How to Care for a Boston Fern Outside: Expert Tips for Success

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Boston Ferns are a popular choice for indoor plants, but did you know they can also thrive outside? With their beautiful foliage and ability to tolerate shade, these ferns are a great addition to any outdoor space. In this blog post, we’ll discuss how to care for a Boston Fern outside, including the best planting location, watering and fertilizing needs, and tips for protecting it from pests and diseases. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or a beginner, our tips will help you keep your Boston Fern healthy and beautiful in the great outdoors.

Boston Fern Basics

Plant Characteristics

Boston ferns are popular, attractive plants known for their lush, green foliage and arching fronds. They are often grown in hanging baskets, both indoors and out.

Outdoor Environment Requirements

To care for a Boston fern outdoors, ensure that the plant receives shade or indirect sunlight, as direct sun can damage the delicate fronds. The ideal temperature range for these ferns is between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

When it comes to water, Boston ferns prefer consistently moist soil. Water them with lukewarm water to dampen the soil without soaking it. Be sure to maintain a higher level of humidity by misting the plants on hot days or placing them in a sheltered area where they can benefit from ambient moisture. According to Gardening Know How, it is essential to avoid allowing the soil to become soggy or waterlogged to prevent root rot in these ferns.

Additionally, proper pruning is necessary to maintain the health and appearance of your fern. Trim away any shriveled, brown, or discolored leaves as needed. This can be thought of as giving your Boston fern a “good haircut.” Make sure to fertilize your ferns with a diluted, balanced fertilizer during the growing season to provide essential nutrients for their growth and overall health.

Planting Considerations

Location Selection

When choosing a location for your Boston fern outdoors, it’s essential to find a spot with bright, indirect light. Direct sunlight can scorch the delicate fronds, while too much shade can result in sparse growth (Better Homes & Gardens). Sheltered areas, such as under trees or on a covered patio, are ideal locations.

Soil Conditions

Boston ferns thrive in light, loamy, and airy soils. Incorporating compost into your potting mix can yield excellent results. To further improve airflow to the roots and ensure proper drainage after watering, consider adding perlite and peat moss to the soil (Gardening Dream).

It’s also beneficial to work in compost, leaf mulch, or finely chopped bark before planting your Boston ferns outdoors. This adds nutrients to the soil and helps with water retention. After planting, remember to mulch around the plants to conserve moisture and provide additional nourishment (Plant Care Today).

Watering and Fertilizing

Watering Practices

Proper watering is essential for the health of Boston ferns grown outdoors. They need consistent moisture and should not experience drought. To prevent the soil from becoming soggy or waterlogged, water the plant enough to keep the soil consistently moist, but not soaking wet. In drier climates, lightly misting the plant on hot days can help maintain humidity levels. If the fern’s foliage appears pale or turns yellow, it’s a sign that you need to increase the watering frequency.

Gardening Know How

Balanced Fertilizers

Boston ferns don’t require excessive fertilizers, so occasional application is enough. Use a balanced houseplant fertilizer, such as a 10-10-10 formula, during the spring and summer months. Follow the directions on your fertilizer product to avoid over-fertilization, which can cause fronds to lose their deep green color and compromise the health of the plant.

Gardening Channel

Pruning and Maintenance

Caring for a Boston fern outdoors involves regular pruning and maintenance to keep the plant healthy and thriving.

Pruning Tips

Pruning a Boston fern is essential for maintaining its shape and encouraging new growth. To prune the fern effectively, remove old and yellowing fronds by trimming them away at their base with sharp scissors or shears. It is best to perform this task outdoors or on a protective sheet to easily clean up the mess afterward (source). Remember to also remove any dead or brown leaves to improve the overall appearance of the fern.

Disease and Pest Control

Boston ferns can be susceptible to diseases and pests, especially when grown outdoors. To manage potential issues, ensure the plant is situated in well-draining soil and avoid overwatering. An appropriate soil mix, such as a combination of compost, perlite, and peat moss, can improve airflow and drainage to the fern’s roots (Gardening Dream).

Inspect the fern regularly for signs of pests such as aphids, spider mites, or scale insects. If detected, treat the plant by removing pests manually or employing an appropriate natural or chemical treatment method. In the case of disease, remove affected fronds immediately and implement preventative measures to reduce the risk of infection in the future.

Winter Care

Temperature Requirements

Boston ferns need cool nighttime temperatures and plenty of bright, indirect light during the winter months to thrive. Ideally, daytime temperatures should not exceed 75°F (24°C), and nighttime temperatures should remain between 50-55°F (The Practical Planter). If fall weather is erratic, monitor the forecast closely and bring the fern indoors when temperatures begin to drop consistently below 45°F (Gardener’s Path).

Protecting the Roots

In colder climates or when outdoor temperatures are not ideal, bring the Boston fern indoors to prevent root damage. If it is not possible to provide a well-lit, temperature-controlled room for your fern, there is an alternative option. You can let your fern go dormant by cutting back its fronds to a few inches and storing it in a dark, cool (not cold) environment like a basement or garage. Check the soil weekly and maintain slight moisture to keep the plant healthy(Plant Care Today).

When overwintering Boston ferns outside, it’s essential to provide adequate protection for the roots. One way to achieve this is by applying a thick layer of mulch around the base of the plant. This will help to insulate the roots from potential frost damage.

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