry seasons, a daily misting with a light spritz of water should keep your fern green and bouncy. Fertilize the plant with fish emulsion or houseplant fertilizer every six to eight weeks on average--a little more in summer and less in winter. If you see any dead fronds or leaves, clip them off at the base. Boston ferns like to be outside in late spring, summer and early autumn.

Reviving

  • When the humidity is low, the leaves begin to wilt and curl up. As a first line of defense, take the plant down and give it a good wash with a water hose. Knock off any brown leaves, and cut dead or shriveled leaves off at the base. Once you've trimmed the plant, give it a good soak in a large bucket, trashcan or washtub until all the air bubbles are out of the soil. Once it's completely drained, hang it up indoors in full light, but not in direct sunlight. Another good place to hang it is on a shady porch outside--again out of the direct sun. Fertilize the plant once a month with houseplant fertilizer or a diluted fish emulsion. As winter comes on, cut back on the fertilizer and reduce the water.

Prevention

  • Boston ferns don't like the cold, and they hate being too dry. Even dry air can cause problems. Never place them in front of a heater vent. Prune any dead fronds as soon as you seem them, and mist regularly to keep the air around the plant humid. Ferns are primitive plants that reproduce by spores. Spore cases are found on the undersides of fronds and look like organized bunches of brown spots. The plant's hair-like roots are fibrous and rot if too wet and burn if too dry. Keep the soil moist throughout, and discard any drainage in the bottom of the pot. Boston ferns are "under the canopy" tropical plants, so they do best in diffused sunlight or artificial light. Never use leaf shine products on Boston ferns. If you want to perk them up, hose them down, shake them dry and hang them back up again.

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