Ferns have a reputation for being challenging to care for, but these plants can be quite forgiving, and if kept in proper conditions, they are not demanding. However, many people struggle with watering their Ferns correctly, and overwatering can be a huge problem.
So, how do you tell if your Fern is overwatered?
When a Boston Fern is overwatered, it will show symptoms, including leaf discoloration, mushy and soft leaves, and droopy leaves. If the problem is not fixed, the symptoms will become more server, including the development of root rot, smelly and rotting soil, and leaves falling off the plant.
Can an overwatered Boston Fern be saved? How do you save an overwatered Boston Fern?
We will cover these questions so that you can get your Fern back to full health as soon as possible, so keep reading!
What Are the Symptoms of an Overwatered Fern?
Boston Ferns are stunning plants loved by many for their delicate leaves and lovely green color. Boston Ferns are perfect houseplants as they can brighten your day and keep the air in your home fresh.
These plants can be slightly difficult to care for, with watering them being the thing that people struggle with the most. Ferns are easy to overwater, which can lead to other problems that can seriously affect the plant’s health.
For people who are new to looking after Boston Ferns, there are a few signs you can look for that will indicate if your Fern has been overwatered. Let’s go through these symptoms, so you can easily diagnose the problem if it occurs.
1 – Smelly Soil
If you miss or disregard the early symptoms of overwatering your Boston Fern, you will notice an extremely distinct smell coming from your Fern. The smell will resemble a swampy, almost rotting smell that will mainly come from the soil your Boston Fern is in.
When you touch the soil, it will feel damp and cold. You might also see a build-up of water in the saucer of the plant pot. When you smell this very unpleasant smell coming from your Fern, it’s likely caused by root rot, which only occurs when the plant has been overwatered.
2 – Soft and Mushy Leaves
Boston Ferns are plants that look quite delicate and seem like they have a very weak structure. However, Ferns grown indoors tend to have a firmness to their leaves that have a somewhat leathery texture than felt.
When you see these firm leaves turn flaccid and soft to the touch, this is almost always an early indication of the Fern being overwatered. When you look closer at these mushy leaves, you will notice some dark, bruise-like marks on the leaves and stems of the plant. If you see these, then your Boston Fern is overwatered.
3 – Root Rot
Another symptom of your Boston Fern being overwatered is if the plant has developed root rot. As mentioned above, this will most likely go unnoticed until it begins to smell.
However, if you, by chance, repot your Boston Fern when suspecting overwatering, and you notice any changes in the roots of your Fern while repotting it, this could indicate the plant was overwatered.
Healthy roots are firm and almost woody. If the roots are mushy and turn a black-brown color, root rot is probably present, meaning your Fern was overwatered.
4 – Drooping Leaves
When you are searching for early symptoms that indicate your Boston Fern has been overwatered, you need to closely look at your Boston Fern’s leaves. When you notice the leaves of your Fern begin to droop, this is a good indication that something is wrong with your plant.
Drooping leaves are also an indication of underwatering your Fern, so you will need to search for other symptoms to confirm that overwatering is the cause. You need to feel the soil and the leaves. If they are both soggy and wet, then overwatering is the cause.
5 – Discoloration in the Leaves
Some discoloration is normal in the Boston Fern’s leaves as it grows, but if you notice a yellowing discoloration on several leaves simultaneously, then this is something you need to pay attention to. When multiple leaves turn yellow simultaneously, this can indicate that your Fern is overwatered.
To help confirm that overwatering is the cause, you need to feel your plant’s leaves. If the leaves are mushy, then overwatering is the cause of the discoloration.
6 – Fern’s Leaves Are Falling Off
If your Boston Fern is overwatered for a long time without you noticing, then this can cause your Fern to go into crisis mode. When this happens, your Fern will begin dropping leaves in an attempt to shed excess material it doesn’t need to try and survive.
When a Boston Fern is dropping its leaves to overwatering, the leaves will go through the discolored phase mentioned above, where the leaves will turn yellow and take on a mush texture.
Can an Overwatered Boston Fern Be Saved?
When people notice their Boston Fern showing these symptoms of overwatering, the main question people have is, can their overwatered Fern be saved? The answer to this will be dependent on how bad your Fern’s health is.
Some Boston Ferns might be too far gone to save and will die due to overwatering, but others can be saved and carry on living a healthy life.
However, no matter the condition of your Boston Fern, you should always try to save it, as you never know how well your Fern will react when you fix the problem. It could surprise everyone and bounce back.
How to Save an Overwatered Boston Fern
If you are lucky and have caught the problem in the early stages, all you need to do to fix the problem and get your Boston Fern back to full health is to let the soil dry out.
Check that there is enough drainage in the pot to allow for excess water to drain from the soil, and empty the saucer regularly. If you haven’t caught the problem in time and the roots of your Boston Fern have developed root rot, you need to take more decisive action to save your plant.
You need to tip the pot carefully and examine the plant’s root ball by wiping away the soggy potting soil. When you locate a root that has developed root rot, carefully cut the root off with a sterilized pair of scissors.
Then place the soil back over your Ferns roots and place the pot on some newspaper to help the soil dry out faster.
Overwatering your Boston Fern can create multiple problems for your Fern that could lead to the death of your plant if you don’t act fast. You can look for many symptoms in your Fern that indicate the plant has been overwatered.
Once you have identified overwatering as the problem, you need to assess how bad the damage is and act accordingly. If you follow the instructions in this article, you should be able to save your Boston Fern. Good luck!
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.