My Boston Ferns are looking CRAPPY! Help!

krys_uscApril 8, 2008

I just bought two huge, full, green boston ferns a couple of weeks ago and have them hanging on my porch outside. They get morning sun till about midday and then are in shade(but still get lots of light, but no direct sun after morning) I have been misting them every few days with Pur filtered water that I have let sit out to get room temperature, and have been trying to check the soil everyday to make sure it isn't getting too dry. It is pretty hard to find soil as the baskets were so full(almost seems crowded) but I watered them once and let them sit out in light rain one day for a short amount of time to give them some natural rain...but now they look like they are turning this light gray/green color, much lighter than the nice noticable green when I bought them, and they look to be thinning, almost like the fronds are frail. What am I doing wrong? Any help would be great!

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I don't think you are giving your plants enough water.
I would water heavy every day. It will not hurt them.
Check the link below.

Here is a link that might be useful: How to grow boston ferns

    Bookmark   April 8, 2008 at 9:22PM
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Thanks for the advice...I have watered more and they are looking greener, but some of the ends are turning brown on the tips...any idea about that? One person emailed me and said it could be too much light and they are getting burned, but a neighbor of mine(I'm at an apartment community) has the same kind of ferns hanging in the same local on his porch and they get the same amount of light as mine, and his look fine. He says he waters his every few days and just leaves them...I also see them looking uneven now, as in one side of the basket is looking damaged and less full, while the other is looking better. The are on chains so they turn round and round constantly in the wind, so all sides are getting light, I don't know...

    Bookmark   April 11, 2008 at 12:09PM
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I have the fern growing as a weed in my backyard. It is exposed to full sun for much of the day. I only water it weekly.
Some of the patches I spray down only to help push up local humidity for the bog/moss plants I grow. Otherwise the plants in shade are greener than the ones in sun. Also they tend to lose leaves if they get really dry or as parts of the plants age and die back to the bare leaf stalk. Being in Georgia you should have no problem with humidity though with the drought ??? You may want to vary your watering schedule to offset weather conditions and watch local humidity and react with misting or watering when it drops below 60%. Otherwise with the changes you have made and will be making give the plant some time to adjust.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2008 at 1:23PM
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I'm quite new to fern also, but I'm beginning to like them a lot. In my previous home, I killed a lot of them to make way for my vegetable garden. In my present home, I decided to save a lot of them and plant them in hanging baskets. Now they're hanging under my huge Oak tree and they do give a soft touch against the concrete building. Here's a link to the pictures I posted.

I found out the name of the first one, the second one I don't know what variety. The third one is not mine (just a picture I got off the internet).

In any case, as regards to your question about your Boston fern not looking as good, I'm wondering if it could be the same thing with my ferns. When I first transplanted them in the hanging baskets, they weren't looking good. They were a lot healthier in the ground. I decided to check out care for ferns on the internet and it suggested to feed it with liquid fertilizer and epsom salt. I don't remember that link, but here's one that is also helpful.

From this link, they also suggested: Water-soluble plant food applied once every two weeks during the warmer months is recommended by "Boston-type Ferns". During winter, it says fertilizer should be applied monthly. To help achieve a rich, green color, the Boston fern can be given a mixture of two tablespoons of Epsom salts per gallon of water. The same article says this mixture can be applied two times per year.

So, back to my experience with my ferns. I began feeding miracle grow and epsom salt in the proportion that is recommended. Though I didn't feed them as frequently as has been recommended, I'm already beginning to see a huge difference. Their fronds are now longer, greener and more dense. Compared to a couple of them which I neglected in my backyard, those being fed definitely look far better in terms of color and density.

Hope you're able to find out how to help yours look heathier too.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2008 at 9:14PM
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Thank you so much bananafan for your post...the info you gave is exactly what I was looking for in terms of trying to green them back up and get them fuller, as I have definitely noticed a change in the number and fullness of fronds.

If you don't mind, what kind of miracle-gro did you use, as I want to get the exact same kind as you since you are having better luck with your ferns. And with your miracle-gro, are you dilluting it at all?

Also, what kind of watering do you do with your hanging ferns? I can't really feel the soil in my baskets too well to determine if they are drying out, so I am just keeping them watered every few you think this is enough or too much, as I am in Marietta, GA but we haven't hit any hot weather as of yet. It just seems every few days the baskets are noticable lighter when I lift them, so I figure they need water...what are your thoughts?

Sorry to bombard you with so many different questions, but you are helping me already!!!


    Bookmark   April 15, 2008 at 10:34PM
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I'm glad the info is of some help to you. Your question about Miracle Gro, the one I use is Liquafeed, but I also use Vigoro all purpose plant food. The Miracle Gro Liquafeed bottle actually came with the waterspray I bought from Home Depot. The waterspray was hard to operate for me, so I got rid of the waterspray and just use the liquid feed from the bottle for all my potted plants. I use a cap or two to mix in a 2-gallon water pail. With the Vigoro feed, I use a capful to 2 gallon of water. Both of these seem to have helped my ferns as well as my other potted plants. As with frequency with watering, I must say I'm embarrassed to answer your question because my ferns do take a lot of neglect from me. I try to water them as reguarly as I can remember, but sometimes they do get neglected for as long as a week. Good thing the rain helps them get all soaked up once in a while. Nonetheless, I think the ideal watering would be to wait until the dirt is dry at least an inch or so before I would water them again. I do have the same problem of not being able to feel the soil surface. Recently I bought a moisture testing stick and that makes things a lot easier.

By the way, I'd like to ask you what kind of hanging baskets your ferns are planted in. All my ferns are grown in metal grill hanging basket lined with some kind of fibre. In the past, I've bought ferns in plastic hanging baskets. After a while, they thinned out and eventually died. Alll my ferns now seem to have liked the fibre lined metal grill hanging baskets. Some of their roots actually have pierced through the fibre and are hanging outside of the pots. It doesn't seem to have bothered them at all and I'm guessing perhaps they even like it that way because they get some kind of a breathing space? One thing with the fibre lined hanging pots is that the water actually drains out very quickly from the pots. Maybe this helps the ferns from sitting too long in the water which might not be good for them as in the case with plastic pots? These are just some speculations from observations with my own ferns. Perhaps some other people here in this forum who are expert in ferns can offer more info?

I do hope I have answered your questions and wish your ferns to appear all green and healthy soon.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2008 at 12:34AM
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I read the instructions on my Vigoro all purpose feed again and would like to make some corrections here. It says to put 1/2 cap to a 2-gallon pail (and not a cap as in my previous post) for outdoor plants. For house plants, mix 1 tsp (tea spoon) to 1 gallon of water.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2008 at 10:46AM
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Thanks for getting back to me with what kind of plant foods you use, as I am going to definitely get some this Saturday...

Unfortunately, I do have my ferns in the green plastic hanging baskets that they were in when I bought them, as I have been scared to remove them and repot them. That was the first thing I thought they needed when I bought them because they were SO huge and full that I couldn't get my finger in to feel any soil at the edge(I couldn't even get to an edge back then, although with the thinning now I can) I know of the metal baskets lined in fiber( I think its called coco fiber) and I actually have two of them that I was planning on planting some easy-to-grow flowers in, but maybe I will just repot these and see how they do.

In the case of repotting...What type of potting medium did you use when you repotted? I have read that they need well-draining, and some peat moss mixed into the soil. However, I also asked a guy up at a nursery and he told me just to use regular potting soil(don't know how reliable he was) but what is your opinion?

Again, thank you so much for having concern and posting on here...your input has been valuable and has steered me in the right direction. I am hoping some experts with ferns will post, but we will see!


    Bookmark   April 18, 2008 at 10:18PM
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For me, I think the regular garden soil is too heavy to use in hanging baskets. I would use peat moss mixed with perlite and humus. If you get the Miracle Gro potting mix, that should be good too. The idea is to allow good drainage and high moisture retention.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2008 at 12:35PM
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This is a message to everyone out there with Boston Fern trouble. I have a Boston Fern that is over 6 years old. I have tried to kill it numerous times. I have roasted the poor plant out in the summer sun and left it out in the freezing snow and ice. The plant comes back every year in the same pot it has been in for years. Every time it looks sad and turning green leaf left on the plant I feed it lots of nitrogen. Ooooo does it love it! Right now the plant is thriving and looking better than ever! Just remember to give it lots of love, nitrogen, water in well drained soil, warm temperatures (65-85 degrees) and indirect light (medium or high)and the plant will live happy.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2010 at 6:17PM
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if the ends of your fronds are turning brown you are watering too much. ferns should go about 28 days between waterings. You also may be getting root rot if you are watering from the top. Your hanging fern should only be watered from the bottom. Set them in a pan and pour in enough water to go up about 1 inch. Your fern will suck this up within about a half hour. Then mist them periodically throughout the 28 days. Good luck

    Bookmark   May 11, 2011 at 12:22PM
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