Nephrolepis exaltata, common name: Boston Fern

Plant Care Cheat Sheet

Difficulty Level: Medium
Light Requirements: Medium indirect light
Humidity Requirements: High humidity required

Native to the tropics, the Boston fern is an affordable, beautiful, classic, and relatively manageable plant that can be either in or outdoors. The Boston fern has gracefully arching fronds which can get quite long as the plant matures.

Boston fern (Nephrolepis exaltata) outdoors in shade


Boston fern does not want to be in direct sun. When outside, the fern should be in full shade. Indoors, the Boston fern prefers bring indirect light. However, it can handle medium light.

Crispy, browning, or yellowing fronds may be a sign of too much direct light, or not enough water or humidity.

Boston fern (Nephrolepis exaltata) loves humidity of a bathroom

Watering and Humidity

Water and humidity is the most important thing to get right for a Boston fern. This fern does not like to dry out, and can not handle dry conditions.

Water your Boston fern before the soil dries out totally. I can usually tell mine is ready for water because the leaves start to look a bit thinner and more translucent (it's a subtle difference, you need to get to know your plant).

Providing high humidity is vital for ferns, Boston fern included. If you live in a low humidity environment, you will definitely need to provide extra humidity for this plant. I use two different humidifiers in my home: one smaller one which needs regularly refilling, and a larger one by Onson which can run for a day or two straight. The smaller humidifier can double as an essential oil diffuser, while the larger one has three different steam settings. Both are great for different needs and spaces, so choose a size depending on how much humidity you need to supplement.

Always try to keep the humidity level above 50% for you Boston fern to be as happy as possible. I use this humidity meter to ensure I am providing enough moisture to my humidity-loving plants.

Boston fern (Nephrolepis exaltata)


Boston ferns can be propagated via division.

Boston fern (Nephrolepis exaltata)

Pet safe plant!

While most ferns are poisonous to cats and dogs, Boston Fern is not! This makes a great addition to your home no matter who you share it with.

Boston fern makes a beautiful addition to any plant collection