Ask a Question forum: Boston Fern - Cold Shock

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Jan 10, 2017 10:14 AM CST

I have two large indoor hanging boston ferns which I water weekly to bi-weekly. It is very cold as I'm in PA and usually take the ferns outside to water. I had them outside for about 15 minutes and wasn't thinking about how it's roughly 20 degrees. I quickly brought them back inside and saw that there was some icing on the leaves. I removed some of the ice and watered a bit more and hung them up. They have since turned a dark green to brown. Are they just shocked? Did I kill them? How can I rescue them?
Name: Cindy
Hobart, IN zone 5
aka CindyMzone5
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
Jan 10, 2017 10:56 AM CST
The brown bits won't revert back to green so you could cut out those fronds to make room for new shoots that might come up. Sounds like maybe they weren't outside long enough for the roots to freeze but you'll have to wait and see. Don't fertilize until the season gets a little warmer and you can see how the plants are responding.
Only when the last tree has died and the last river has been poisoned and the last fish has been caught will we realize that we can't eat money. Cree proverb
Name: Annie
Waynesboro, PA (Zone 6a)
Cat Lover Keeper of Poultry
Jan 10, 2017 11:13 AM CST
I agree with Cindy, as long as the root ball hasn't frozen, I think they'll recover. But it will could take a long time. I would maybe leave the damaged fronds in place for a bit...they won't recover, but it will keep the surface of the rootball protected and moist so that the new fronds can start to emerge. Remove the dead stuff a little at a time. This happened to me last year and it took all winter for the fern to regrow and then all summer to get back to the size it originally was. Mine was frozen worse than yours though.

Keep the ferns warm and misted and watered. You might want to try watering them in the shower/bathtub instead of outside. That's the lesson I learned the hard way Crossing Fingers!
The end is nothing, the journey is all.

Jan 10, 2017 11:40 AM CST
Thank you Shadegardener and LysmachiaMoon. That's sort of what I thought happened.

They are both quite big too, roughly 2 feet wide. I assume they are both hardy enough to make it through this trauma.
Name: Karen
NM (Zone 7b)
Region: New Mexico Region: Arizona Cactus and Succulents Greenhouse Sempervivums Bromeliad
Adeniums Garden Ideas: Level 1 Tropicals Xeriscape Garden Art Plumerias
Jan 10, 2017 11:53 AM CST
I used to have it in the ground and left it year round. Mine froze down to the ground several years in a row, but it always came back in Spring. I think yours will be ok. They are quite hardy. Just cut the dead stuff off and cut down on the water during the winter.
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