How to Propagate Boston Fern: Expert Tips for Success

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If you’re a fan of Boston Ferns, you might be wondering how to grow new plants from your existing one. Propagating your Boston Fern can be a fun and rewarding way to expand your collection or share with friends. In this blog post, we’ll show you how to propagate a Boston Fern step by step, including dividing the plant, rooting the cuttings, and caring for the new growth. With our tips, you’ll be able to propagate your Boston Fern like a pro and enjoy a thriving indoor garden.

Propagation Methods

There are several ways to propagate Boston ferns to help them multiply and thrive. In this section, we will discuss three popular methods: division, spores, and offsets.


One common method for propagating Boston ferns is through division. This process involves digging up the fern, separating the roots from each other, and repotting the new plants. It is essential to be gentle while separating the roots to avoid damage and to ensure each new plant has a healthy root system for optimal growth.


Another way to propagate Boston ferns is by using spores found on the underside of the fern’s fronds. Gently scrape about an inch’s worth of tissue from the frond and place it in a jar filled with water. This method may be less common and require more patience as it takes time for the spores to develop into new plants.


A third option for propagation is through offsets, or runners, which are leafless stems that grow from the mother plant. To use this method, carefully separate the runners from the main plant and replant them in suitable soil. Runners provide a less invasive option compared to division, as they can be propagated without uprooting the entire fern.

Tools and Materials

To successfully propagate a Boston fern, it is essential to gather the necessary tools and materials in advance. Some of the primary items include a healthy and mature Boston fern plant, sharp scissors or shears, potting mix, water, and bleach or rubbing alcohol for sterilization purposes. These tools will ensure a smooth propagation process and promote the growth of new fern plants.

Additional materials that can be beneficial in the propagation process are plastic sheets, trays, plastic pots, pebbles, and a plant mister. Utilizing these items will help maintain a suitable environment for the propagating ferns and assist in keeping them healthy throughout the process(Simplify Plants).

Step-by-Step Guide

Division Process

To propagate a Boston fern through division, begin by carefully removing the plant from its pot, taking care not to damage the delicate leaves (The Practical Planter). Water the soil two days prior to division, as this will help the root system to cope with the stress of being cut and dislodged from its bed (Plantophiles).

Once the plant is out of its pot, gently separate the roots and cut sections of the plant, including the root system. Repot the divisions into new pots, and make sure to provide the appropriate care for your newly propagated Boston ferns.

Spore Propagation

Another method to propagate Boston ferns is through spore collection. Gently scrape the underside of the fronds with a knife or other sharp object to collect spores (ShunCy). Remove about an inch worth of tissue, and place it in a jar filled with water.

Next, transfer the spores to a sterile medium like moist, sterilized potting mix. Cover the container to maintain a humid environment and monitor for growth. Once the spores develop into tiny ferns, they can be transplanted into larger pots.

Offsets Propagation

Boston ferns can also be propagated through the offsets or runners that grow from the main plant. To separate these tiny shoots, carefully cut them away from the parent plant and grow them into new plants (Simplify Plants).

Alternatively, you can encourage new growth by placing the runners in contact with moist soil, allowing the offsets to root before severing them from the parent plant. Once established, they can be transplanted into individual pots for further growth.

Aftercare and Maintenance

Once your Boston fern has been propagated, providing proper aftercare and maintenance is crucial to ensure its health and growth. Consistent watering is key to keeping the soil moist, yet ensuring it has good drainage to prevent waterlogging. Placing a tray with stones and water beneath the pot can help maintain humidity levels, and occasionally misting the fern with a mister bottle is beneficial, especially if it’s in a hanging pot (Epic Gardening).

It’s important to choose a location that provides indirect sunlight, as direct sun exposure can cause the fronds to scorch. Maintaining a moderate temperature range between 65-75°F (18-24°C) will create optimal growing conditions for the Boston fern. Regularly inspecting the plant for pests, such as spider mites, can prevent infestations, while prompt removal of any dead or damaged fronds helps maintain a healthy appearance (The Spruce).

Feeding your fern monthly during the growing season with a balanced liquid fertilizer diluted to half-strength can support its growth and development. Additionally, repotting the plant every 1-2 years in fresh potting mix and a slightly larger pot encourages healthy root expansion and overall plant growth (Fiddle & Thorn).

Common Mistakes and Troubleshooting

One common mistake when propagating Boston ferns is not providing enough indirect sunlight. These ferns need at least a couple of hours of indirect sunlight daily, but never place them in a south-facing position, as the sunlight is too intense (The Practical Planter). Another mistake is letting the soil get too waterlogged or dry, as maintaining a balanced moisture level is essential for successful propagation (Fiddle & Thorn).

When you notice the fronds drooping and a discoloration in the leaves, it may be a sign of disease, pest infestations, or improper care (The Practical Planter). In such cases, it’s essential to identify and address the underlying issue. Runner burn and leaf tips browning are other common problems, which might indicate the need to adjust the plant’s watering routine or environmental conditions (The Practical Planter).

Some helpful troubleshooting tips for propagating Boston ferns:

  • Use sterilized pots and a proper fern compost mix, consisting of a 50:50 ratio of peat moss and compost, to promote healthy plant growth (Simplify Plants).
  • Ensure the runner makes contact with the soil at several points, as this is crucial for root formation (Fiddle & Thorn).
  • Fertilize Boston ferns regularly with a fern-specific fertilizer to boost growth and improve resistance to pests and diseases (Gardening Scope).

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