The Q&A Archives: Boston Ferns

Question: My ferns are hanging on a shaded covered porch; the tips are turning brown and becoming brittle. I mist every three days and water two times a week. What am I doing wrong?

Answer: Ferns love humidity, so misting your plants will make them happy. Ferns like moist, but not soggy soil. If you're watering too often and keeping the soil too moist, the tips of the fronds can turn brown. Other causes of browning tips are overfertilizing and using tap water with fluoride or chlorine in it. If you're not sure about your tap water, allow it to stand overnight before using it to water your plant. Watering can be tricky - if you're giving your ferns just a little water every few days, the soil at the bottom of the pot may be bone dry even though water drains from the holes in the bottom of the pot. Try immersing the pot in a bucket of water to thoroughly saturate the soil, then allowing it to drain. Water again as soon as the top of the soil looks dry. Every 3-4 weeks immerse the pot again to make sure the soil is entirely wet, then allow to drain and don't water again until the top of the soil just begins to look dry.

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