revitalizing a boston fern

vaherbmomJanuary 20, 2014

bought last spring, hung on the porch all summer, moved indoors in fall. It's pretty ratty now but has a couple nice fronds. Seems like there is very little soil in its plastic pot.

Any suggestions on how to treat it now or in spring to get it bushy and healthy again?

thank you!

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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Trim all of the dead stuff, as close to the soil line as possible. That will make it look as nice as possible for now. Repot in spring. These do bounce back beautifully, should be a very pleasant transformation this spring.

Is the hanging pot the type with a recessed drain hole that's above the actual bottom surface of the pot?

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 10:21AM
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Also something to consider come re-potting time,..if the roots have totally taken over and as you suggested there is little actual potting medium left, can take it out of the pot and using a large serrated knife,or better yet,take a saw and cut it in two halves and then cut the halves in half effectively quartering it. At this point you rough up the root mass of each piece to get out any dead roots and old spent medium,and re-pot each in fresh new medium in it's own new pot. As Purp said they bounce back here from one plant you can have four! :)

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 11:00AM
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great advice, thank you!

Yes, the pot has the recessed hole. I cut off all the wiry and dead stems, but there was no soil line-it was basically a big rootball!

I guess I will give it a little water frequently to keep it aiive til spring.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 1:06PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

That sounds pretty normal for a fern with some age. Probably looks so much better now. If I'd had any idea we were in for a real winter, I would have brought some inside. I may not have any this spring, so look forward to pics of others' pretty plants, hopefully yours too! I agree with the repotting suggestion, usually do that when taking plants back out for spring. Dividing as described above allows plants to fit back into same pots if desired (and yields some to decorate with in the ground, or give to others.)

Those pots with recessed holes are plant killers since they have room for about 1/2 inch of water to pool in the bottom. If you can poke/chop a hole in the real bottom surface of the pot, you can know there's never a pool of water in there. If you have a pruning thing, they can chop a triangle hole out of the bottom rim of most plastic hanging pots, either along the outside, or along the inside so it's less visible. I like being able to tilt pots toward a hole on the outside rim though. A surprising amount of water can come out even after it seems to have finished dripping.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 3:02PM
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I have four Boston ferns that I rescued from my neighbor's fall garbage years ago, and I put them outside every summer under a tree and they do very well. I bring them inside over the winter, and for the most part they eventually look scraggly and somewhat "anemic" overall. I water with rainwater most of the winter (when I have it), and every spring when they are put back outside, they rebound incredibly. This cycle has been going on for years, and likely yours will do the same.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 4:25PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Hi Rodden, welcome to GW! That's an enthusiastic and encouraging anecdote, good to read.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2014 at 11:09AM
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Thank you, purpleinopp, for the welcoming post. I just found GW about a week ago, and I'm elated to have discovered this site. I hope to learn and share a lot. I'm not the greatest with technology, but I'll find my way on this site because I am really motivated to learn.


    Bookmark   January 24, 2014 at 3:29PM
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