Boston fern ( Nephrolepis exaltata ) popularly known as the sword fern for balconies and indoors, that you can grow easily. This evergreen low maintenance plant can make your indoor garden really awesome. Moreover, it is one of the best plants for hanging baskets, that are ideal for porches and courtyards.
In tropical places like Kerala, Boston fern is the best choice for those who reside in flats or apartments.
Because the plant can thrive in any part of the house, mostly like window sides or even in bathrooms. Generally, ferns are low light plants, that prefer either partial or filtered light.
In addition, Boston fern is one of the air purifying plants according to NASA’s clean air studies. The plant can filter certain air borne toxins like toluene, formaldehyde, xylene etc.
Above all, the plant has an important role in improving the air quality as well as maintaining humidity.
Boston fern a short description
It is a perennial with bright green feather like foliage. New leaf stalks sprout from the base of the plant, making it a beautiful cluster.
There are different varieties of Boston fern plants. For indoors, those with a maximum height of about two or three feet is ideal.
Small leaflets are arranged evenly on both sides of the middle rib that is slightly curved.
The black spots seen at the edges of the underside of leaves are spores from which new plants grow.
Surely a few potted Boston fern plants are the best choice for making your indoors attractive and lively. Especially with other indoor plants like the Spider plant, ZZ plant, Sansiveiria, Aglaonema, Money plant etc.
In order to decorate your balconies, a few bonsai trees are the best combination with the Boston fern. Ficus ginseng microcarpa, Ficus benjamina, the Fukien tea tree, the Schefflera etc. are some examples.
Moreover you can try a few flowering plants, that will also go well with the Boston ferns. For example the Impatiens, Adenium and Ixora are those with colourful blooms. The bright pink red or white flowers of these plants can really make our balconies awesome.
Propagation of Boston fern for balconies and indoors
We can propagate the Boston fern plants through different methods. However the most common one, is through saplings that we can collect from the mother plants. During the time of replanting, it is easy to divide the plant using a sharp knife or shears.
Surely we can grow lots of new plants through this method which is the easiest.
The second method of propagation is through the germination of the spores. But it is not common, because it takes more time compared to the other methods.
We can also use cuttings collected from root runners of the fern. These are really aerial roots that grow from the base of the plants. When they come in contact with soil, new baby plants develop.
Growing medium for Boston fern for balconies and indoors
Generally ferns prefer a well drained medium fortified with nutrients. In a water logged medium the roots have the tendency to rot faster. At the same time, there should be enough moisture for the plant to thrive.
Therefore we have to prepare a medium suitable for our Boston fern. Preferably by mixing ingredients in the following ratio
Dried cow dung or compost 20%
River sand 15%
Garden soil 15 %
Coco peat 10%
In natural habitats, ferns grow in abundance under large trees or other plants, mainly found in forest areas. It is the presence of mulch in plenty, makes them to thrive in such places. We can prepare mulch for our ferns by mixing shredded plant litter with other ingredients.
For growing your Boston fern, you can definitely use ceramic or terracotta pots. It is always better to choose shallow pots, for growing the plant in hanging baskets.
Keep the potted saplings in shade for a few days and water the plant on a daily basis.
After a few days, or when the roots are fixed, new buds begin to sprout from the base.
Gradually you can move the pot to a place where the plant gets the required light.
Caring your Boston fern for balconies and indoors
Proper caring is essential to keep your Boston fern beautiful and healthy. Always remember to avoid warm places, especially near the stove or such appliances.
Feed the plant with a liquid organic fertilizer at intervals of six to eight weeks.
Deposit of dust particles on the plant may cause losing luster, that finally leaves the plant appear faded. To fix this problem, you can either wipe the leaves with a damp cloth or wash the plant in slow running water.
Keeping the plant in direct sunlight may make the fronds scorched, that finally leads the plant to die. Hence always ensure proper lighting for the plant.
Repotting your Boston fern for balconies and indoors
Commonly ferns grow faster in favourable conditions, and the roots become thickly packed in the pot. At this stage the growth of the plant starts to recede. Therefore timely repotting is essential, to retain its health and beauty.
For this first take the whole plant out of the pot along with the soil. Then remove the extra roots using a sharp knife or pruning scissors. You can also collect a few saplings if needed.
Finally, repot the plant in a much larger container after filling new growing medium.
Diseases and common problems
In tropical places, the Boston ferns are resistant to common diseases and pests. However, overwatering or shortage of water two major problems that affect the plant. Usually the symptoms are marked by drooping, yellowing or browning of leaves. This can lead the plant to die faster.
By observing the plant regularly, you can prevent these problems. Never let the medium to dry completely between consecutive watering. In a like manner, it is essential to ensure proper drainage for the pot.
With the above simple tips try top grow Boston fern plants. Make your balconies and indoors really fantastic.