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Boston Ferns?

cornwall, ON(Zone 4b)

For those of us who live in zones 4-5 --Can a Boston fern be brought in and put into dormancy or would it need to be kept watered and under lights??? Can anyone help me ? If it must be kept 'up' all winter can it be trimmed back to pot or what? Please advise I have 5 big ,beautiful ferns and hate the thought of just throwing them into the compost pile. Sandra

Milton, MA(Zone 6a)


That's all about Boston ferns! Just came out a few days ago.

cornwall, ON(Zone 4b)

Thank-you so much. I knew I had read it somewhere but wasn't sure where. I wonder though, if they couldn't be put into a state of dormancy. Any ideas.Sandra

Milton, MA(Zone 6a)

I don't know about that....I really only know what Jill said in her article. But definitely don't compost them! What about the one she cut way back and forgot to water?

cornwall, ON(Zone 4b)

Yes, I thought about that too, but would I still have to give it light or just a corner in the basement unlit. I would think that it would be ok even in a basement window with northern exposure and cool temps as long as it doesn't freeze. Where they come from there must be an off season. If I did that, I think they might survive with very light watering. What do you think? Sandra

Milton, MA(Zone 6a)

Aren't they from uh, a jungle or something, where it's moist and rich and warm? I don't know if they have "dormancy." I think it can tolerate shade but not dry. wait wait wait

Milton, MA(Zone 6a)


This one is a little older, but it talks about winter care vs. summer.

I used to drag my plants out in the summer and leave them in the comparative dark of inside all winter. I think water will be more of an issue than light, for you!

cornwall, ON(Zone 4b)

After reading these articles, I think you may be right. My decision is to bring them in after cutting back the fronds and keep them in low light with reg. watering. Hope that gets them through the winter. If not, atleast I tried. Thanks for all your help, It's much appreciated. Sandra

Milton, MA(Zone 6a)

Good luck!

mid central, FL(Zone 9a)

these ferns grow pretty much wild in central florida. we don't get much rain in winter. they will die to the ground during a frost or freeze but come back fine in spring, popping up everywhere. i would not keep them too wet if you're cutting them back to ground/pot level. maybe a gentle soak, not a drench, once a month. i'd worry about rotting the roots with any more water than that. you are putting them in a kind of dormancy by cutting and withholding water. they should be fine.

cornwall, ON(Zone 4b)

Thank-you Trackinsand That's what I needed to hear. I think I'm on the right track. You are so lucky in some ways down there. Here, if you leave something like a boston fern out to freeze, it is finished. At $20.00 each, it is hard to just compost 5 of them. Thanks again. Sandra

mid central, FL(Zone 9a)

you're welcome.
the thing is that here, even though we may get a freeze or two, our ground (sand) never freezes deep, maybe just a crust over the top. i think i would leave some green on yours and maybe instead of a soak, just mist them once in a while.
good luck and report back next spring if it was a success or not.

Northwest, MO(Zone 5a)

I have two Boston ferns that I am wintering over. I have them displayed on the main level of our home and so far they look really good. I water them twice a week, and vacuum the fallen leaves.

If they make it through the winter, this coming spring I will cut them in half and repot. I could have put them in the basement next to a window, but so enjoy their green fronds...just hope they continue to do well through the winter months.

Monroe, WI(Zone 4b)

You'd be better off dividing them before spring. You could probably do it now and they'd recover somewhat and have some growth before you put them out again in the spring. I cut mine back when I bring them into the g'house in the fall. Cut back pretty hard, as a matter of fact. They grow out some by spring, and by fall they look great again. I only cut them when they start to look a bit skanky; I don't do it every fall. Just more of a "as needed" shearing. LOL

Grant, AL

I read by Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist) August 27, 2013 at: http://davesgarden.com/guides/articles/view/4368

Lots of good advice

Unclear whether I'm suppose to cut the ferns back prior to dormancy or first thing when bringing them out of dormancy.

Any suggestions?

This message was edited Nov 21, 2015 9:26 AM

This message was edited Nov 21, 2015 9:27 AM

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