How to Revive a Boston Fern: Expert Tips for Lush Growth

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Boston ferns are a popular indoor plant that can add a touch of elegance to any space. These plants are known for their lush, green foliage that creates a tropical and peaceful atmosphere. However, keeping a Boston fern healthy and thriving can be a challenge, and they can often suffer from a variety of issues. If you have a Boston fern that is looking wilted, brown, or limp, you may be wondering how you can revive it and restore its beauty. In this blog post, we will discuss some tips and techniques for bringing your Boston fern back to life and helping it thrive once again.

Boston Fern Basics

Origin and Characteristics

The Boston fern (Nephrolepis exaltata ‘Bostoniensis’) is a popular houseplant, originating from the tropical and subtropical regions of Florida, Mexico, and Central and South America. Known for its lush, feathery fronds, this vibrant plant adds a touch of natural beauty to any indoor space.

Growing Conditions

Boston ferns thrive in conditions that imitate their natural habitat. They require moderate, indirect sunlight and consistently moist soil. To achieve the proper moisture balance, water the plant thoroughly with lukewarm water, ensuring the soil remains damp but not soaked[source].

Additionally, maintaining high humidity is crucial for the health of a Boston fern. Yellowing leaves can be a sign that humidity levels are too low[source]. Use a humidifier or place your fern in a tray filled with pebbles and water to increase the humidity around the plant. Be cautious to not overwater or underwater, as both can be detrimental to the fern’s health[source].

Reviving a Boston Fern

Assess the Plant’s Health

Begin by examining the Boston fern for signs of life and any healthy green fronds. Focus on the green parts to determine if the plant can be revived. If there are some healthy fronds and greenery, there is a good chance of saving the plant.

Watering Techniques

Proper watering techniques are crucial for reviving a Boston fern. Check the soil’s moisture with your fingers or a moisture meter, and water the plant thoroughly if it feels dry or if the meter shows readings 2 or 3 (Simplify Plants). Keep the soil moist without making it soggy, and water the plant when the soil starts to become dry (The Practical Planter).

Trimming Damaged Fronds

Remove any damaged or dead fronds by trimming them back to about 2 inches long (SFGATE). This will promote new growth and help the plant focus its energy on reviving the healthier sections.


Fertilize the Boston fern with a balanced liquid fertilizer every 2-4 weeks during the growing season to provide nutrients for growth and recovery. Dilute the fertilizer to half strength, and apply it when watering to avoid over-fertilization and the possible burning of new roots.


Consider re-potting the Boston fern if it is outgrowing its current pot. Wait until the plant has recovered and is actively growing during the mid-spring season before attempting to re-pot it (Hunker). Choose a slightly larger container, and ensure it has proper drainage to prevent root rot and promote healthy root development.

Preventive Measures for a Healthy Fern

Optimal Humidity

Providing high humidity is essential to maintaining a healthy Boston fern. Indoor environments, particularly during winter, can become dry due to heating. To ensure proper humidity levels, consider placing your fern near a humidifier, misting the leaves frequently, or setting the pot on a tray filled with water and pebbles.

Light Requirement

Boston ferns thrive in indirect light, as direct sunlight can scorch their leaves. Place your fern in a location that receives bright, filtered light, such as near a north-facing window or a spot that’s shaded by sheer curtains. Avoid placing it in an area that receives direct sunlight or is too dark, as this could hinder growth and overall plant health.

Regular Care

Watering your fern appropriately is crucial for its survival. The soil should be consistently moist, but not soaked; this can be achieved by watering when the top layer of soil starts to feel dry to touch. Using room temperature, lukewarm water is recommended when irrigating your fern to avoid shocking the plant. During winter months, it is sufficient to water the fern only when the soil surface feels dry.

Additionally, implementing a regular care routine that includes monitoring your fern’s soil moisture and addressing any signs of stress or damage can help it thrive. By giving attention to the factors that contribute to a healthy fern, you can prevent many common problems before they arise, promoting a strong and vibrant Boston fern.

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