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Bostonfern Nephrolepis exaltata

Phonetic Spelling
nef-roh-LEP-iss eks-all-TAY-tuh
Description

A lush green terrestrial or epiphytic fern commonly grown as a houseplant.  Plant in bright, indirect light and warmth (60-70 degrees).  This fern needs high humidity and moist soil that should never be allowed to dry out. Place near kitchens and bathrooms for higher humidity or set on a tray of wet pebbles.  In the winter, reduce watering since the plant is dormant and overwatering can lead to root rot.  This plant removes indoor air pollutants well.

They produce spores on the underside of the leaves.  These are dark brown to black dots that appear in a pattern.  Do not mistake these for insect or disease damage.  

Quick ID Hints:

  • Fronds pinnately compound, lanceolate shaped, gradually tapering upward
  • Pinnae basally auricled and asymmetrical
  • Sori round on vein

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  Scales or spider mites can be a problem if the air around the plant is too dry.This plant shows invasive tenancies in warm climates.

VIDEO Created by Elisabeth Meyer for "Edibles, Bulbs, and Houseplants" a plant identification course offered in partnership with Longwood Gardens.   

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Bostoniensis'
  • 'Ruffles'
    ruffled foliage
  • 'Tiger'
    variegated foliage
'Bostoniensis', 'Ruffles', 'Tiger'
Tags:
#small spaces#houseplant#container plant#shade tolerant#shade garden#lacy leaves#spores#epiphytic#fern#accent plant#hanging baskets#hardscape#deer resistant#pool#fantz#ebh#ebh-h#non-toxic for horses#non-toxic for dogs#non-toxic for cats
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Bostoniensis'
  • 'Ruffles'
    ruffled foliage
  • 'Tiger'
    variegated foliage
'Bostoniensis', 'Ruffles', 'Tiger'
Tags:
#small spaces#houseplant#container plant#shade tolerant#shade garden#lacy leaves#spores#epiphytic#fern#accent plant#hanging baskets#hardscape#deer resistant#pool#fantz#ebh#ebh-h#non-toxic for horses#non-toxic for dogs#non-toxic for cats
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Nephrolepis
    Species:
    exaltata
    Family:
    Polypodiaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Tropical & Subtropical America
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    Heavy shade, Deer
    Dimensions:
    Height: 2 ft. 0 in. - 3 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 2 ft. 0 in. - 3 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Epiphyte
    Fern
    Houseplant
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Cascading
    Creeping
    Weeping
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Fine
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Dappled Sunlight (Shade through upper canopy all day)
    Deep shade (Less than 2 hours to no direct sunlight)
    Soil Texture:
    Loam (Silt)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Available Space To Plant:
    12 inches-3 feet
    3 feet-6 feet
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    10b, 10a, 11b, 11a, 12b, 12a, 13b, 13a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Description:
    No fruits. This plants reproduces via spores.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Description:
    No flowers.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Variegated
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Leaf Type:
    Compound (Pinnately , Bipinnately, Palmately)
    Fronds
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Other/more complex
    Leaf Shape:
    Auriculate
    Lanceolate
    Linear
    Oblong
    Leaf Margin:
    Crenate
    Doubly Serrate
    Undulate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Fronds are erect to arching or pendent, 2-3 ft long, short-petiolate, pinnately compound, lanceolate, and are often crowded along stolons. Fronds are graceful, green, have a lacy look, and are attractive in hanging baskets. Pinnules are numerous, linear-oblong, base asymmetrically auricled and almost clasping, the margin serrulate to crenate. Indusium lines the margin, is circular, and not commonly seen on houseplants. Some variegated cultivars exist.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    Rhizomes are short, suberect, and with slender stolons.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Hanging Baskets
    Houseplants
    Pool/Hardscape
    Small Space
    Landscape Theme:
    Shade Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Heavy Shade