Potting medium for boston fern?

sylenceFebruary 5, 2008

I was recently given a small Boston Fern that is in an ugly pink pot, so I want to repot it. I noticed that it's potted in what I'm assuming is some kind of moss. Is this normal? Should I change it to potting soil when I switch pots?


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Sylence, is the moss on top of the soil or is your fern planted in all moss?
If it's planted directly in moss, well, this is new to me..BTW, how's the fern doing?
I mix my own soils using all purpose, peat, and half a handful of Perlite.
Unpot, and check roots..if it looks like it needs a bigger pot, go up a size or two..If there's several inches of room, without roots filling up pot, use the same size container, other than pink..:) Plastic containers are best used for ferns..Toni

    Bookmark   February 5, 2008 at 3:08PM
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Thanks for the advice. It is moss all the way through, and honestly it doesn't seem to be doing that great. Tips of almost all fronds are brown/black (was this way when I was given it), with quite a few dead/dried up fronds that I have already pruned away.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2008 at 3:27PM
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Sounds like the moss might be staying too wet. Toni gave some good advice. Try mixing up your own well draining soil and stay with the same size pot if it's not too big or too small.
The soil should be watered when the top starts to feel like it's getting dry, or will be dry in a couple more days. Keep the soil slightly on the moist side, bright indirect light.
Expect some browning on tips and entire fronds once in a while, especially in winter.
Black tips can be an indication of overly wet soil.

Billy Rae

    Bookmark   February 5, 2008 at 5:14PM
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Sylence, ferns in general, and your nephrolepis in particular, likes its soil kept moist....always.
Many people turn away from these plants because of this need to check on them as often as they need.

The moss you mention I'll assume is peat moss. Usually Boston Fern is a plant that likes to be given such concentration of standard potting soil and peat moss.

When giving a plant new amounts of peat moss, it is necessary for the peat moss to be wetted first with hot water. This will allow the peat moss to be mixed with the soil without any shrinking of it away from water.

The trouble is most ferns--Boston Fern included--are plants that are hung up. This poses a problem to ensure it is given water as many times as it does and yet allow it to drain properly. How does one catch drainage unless the pot includes such with it or water is caught below or you bring the plant down to water, allow drainage fully, then hang it back up.
Sometimes this can be very annoying....a nuisance and sometimes not carried out and the plant dries out.

This drying out....or watering too much, or letting it have too much light or its touching cold window glass can cause the tips to brown. As well, giving it too much fertilizer will also do it. And because the plants are often hung up, sometimes above heat vents and the current of air can cause browning tips and edges.

Many plants are fertilized the wrong way. Houseplants should be watered first....then fertilized if using liquid type.
In any case, ferns have to be given humidity. How does one give a hanging plant such moisture. Misting often can help and putting a water tray below it (if possible) will help too. This humidity given can guarantee it wont dry out but must not be thought of as a watering.

About water: Ferns have tneder leaves and can be affected if given water that is high in fluorine or a heavy concentration of salts. If the water comes from a well and the well is on a softening system, such water can harm plants. Water from a tap offline or bottled should be given it. Water should be allowed to gain room temperature so as to not stress the plant being given cold water straight from the tap.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2008 at 7:01PM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

Always find these type of discussions interesting as I live in s. florida .How can something so easy here be so difficult in other places? lol. Boston fern is one of the most noxious weeds in every location I cultivate. have never found a place it will not grow just a matter as to how much lol
Why such a big difference.?? I wish I could figure out a way to STOP them from growing. Most obnoxious in hanging baskets and orchid pots. They even sprout on dust on windowsills.lol
Is it the humidity that makes such a BIG difference here?? Obviously house plants are kept in the house so couldn't be temps,watering, soils . Any guesses??
BTW All ferns that I grow on purpose lol in pots are grown in long fibered sphagnum. Great stuff for careless waterers. That's probably what's in your pot right now..

    Bookmark   February 6, 2008 at 7:03AM
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saucer(10 SF Bay Area)

Gary, I have heard much about how easy it is to grow things in Florida and I have to say that I am envious! I hear that they have this "problem" in Hawai'i as well.

(the other)Gary

    Bookmark   February 6, 2008 at 10:58PM
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watergal(z6/7 Westminster, MD)

Boston ferns do OK here in the summer when it's humid, but bring them inside and they start browning and dropping and making a gawdawful mess. I won't let them inside any more.

Gary, got any good deals on Florida real estate nearby? ;)

    Bookmark   February 11, 2008 at 7:09AM
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