Overwintering Ferns

by Jenn @ Frugal Upstate on September 29, 2010

102/365: Fern

Photo by The Playful Librarian

One of the things I really love about the Frugal Upstate house is our lovely wide wrap around porch.  This year I finally bought the hanging geraniums and Boston ferns I’ve always wanted to hang from the eaves of the porch.

They looked lovely.

And no, bad blogger that I am, I forgot to take pictures.

As wonderful as they looked, the idea of shelling out over $100 each spring to buy more makes me shudder.  I started thinking-there has to be a way to keep these things alive through the winter.  But how?

After a little research on Boston Ferns I learned several things:

1-Boston Ferns are happy in cool environments.  Between 62 to 65 degrees F.

2-When indoors Boston Fern grows best in bright filtered light.

3-Although relatively drought tolerant for a fern-Boston Ferns still require a much higher humidity than the average heated home during the winter.

4-Fronds will die and drop off during the winter, making it a rather messy houseplant.

Here is the plan I came up with:

1-Water the plants well then bring them inside soon-before frost hits-to start getting them acclimated.

2-Give both ferns a “Haircut”.  One article I read suggested cutting all the fronds that droop down and leaving only the ones that are pointing up. That seems pretty drastic to me.  I am going to go a bit more conservative on the trimming, mostly because I’m chicken.

3-Hang one fern directly in front of a lace covered window in the front entryway (which is pretty much unheated in the winter) and the other on a plant stand that is about 4 ft away from an uncovered window-they should get pretty decent light that could still be considered “filtered”.

4-Buy a mister and put an alert in my google calendar to water weekly and mist 2X a week to try to keep the humidity up.  Hopefully the fact that the ferns are right near the door the kids have to head out of for school will help me to remember-I may even leave the filled mister near the door as a reminder.  There is a slim chance that I might think to bring a humidifier out there and run it. . . but then again I probably won’t.

Honestly, I’m not sure how this is going to work out.  If it’s a complete failure I’m no farther behind than I would be if I had just chunked them into the compost heap.

So have any of you ever overwintered your Boston Ferns? What worked for you? I’m open to any and all pointers!

Sources:
University of Arkansas Department of Agriculture: Plant of the Week, Boston Fern.
GardenGuides.com: How to Care for a Boston Fern
Garden Web Forums: Successfully Overwintering Ferns Thread
University of Rhode Island Landscape Agriculture Program: Indoor Fern FactSheet

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