When Should I Bring My Boston Fern Inside: A Quick Guide

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Boston ferns are a popular indoor plant choice known for their lush green fronds and easy-going nature. These tropical plants thrive in warm and humid conditions, making them a popular choice for indoor spaces with adequate light and moisture. However, many people are unsure of when the best time is to bring their Boston ferns inside. In this article, we’ll explore the factors that determine when it’s time to bring your Boston fern indoors, including temperature, light conditions, and other environmental factors.

Knowing Your Boston Fern

Boston ferns are a popular houseplant known for their lush, green foliage and their ability to thrive in various environments. By understanding their characteristics and ideal growing conditions, you can ensure your fern stays healthy throughout the year.


Boston ferns (Nephrolepis exaltata) are native to tropical regions and have feathery, arching fronds that cascade gracefully from the plant’s center. They can grow quite large, with fronds sometimes spanning up to 3 feet in length.

One essential characteristic of Boston ferns is their sensitivity to temperature changes. They do not tolerate cold temperatures well, so it’s crucial to keep them protected during colder months.

Ideal Growing Conditions

Boston ferns thrive in bright, indirect light, as direct sunlight can scorch their delicate fronds. They prefer consistently moist soil, so it’s essential to maintain a regular watering schedule and check the soil’s moisture levels regularly.

Additionally, Boston ferns enjoy high humidity levels, making them well-suited for areas like bathrooms or kitchens where humidity is naturally higher. If humidity is low in your home, you can increase it for your fern by placing a tray of water near the plant or using a humidifier.

Signs to Bring Your Fern Inside

Boston ferns require specific conditions to thrive, and as winter approaches, you may need to bring them indoors. In this section, we’ll discuss the temperature thresholds, frost advisories, and weather conditions that signify it’s time to move your fern inside.

Temperature Thresholds

As tropical plants, Boston ferns do not tolerate cold temperatures well. It is recommended to bring them inside before the nighttime temperature drops below 45-50°F. Prolonged exposure to lower temperatures can damage your fern and even cause plant death.

Frost Advisories

Keep an eye on your local weather forecast during late autumn to early winter. Frost can damage your fern, so it is crucial to bring it inside at the first sign of winter or an upcoming frost advisory. Make a note of the first frost date in your region and prepare to bring your fern inside before then.

Weather Conditions

Beyond temperature, other weather conditions can also impact your fern. Wintertime may bring strong winds, heavy rain, or snowfall, which may damage your delicate fern or its fronds. To ensure your Boston fern remains healthy, monitor the weather forecast closely, and gradually move it indoors when needed.

Preparing Your Fern for Indoors

Cleaning and Pruning

Before moving your Boston fern inside, give the plant a thorough cleaning and trimming. Start by removing any dead or yellowing fronds. Then, prune the fern to maintain its size and shape, focusing on the longer fronds that may have become unruly during the growing season. Finally, clean the leaves gently with a damp cloth to remove dust and debris.

Pest Inspection

Inspect your Boston fern closely for pests, as bringing any unwanted guests inside could harm other houseplants. Common pests like aphids, spider mites, and mealybugs may reside in the foliage. If you notice any signs of infestation, treat the plant accordingly with insecticidal soap or neem oil. For a thorough pest inspection, you may opt to soak the fern container in a tub filled with lukewarm water for about 15 minutes, which can force out any pests hiding in the soil and prevent them from entering your home (SFGATE).

Fern Care Indoors

Placement and Light Requirements

Boston ferns thrive in areas with indirect light, as direct sunlight may burn the fronds and cause the plant to become dry and crispy. When bringing the fern indoors, choose a location where it will receive ample light without being in direct sunlight. Opt for a room with dappled shade for the best possible environment for your fern. (source)

Watering and Humidity

Indoor Boston ferns need cool temperatures, high humidity, and indirect light to maintain their health. Providing additional humidity during the winter months is crucial, as most homes can become dry when heaters are in use. (source) Consider using a humidifier or placing a tray with water and pebbles under the fern to maintain an ideal moisture level.

Feeding and Fertilizing

Boston ferns should be fertilized at least once a month using a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer. This will help to nourish soil, supporting the health and growth of the fern. However, avoid over-fertilizing, as this can damage the root system and harm the fern. Ensure the soil remains moist, but not soggy, to achieve the optimal conditions for your indoor fern.

How to Transition Fern Back Outside

Properly transitioning your Boston Fern back outside after winter is crucial to ensure its health and growth. This process requires gradual acclimation and monitoring weather patterns.

Gradual Acclimation

To prevent stress from sudden temperature changes, it is important to provide a gradual adjustment to outdoor conditions. Start by placing your fern in a sheltered area, such as a shaded porch or covered balcony, for a few hours a day. Gradually increase the length of time spent outdoors over the course of one to two weeks, while monitoring how the fern responds to these changes in environment[source].

Monitoring Weather Patterns

Keeping an eye on the weather is essential when transitioning your Boston Fern outside. Ensure temperatures do not drop below 40°F, as this can damage the plant[source]. It is also important to provide shelter from strong winds and direct sunlight, as they can cause the plant’s delicate fronds to dry out and damage its overall health. Pay close attention to local forecasts and adjust your acclimation plan accordingly, making sure your Boston Fern is well-protected throughout the transition process.

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