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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

YOU ASKED FOR IT! (part 2)

I am so flattered that so many of my friends are asking me questions with the faith that I will be able to answer them . I can only tell you my opinion, and Lord knows, I am not the authority on all that is green. If you can add to my all means let me know. I can always edit them into the blog post, or leave them in the comments for us all to see.

I received this question from Kathy (Ragamuffin):

Thanks. Here's my question: I want to hang 2 ferns on my front porch (see post on RMS under ragamuffin spaces). Should I replant them in moss lined baskets for better drainage? What kind? Also, how often should I water them, fertilizer type? I'll probably get boston ferns. I know you said "question", not "questions", but I have a serious brown thumb.Thank so much,Kathy (aka ragamuffin)
I will not ever call myself an expert fern grower. I have killed several in my time, due to overwatering and poor lighting. I have done a little research on your question and this is what I have come up with. Ferns generally like moderate to bright light.. and NO direct sunlight. They prefer a well drained soil that is kept consistently moist. They thrive in a humid environment. Boston Ferns are spreading ferns that will grow best in a hanging basket. I did find this information....

"Boston Fern Production Guide" describes several varieties of the Boston fern which are grown in Florida. The first is a small variety called "Dallas". This Boston fern is described as having short leaves (fronds) which grow and spread quite rapidly. This miniature Boston fern is a great choice for a dish garden, terrarium, or as a hanging plant.
Next is the "Bostoniensis" which is a large variety that has long, elegantly curved fronds. This variety originates from a shipment that contained some of the very first Boston ferns sent from Florida. They look beautiful in hanging baskets or in plant stands.
"Bostoniensis Compacta" is a well-favored, medium-size variety. This Boston fern is described as having dense fronds that are shorter than other varieties. This variety looks beautiful in a plant stand or as a hanging plant.
"Fluffy Duffy" is described by "Boston Fern Production Guide" as a lacy-textured, small variety that boasts wide, overlapping fronds. This variety, although diversified, is harder to grow and has a tendency to develop a disease of the foliage called "Rhizoctonia". This particular Boston fern is a good variety to grow outdoors in a plant stand, on a table, or in a hanging basket.
Lastly is a medium-size Boston fern called "Florida Ruffle". This plant is described as having wide based fronds that stand quite rigid. This variety does very well outdoors in plant stands, on tables, or in hanging baskets.
"Boston-type Ferns" says the Boston fern requires indirect or diffused lighting. In locations where there is not enough natural light, a grow light can be used. The website "Gardening With the Garden Helper" in the article entitled "BIG Boston Fern", which was published by "The Garden Helper", says a Boston fern growing under artificial or natural light requires from twelve to sixteen hours of light each day.
During active growth, "Boston-type Ferns" says these plants should be watered on a regular basis in order for the soil to remain moist. Distilled water is preferred over tap water because tap water often contains harmful chlorine. It is recommended that the Boston fern is allowed to become dry between times of watering in fall and winter months. "BIG Boston Fern" recommends setting a potted fern in a basin of water so it can soak up the moisture naturally.
Maintaining proper levels of temperature and humidity are necessary for successful growth of the Boston fern. "BIG Boston Fern" states that Boston ferns like cool locations with lots of humidity. If the air in your home is too dry, operating a humidifier will greatly increase the humidity level. The same article says that misting your Boston fern each day will also provide much needed humidity. When the leaves and fronds of the Boston fern become dry and brown, they should be removed in order to maintain an attractive appearance says "Boston-type Ferns".
Water-soluble plant food applied once every two weeks during the warmer months is recommended by "Boston-type Ferns". During winter, it says fertilizer should be applied monthly. To help achieve a rich, green color, the Boston fern can be given a mixture of two tablespoons of Epsom salts per gallon of water. The same article says this mixture can be applied two times per year. "

I would keep the ferns in a plastic hanging pot as this will help keep the moisture in longer...if you are willing to water frequently, a moss basket will do the job just fine, and be very attractive. If you go with the plastic pot, be sure to get one with drainage holes in the bottom!

I think that your idea for the ferns is a very attractive prospect. Please be sure to post what you decide to do!

I do hope that this information was helpful...if not ...please comment to me on what needs to be clarified! I am happy to clarify anything you need.


katdish said...


Wow! Everything you ever wanted to know but were afraid to ask about boston ferns! Seriously, thank you sooooo much for the research. I think I will keep them in the plastic pots, and humidity is in big supply, as I live just outside of Houston. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I will update you with pics after I put them up!

Janet said...

I grow Boston Ferns outside( hanging and in a planter) in mostly shade, some dappled sunlight in the summer. They grow beautifully outside in Massachusetts. Of course I kill them within 2 weeks of bringing them in in the fall.


Anonymous said...

My grandmother had the biggest and most beauiful healthy ferns. She would keep her egg shells and soak them in water and pour the water on her ferns. You can't keep them in water too long because the will start to stink. I usually let them soak for a few hours and then water my fern. It does work!