Boston ferns are perhaps the most stereotypical fern available. Its large bushy leaves make it an interesting plant, whether kept in a planter or hanging pot. Compared to other houseplants, it’s a bit pickier about its growing conditions.
So, to make sure you’re prepared, here’s everything you need to know about growing and caring for a Boston fern on your balcony.
Boston Fern Requirements
Boston ferns grow best in USDA Hardiness Zones 9-11, particularly in humid climates. However, providing your winter temperatures don’t drop below 55F, you can let them go dormant outside. Any colder, and you’ll need to bring them indoors.
The plants typically grow up to 3ft. wide and 3ft. tall, but in the right conditions can reach up to 6ft. They’ll only grow as big as the pot you keep them in, so don’t expect giant plants if your pots are tiny.
Ferns don’t flower, but their foliage is interesting enough.
Important Things to Know
Sunlight: Indirect sunlight
Grow in pots: Yes – 6” in diameter or larger
Grow indoors: Yes, providing it’s humid enough. Sit the pot in a tray of pebbles or spray daily
Soil type: Soil mix high in peat moss
When to plant: Winter or spring
Growing Boston Ferns
Planting out a Boston fern is the easiest bit. For this, you’ll need:
- Start by mixing your peat moss and potting soil at a ratio of 1:1.
- Add an inch to the bottom of your pot.
- Remove the fern from its nursery pot, shaking some of the soil off the roots. You might find it easiest to wrap the foliage in a cloth to keep it out of your way.
- Put the fern in the pot and backfill with soil. Make sure you press it down every so often.
- Place the fern in its new home and water thoroughly.
Maintenance and Care
Unlike most other plants, Boston ferns love moist soil. However, there’s a difference between moist and wet. Check by poking your finger into the soil. If the top inch or so feels dry, it’s time to water. You should also soak the pot in water about once a month in place of its normal watering.
As mentioned, Boston ferns love humidity. It should get on fine outdoors in humid climates, but if you live somewhere drier, you’ll need to increase humidity. You can do this by misting daily, putting the pot in a tray of water and pebbles, or using a humidifier.
You only need to fertilize it once a year, and pruning consists of removing dead leaves.
Final Thoughts on Boston Ferns
Despite being particular about their water and humidity levels, Boston ferns can be great plants if treated right. But if this sounds like too much, you can get fake ferns instead. Some look incredibly realistic, meaning you get the best of both worlds!