How To Water Your Boston Fern And Make It Thrive

Boston Ferns (Nephrolepis exaltata ‘Bostoniensis’) are thirsty plants and need regular watering to keep the soil evenly moist.

The best way to tell whether or not your plant needs water is to lift it and see if it is light or heavy.

Watering a Boston FernPin

A light plant needs water. A heavy one does not. 

Your watering schedule for your Boston Fern will vary depending upon the environment and the time of year.

Those kept outdoors in containers in the summertime will need more water than those kept indoors in summer or winter. 

In USDA hardiness zones 9-11, these ferns can live outdoors year round.

During the wintertime, all plants (indoors or outdoors) need a bit less water. [source]

This article discusses frequently asked questions regarding the proper watering of a Boston Fern. Read on to learn more.

Boston Fern Water Requirements Q&A

1. How Often Do You Need To Water Your Boston Fern?

It is not possible to set up a specific time schedule. You need to check the soil often to ensure it is always just a little damp.

The watering frequency will change depending on the season, the environment, and several other factors. 

Generally speaking, it is not unusual to water a Boston Fern every other day during the heat of the growing season.

During the winter months, you may only need to water weekly. 

2. What Is The Best Watering Method For Boston Fern? 

When the top couple of inches of soil feel nearly dry, give the plant a deep watering, allowing the water to pour through the soil and out the ample drainage holes at the bottom of the pot.

Let excess water run off completely. Never leave your plant sitting in water. 

3. Should I Water My Boston Fern In The shower? 

An occasional shower can be a good idea if you don’t have softened water or water that is otherwise very poor quality.

You may not want to do this every time, but a monthly wash and watering can be excellent. 

Run lukewarm water over the plant for about 3 minutes to rinse the leaves and soak the soil.

Allow all excess water to run off before returning your plant to its normal setting. 

4. Is It A Good Idea To Keep Your Boston Fern In The Shower? 

If you have bright, indirect sunlight (or supplement effectively with artificial light) in your bathroom, hanging a Boston Fern above the shower or toward the back where it won’t get drenched and dosed with personal care products can be an excellent idea. 

The steamy environment is conducive to healthy fern life, and it’s easy to water your fern correctly when hanging above a drain.

As mentioned above, you wouldn’t want to water it with tap water every time, but you can quickly pour filtered or rainwater through the plants’ soil and allow it to flow freely out your shower drain. 

5. Should I Mist My Boston Fern? 

The jury is out on this.

Some gardeners feel that daily misting may keep the leaves too wet and may lead to problems with fungal infections.

However, others believe that Boston Ferns need daily misting. 

The answer for your individual situation will be found in your conditions. For example, if the air in your home is dry, misting is probably called for.

However, if you provide humidity through a humidifier or pebble tray or by placement in the shower, you don’t need to mist.

6. How Can I Tell If My Boston Fern Is Overwatered? 

If you are watering too much, your plant’s leaves will start to yellow, and its fronds will get droopy.

This will begin at the base of the plant. If allowed to continue, the tips of the fronds will begin to turn brown.

If you see these symptoms, check the soil. If it is soggy, you must withhold water until the top couple of inches are dry.

If the soil is soggy and smelly, you may need to go ahead and repot into fresh soil immediately and apply a fungicide to combat possible root rot. 

7. How Can I Avoid Root Rot In My Boston Fern? 

To avoid problems with root rot, heed the following caveats: 

  • Always provide ample bright, indirect sunlight so your plant can function efficiently and properly use the water and nutrients you provide. 
  • Don’t over-pot. A plant in a pot that is too large will not be able to take up all the excess water that lingers in the soil. This leads to root rot. 
  • Water more in a hot, dry setting/season, and remember to reduce watering in a cooler and more humid setting/season. 
  • Always use a light, airy potting mix with a generous portion of perlite or coarse sand added to improve drainage. 
  • Only water when the top couple inches of soil feels nearly dry. 
  • Be sure your container has lots of drainage holes. 
  • Never leave your plant sitting in water.

Keep Your Boston Fern Healthy & Happy

Although Boston Ferns have a reputation for being picky, they are actually pretty tough. 

As long as you can provide consistent warmth, bright, indirect sunlight, consistent watering and humidity, and protection from both hot and cold drafts, your plant will be happy.

Follow the tips to avoid overwatering and enjoy success with your Boston Fern.

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