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Boston fern (Nephrolepis biserrata var. furcans)
Photo: Jardin botanique de Montréal (Josée Bouthot)
Nephrolepis biserrata var. furcans
  • Nephrolepis biserrata var. furcans
  • Nephrolepis cordifolia
  • Nephrolepis cordifolia
  • Nephrolepis exaltata 'Bostoniensis'
  • Nephrolepis exaltata var. variegata
  • Nephrolepis obliterata 'Kimberly Queen'



Origin and description

The Nephrolepis exaltata species is native to tropical regions of America. In its natural environment, Nephrolepis prefers shady, moist sites. The cultivar 'Bostoniensis', commonly known as Boston fern, has long, flowing, gracefully arching fronds with wavy pinnae.

Species, cultivars and related plants

Nephrolepis exaltata 'Bostoniensis' is the source of many cultivars with finely dissected or frilly leaves.

Common name

Nephrolepis / Boston fern

Latin name (genus)

Nephrolepis exaltata 'Bostoniensis'

English common name

French common name

Botanical family

  • Davalliaceae

Growing conditions

Boston fern prefers bright, but filtered indirect light, although it can tolerate low light for a certain amount of time. It does best near an east- or north-facing window. It does not like high temperatures. During the growing period (March to October), keep it preferably between 18 and 20ºC and in winter, if possible, lower the temperature to 12 to 15ºC. Provide it with high humidity, especially when the temperature rises above 20ºC.

Easy to grow?

This fern is fairly easy to grow if you give it fairly good humidity. It does not, however, tolerate low light conditions for too long.

Watering and fertilizer

During the growing period, water well to keep the rootball moist, allowing only the surface of the soil to dry out between waterings. Cut back on watering in winter but never allow the soil to dry out completely. Use water at room temperature. Fertilize monthly during the growing period with a balanced indoor plant food or an all-purpose fertilizer like 20-20-20 at half strength. Stop feeding in winter.

Pruning and maintenance

To prevent rot or disease from developing, cut yellow or dried out fronds back down to soil level. If the plant is very dense, remove some fronds at the base to open up the crown.


Repot Boston fern in spring every two years or when the roots fill the pot. Use a slightly acidic, light and well-draining potting mix rich in organic material. You can use a potting mix consisting of peat moss, orchid mix, and perlite or coarse sand. Be careful not to damage the very fragile roots.


See also

Pests and diseases
Physiological disorders

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