You likely love the way that Boston ferns look. So many people purchase these plants for their homes because of how lush and green they are.
Many love the way that these ferns can liven up boring living spaces. It adds a touch of nature to any room where you could use it.
If you’ve recently purchased a Boston fern plant, you might be concerned if it starts having problems. For example, you might be worried due to the plant suddenly dropping leaves.
What causes these ferns to drop leaves? Keep reading to get all of the information that you need to know so you can protect your plant.
1 – It Could Be Related to the Age of the Leaves
Before you start worrying that something is wrong, it’s important to know that leaf dropping can occur due to the age of the leaves. Sometimes leaves are going to fall off when they get old.
Older leaves are going to eventually wither and die. As the leaf dries, it’ll get closer to falling off of the plant entirely.
This isn’t something that you can prevent. It’s certainly not anything to worry about either.
You can rest easy knowing that this is a natural thing that occurs every so often. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re doing a bad job.
Old leaves will drop and new leaves will grow in their place. If you continue to care for the plant properly, everything is going to be just fine.
That being said, there are times when leaves will drop off of the fern despite not being old. In these situations, it’s an indication that something is wrong.
So if the leaves are old, you don’t need to worry. If the leaves drop from the plant suddenly when they shouldn’t, you’ll need to get to the bottom of the situation.
2 – Not Watering the Fern Enough
The most common reason why Boston ferns drop leaves (aside from age) is that they haven’t received enough water. When you don’t water these ferns enough they might wind up experiencing various issues.
You should know that Boston ferns need a lot of water to thrive. Some people make the mistake of not watering them enough since they tolerate drier conditions okay.
If you continue to not water the plant sufficiently, it’s going to suffer. Generally, you’re supposed to keep the surface of the soil moist instead of letting it dry out completely.
Perhaps you’ve been watering the plant infrequently. If this is the case, that might be why the leaves dropped.
Moving forward, you should check the soil more often to see if you need to water the plant. When the soil is starting to dry you need to water the plant.
When watering Boston ferns it’s best to soak the soil completely. Ensure that water is coming out of the bottom of the pot through the drainage holes.
3 – The Plant Needs a New Pot
There are times when these ferns will drop leaves due to needing a new pot. Have you repotted the plant often enough?
As the Boston fern grows it’ll eventually need a larger pot to continue to thrive. Otherwise, you could deal with many problems.
Another option is to divide the plant. Either way, after the fern grows larger, it’s going to be necessary to make some changes.
Keeping a Boston fern in a pot that is too small can cause issues with the leaves. It could be part of the reason why the leaves are dropping from the plant.
4 – Not Enough Humidity
It could be that your home isn’t humid enough for the Boston fern. These plants need to be kept in a somewhat humid environment to thrive.
To get good results, it’s suggested to keep the humidity between 40% and 50%. While this isn’t that hard to do if you take the right measures, it’s possible that your home is much drier than that.
You may need to buy a hygrometer to check the humidity levels in your home. If your home is too dry, you’ll need to take steps to raise the humidity near the houseplants.
This can be done in several ways. Some people simply mist the plants every so often to raise the humidity.
You could try placing bowls of water near the houseplants, too. It’d be much easier to simply buy a small humidifier for the plants to keep things at the right level.
These little humidifiers don’t cost a lot. They’re easy to use and they’ll keep the area near your plants in the right condition so you won’t have to worry.
5 – Using Too Much Fertilizer
Using fertilizer to try to help plants go is very common. Many houseplant owners use fertilizer on their plants every so often.
Some simply wind up using more fertilizer than they’re supposed to. If you’ve been using an abundance of fertilizer on your fern, it could be causing the leaves to drop.
Typically, when you see ferns start to change colors, it’s a sign that you’re fertilizing them too much. This happens due to the presence of high soluble salts in the soil.
To turn things around, it’s necessary to purge the soil of the excess nutrients. You can do this by flushing the soil or you can simply try to replace the soil.
Flushing is likely the better course of action since you don’t want to shock the plant. When using fertilizer in the future, it’s wise to be more conservative.
One dose of fertilizer each month should be enough for the plant. You might also want to use less fertilizer at once or dilute the fertilizer to avoid further issues.
6 – Not Enough Sunlight
Your Boston fern might not be receiving as much sunlight as it should. These plants don’t need too much sunlight when compared to many other plants, but they do still need light.
If you have your fern in a place where it doesn’t receive much sunlight at all, this could cause it to look droopy. You might even wind up noticing that the leaves will drop due to an extreme lack of sunlight.
It’s best to give Boston ferns at least a few hours of bright indirect sunlight each day. Direct sunlight is too harsh for these plants, but they do well with indirect sunlight.
Medium or bright indirect sunlight will be just fine for these plants. Simply be sure that you’re giving it some light while also protecting it from the harshness of the sun.
Should You Prune Boston Ferns?
You know that the leaves can fall off naturally due to age. Does that mean that you should prune Boston ferns?
It can be helpful, but you want to give the plant a trim at the most opportune time. Most enthusiasts recommend trimming Boston ferns each time you repot them.
So when you’re getting ready to put the plant in a new pot it’ll be an ideal time to prune the fern. This can encourage healthy growth and keep the plant looking nice.
You should repot Boston ferns during the spring. It’s best to do this in the early days of spring.
So long as you’re trimming the plant, it’ll look healthy. You can get rid of dead or dying old growth and encourage the plant to produce new growth.
Pruning is part of keeping these plants looking nice and lush. So remember to do this when necessary.
Care for Your Boston Fern Optimally
Caring for your Boston fern optimally is important when you want to avoid issues with leaf loss. Sometimes the leaves are going to drop from the plant naturally.
There isn’t anything to worry about when this occurs. It’s normal for plants to lose leaves as the leaves get old.
However, there are things you can do that will cause the leaves to drop from the plant prematurely. So you need to work to avoid making mistakes when caring for these ferns.
Be mindful of how much sunlight the plant receives. A lack of light could cause issues with the leaves withering and falling off.
It’s also true that using too much fertilizer might be a huge problem. You must be careful when using fertilizer since too much can make the plant suffer greatly.
Even watering the plant too much or too little can be an issue. Typically, a lack of water is the most likely reason why Boston ferns will drop leaves.
You have to monitor the condition of the soil to avoid issues. Touch the soil and water the plant thoroughly when the soil is beginning to dry out.
Be sure to put the fern in a new pot when necessary, too. Boston ferns will grow over time and they might need new pots or they could need to be divided.
Keeping all of this in mind should allow you to make good choices. You can protect the plant and keep it looking nice for a long time to come.
Boston ferns aren’t difficult to care for overall, but problems can pop up when you don’t know what you’re doing. Now that you know more about this situation, it’ll be simpler to make good choices.
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.