Watering A Boston Fern: Learn About Boston Fern Watering Needs
Boston ferns are native to Europe and Asia. They were introduced into North America in the early 19th century by settlers from England and Scotland.
Today they grow wild throughout New England, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Maine. They prefer moist soil with plenty of moisture but not too much because they like their roots to stay attached to the ground so that they don’t rot away. However, if your garden is dry or sandy, then it may be necessary to water less frequently.
The following table shows the average daily rainfall in each state. (For example, Massachusetts gets most of its precipitation during the summer months.)
State Average Daily Rainfall Massachusetts 6 inches New Hampshire 4 inches Vermont 3 inches Maine 2 inches New York 1 inch Maryland 0.5 inch Pennsylvania 0.25 inch Ohio 0.2 inch Georgia 0.15 inch
If you don’t know how frequently you should water your boston fern, then use the information in the table above as a guide. If you live in Massachusetts, don’t water your boston ferns every day because that’s not necessary.
Your garden is receiving plenty of rainfall each month. But perhaps you should water them at least once every two weeks during the summer.
If you live in Georgia, then you definitely need to water your boston ferns every day. If the weather is very hot and there has been no rainfall for a week, then water your boston ferns more often–perhaps once every three days.
How To Water Your Boston Fern
Watering your boston fern correctly makes a big difference in how it looks and how long it stays green. Most people make at least one of the following mistakes when watering their boston ferns indoors:
1. Using warm or hot water.
Hot water will scald and burn your plants–even if it doesn’t seem very hot to you. Always use tepid water (water that is lukewarm, like the temperature of blood) for your plants.
Don’t water your plants more than once every two weeks. The soil should be damp, not soaking wet.
3. Waiting too long to water your plants.
If you wait more than two weeks to water your plants, they begin to wilt (they look sick and sad). After three or four days of not being watered, they will start to turn brown and die.
4. Directing the water at the roots of the boston fern.
Watering boston ferns can be a little tricky because the fronds are so delicate and lay on the soil. Instead of directing the water at the roots (where you want it), you may end up directing it at the fronds (where you don’t want it).
To avoid this, use a spray bottle to mist your plants. That way, you can direct the mist at the leaves and let it fall where it may onto the roots. If you don’t have a spray bottle, put a plastic bag (the disposable kind) over your hand and stick your fingers through it so you can pick up water. Then, hold the pot over the sink and pour water from the pot onto the soil while rotating the pot so that the water falls everywhere.
5. Using water that is too cold or too hot.
Room temperature water is ideal for most plants. The only exceptions are plants that like cold weather (such as holly) or those that like hot weather (such as some tropicals).
Unless you know for certain that your plant likes hot or cold water, don’t use it.
6. Using the wrong type of water.
Water for your plants should be either bottled water or tap water that has been filtered. Do not use distilled water (water that has all of the minerals removed), because it contains no nutrients for your plants.
If you don’t have bottled water, but your tap water tastes alright, then use it in a last resort.
7. Not using enough water.
When you water your plants, be sure to pour enough water in the pot so that the soil is damp at a depth of at least two or three inches. Never let the soil dry out–this will kill your plant.
And never over-water it–this will kill your plant just as quickly as underwatering will.
How To Take Care of Your Boston Fern
Taking care of a boston fern is easy. Follow the 7 steps above, and you shouldn’t have any problems.
Just remember to change the water in the vase every two or three days and mist your plants with tepid water every day.
Other Care Information
As long as you water your boston fern correctly and keep the soil damp, it should last in a container for at least a year if you keep it house. If you want it to last longer, repot into a larger container and make sure that it stays damp.
There are several varieties of these plants, and most of them are very small. The type you buy may be sold in a small glass tube with a terra cotta “pot” around it.
Most likely, the plant will not have roots that reach beyond the terra cotta pot, but it should be planted as if it did. If your plant doesn’t come with detailed care instructions, follow the steps listed above.
Also, the boston fern can be placed outdoors in the summer and brought inside in the winter. To do this, keep it in a shady location out of the wind.
Also, cover it at night to protect it from frost.
Sources & references used in this article:
Greenhouse production of boston ferns by JR Kessler – Alabama Cooperative Extension System, 2004 – hortscans.ces.ncsu.edu
Allergic contact dermatitis caused by the Boston fern Nephrolepis exaltata’Bostoniensis’. by F Andersen, E Paulsen – Contact Dermatitis, 2016 – cabdirect.org
Growth rate of Boston fern affected by irrigation frequency. by DB McConnell – Proceedings of the Florida State Horticultural …, 1990 – cabdirect.org
Effect of planting distance on growth and frond production in Boston fern [Nephrolepis exaltata (L.) Schott]. by S Parminder, RK Dubey – HortFlora Research Spectrum, 2014 – cabdirect.org