Why is My Boston Fern Dying? Top Causes & Solutions

Disclosure: As Amazon Associates we earn from qualifying purchases. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you.

Please note that while we always strive to provide 100% up to date and accurate information, there is always the small possibility of error. Therefore, we advise conducting further research and due diligence before consuming any plants or exposing pets to anything mentioned on this site. Kindly refer to the full disclaimer for more details here.

Boston ferns are a popular houseplant known for their lush green foliage and graceful arching fronds. While these plants are generally easy to care for, they can be susceptible to a variety of issues that can cause them to decline or die. If you’ve noticed that your Boston fern is looking droopy, discolored, or otherwise unhealthy, it’s important to diagnose the problem and take action to save your plant. In this article, we’ll explore some of the most common reasons why Boston ferns can struggle or die, including environmental stressors, pests, and diseases.

Common Causes of Dying Boston Fern


Boston Ferns thrive in moist soil, and allowing the soil to dry out can result in underwatering. Underwatered ferns experience wilting, and their leaves turn brown and crispy. To revive an underwatered Boston Fern, you should thoroughly water it and establish a consistent watering schedule(source).


Conversely, overwatering is another common issue that can harm Boston Ferns. Root rot can result from soggy soil, leading to yellowing and wilting leaves(source). It’s essential to ensure that the plant isn’t sitting in water, and the soil should be moist but not waterlogged.

Lack of Humidity

As tropical rainforest natives, Boston Ferns require high humidity levels to live healthy lives. Insufficient humidity can cause the fronds to turn brown and die (source). To maintain proper humidity, either use a humidifier or mist the fern with water frequently.

Inadequate Light

Although Boston Ferns don’t require direct sunlight, they still need consistent bright, indirect light to thrive. Insufficient light can lead to stunted growth and dying fronds(source). Adjusting the plant’s location and ensuring it receives enough natural light can help improve its health.

Signs of a Dying Boston Fern

It is essential to recognize the signs of a dying Boston Fern in order to take appropriate action and save the plant. In this section, we will discuss four common symptoms that indicate your fern is struggling: Yellowing Leaves, Brown Leaves, Wilting, and Leaf Drop.

Yellowing Leaves

When the leaves of your Boston Fern begin to turn yellow, particularly the lower fronds, it is a cause for concern. Yellowing leaves can be an indication of overwatering, underwatering, or pest infestation, such as spider mites.

Brown Leaves

Brown leaves, especially at the tips of the fronds, signal that your Boston Fern is not happy with its current conditions. This can be a result of excessive fertilization, insufficient lighting or even low humidity, as mentioned by Soil, Seed, and Garden.


Wilting or drooping fronds are another sign that your Boston fern is struggling. This can be caused by overwatering, which may worsen into root rot, or other factors such as underwatering or insufficient humidity, as pointed out by The Practical Planter.

Leaf Drop

Last but not least, leaf drop is another symptom indicating that your Boston Fern may be dying. This can occur when the plant is stressed due to several factors, such as pests or inappropriate watering practices.

Reviving a Dying Boston Fern

When dealing with a dying Boston Fern, it is essential to address the common issues that cause this problem. In order to bring life back to your fern, focus on proper watering techniques, improving humidity, and making lighting adjustments.

Watering Techniques

Overwatering or continuously waterlogged conditions are the most common causes of a dying Boston Fern, as they lead to root rot(source). To prevent overwatering, ensure the soil is kept moist but not soggy. Underwatering can also harm the plant, causing the fronds to dry out(source). Always check the soil’s moisture before watering and adjust your routine accordingly.

Humidity Solutions

Boston Ferns thrive in humid environments, and low humidity can be a reason for their decline(source). To increase humidity, you can:

  • Use a humidifier around the plant
  • Mist the plant occasionally to clean the fronds and boost humidity
  • Group your fern with other humidity-loving plants

You can find these tips and more onSimplify Plants.

Lighting Adjustments

Incorrect lighting can negatively affect the health of your Boston Fern. Ensure your fern receives bright, indirect light for optimal growth. Avoid placing it near sources of warm drafts, such as heating vents or radiators, as high temperatures can cause damage(source).

Preventing Future Issues

It’s important to maintain a healthy environment for the Boston Fern to prevent it from dying in the future.

Consistent Care

One way to do this is by providing consistent care, including a regular watering schedule. Check the soil every two to three days to determine if it needs watering, ensuring that it doesn’t become waterlogged or too dry (My Little Jungle). Additionally, monitor the humidity levels and provide adequate lighting for your plant to thrive.


When it comes to fertilization, avoid overfertilizing, as this can cause harm to your Boston Fern (Smart Garden Guide). Stick to a balanced, diluted, water-soluble fertilizer during the growing season, applying it once a month or following the manufacturer’s instructions. This consistent fertilization approach will prevent excessive nutrient buildup and aid in the overall health of your Boston Fern.

Pest Control

Lastly, it is essential to keep an eye out for pests that can cause damage to your plant. Regularly inspect your Boston Fern for any signs of infestation, and when needed, treat it with gentle, non-toxic methods of pest control, such as insecticidal soap or neem oil. Keeping your plant healthy with proper care and maintenance will help it naturally resist pests and diseases, ensuring a long and happy life for your Boston Fern.

Video Guide