Nephrolepis exaltata, or the Boston Fern, is a popular house plant that is loved by many. These plants are pretty straightforward to care for, but this doesn’t mean they don’t have their problems.
So, what would cause the leaves of a Boston Fern to dry out?
There are several causes that can lead to the leaves of a Boston Fern drying out. Some of these include improper lighting conditions, overfertilizing your Boston Fern, underwatering the Fern, improper temperatures, low humidity levels, and your Boston Fern being root-bound.
How do you fix the causes of these problems to bring your Boston Fern back to full health? Can these problems also cause the tips of the leaves to turn brown?
We will look through the answers to these excellent questions and more in this article!
Why Are Your Boston Fern’s Leaves Dry?
Boston Ferns are stunning plants that have become popular over the years as perfect, relatively low-maintenance houseplants. Boston Ferns are loved by many, and they bring a lovely pop of color into your home.
Unfortunately, these plants can develop problems if they are not kept in the right growing conditions. Some of these problems can cause the leaves of the Boston Fern to dry out and turn brown, which can be alarming for the plant’s owner.
Sadly, figuring out the problem can be challenging as there are several causes to this problem, and your beloved Boston Fern could be suffering one or more of them at once. Here are the possible causes of your Boston Ferns leaves drying out and turning brown:
- Improper Lighting Conditions
- Underwatering your Boston fern
- Your Boston Fern could be rootbound
- Improper temperatures
- Improper humidity levels for your Boston Fern
- Overfertilizing your Boston Fern
Most of these problems can lead to the death of your Boston Fern if you don’t fix the issue as soon as you recognize it. Let’s go through these causes that dry out the leaves of your Boston Ferns and make them turn brown so that you can save your beloved plant.
1 – Underwatering Your Boston Fern
Boston ferns are thirsty plants and prefer to be kept in moist soil. This does mean that these plants are susceptible to being underwatered, and this problem can happen easily.
Underwatering a Boston Fern is a common problem that can lead to the plant’s leaves drying out and turning brown over time.
To make sure the soil of your Boston Fern stays moist but not soggy, you need to stick to a watering schedule with your Boston Fern. You should water your Fern thoroughly until the water drips through the drainage holes on the pot.
Then test the soil daily to ensure it’s still moist, and once the first inch of the soil seems about 50% dry, you need to water your plant again.
2 – The Fern Could Be Rootbound
Boston Ferns have extensive root systems that need space to remain healthy. The root system of a Boston Fern can grow fast and outgrow pots rapidly when they are cared for well. When the Fern is left in the same container for a long time, the roots could become rootbound, which can cause problems for your Fern.
When a plant is rootbound, it cannot receive the oxygen and nutrients they need to sustain the plant. This will cause the plant leaves to dry out and turn brown over time. You need to repot your Boston Fern into a larger pot to accommodate the root system.
It’s a good idea to repot your Boston Fern once every two to three years to allow the Fern to grow to its full potential.
3 – Improper Humidity Levels
Boston Ferns are tropical plants that require high humidity levels to thrive. When a Boston fern is kept in low humidity levels, this can cause the plant to become dehydrated, and the leaves will dry out, eventually turning brown.
Most homes only have an average humidity level of 20% to 25%, well below the Boston Fern’s preferred humidity levels. This Fern prefers a humidity level of at least 50%. Thankfully, there are methods you can use to increase the humidity levels in your home.
You can buy a humidifier, place it in the room you keep your Fern in, and have it on for at least 4 hours a day. You can also buy a humidity tray and keep your Fern on this to raise the humidity levels.
Otherwise, you can also use a spray bottle to mist your Fern daily to help increase the humidity levels around it.
4 – Overfertilizing Your Boston Fern
If you are fertilizing your Boston Fern frequently, then this could be the cause of the Fern’s leaves drying out and eventually turning brown. Ferns don’t need much fertilizer to stay healthy and grow well.
You should only fertilize your Boston fern once every 2 to 3 months with a diluted liquid fertilizer for houseplants. Excess fertilizer can cause several problems for your Fern.
It can damage the root system, prevent the roots from absorbing nutrients, and increase the soil’s toxicity levels by causing a build-up of salts. Both can cause your Fern’s leaves to dry out and turn brown.
5 – Improper Lighting Conditions
Like all living plants, Boston Ferns require a certain amount of light in a day to survive and stay healthy. Boston Ferns need bright indirect sunlight to stay healthy. If your Boston Fern receives too much sunlight, this can cause the plant’s leaves to dry out and turn brown.
You need to keep your Boston Fern in a location where it will receive the perfect amount of sunlight to stay and grow healthy.
6 – Problems with Temperature Around the Fern
Boston Ferns are tropical plants; however, they mainly grow on the floor of forests and other areas. This means that they don’t require as high temperatures to thrive as many people think. Boston Ferns only require temperatures between 60 and 75°F to thrive in your home.
If the temperatures are a lot higher than this or drop lower, this can cause the plant’s leaves to dry out and turn brown. You should keep a thermometer close to your Fern to monitor the temperature and keep it at optimum levels.
Can These Also Cause Boston Fern Dry Leaf Tips?
If your Boston Ferns leaves have begun turning brown at the tips of the leaves, this can worry you as the plant’s owner. Thankfully many of the causes for this problem are mentioned above and are relatively easy to fix. If you follow the instructions above, you should also be able to save your Boston Fern.
There are several causes of Boston Ferns leaves drying out and eventually turning brown. Trying to identify the correct cause can be challenging, but if you follow the information laid out in this article, you should be able to find the cause and fix it before your plant’s health gets damaged even further.
These problems mentioned in this article are fairly simple to fix, and once you do, your Boston fern should be back to normal in no time. Good luck with your Boston Fern!
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.