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Cornell University

Boston Fern
Nephrolepis bostoniensis
(nef-row-lep-iss bos-to-nee-en-sis)

Boston Fern

What about it?

Boston ferns don't come from Boston, they come from the tropics. They grow from stolons and have sori, or spore sacs, on the underside of the leaves. Fern leaves are called fronds and the Boston fern fronds are narrow but graceful and drooping.

What is it used for?

Boston ferns are most likely to be found in a pot or hanging basket in an office or home. They were veiy popular during Victorian times.

Where does it grow? How do we grow it?

The reason why Boston ferns are so prevalent in offices is because they don't need very much sunlight. In fact, the light that they do get should be indirect. They prefer moist soil and humidity but will tolerate dry conditions. Temperatures do need to be kept rather warm though.

What are its primary problems?

Sometimes the Boston fern will suffer from an overall yellowing caused by conditions of low humidity. It is also susceptible to the infamous mealybug.

How do we propagate it?

The Boston fern can be propagated through division, through a tissue culture from the stolons, or by spores.

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Copyright, Department of Horticulture, Cornell University.