Why Is My Boston Fern Turning Brown: Quick Troubleshoot Guide

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Boston Ferns are beloved for their lush green fronds and air-purifying qualities, but it can be concerning to notice your plant turning brown. If you’re seeing brown fronds on your Boston Fern, you may be wondering what’s causing the discoloration and how to fix it. In this blog post, we’ll explore some of the most common reasons why Boston Ferns turn brown, including environmental factors and pests, and provide practical tips to help you revive your plant. Keep reading to learn how to keep your Boston Fern looking green and vibrant.

Common Causes of Browning

Lack of Water

Boston ferns may develop brown leaves if they are not receiving enough water. Proper watering is essential, and underwatering can lead to dried-out leaves and browning, especially at the tips. Make sure to keep the soil consistently moist to maintain overall plant health.


Conversely, over-watering can also cause browning in Boston ferns. Excessive water can lead to root rot and poor drainage, both of which can cause discoloration in the leaves. It is crucial to find a balance between underwatering and over-watering to prevent brown leaves.

Improper Light Conditions

The right light conditions are vital for the health of your Boston fern. Too much direct sunlight can result in brown, scorched leaves, while too little light can cause the plant to lose its vibrant green color. Place your fern in a spot that receives bright, indirect sunlight for optimal growth.

Pest Infestations

In some cases, pest infestations can lead to browning leaves on the Boston fern. Common pests include scale insects, spider mites, and mealybugs, which can damage the plant by feeding on its leaves or stems. Regularly inspect your fern for signs of infestation and consider using organic or chemical treatments if necessary.

Fertilizer Issues

Over-fertilization can cause an accumulation of salts in the soil, which may lead to brown, discolored leaves. To avoid this issue, use fertilizers sparingly and flush the soil with water occasionally to remove excess salts. Good quality, well-draining soil will also reduce the risk of over-fertilization-related problems.

Symptoms and Identification

Boston ferns turning brown can be attributed to several reasons. It is essential to identify the symptoms to effectively address the issue and help your fern regain its health.

Yellowing Leaves

When you notice that the leaves of your Boston fern are starting to turn yellow, it can be an indication of over or underwatering. Both issues can lead to the leaves turning brown eventually, so it is crucial to monitor the watering needs of your fern to maintain its health (source).

Crunchy Fronds

Crunchy fronds on your Boston fern can be a sign of low humidity or exposure to extreme temperatures. Ferns prefer higher humidity levels, and exposure to cold drafts or warm air from radiators can cause the fern to develop brown, crispy leaves (source).

Pale or Discolored Fronds

Pale or discolored fronds can occur if your Boston fern is getting too much direct sunlight. Intense sunlight can be harmful to these ferns and lead to browning leaves. Ensuring that your fern is placed in a spot with indirect, bright light can help prevent this issue from occurring (source).

Preventive Measures and Recovery

Proper Watering Techniques

Proper watering is essential for preventing boston ferns from turning brown. Ensure the soil is consistently moist but not saturated, allowing the top inch of the soil to dry out slightly between waterings. Overwatering can lead to root rot, while underwatering can result in brown leaves. Using a well-draining soil mix can also help maintain the right moisture balance.

Setting Up Adequate Lighting

Boston ferns thrive in indirect sunlight, so it is important to place them in an area that gets dappled or filtered light. Direct sunlight can scorch the leaves, causing them to turn brown. If necessary, consider using a sheer curtain to diffuse the sunlight and prevent damage to the plant.

Pest Management

Pests, such as spider mites or aphids, can cause boston fern leaves to turn brown. Regularly inspecting the plant for signs of infestation and promptly treating any pests can help prevent damage. Some effective pest management techniques include using insecticidal soap, neem oil, or simply removing affected leaves and disposing of them properly.

Fertilization Tips

Over-fertilization may lead to salt buildup in the soil, causing boston fern leaves to brown. To avoid this issue, use a balanced fertilizer at the recommended rate and frequency. Additionally, leach the soil periodically by allowing water to run through it, flushing out excess salts and preventing damage to the plant’s roots.

Choosing the Right Environment

Boston ferns are sensitive plants that require specific environmental conditions to thrive. Factors such as lighting, humidity, and temperature play significant roles in the plant’s health. In this section, we’ll explore both indoor and outdoor settings that are suitable for Boston ferns.

Indoor Settings

When growing Boston ferns indoors, it’s essential to place them in an area with indirect sunlight, as they can easily experience leaf burn from direct, intense light(source). Additionally, maintaining a relatively high humidity of at least 50% is crucial(source). Using a humidity tray, misting the plant regularly, or placing it near a humidifier can help achieve this.

Outdoor Applications

When placed outdoors, Boston ferns should be situated in an area with filtered sunlight and protection from harsh weather elements. Remember that these plants thrive in moist woodlands(source), so it’s crucial to replicate similar conditions by watering appropriately and providing adequate humidity. Additionally, placing them in a sheltered spot where temperature fluctuations and drafts are not an issue will ensure their optimal growth.

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