Boston Fern Humidity – Learn About Boston Fern Misting Needs
By: Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer
It’s hard not to fall in love with a Boston fern. Although it may conjure up images of dramatic, old-fashioned Victorian parlors, Boston fern works just as well in a modern environment. The Boston fern thrives in low light and requires only moderate care to keep it lush and healthy. However, the plant is native to tropical climates and without a high level of humidity, the plant is likely to display dry, brown leaf tips, yellow leaves, and leaf drop. Read on to learn more about improving Boston fern indoor air.
Increasing Humidity of Boston Ferns
There are several ways of increasing the humidity of Boston ferns and creating the ideal Boston fern indoor air.
The easiest way to increase Boston fern humidity is to place the plant in a humid environment. In most homes, this means a kitchen or a bathroom with a window or a fluorescent light. However, Boston ferns tend to be large plants, so this isn’t always a practical solution for improving Boston fern humidity.
Misting Boston ferns is another simple way to raise the humidity around the plants. However, many plant experts think that misting Boston ferns is a waste of time and that taking care of Boston fern misting needs is a daily chore that, at best, keeps the fronds dust-free. At worst, frequent misting that keeps the fronds wet is a good way to invite diseases that can kill the plant.
A humidity tray is nearly as easy and much less time-consuming, and it provides humidity without drowning the plant. To make a humidity tray, place a layer of pebbles on a plate or tray, then place the pot on top of the pebbles. Add water as needed to keep the pebbles consistently wet. Most importantly, be sure the bottom of the pot is sitting on the damp pebbles but never directly in the water. Water wicking up the drainage hole creates soggy soil that may cause root rot.
Of course, an electric humidifier is the ultimate solution for increasing the humidity of Boston ferns. A humidifier is a great investment if the air in your home tends to be dry, improving the environment for both plants and people.
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Best Plants for Re-Humidifying Your Dry Indoor Air
Try growing a plant instead of plugging in a machine to add moisture to your dry air.
Dry indoor air in the winter can wreak havoc with your health. Lack of moisture can cause your skin to become dry and cracked and your eyes, your mouth, and your sinus passages to become dry and even painful. In addition, you may experience jolting static shocks when you touch your pets, your bedding, or even your television.
Running a humidifier is one way to solve the problem, but did you know that growing houseplants do an effective job of replenishing moisture in the air? Since they're often varieties that thrive in humid environments, they will take in water through their roots, and then release moisture through the pores located on the underside of their leaves or fronds. This process is called transpiration.
Here are several common house plants that can help create a more humid atmosphere in your home.
Note: Indoor humidity should be kept between 35 and 65 percent. Too much moisture can create a breeding ground for bacteria, mold, and mildew.
NASA research found that the Areca palm is one of the most efficient air purifying plants and that it is an excellent humidifier. In fact, a six-foot Areca palm will transpire nearly one-quart water in 24 hours. Fortunately, they are also fairly low-maintenance plants. Place them in bright, filtered light to avoid leaf burn, give them plenty of water, and prune occasionally to keep them thriving.
Thought to be one of the oldest plants still around—ferns have been found as fossils—the Boston fern is a reliable, easy-to-care-for houseplant. Best displayed in a hanging basket or on a pedestal, this plant needs frequent misting and watering to say healthy, but it will reward you with added humidity in your home. Medium, indirect sunlight is best for healthy growth as well.
One of the hardiest houseplants you can find, the spider plant grows long leaves with delicate white flowers. This trailing perennial also has a strong rate of transpiration that can help keep your air moist.
Spider plants enjoy medium to bright light and like to dry out between waterings. To keep your plant stress-free, trim the offshoots and root them in soil or water to start a new plant.
Another flowering perennial with a high transpiration rate, the peace lily prefers medium to low sunlight, filtered, and moist but well-drained soil. Some varieties of peace lilies can grow up to six feet tall, and they produce dramatic white flowers. The peace lily also removes many harmful indoor toxins from the air, and make sure to keep it out of reach of both cats and dogs, as it is toxic to them if ingested.
The rubber plant is a Ficus variety named for a milky white latex it yields (different from the main commercial source of latex for rubber). It tends to prefer partial sunlight and can tolerate cooler temperatures and drier soil better than most indoor tropical plants. Water this plant, which can grow up to eight feet tall, sparingly, letting it dry between waterings for a hardy, healthy air purifier and humidifier.
With its shiny, green leaves covered in interesting markings, the Chinese evergreen is a lovely houseplant. It is easy to care for with low light and watering requirements, but you will need to make sure its soil is well drained and that variegated plants have more sunlight as needed.
The Chinese evergreen is another plant well-known for its abilities to purify toxins in the air, and as such, it also has a high transpiration rate that will help humidify the air around it.
Here’s another hardy perennial that adds beauty and moisture to your home. It tolerates irregular watering and low-light conditions, so it's actually harder for less skilled gardeners to kill with neglect.
With its glossy leaves with red edges, you’d probably choose the marginata for its looks alone. However, this slow-growing plant provides a few other benefits. It removes formaldehyde and benzene from the air and filters out other toxins while creating a more humid environment for itself.
The marginata prefers bright indirect light. It will handle lower light levels, but its leaves will be thinner.
The low-maintenance bamboo palm will thrive in a sunny spot while it too removes benzene, trichloroethylene, formaldehyde and other toxins from the air, leaving behind clean oxygen and moisture.
You can place these humidifying plants singly throughout your home or group them together to create their own humid microclimate. You can also increase their humidifying potential by adding small pebbles to saucers underneath them and filling them with enough water cover about half the depth of the pebbles. Empty and clean the saucers frequently to prevent algae or other unwanted growth.
About Tricia Drevets
About Tricia Drevets
Tricia is a contributing writer. She enjoys gardening and doing all sorts of backyard projects with her family in beautiful Southern Oregon. She is a freelance writer and editor for a variety of print and online publications as well as a community college instructor.
Boston ferns need a cool place with high humidity and indirect light. When you care for Boston fern plants indoors, it’s a good idea to provide additional humidity for them, especially in the winter. You can also try lightly misting your fern once or twice a week to help it get the humidity it needs.
In most cases, the grounds are too acidic to be used directly on soil, even for acid-loving plants like blueberries, azaleas and hollies. Coffee grounds inhibit the growth of some plants, including geranium, asparagus fern, Chinese mustard and Italian ryegrass.
Water Treatment for Pests and Problems
Though ferns are hardy, low maintenance plants, they do suffer from insect infestations from time to time. Mites, mealybugs and scales commonly affect indoor and outdoor ferns. The University of Rhode Island Landscape Horticulture Program recommends spraying infected ferns with warm water to dislodge the insects. Place potted ferns outdoors during mild weather, or in the bathtub in winter, and spray off all visible insects. Spray ferns with warm water whenever new signs of the insects return.
All ferns love moisture and should be given humid conditions. In living rooms and family rooms, stand their pots on trays of damp pebbles or clay granules. Ferns also love being misted at regular intervals with tepid, soft water unless the humidity of the whole room is kept high through the use of a humidifier.
If a fern is deciduous, meaning it’s foliage dies back to the ground when cooler temperatures arrive in late fall or winter, pruning is very straightforward. When a frond has died back completely to the ground, simply use a pair of scissors or sharp pruners to snip off the dead fronds.
Signs That Your Nephrolepsis Exaltata Is Sick
While some problems related to Boston Fern might be human-made, others are caused by the weather or pests. We will have a look at some of the most common signs that could point to some problems with the plants.
Problem: The Leaves Are Discolored
This could be either because of improper watering, or exposure to too much of bright and harsh sunlight. Discoloration might also be caused by pests and over-usage or wrong usage of fertilizers. You must identify the root cause of discoloration and take corrective steps immediately.
Problem: Plant Looks Sick Because Of Diseases
Quite often we come across the fronds of the fern plant turning gray in spite of regular and proper watering. Pythium root rot could be the cause of such discoloration. It could lead to the fronds becoming stunted or withering away.
If the roots are stunted and brown, you can be reasonably sure that the plant is suffering from root rot.
The solution to this problem is being proactive rather than being reactive. The best option would be to buy plants that are disease-free. The potting soil should also be pathogen-free.
There are also some chemicals that could help in addressing the problem caused by Pythium roots. When use chemicals for treating the problem, be sure that the soil also is treated.
Problem: Fronds Turning Black
While fronds of the fern plant turning black are not always abnormal, you must be alive and aware of the situation. If you find that there is large-scale browning or blackening of fronds, there could be some problem.
There could be many reasons, and in most cases, nematodes in the soil are considered to be the culprits. This can be treated by adding generous quantities of compost to the soil.
This will help in the growth of friendly fungi that can destroy the nematodes. If the infestation is quite bad, it would be a good idea to remove the badly infected plants.
Misting Boston Ferns: Tips On Increasing Humidity Of Boston Fern Plants - garden
Boston ferns are popular herbaceous perennial plants used in households, landscapes, and floral arrangements. The Boston fern, Nephrolepsis exaltata Schott. cv. bostoniensis, was discovered in 1894 and is a very popular Victorian era plant from the fern species that originated in Central America. The tropical plant is very low maintenance if given the proper level of humidity, which in the tropics is usually over 70% and temperatures stay between 65 to 75 degrees. They are usually grown and maintained in baskets or containers. Boston ferns have fronds that are between 1-3 feet in length. The plants prefer to in moderate to bright light, not direct sun and the soil should be kept constantly moist, but not overly wet. The recommended planting media for ferns is a peat moss based potting mix or a 50/50 mix of peat moss and all-purpose potting mix. Fertilizer feedings are recommended about once a month, but only for the months it is actively growing (April through September).
Typically, fern propagation has been through spore production or division. While an advantage of spore production is the large number of plants produced, this process can be very lengthy (around 2-4 months). Division can only be used for ferns that develop rhizomes and form offsets. A disadvantage of this method is the limited number of plants produced, and the fact that many ferns do not meet the requirements for this method.
Boston ferns are most commonly produced in large planting beds, which can lead to problems with uniformity and disease. These disadvantages are causing tissue culture to become a very popular method for reproducing Boston ferns. As with all tissue cultures, the propagules are identical to the mother plant, eliminating the potential for variation. For ferns in particular, the resulting tissue culture plants are usually bushier and more attractive than those grown in large planting beds.
It is important to have sterile techniques while preparing your tissue cultures because the cultures can easily become contaminated and overgrown with bacteria and fungi. All tools and nutrient media should be sterilized under high heat and pressure before use in order to kill any possible contaminants. It is also important to clean your hands and arms with soap before starting the tissue culture process.
The media used in the plates or other containers is a mixture of sugars, inorganic salts, plant hormones, and a gelling agent. This mixture provides the appropriate environment for the tissue's growth and development.
Explant Selection and Preparation
It is recommended to choose tissue from runner tips, since this tissue usually has the lowest potential for contamination. Since the ferns are most likely planted in hanging baskets, the runners are usually the furthest away from the soil and other surfaces that contain contaminants. To further prevent the chance of contamination, the stock plant can be kept in a cool, dry environment for a few weeks before the culture is prepared. When selecting for culture tissue, choose a healthy, disease free plant with plenty of runners. Do not choose tissue that has discoloration or damage from insects. Cut the runner tips from the fern, making sure they are about 3 cm in length. Prepare soap and water solution and briefly soak your runners in the solution. Rinse with water to remove the soap solution. After the initial rinse, sterilize the plant tissue in a 10% Clorox solution for 10 minutes. The tissue should be rinsed three times in sterile water after soaking in the Clorox solution.
After the tissue has been sterilized, the next step is preparing the space where you will be preparing your containers. The containers should be prepared under a laminar flow hood, which is a flow of sterile air produced through a high-efficiency particle absorption filter. Wipe down the counter that will be used with a household cleaning agent spray. Make sure all of the utensils you will be using have been sterilized under high heat and pressure before use. Using an empty, sterile petri dish, the tissue should be cut into approximately 1 cm squares and put into the sterile culture container containing media. The utensils should be sterilized frequently while preparing the containers. After preparation, the containers should be put into a cooler where they will quickly begin to grow.
After about a few days, the containers should be observed for contamination. If the tissues are not contaminated, leaves, roots, and other organs will begin to develop. After 6-8 weeks, those that are not contaminated can be further divided and sub-cultured in new containers for multiplication and more root growth. In about 6 more weeks of subculture, the cultures will develop more shoots and eventually rhizomes. In addition, shoot proliferation and frond elongation will occur.
The final stage is preparation for the transition of the plant material from culture to soil. The young plants need to acclimate to the new environment since they were growing in a controlled environment for many weeks. The laboratory is stress free compared to a greenhouse, so special steps should be taken to ensure you don’t experience loss or lose uniformity. The media from the tissue culture containers should be washed off the plants before placing them into a tray filled with a peat based potting soil. The plants should be kept under a mist system and the trays can be covered with a clear lid, polyethylene film, or cheesecloth placed on top. A mist system and covering is important because the plants will have not yet developed a cuticle, which is the layer of plant tissue that controls water loss. Any method for increasing humidity is needed to control desiccation of the young fern plants. Gradually, misting and humidity levels can be lowered and the plants can be moved to larger hanging containers.
Other Methods of Propagation
Propagation of ferns through spores is possible. In the summer, ferns will produce spores on the undersides of the leaves. These spores will fall off if the leaf is removed from the plant and allowed to dry. The spores can then be planted into a container filled with peat and covered with plastic to generate high humidity. Keep the media moist, but not wet, to avoid desiccation.
Division is a very easy and effective method of propagating ferns. Division is usually done in the spring. To divide a fern, split the original plant into multiple sections between rhizomes, making sure to leave a growing point in each section. The divided sections can be repotted in peat and given adequate moisture to allow for quick establishment.
Plant propagation through tissue propagation has many benefits when compared to more traditional methods like propagation from seeds, cuttings or division. Tissue culture can produce plants in very large quantities, which is needed for growers trying to release a new variety to the market. Tissue culture is a great alternative for plants that are difficult to propagate in other ways. Ferns can be reproduced through spore production and division fairly easily, but tissue culture has become an additional easy and effective method. Ferns are great plants for households and floral arrangements and are relatively low maintenance if their optimal conditions are met.
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