How to Divide and Repot Boston Fern: A Comprehensive Guide

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If your Boston Fern is becoming too big for its pot, it may be time to divide and repot it. Dividing your plant not only helps it thrive but also gives you the opportunity to expand your indoor garden. In this blog post, we’ll guide you through the process of dividing and repotting a Boston Fern step-by-step. We’ll cover the best time to divide your plant, choosing the right soil and pot, and how to care for your newly repotted fern. Whether you’re a seasoned plant parent or a beginner, our tips will help you successfully divide and repot your Boston Fern and enjoy a thriving indoor garden.

Understanding Boston Ferns

Boston Ferns, a popular houseplant, are admired for their lush, feathery fronds and adaptive nature, making them a perfect addition to various indoor and outdoor environments. To properly divide and repot these plants, understanding their growth habits and providing the ideal environment is essential for promoting their healthy growth.

Growth Habits

Known for their spreading roots and delicate fronds, Boston Ferns grow outward from their center or crown, creating dense foliage. As they expand, they might outgrow their containers, requiring division and repotting to maintain optimal root health and ensure adequate room for new growth.

Ideal Environment

Boston Ferns thrive in environments with moderate to high humidity, indirect sunlight, and consistently moist soil. Ensuring they are placed in a suitable environment is crucial for the successful propagation and maintenance of these attractive, green plants.

Determining When to Divide and Repot

Signs of Overcrowding

It is essential to identify the signs of overcrowding in a Boston fern to ensure healthy growth. Common indicators include smaller leaves than usual, no longer producing leaves, and a dead center. When you notice these signs, it is time to divide and repot your fern to provide more room for growth.


The ideal period to divide and repot a Boston fern is during spring, as this is when new growth commences. It’s recommended to repot Boston ferns every 3 to 5 years to encourage their growth and maintain their overall health. Ensuring proper timing will lead to a successful division and repotting process, benefitting the fern’s development.

How to Divide Boston Fern

Removing the Fern from its Pot

Two days before dividing your Boston fern, water it thoroughly. Plantophiles suggests inserting a shovel 6 inches (15 cm) from and around the fern for garden-grown ferns, or grabbing hold of the leaves near the crown and pulling if grown in a pot.

Separating the Roots

Allow the plant to dry out slightly, as managing roots is easier when they aren’t wet. Lay the fern sideways on sheets of newspaper or a piece of cardboard (Kevin Lee Jacobs). Use your fingers to gently work apart the spreading root system of the fern, making sure each new division has a few leaves attached to a healthy mass of roots (wikiHow). If roots remain connected between two sections, snip them using scissors.

Preparing the New Sections

When repotting the new divisions, start by filling a new pot with 2 or 3 inches (5-8 cm) of fresh potting soil. Gently place the fern in the new container and fill the surrounding area with potting soil until it reaches about 1 inch (2.5 cm) below the top of the container (Gardening Know How). Once the new sections are securely in their pots, water them thoroughly and place them in a well-lit area where they can continue to grow.

Repotting Boston Ferns

Choosing the Right Pot

When selecting a new pot for repotting a Boston Fern, it’s essential to choose a pot with proper drainage that is slightly larger than the current pot, giving the fern room to grow source. Make sure the pot is not too large, as excessively large pots can retain excess moisture, leading to root rot issues.

Potting Mix Recommendations

For Boston Ferns, use a well-draining, moisture-retaining potting mix. You can create a potting mix by combining equal parts of peat moss, perlite, and compost. This mixture will ensure the plant has adequate drainage and access to essential nutrients source.

Potting Techniques

Before repotting, water the Boston fern well at least three days beforehand source. Start by putting 2-3 inches of fresh potting soil in the bottom of the new pot. Carefully remove the fern from its current container, holding it with one hand while tilting the pot source. Place the fern in the new container and fill in around the root ball with potting soil up to about 1 inch from the top. If you want to divide the fern, carefully cut the root ball into the desired number of pieces, ensuring each division has a sufficient amount of fronds and roots. You can then place each division in separate pots source. Each new fern may look slightly bare on one side, but they will eventually grow new fronds that fill in the space.

Aftercare and Maintenance

Boston Fern requires proper care and maintenance to ensure its long-term health and growth. In this section, we will discuss essential aspects of aftercare: Watering and Fertilizing, Light and Temperature Requirements, and Pruning and Grooming.

Watering and Fertilizing

After dividing and repotting your Boston Fern, make sure to water it consistently, maintaining consistently moist soil. Avoid overwatering, as this can lead to root rot or fungal diseases. Apply a balanced houseplant fertilizer in the growing season (spring and summer), following the product’s directions. Refrain from fertilizing during the plant’s dormant period, which is during the winter months (Southern Living).

Light and Temperature Requirements

Boston Ferns thrive in bright, indirect sunlight. Direct sunlight can scorch the plant leaves, causing them to turn brown and dry. Make sure to place the fern in a location with filtered light, like near a north or east-facing window. Maintain ideal room temperature between 65°F and 75°F, and avoid drafts or sudden temperature changes (Plantophiles).

Pruning and Grooming

Regularly prune dead or brown fronds from your Boston Fern to keep it looking its best and promoting new growth. You can trim brown tips on otherwise healthy fronds. Additionally, rotate the plant frequently to ensure even growth and light exposure. Physically groom the fern by gently shaking it to remove debris or dust from the fronds (My Garden Life).

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