House Plant: Boston Fern
BOSTON FERN (buy online here)
HOW HUMID IS HUMID ENOUGH?
Some plants like a bit more humidity and the Boston Fern is one.
How to increase humidity:
A group of plants indoors will actually create their own little microclimate and slightly increase humidity, helping each other out. Another way to keep up humidity for plants that enjoy it is give them a mist spray every other day (avoid this for the temperamental maidenhair however) and a daily mist spray in super hot weather. Placing your plant on a bed of small pebbles and filling the tray with water up to half way up the pebbles will also create a humid microclimate for plants that love the humidity. Note: Never let the water go over the top of the pebbles; plants hate having their roots sit in water. You could also try popping horticultural charcoal in the pebbles to help keep the waterbed clean and refresh it if water stays there (ie doesn't evaporate/get soaked up by the plant over time) and starts to look a bit festy.
SEE THE LIGHT.
All plants need a certain degree of light to thrive. But this requirement varies plant to plant, Boston Ferns enjoy:
Indirect bright light - anywhere in a bright room with a North, East or West window, up to within a metre or 2 of the window. Always protect from any direct sun (eg behind a sheer curtain). Boston Fern will also enjoy being in a greenhouse or shadehouse in a protected area outside.
SOME FOOD AND A GOOD DRINK.
Boston Ferns need to be kept moist, so check the soil moisture regularly, watering up to once a day (even twice on really, really hot days) to ensure the soil is always moist. Just make sure the plant has good drainage to prevent waterlogging and root rot. In Winter the plant stops growing so you can allow it to dry out a little more between waterings so space out the waterings a bit more. Never let a fern's soil become bone dry.
Plants have a growth and a dormancy cycle. Mostly this follows the Spring/Summer growth and Autumn/Winter dormancy cycle. In the growth season feed your plant every 2-4 weeks with a dilution of Seasol (we sell this) or worm food by watering can or foliar spray with the brass mister. Boston Ferns prefer fertizilier suitable for acid-loving plants. When re-potting or top-dressing add in some worm casting or organic compost to give the soil a boost. In Autumn start to decrease feeding down to zero for Winter – plants need their rest to recuperate for the next growth cycle.
A FRESHEN UP AND GROWING BIG ONES
Plants work hard to keep our indoor air clean and pure, and so we should repay the favour by making sure their leaves are free from dust to enable them to breath easy. For the Boston Fern the best way to do this is pop it outside in the rain or in the shower for cold/tepid water spray every now and then. Boston Ferns can get quite big and if you want them to keep growing bigger they will need potting up every 1-2 years. Choose a pot the next size up, tease out the roots and backfill with new potting mix and some compost material for acid-loving plants. Water in well with a liquid seaweed solution.
GIVE US SOME AIR.
Most plants enjoy a bit of freshness in the air, like us, really. Try and make sure the situation you place them in has access to good ventilation. However keep in mind plants don't appreciate cold draughts, what you should be aiming for is a ‘bouyant’ atmosphere, not a cold draughty one.
KEEPING IT REGULAR.
You may have noticed that 70s magazines have an abundance of healthy and happy indoor plants. One of the reasons plants thrived indoors in this indoor plant golden age is I suspect more natural/gradual methods of heating and cooling, such as ceiling fans, open windows to catch the breeze and hydronic heating. Like most of us, indoor plants appreciate constancy and should be kept in as constant a temperature as possible. Keep them away from direct heat from radiant heaters, hot windows in Summer and freezing windows in Winter, and warm/cool blasts of air from vents or air conditioners, and avoid sudden extreme temperature changes like taking plants from outside to inside or vice versa– use a half way house like a shade house or somewhere protected to gradually accustom them to the change.