Alphabetical Plant Listing

Nephrolepis exaltata (Boston Fern)

Boston Swordfern, Boss Fern, Boston Fern, Ladder Fern, Wild Boston Fern


Nephrolepis exaltata (Boston Fern) is an an erect, spreading, evergreen fern forming a large clump of long, narrow, arching, pinnate light green fronds. Each leaflet is usually triangular in shape, with slightly serrate, undulating edges. Fast-growing, Boston Fern creates a lush, tropical effect, its graceful fronds quickly spreading over the ground by underground rhizomes. Native to humid forests from northern South America through Mexico, in Florida and the West Indies, this tropical species of sword fern is hardy in zones 9-11, where it makes a wonderful groundcover and is excellent for shady beds or bordering walkways, while somewhat invasive in ideal locations. It can be used as potted patio plants, in hanging baskets and is also suitable for growing indoors. Boston Fern is frequently grown as a houseplant in cold climates.

  • Recipient of the prestigious Award of Garden Merit of the Royal Horticultural Society for its outstanding qualities
  • Grows up to 2-3 ft. tall and wide (60-90 cm). Will spread by underground rhizomes to form large colonies.
  • Performs best in humus rich, acidic, moist to wet, well-drained soils.
  • If growing outdoors, provide full or partial shade. If growing indoors, place the plant in medium bright light, such as in an east, north and west facing window.
  • During the growing season, water moderately and apply a half-strength balanced liquid fertilizer monthly. Water sparingly in winter.
  • Prefers high humidity and may appreciate being set on a tray of wet pebbles if grown indoors.
  • Where hardy, this plant is a great choice for shady beds and borders, underplanting roses and shrubs, woodland gardens, or patio containers. Can be grown as an indoor fern too in hanging baskets or other containers where the long fronds can gently hang downward.
  • Generally disease free. Keep an eye out for scale, mealybugs, slugs and white fly. Rabbit resistant.
  • Dead or damaged fronds may be removed as necessary.
  • Propagate by spores, sow spores at 70°F (21°C) as soon as ripe. Separate rooted runners in late winter or early spring.
  • Native to Florida, West Indies, Mexico, Central America, South America, Polynesia and Africa.

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Requirements

Hardiness 8 – 12
Plant Type Ferns
Exposure Partial Sun, Shade
Season of Interest Spring (Early,Mid,Late)
Summer (Early,Mid,Late)
Fall
Winter
Height 2' – 3' (60cm – 90cm)
Spread 2' – 3' (60cm – 90cm)
Spacing 24" – 36" (60cm – 90cm)
Water Needs Average
Maintenance Low
Soil Type Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained
Characteristics Plant of Merit, Showy, Evergreen
Native Plants United States, Southeast, Florida, Louisiana, Southwest, Arizona, Texas
Tolerance Rabbit
Garden Uses Beds and Borders, Ground Covers, Hanging Baskets, Patio and Containers
Garden Styles Prairie and Meadow

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Young Swee Ming, shinoportogis, Shutterstock

While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.


Requirements

Hardiness 8 – 12
Plant Type Ferns
Exposure Partial Sun, Shade
Season of Interest Spring (Early,Mid,Late)
Summer (Early,Mid,Late)
Fall
Winter
Height 2' – 3' (60cm – 90cm)
Spread 2' – 3' (60cm – 90cm)
Spacing 24" – 36" (60cm – 90cm)
Water Needs Average
Maintenance Low
Soil Type Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained
Characteristics Plant of Merit, Showy, Evergreen
Native Plants United States, Southeast, Florida, Louisiana, Southwest, Arizona, Texas
Tolerance Rabbit
Garden Uses Beds and Borders, Ground Covers, Hanging Baskets, Patio and Containers
Garden Styles Prairie and Meadow

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