Boston Fern Types: A Comprehensive Guide to Varieties

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Boston ferns are an elegant and popular choice for indoor plants, known for their lush green foliage and air-purifying qualities. But did you know there are different types of Boston ferns? In this article, we’ll explore the various types and their unique characteristics.

Popular Boston Fern Types

Boston Ferns are popular and classic houseplants known for their graceful arching fronds and lush green appearance. In this section, we will discuss three popular types of Boston Ferns: Nephrolepis Exaltata, Nephrolepis Green Lady, and Nephrolepis Compacta.

Nephrolepis Exaltata

Sword Fern 1

Nephrolepis Exaltata, sometimes called the sword fern or Boston fern, is a common variety known for its green or bluish-green fronds that can reach two to three feet tall and wide. They are favored for their graceful and arching growth pattern, making them an attractive choice for hanging baskets and porch decorations.

Nephrolepis Green Lady

Green Lady Fern

The Nephrolepis Green Lady is another popular Boston Fern variety recognized for its vibrant green fronds and slightly ruffled appearance. This fern is considered a low-maintenance option, as it can tolerate a range of light levels and is relatively easy to care for, making it a suitable choice for both beginners and experienced plant enthusiasts.

Nephrolepis Compacta

Nephrolepis Compacta

Last but not least, the Nephrolepis Compacta is a more compact version of the classic Boston Fern. Growing in a more upright fashion with a maximum height of 18 inches, this smaller variety is perfect for those who have limited space or prefer a more modest-sized fern. Its petite size and tidy growth habit make it an ideal option for tabletops, window sills, or smaller hanging baskets.

Care Requirements


Boston ferns require soil that remains consistently damp but not soaked. When watering, ensure that the soil does not dry out, as this may cause distress for the plant. A good technique to keep the soil damp is by setting the pot on a tray of pebbles filled with water.


These ferns thrive in cool morning sun exposure. Placing your Boston fern in a location where it can get natural light without being directly exposed to the sun’s harsh rays is ideal.


Boston ferns prefer temperatures ranging between 65-75°F (18-24°C). Extremely hot or cold environments can cause harm to the plant, and temperatures above 95°F (35°C) or below 35°F (1.6°C) should be avoided.


High humidity levels are crucial for Boston ferns to thrive. Aiming for a humidity level above 80% is suggested. Misting the fern’s leaves or placing the pot on a tray of wet pebbles can help maintain appropriate humidity levels.


Feeding the plant is also an important aspect of Boston fern care. Fertilize the fern every few weeks during the growing season with a balanced liquid fertilizer, diluted to half the usual strength.

Common Issues

Brown Leaves

Boston ferns might suffer from brown leaves, which could be a result of low humidity or too much sunlight. To prevent this issue, it’s essential to maintain a humidity level of above 80% source.

Also, keeping the fern in a well-shaded area and avoiding direct sun exposure is advised.

Yellow Leaves

Yellow leaves might indicate overwatering or underwatering. It is crucial to maintain proper watering by keeping the soil consistently moist but avoiding soggy soil that can lead to root rot.

Adjusting the watering schedule based on the environment, season, and pot size could keep the leaves from turning yellow.


Common pests that can affect Boston ferns include mealybugs, fungus gnats, spider mites, scales, thrips, whiteflies, and caterpillars source. One could treat these pests with insecticidal soap or horticultural oil.

Another common issue is slugs and snails source. To mitigate these problems, maintaining optimal plant care and habitually checking for signs of infestation is essential.

Propagation Methods

Boston ferns can be propagated through various methods, which allow gardeners and plant enthusiasts to create new plants from an existing one. Two of these methods include division and propagation through spores.


One common method to propagate Boston ferns is via division. This involves separating the fern’s root ball into smaller sections and potting them into new containers. To do this, allow the fern roots to dry out slightly, and then gently remove the plant from its pot. Using a large, serrated knife, slice the root ball into smaller parts, each containing a section of the root system and foliage1. Once successfully divided, you can repot each section into a smaller pot with fresh, well-draining potting mix, promoting new growth and ensuring the overall health of the new Boston fern plants. (source, source)


Propagation through spores is another approach to create new Boston fern plants. This method is more complex and mostly utilized by experienced gardeners. Spores are tiny reproductive units produced by ferns, found on the underside of mature fronds. The spores can be collected and sown on a moist, sterile medium, such as peat moss or sterilized potting soil. Over time, the spores develop into a green, algae-like prothallus that eventually produces new fern plants.