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Top 5 Reasons Behind Boston Fern Dying

Have you ever wondered why is my Boston Fern dying? Boston Ferns are solid and resilient plants, but it is not unusual to notice a plant that appears ill or frail.

Conditions like overwatering or underwatering, overfertilization,  fluctuation in lighting, lack of humidity, pests, and diseases can cause your Boston Fern to die. The Ferns can show many symptoms, including growing fronds, leaf burn, and root rot.

These can start with graying due to several cultural issues which need fixes readily!

Why is my Boston Fern Dying (Causes & Easy Fixes)

You can notice graying greens and yellowing fronds if your Fern is dying. 

Besides, fronds drooping, runner burn, and leaf tip browning are other symptoms that could tell the plants are undergoing severe conditions, which have multiple causes to address. 

1. Watering stress  

Indoor Boston Fern enjoys room-temperature watering every 2-3 days during hot weather. 

Overwatering your plant increases the risk of root rot, not allowing the extra water to drain from the holes in the bottom of the pot when watering.

As a result, the soil is in a constant state of being wet. 

Overwatered Boston Fern will showcase yellow and wilting leaves. 

Similarly, underwatering is also an issue for the luscious Fern as it requires soil that never entirely dries out.

The plant’s fronds begin to gradually grow crispy, brown, and limp due to dryness and lack of moisture. 


  • Check the soil for root rot, remove the plant from its container to reveal the roots, and then brush off any extra soil.
  • If you see any black, brown, mushy, squishy, or odorous roots, simply prune those roots with a sterilized scissors.
  • You may also repot the plant with a fresh potting mix in a new container. 
  • Hydrate your Fern once the top 1-2 inches of soil feel dry. 
  • Boston Ferns only require weekly watering over the winter when plants enter dormancy.
  • Ensure the plant’s container has drainage holes, and do not let your plant sit in excess water. 
  • Consider utilizing a self-watering container to prevent your plant from drying out.

2. Fluctuating Light

The Boston Fern cannot withstand extremely bright light since it originates from rainforests with bigger plants and trees hanging overhead.

The plant may get dehydrated due to the stress of extended sun exposure, which can also result in leaf scorching or burnt leaf tips.

Boston Fern under excess light
Provide the Fern plant with indirect sunlight to avoid sunburn on its leaves.

On the other hand, with less light, a plant grows more slowly, produces fewer leaves, and is typically weaker.

This is why your Boston Fern may lose its brilliant hues and shed its leaves.

Your Boston Fern won’t be able to create enough energy for healthy development and survival if it hasn’t received enough light.


  • If your Boston Fern is outside, move it to a shaded location. Make sure that it isn’t in the direct path of the sun.
  • If the plant has been in direct sunlight, trim the damaged fronds and water it well after moving it.
  • Place your Boston Fern in an east-facing window to receive morning sunlight. 
  • Block the window with drapes and shutters or move it 5-7 feet away to keep it out of the direct sunshine.
  • Similarly, expose your plant to at least 2-3 hours of indirect sunlight. 
  • If there isn’t enough natural light in your home, expose your Boston Fern to 4-6 hours of artificial fluorescent light
  • Also, rotate the Fern every couple of days so that the plant receives the light equally.

3. Lack of Humidity 

Boston Ferns are tropical plants that require 60% to 70% relative humidity or higher to flourish.

However, you can keep the humidity over 50% indoors.

For Boston Fern, low humidity in the house, which typically ranges from 10 to 15 percent, might be problematic.

The air dries up drastically on cold winter days, affecting the house’s humidity.

When relative humidity levels are low, a plant cannot absorb nutrients from the soil or enable water to escape, which is a vital stage in the transpiration process.

Your Boston Fern’s leaves will curl if the air in your house becomes too dry.

Similarly, the frond tips will get crispy and brown in most cases.


  • In summer, you can mist your plant every couple of days or daily, depending on the temperature.
  • Place your Boston Fern in high-humidity rooms such as the kitchen and bathroom. 
  • Fill a tray with pebbles and water until it is halfway up the tray. Put your plant on top, and the humidity level will rise as the water evaporates around it.
  • Buying a humidifier is the most straightforward approach to increasing humidity for your Boston Fern.
  • You may also group your plants to increase the humidity naturally. 

4. Pests & Diseases

Unsuitable conditions such as excessive humidity and overwatering will all draw pests and illnesses to your plant.

Spider mites, Mealybugs, fungus gnats, and scales are common pets to invade your Boston Fern. 

Such pests will suck the nutrients from the sap, causing the plant to wilt and develops yellow or brown leaves.

  • Mealybugs: Yellow/ Brown leaves, wilting and weak roots
  • Spider mites: Silky webs, silver spots, and yellow leaves
  • Fungus Gnats: Soft roots, yellow leaves, and wilting
  • Scales: black mold growth, slow development, and wilting

Similarly, Boston Fern is vulnerable to the following diseases:

  • Root Rot: Mushy stems, rotten soil, pale leaves
  • Bacterial Blight: Yellowing of leaves, rolled-up leaves, small water-soaked leaves 
  • Foliar Nematode: discolored blotches, shriveled leaves, reddening of leaves

The harm caused by foliar nematodes sometimes referred to as leaf and bud nematodes, is caused by their direct grazing on the leaves. They like wet environments and moderate temperatures.


  • Keep the air moving well and get rid of any contaminated plant components.
  • Carefully spray your plant with water if you see any bugs on the leaves or stems of your plant.
  • Afterward, hand-pick the bugs and use q-tips dipped in rubbing alcohol to massage the afflicted region.
  • Avoid contaminated cuttings, seedlings, or vegetative propagation tools. Make sure to sterilize your garden tools with isopropyl alcohol.
  • The best method for eradicating bugs is using warm water and insecticidal soap.
  • Similarly, neem oil and water can be combined, then sprayed over the insect problem area.
  • Use fungicides to treat the available plant diseases.

5. Overfertilization Issue

As a light feeder, the Boston Fern plant prefers water-soluble fertilizer two times per month in the spring and summer.

The salts in fertilizer build up in the soil and harm the roots of your plant if you fertilize it too frequently.

The roots and leaves get poisoned when the salts build up too much.

Boston Fern in pot
The chemical buildup due to overfertilization causes the browning of leaves.

As a result, you’ll see browning beginning around the tips and edges of your fern’s fronds. When this worsens, the roots eventually experience damage that affects their development.

They won’t be able to take in water and nutrients from the soil and transfer nutrients to other parts of the plant. 


  • Foremost, remove extra salt and minerals that have accumulated around the roots. Gently remove the Boston Fern from its pot and circulate water through the soil.
  • Scrape the topsoil off if you see salt buildup on the ground.
  • Repot your Boston Fern in a new potting soil mix. Your withering plant will perish if you replant it in that mixture.
  • Similarly, while fertilizing your plant, read the instructions as per the label. 
  • Always dilute the fertilizer to half its original intensity to avoid fertilization burn.
  • Remove the debris and dead leaves around the plant. 

FAQs Regarding Boston Fern Dying 

Can Boston Fern be revived back from root rot?

According to its symptoms, Boston Fern can revive when given the proper care and idea surrounding it. 

However, in the case of root rot, it is better to prune off the infected roots and repot them in a new pot and potting mix.

Can I use tap water to hydrate my Boston Fern?

Rainwater or distilled is preferred when it comes to hydrating your Boston Fern. 

However, If there is no other option, you may use tap water. Tap water is high in minerals or chlorine, so let the water sit for 24 hours before hydrating your Fern. 

From Editorial Team


The Ostrich feathers with the rich green foliage of Boston Ferns can revive the century-old parlor at a modern home.

To maintain their elegance, they need their care requirement regular check-up and root rot, pest, and diseases requiring quick treatment.

Other issues can be fixed over time or naturally.