Boston fern is one of the most popular plants because it’s easy to care for. Whether it’s grown indoors or outdoors, Boston fern doesn’t need a lot of sunlight and thrives in humid areas.
It’s an excellent addition to your indoor or outdoor garden because it purifies the air and its erect rich green foliage adds a touch of beauty.
But Boston fern brown tips affect the look of your beautiful plant. So, why does this happen, and how can you fix this problem?
Keep reading to learn more about this problem.
Why Does My Boston Fern Have Brown Tips?
Boston fern is one of the most versatile plants because you can grow it in any setup. It adds the needed greenery to any landscape or indoor decoration.
However, when the growing conditions are less than ideal, Boston fern can develop several signs that show that it needs some extra care.
Having brown tips is quite common when you’re growing Boston fern because this plant is sensitive to light and humidity. Here are some reasons why your plant might have brown tips.
1 – Too Much Light
Boston fern thrives in partial shade. This is why it can be an excellent indoor plant if you don’t have much natural light in your home.
Bright indirect sunlight is essential for Boston fern foliage to grow and stay green, but when it’s exposed to too much light, the tips of your fern will turn brown.
This is why the best place to place your Boston fern is on your porch or next to bigger trees in your garden, where it can benefit from some filtered sunlight in the morning and afternoon.
Placing the fern’s pot near a southern-facing window will scorch the leaves and turn them brown.
2 – Too Much Temperature
If you live in an extremely hot or cold climate, this might be the reason why your Boston fern’s tips are turning brown.
Boston fern thrives in temperatures between 65 and 75 F, and when the temperature is too hot or too cold, the plant will suffer.
3 – Lack of Humidity
Boston fern is an excellent plant if you live in a coastal area because it prefers humidity. It thrives when the humidity levels are above 80%, and lack of humidity harms the plant and turns the tips brown.
4 – Too Much Water
Boston fern is an excellent choice for busy people and beginners because it doesn’t require much watering. However, too much watering will make the tips of your Boston fern turn brown and can eventually lead to root rot.
5 – Inadequate Drainage
Boston fern thrives in loamy soil with good drainage. When the soil is low-draining, too much water can cause the tips to turn brown and will even lead to root rot that eventually kills your plant.
6 – Inadequate Fertilizing
Adding fertilizer is an excellent solution if the soil is too poor to grow plants. Nevertheless, adding too much fertilizer to your Boston fern can turn the tips brown.
The fertilizer can cause too much salt to deposit in the soil. This will eventually turn the fern tips brown and ruin its look.
Boston fern is a low-feeder, but it can benefit from occasional composting if the soil is too poor and it’s grown outdoors. When grown indoors, adding a 20-10-20 fertilizer once a month in the spring and summer will be enough.
Adding fertilizer to your Boston fern in fall and winter will actually be bad for your plant’s health.
7 – Mechanical Injury
If you don’t choose the right location for your plant, the tips can turn brown due to a mechanical injury.
Placing your plant somewhere when it can get easily knocked over by kids or pets playing will weaken the roots and eventually turn the tips brown. If your cat or dog chews on the tips, you’ll also end up with brown leaves on your Boston Fern.
8 – Lack of Repotting
If you’ve been growing your Boston fern in the same container for too long, this might be why the tips are turning brown.
This plant is a slow grower, but after some time, you still need to repot the plant and move it into a bigger container. A small container will suffocate the roots and stop the plant from growing.
The tips of the leaves will turn brown, and eventually, the plant will die.
How to Fix the Brown Tips of Boston Fern
Boston fern can recover from the brown tips if you address the problem early.
The brown leaves won’t turn green, but if you follow the right solution, the tips will stop turning brown.
You need to use a sterilized pair of scissors to cut the brown leaves close to the stem. Make sure that you wipe the scissors with alcohol to prevent the spread of diseases.
However, finding the root cause of the problem can be a little bit challenging. This is why you might need to try a few solutions and monitor your plant to see if the tips are growing green again.
Change the Plant’s Location
You might save your indoor Boston fern by simply changing the location of the pot.
Placing your plant away from a southern window where it gets plenty of direct sunlight will protect the tips from getting scorched. After a while, you’ll start to see the new green foliage growing, and your plant will restore its look.
Instead, it’s best to place your plant’s pot near a western window where it can get some bright indirect sunlight.
If a southern window is your only option, you can place your Boston fern further away. You can also place it next to a taller plant, so it can get some shade.
Boston ferns growing in hanging pots are suitable if you have a busy household. However, placing the pot away from your kids’ and pet’s reach will protect the plant and help it grow healthily.
Placing your Boston fern near the AC or heater vents can also harm it in the long run. This plant is sensitive to temperature and humidity, so any change in these factors will turn the leaf tips brown, and the plant will eventually die.
If you’re planting your Boston fern in the garden, you might need to replant it near a deciduous tree where it can get protection from the sunlight. This plant can grow brown tips and eventually die if it’s left outside and neglected.
Maintain Adequate Temperature and Humidity
In cold and hot temperatures, your Boston fern will suffer greatly. This is why maintaining adequate temperature and humidity will help the plant thrive and keep the foliage green.
During the night, the temperature shouldn’t fall below 65 degrees. During the day, it shouldn’t rise above 95 degrees F.
This will help maintain the plant’s health.
Using an AC might be necessary for the summer if you live in a tropical climate where it gets higher than 95 degrees F. This will also help regulate the temperature in winter when the temperature significantly drops.
The preferred humidity levels of 50% or higher are difficult to maintain in many houses, so using a humidifier will be necessary, especially if you live in a dry climate or it typically gets dry in fall and winter.
Regular misting can also help with maintaining the desired level of humidity, but this is a short-term solution as the water easily evaporates.
You can also increase the humidity available for your Boston fern by adding pebbles, gravel, and water to a bowl and placing the plant’s pot on top of this bowl. This solution will provide your Boston fern with regular humidity.
If too much humidity makes you feel uncomfortable, you can think about growing this plant in the bathroom.
Water When Needed
Boston fern needs regular watering in the spring and summer. In winter, it might be enough to water this plant every week or ten days.
The best way to determine that your plant needs watering is to test the soil, as this plant prefers moist but not soggy soil. First, touch the soil and make sure that the first inch or two are dry before you water your plant again.
Underwatering can also cause the tips of the leaves to turn brown, so you should avoid watering your Boston fern on a schedule. It’s best to check the soil and only water the plant when it’s needed.
Increase Soil Drainage
If you’re growing your Boston fern in clogged or low-draining soil, the tips of your plant will turn brown, and then it will eventually die due to root rot.
Repotting the plant and using good-draining soil might be necessary. You can also add a mixture of 50% peat moss and perlite to improve the draining of the soil.
Boston fern is actually sensitive to too much care. So lack of fertilizing might not harm the plant as much as too much fertilizing does.
You only need to fertilize your Boston fern if the soil is exceptionally poor. However, in most cases, this might not even be necessary.
Adding a 20-10-20 fertilizer every two weeks to once a month will give the plant the needed nutrients in the growing season. However, you should monitor the plant and adjust the amount adequately if you see that the plant’s tips are turning brown.
If you’re using a general fertilizer, you need to dilute it before applying it to your Boston fern.
In winter, you should avoid adding any fertilizers because these will increase the percentage of salt in the soil.
You should always avoid applying the fertilizer to the leaves and rinse them to clean off any residual plant food and protect the leaves from burning.
If you start seeing salt deposits on top of the soil, it’s time to flush it. Let the water run through the soil for about five minutes, and then avoid watering the plant until the soil is slightly dry.
Repot Your Plant
Your Boston fern might be turning brown simply because the roots have no room to grow freely. Moreover, ignoring the plant for too long can also make it more prone to pests and diseases.
The roots of the plant get trapped when the pot is too small. This is why you need to repot your plant and move it to a bigger pot after a year or two.
When your Boston fern gets root bound, they form a clump of roots that are unable to absorb the nutrients and water from the soil. This is why you shouldn’t leave it in the same container for an extended period.
Moving the plant to a new pot that is about 2 inches bigger once a year will be a good solution. In most cases, you don’t have to prune your Boston fern because it’s a slow grower.
Handle it With Care
Believe it or not, too much attention and handling can actually harm your Boston fern instead of helping it. This plant thrives with a consistent routine, so any change in the water, fertilizer, temperature, or humidity will affect it.
It’s best to choose the perfect spot for your plant and then maintain the growing conditions. Monitor your plant, and only make a change if the plant isn’t growing or the leaves are dying.
While repotting or propagating your plant, you should handle it with care as it might suffer from transplant shock if you’re too rough while handling it.
It’s best to repot your Boston fern in the spring or summer when it’s experiencing the highest levels of growth. You should also avoid rocking the root ball while you’re repotting it.
Boston fern is one of the easiest plants to grow and take care of. However, in some cases, the leaf tips can turn brown if the plant is handled wrong.
Too much light, inadequate heat, too much watering, or overfeeding can cause the leaves to turn brown. You should make sure that you’re growing your Boston fern in good-draining soil and only water the plant when the soil is slightly dry.
Growing up with a mom who filled her home (inside and out) with all sorts of plants, Lisa got her start in gardening at a young age. Living now on her own with a home and yard full of plants (including an indoor greenhouse), she shares all the gardening tips she’s gained over the years.