Houseplants forum: Boston Fern

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Name: Fiat
Modesto -The Central Valley of (Zone 9b)
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fiat
Sep 13, 2014 7:50 PM CST
Hi, your honor plants growers.

I come again to seek your help. I bought 2 big 10" pots of Boston ferns from a neighboring town nursery. They were full and flourishing, green and vigorous when arrived. Now about one month later, they seem not very happy, shedding lot of fronds, many leaves/stems turn dark, appearing dull and lifeless, dying... I realize my 9b zone is not even a ok place for this BF. But I did I can: water and mist them daily, place them close to indirect sunlight, ... Still I think the high heat and dryness have made them pay so much! Regarding humidity, I recently made them pebble water tray hoping to add some humidity. But I really don't know if I can still have hope on keeping them live? Need all the helps and advice. Thanks

Always have this question: is it possible over-watering BF? Are their roots subject to rot by over-watering? What happen if over-watering? I know if over-watering Pothos and ivy, their leaves would turn yellow.

I found ShadyGreenThumb is the possibly only grower of BF (in this Forum) who is in a close zone 9a area. Hope he/she could chine in to give some special advice.
If a plant looks good, smells good, don't eat it, grow it!
Fiat
[Last edited by fiat - Sep 13, 2014 7:53 PM (+)]
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Plantomaniac08
Sep 13, 2014 9:39 PM CST
Are they indoors or outdoors? Unfortunately, I think these are difficult, if not impossible, to keep inside long-term (if they're inside). They are one of the more fussy indoor ferns.

Planto
Name: Fiat
Modesto -The Central Valley of (Zone 9b)
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fiat
Sep 13, 2014 11:15 PM CST
Planto, I believe they are indoors or outdoors (depend on putting in or out). I treat/put them inside. Maybe I should take them out for some sunlight kiss from time to time? I thought direct hit by sunlight can kill them?
If a plant looks good, smells good, don't eat it, grow it!
Fiat

Plantomaniac08
Sep 14, 2014 7:13 AM CST
I have not grown these personally, but during my research of other ferns, I've read that 'Boston Ferns' can be difficult to keep inside (lose leaves, get crunchy from dry air, etc). That's not to say that you can't grow them inside, it's just more difficult to do so.

My Mother-in-law grows them outside exclusively. Unfortunately, that means when it gets too cold, they usually don't make it (I wish I knew how to care for them inside over the winter so I could tell you). They do receive a little bit of sunlight, but it's filtered through trees (so yes I agree, I wouldn't advise direct sun; they are still ferns after all). Where I live, it is rather humid at times, so I believe that's what makes them do so well outside. I am not sure if where you live, they would do well outside, but it is worth a shot IMO. Find a nice shady spot and see how it does (if any sunlight at all, I'd imagine morning sun would be alright).

Planto

Name: Lin
Florida (Zone 9b)
Region: United States of America Morning Glories Region: Florida Houseplants Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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plantladylin
Sep 14, 2014 7:18 AM CST
Yellowing fronds of Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata) could definitely be due to lack of humidity. The soil should be kept moist at all times but not soggy and they prefer cool locations with high humidity. Placing the pot on moist pebbles and misting the plants a few times a week as you've done is a big help and will raise the humidity levels. Boston Ferns do not require fertilizer and placing them in high heat and direct sun will kill them.
~ Eat, Sleep .... Play in the dirt ~
Name: Fiat
Modesto -The Central Valley of (Zone 9b)
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fiat
Sep 14, 2014 10:57 AM CST
Thanks, Planto. I may try outdoor if I can find some suitable spot in my patio.

Thanks, Lin. I don't see "yellowing fronds", but lot "dark, nearly black" leaves hanging and shedding. Is it sign of over-watering? Since the ferns are kind of huge covering from top, side around, to bottom of their pots, I have no way to check the soil in pots. (I guess my hands are not used to handling plants especially the delicate, fragile ones like BF.) I tried to avoid direct sunlight, but really struggle with our extreme high heat in summer. Cranking ac may help a bit to lower temp, but cause even higher dryness losing more humidity and may reversely affect other indoor plants... I only hope they can hold until it becomes cooler later...
If a plant looks good, smells good, don't eat it, grow it!
Fiat
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
Always count your blessings in life
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tarev
Sep 18, 2014 4:15 PM CST
I do not grow Boston Fern, but I wonder if you can treat it l like the way I treat one of my Hoyas. My Hoya multiflora loves to sit in water. And that is the only way I can make it survive in my indoors. Before it used to just easily throw out the peduncles, struggling to bloom..but I read someone else's experience about it and they mentioned literally sitting it in water. My area is as dry as yours Fiat..maybe it might like it. Sometimes over and underwatering manifest the same on leaves.. Shrug!
Name: seaecho
Phelan, Ca. (Zone 8b)
There is ALWAYS room for one more p
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seaecho
Sep 18, 2014 6:16 PM CST
I have a BF inside and I've had it for several years. I live in the high desert of S. California where the humidity is very low (sometimes in single digits). I only turn on my air conditioning if its 90 degrees F outside. My fern never gets any sun--not even dappled. Its next to a window, but out of the sun, and it has a little tabletop water fountain right next to it to help with humidity. I also mist it most mornings. I don't ever let it dry out completely, but don't keep it soaking wet either. I water it every few days, or when the pot starts feeling lighter in weight. I wonder if yours could be rotting, due to too much watering? The black leaves have me wondering about that. Anyway, if I can grow one, you surely can too! This is mine. I know its not real full, but its healthy!

Thumb of 2014-09-19/seaecho/ba59d2

Name: Fiat
Modesto -The Central Valley of (Zone 9b)
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fiat
Sep 19, 2014 4:34 PM CST
Hi Seaecho, Wow! Your BF does look very healthy (length of the stem? is double of mine). Like you said I am also wondering if I over-water or over-light mine? Since my BF glow out around the pot and the light only come in one direction, I try turning the pot if I see some darkening at back. But no immediate effect. According to your growing condition, maybe over-watering is the killer of mine?

I am encouraged and self-accused at the same time when you say: if I can grow one, you surely can too! I really don't know what to do now. Maybe, just maybe I'll try removing all the bad, dying ones and keep/care a few surviving ones to see how it goes... Thanks

Hi Tarev, I see how you come from your Hoyas to my BF here. But I think I have put my BF sitting in water too much. I almost get to the point that this BF is too much for me... But thank you for your response.
If a plant looks good, smells good, don't eat it, grow it!
Fiat
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
Always count your blessings in life
Region: California Houseplants Plays in the sandbox Orchids Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Composter
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tarev
Sep 19, 2014 4:48 PM CST
No problem Fiat..plants adapt differently.. Smiling Sometimes it is the timing of the year when you get the plants, especially cool growing ones, it really takes its toll. That is why I often prefer to do my plant shopping if the plant is available in mid Spring, not too cold, or not too hot yet, so plants have time to adjust with the summer heat.
Name: seaecho
Phelan, Ca. (Zone 8b)
There is ALWAYS room for one more p
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seaecho
Sep 19, 2014 9:38 PM CST
I definitely think you should start watering less often, and see if that doesn't make a difference. Everything else sounds good in the way you care for it. Feel the weight of the pot when the plant has just been watered. It should stay heavy for at least two days, more likely 4-5 days. When you notice its getting lighter in weight, water it. See how that goes. Don't feel bad--there are plants that many people grow with no problem that I just can't keep alive! Many hoyas don't do well for me, neither does Clivia or African Violets. I kill every one of them. (I have three hoyas now, but they are the only survivors out of at least a dozen). Yes, I would not let my BF sit in water. Try it, and let me know how it goes!
Name: Fiat
Modesto -The Central Valley of (Zone 9b)
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fiat
Sep 20, 2014 2:01 PM CST
Hi Tarev, Thanks so much for your advice as usual.

Hey Seaecho, I think maybe you're right about overwatering. I thought I have no more loss than my BF are almost gone already. So I decided (my first time) to do something drastic on my BF ... I'll report back when done whether good or bad. Thanks
If a plant looks good, smells good, don't eat it, grow it!
Fiat
Name: Cheryl
Kingwood, Texas (Zone 9a)
Region: Texas Greenhouse Composter Plant Identifier Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Amaryllis
Plumerias Ponds Foliage Fan Enjoys or suffers hot summers Tropicals Garden Ideas: Master Level
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ShadyGreenThumb
Sep 21, 2014 12:18 AM CST
I am glad I popped in here to see what y'all are saying. My Boston Fern are one of my favorites. I don't grow them indoors, though I wish I could. They just seem to thrive in our high humidity outdoors in the shade. Sometimes our home has humidity, but mostly in the summer when the a/c is on, it does not.

BFs seem a bit temperamental when it comes to change. Recently I brought a BF from outdoors into my new greenhouse for looks, to decorate. It has lost fronds and leaves as it adjusts. The same things happen as I bring them into the garage for the winter. But they adjust. They just look a bit frazzle as they do.

Every winter takes a toll of my BFs but they forgive me and after a good spring clean up, a hair cut, a new pot and soil if need be, and a bit of Miracle Grow or Osmocote they come back each and every year! Speaking of fertilizer, mine love it! I actually think they come back after each winter with a bit of nourishment. I only fertilize in the spring and leave them to their good graces. I have bought my BFs into the house to over winter and they just make a big mess. I would mucj rather have that mess out in the garage.

Currently, I have 3 Boston Fern and 4 Fishtale Fern. I think this spring they will all get divided and I will end up with more fern only because I can't find bigger hanging pots for them. I am interested to see how much better they do this winter house in a greenhouse where they get more light than in the garage.
Life is short, Break the rules, Forgive quickly, Kiss slowly, Love Truly, Laugh
uncontrollably, And never regret anything that made you Smile.
Name: Fiat
Modesto -The Central Valley of (Zone 9b)
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fiat
Sep 21, 2014 12:33 PM CST
Hi Cheryl, So glad you pop in here and share your BF growing experience. Good experience always show some dark side of the story and that always connect to my poor, sad, and failed caring, yet always lighten up my heavy heart for comforting and hope. Now I see what I have been under since I brought 2 BF in my house is actually kind of normal and common for other people (growers) as in your saying: "..I have bought my BFs into the house to over winter and they just make a big mess..." And then on the bright side as you said: "Every winter takes a toll of my BFs but they forgive me and after a good spring clean up, a hair cut, a new pot and soil ... they come back each and every year!" Wow, what a comforting word! I thought when my BF turn dark, shed fronds, dry out,... they are gone ever. Never thought they can be like other dormant-type plants that would come back every spring. Gee, I am feeling lot better now. (Cheryl would you be kind to share some of your BF pic? Tks)

Now report back: my drastic doing to my BF. First I took the worst one out to my patio, gave a big shocking shake scattering hundreds (if not thousands) of dead fronds, and then gave it a complete hair cut removing 90% of stems. The poor thing sitting there on a stand with only a few hair left looked ugly. Then I sprinkled its head and put in a shaded place in patio for overnight stay. Early next morning I peeked from inside seeing it still ugly, but looked much healthier and happy. So I brought in and let sit in a pebble tray. Repeat the second one the same process except this one only lost half of its hair Smiling I don't know if I did the right thing, but I think I did what I can trying to save. I am going to daily mist them as Seaecho suggested, but still not sure how to water from now on? Since I have them hair-cutted, now I can see the soil top (and so many remained stem base). Kind of dry, still not sure? I really don't want make any wrong move again after all of this. Help Pls. (I think maybe I can still move them out and stay overnight occasionally b4 the winter cold?)
If a plant looks good, smells good, don't eat it, grow it!
Fiat

Plantomaniac08
Sep 21, 2014 12:48 PM CST
I think you'll have to be careful moving them in and out and vice versa. I don't think they like being moved around, hence the coming inside (or in Shady's garage) and making a mess (they pout). You don't want to stress them more by moving them around repeatedly.

You know how some plants kind of throw a mini-fit after you bring them home from the nursery? Some plants are more "fit throwers" than others. They've went from that "perfect" humidity, light, etc to a spot that has less than perfection so to speak. So, they throw a fit. Some plants adjust after they throw a fit, but if you were to move them again, they might throw another fit. It's not such the big deal moving them outside (as outside has more humidity generally), but bringing them back in.

I just mean you don't want to add anymore stress to them than they already sound like they're in. I am not good with fussy plants so I don't bother attempting to grow these. I know if I did, they'd be outside for as long as they could and it'd be either in the garage or house during the winter. It sounds like you have to nurse them along the best you can while they're inside for the winter though....

I hope this helps.

Planto

Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
Always count your blessings in life
Region: California Houseplants Plays in the sandbox Orchids Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Composter
Cactus and Succulents Dragonflies Hummingbirder Amaryllis Container Gardener Xeriscape
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tarev
Sep 21, 2014 12:58 PM CST
I agree with Planto.

Especially with the seasons changing..the plants are trying to adjust again to the temperature/light changes..and some are just ready to go to sleep. With the seasons changing, adjust watering mode once more..adjustments never end Smiling
Name: Cheryl
Kingwood, Texas (Zone 9a)
Region: Texas Greenhouse Composter Plant Identifier Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Amaryllis
Plumerias Ponds Foliage Fan Enjoys or suffers hot summers Tropicals Garden Ideas: Master Level
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ShadyGreenThumb
Sep 21, 2014 1:30 PM CST
(pics coming later)
The ferns will be the first into the new GH (early) to let them adjust to winter temps. Hopefully I will have less leaf drop with a slow transition to the indoors. I keep telling them coming in from the cold is for their own good but they always pout. Always. If only they would survive the winter I could have some giant specimens! As it is, like anything outdoors, they succumb to the elements. Thought I would lose my Fishtale fern after the drought. They suffered no matter who much water I gave them. But they are coming back ever so slowly. I have had them for 3 years. They are half the size from when I bought them.
Life is short, Break the rules, Forgive quickly, Kiss slowly, Love Truly, Laugh
uncontrollably, And never regret anything that made you Smile.
Name: Cheryl
Kingwood, Texas (Zone 9a)
Region: Texas Greenhouse Composter Plant Identifier Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Amaryllis
Plumerias Ponds Foliage Fan Enjoys or suffers hot summers Tropicals Garden Ideas: Master Level
Image
ShadyGreenThumb
Sep 21, 2014 3:33 PM CST
Fishtail Fern on the come - back

Thumb of 2014-09-21/ShadyGreenThumb/9bde7e


Thumb of 2014-09-21/ShadyGreenThumb/c7fbfd

Boston Fern in their happy habitat
Thumb of 2014-09-21/ShadyGreenThumb/d12f5d


Thumb of 2014-09-21/ShadyGreenThumb/9d14d6

This one wants more water. Her leaves are dull

Thumb of 2014-09-21/ShadyGreenThumb/bb064e

This one is still adjusting to life in the greenhouse



Thumb of 2014-09-21/ShadyGreenThumb/7d84bc

Life is short, Break the rules, Forgive quickly, Kiss slowly, Love Truly, Laugh
uncontrollably, And never regret anything that made you Smile.
Name: Fiat
Modesto -The Central Valley of (Zone 9b)
Image
fiat
Sep 21, 2014 7:29 PM CST
Planto & Tarev, Thanks for the advice and info on avoiding move-in & out frequently. I just thought when they have sun kiss they seem revive a bit, not knowing it should be done in the spring time.

Hi Cheryl, You have such great habitat for your nice ferns. The two BF I bought about two months ago looked just like the ones in your happy habitat but only bigger and fuller. Yet I wouldn't show my pic now cause they look like your dull one only more dark fronds and much less stem/branches (trimmed off). If your dull one wants more water, then maybe I should treat mine the same? Anyway I'll be careful and observe closely. Oh, I didn't thought your zone 9a stay such a different condition from our zone 9b (at least big difference in humidity because near gulf vs dry inland). I think it plays a critical role for growing BF. The local nursery I bought BF from has big GH to grow such gorgeous ferns and other plants. But I don't and guess that's my ignorance at start. But thanks for sharing your nice fern pic.
If a plant looks good, smells good, don't eat it, grow it!
Fiat

Plantomaniac08
Sep 21, 2014 9:08 PM CST
Fiat,
That's okay. Sometimes the only way you learn is to kill a plant or almost kill it. I know I've killed some plants in my day learning how to care for them. Smiling

Planto

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