Overgrown Boston Fern...repotting advice?

prairiemoon2 z6 MASeptember 19, 2007


I just brought my Boston Fern in from it's summer outdoors and it is really too large now. I need to divide it and put it in 2 smaller containers. I was thinking that while I was at it, I might cut the whole thing back to the ground and let it regrow in the house. Mainly because some of the outter fronds are looking a little ratty even though the inner ones look fresh and new. I also thought that after wrestling with it to divide it, it's not going to look very good.

Any advice on how to do this? Would clay pots be the best? Should I be fertilizing it in a couple of weeks once it settles in it's pot?

Also, best care I can give it? Does everyone mist these daily in the low humidity when the heat is on to keep the tips from turning brown?

Thank you :-) pm2

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Just remove from the existing pot and with a sharp "butcher" knife, slice the root ball in half (or quarters, if desired). While that may sound cruel, it is less damaging to the roots than trying to separate it by hand. After repotting the divisions, remove the damaged and unattractive fronds.I would leave the healthy fronds, as those will assist the plant to recover and begin new growth more rapidly. Below is a link that discusses care of Indoor Ferns. I always fail to keep mine watered and wind up in the spring with Ferns that would take all summer to recover. I usually toss them and buy new ones.
Good luck! :-)

Here is a link that might be useful: Indoor Fern Care

    Bookmark   September 19, 2007 at 4:19PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Thanks RB! Sounds easy as pie and a I can leave on the good fronds and that will work out well. I guess I am not doing so bad with mine then, this is it's 3rd winter in the house. The first fern that I haven't killed. [g] Actually, my problem used to be too little light. I always thought a fern would prefer low light and put it on the north side of my room. With this fern, something I read made me think it would enjoy more light and the only other place I had was a West window. It has been happy as a clam not directly in front of the West window but a little off to the side. My west window does get a little late in the day shade from tree tops a distance from the house, so it is not a 'full' West window.

I have occasionally been too slow to water and it has suffered a few brown tips, but so far, nothing drastic. Every once in awhile I mist it and that is about all I do to it all winter. I don't have time to do more. :-) It does look bedraggled by the time spring comes, but it recovers great over the summer and looks wonderful the first month it is in the house. I do use a pebble tray near by and I try to mist it when I remember. According to the directions on that link, I guess I am doing some of the right things. We also turn our temps down at night to 64 only, and they like it a little cooler than that. I do have a hallway that is unheated and maybe they would like that. I think I am happy to be dividing it, because I could use a few more.

I had a chance to look over that link you posted and it was very helpful. Thanks very much :-)


    Bookmark   September 19, 2007 at 6:45PM
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I divided two ferns last autumn. All four died back, and only two came back, and even then, not very well.

I bought two new ones this year, and don't want to divide them. Any thoughts on what I can do?

    Bookmark   September 20, 2007 at 6:54PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Hi daesa...

Did you mean boston ferns?

I wonder if you went to the link that RB provided? It was quite a helpful webpage on ferns. From what I read, it would seem that ferns usually need fairly frequent division. The reason being that they don't recommend potting them up into a pot larger than having an inch of extra room around the root ball. So they quickly fill in that extra inch of room and need to be repotted again, right?

Perhaps you potted your ferns with a lot of extra room in the pot? It would seem to me that you won't be able to avoid dividing them at some point, so maybe the best thing to do is learn the best way to do it. Perhaps you can give more detail on how you divided and repotted your ferns last fall and someone who has more experience than I do, can figure out what you could do differently?


    Bookmark   September 21, 2007 at 11:04AM
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