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House fern

Bob Asked

Is it too late to start a Boston fern? Actually not starting, but transplanting from store pot? Last time I tried this, all leaves browned and pretty much killed the plant. Thanks.

The Gardener’s Answer

Hi, Bob: I apologize for the delayed response to your house fern question. Boston ferns are considered tropical for Kentucky gardeners and will not survive the winter outdoors. These tropicals can be brought indoors with the idea of moving them back outside after the frost-free date passes next spring. Indoors, the ferns will be happiest in a brightly lit room. You will want to adjust your watering schedule depending on the temperature and humidity of your home. It is hard to beat a lush beautiful fern but when they are moved from one environment to another they tend to be a bit finicky. Indoors, it is hard to mimic the warm, humid environment that they thrive in. These ferns will likely drop foliage during this time. The goal is to keep the roots alive so the foliage can actually be cut back. If you have a basement or garage that stays above 50 degrees, you can cut the foliage back and encourage dormancy during the winter months. I have attempted to overwinter these ferns and have found them messy but I don’t want to be wasteful so they go in the garage with some other tropicals. I have to admit that never look as lovely as the ones in the garden centers. That being said, every gardener should try it for themselves.  Best of luck!


Angie Oakley

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