How to Re-pot a Boston Fern?

What is the signature look of a Boston fern? Well, the lacy fronds. However, if your Boston fern has some kinds of root issues, the fronds may appear brownish and sickly. Now, that is not how we want to impress our visitors.

Although re-potting may not seem essential, as the roots get severely bound to each other, you will start noticing the unhealthy changes in your Boston ferns. Therefore, it is best to re-pot your Boston ferns timely and accurately.

Tilt the pot and carefully uproot the fern. Place the root ball in a new pot and fill the container with fresh potting mix. Adjust the potting mix in a way that it holds the fern upright. 

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Boston Fern
Boston Fern (Source:

It is essential to know when exactly one should re-pot their Boston ferns. Too frequent and haphazard re-potting might weaken the root system and delay the growth of your ferns. Therefore, re-pot your Boston ferns the right way for healthy growth.

Reasons to Re-pot a Boston Fern

Re-pot your Boston ferns for all the good reasons! 

Re-potting is one of the crucial steps in ensuring that your plant has a suitable environment for growth. After all, a healthy root system equals a healthy plant!

The following are the reasons why every plant parent needs to re-pot their Boston ferns once in a while:

  • When there is not enough soil and all the minerals have been depleted, your ferns start to look malnourished. The leaves begin to curl inwards and have slow growth.
  • Repotting a Boston fern helps to keep your Fern away from harmful invasive species.
  • Excessive root-binding will cause injury to the roots and cause root decay. This, in turn, will lead to the development of fungi and bacteria, causing infections.
  • Repotting Boston Fern will prevent the premature leaf fall, it will definitely increase the plant’s adaptability.
  • If you simply want to multiply your ferns and share them, separate their root ball and re-pot in numerous containers. An easy fix to a massive and unmanageable Boston fern!

By nature, the roots are meant to spread wide apart throughout the soil in search of nutrition. So let us give similar freedom to our Boston ferns and try to maintain their natural habitat.

When to Re-pot a Boston Fern?

Generally, it is recommended to re-pot your Boston ferns once every two to three years. 

However, if your Boston fern is enormous and from fast-growing species, you can re-pot them once every six months.

Now, if it still seems a bit too confusing and tricky, here’s a standard trick; look at the drainage holes!

If you see that a few roots are creeping through the drainage holes, it means that your Boston ferns need more space. Or, the second indication could be that the roots start shooting off from the topsoil.

A healthy Boston Fern
A Healthy Boston Fern (Source: Unsplash)

When the root outgrows its pot, they start creeping from up and below in search of more space. Henceforth, a larger pot solves this lack of room for the roots.

If you are still confused about whether you should re-pot your Boston ferns; here are some other common symptoms of a root-bound Boston fern:

  • Your Boston fern might look stunted or take a very long time to develop new fronds.
  • As soon as you water your ferns, the topsoil immediately absorbs all the water.
  • When you water the plant, the water runs straight through the pot and exits rapidly.

The best time to re-pot your Boston fern is during the growing seasons, that is, the beginning of spring or early summers.

Spring and early summers are the best time for re-potting because the roots will have enough time to grow and adjust themselves in a new potting mix.

Just remember that it would be best to re-pot your Boston fern when it is cold enough for it to freeze in the evening, but not too freezy because it might cause permanent damage.

Winter and autumns are not ideal as your Boston ferns go into survival mode in the cold seasons.

Any disturbances such as re-potting can cause stress to your ferns and negatively affect their development.

Materials Required to Re-pot a Boston Fern

Pot size

The new pot should be slightly bigger than the existing pot. Therefore, it is best to choose a pot that is about one or two sizes larger (about one to inches).

Remember that an extensively larger pot can cause root rot due to excessive water retention.

It is best to use terracotta or clay pots when re-potting your Boston ferns.

Biodegradable pots allow the flow of air to and from the pot, providing ample oxygen to the roots. These minute holes also help the soil to remain damp and not soggy.

Soil composition

It would be best if you use a fresh potting mix every time you-repot your Boston ferns.

An old potting mix is a big no as all the minerals and nutrients will have been absorbed by the plant. However, Boston ferns love an airy and efficiently drying potting mix.

They prefer a well-draining soil with high content of organic matter. So most people have been growing their Boston ferns in a coco peat mix with plenty of perlites.

Regular garden soil is way too heavy for ferns. You can buy a sterilized potting mix from a plant store or prepare one easily.

Mix some sand, perlite, coco peat, and sphagnum moss to get an excellent soil composition.

Materials To Repot A Boston Fern
Materials To Repot A Boston Fern (Source: Pixabay)

Drainage holes

Drainage holes are a must in all kinds of pots and to all types of plants. Ferns hate soggy soil.

Henceforth, before re-potting your Boston ferns, make sure that the pot has a few drainage holes at the bottom.

You will be inviting root rot and fungal infections towards your Boston ferns in the absence of drainage holes.

Sharp Tools

You will require sterilized scissors to prune down the heavy root ball. Also, make sure that you have either a fork or a chopstick in hand to free the root ball with minimal damage.

How to Re-pot a Boston Fern?

Re-potting a Boston fern is relatively easy. Their root system is considerably strong and can endure a certain degree of distress, making re-potting seamless and convenient.

Step 1

Remove the Boston fern from its pot carefully. If you use a plastic pot, squeeze the sides and carefully slide the root ball outside the pot.

And, for ceramic and clay pots, loosen the edges of the soil using a scooper. Then, hold the fern from the base and uproot it with a rotating motion.

Step 2

It is best to separate and free the densely packed root ball using a chopstick. You can even use a fork for easy separation.

Step 3

You can prune the roots for heavy binding. Also, check for any root rot or damages and carefully prune them using a clean pair of scissors.

Step 4

Trim the fronds at the base of your Boston fern as close to the crown as possible. This will give your Boston fern a fresh look and minimize strain to the plant during adjustment.

Step 5

Fill a slightly bigger pot with a one-third potting mix. And adjust the roots inside the pot. Make sure all the roots are direct, either sideways or downwards.

Step 6

Add in more potting mix and make sure that the plant stands upright. Pat down the soil for a stronger hold and add some more potting mix if needed.

Step 7

Give some water to your plant soon after re-potting. Place it in a shady spot that does not receive any direct sunlight for about a week.

Once your Boston fern has adjusted properly (in about two weeks), you can place them in a well-lit area with some indirect sunlight.

Do you have a boston fern at home and you’re not sure how to trim? That wouldn’t be a problem anymore.

Read more: How to Trim Boston Fern?

How to Take Care of a Re-potted Boston Fern?

A newly re-potted Boston fern needs considerably more care and attention. When we re-repot the ferns, they undergo a certain degree of stress which can cause your ferns to appear droopy and frail for a few days.

But not to worry, as they will start appearing healthy within a matter of one week.

Keep in mind the following tips and tricks to ensure that your newly re-potted Boston fern does not undergo further stress.

ParametersFavorable Condition
LightBright Indirect Sunlight
Temperature60 to 75 Degrees Fahrenheit
LocationIndoor, Steamy and Shady places
WateringOnce or twice a week
Soil TypeMoist rich, loamy soil with excellent drainage.
Added compost would be best for growing
Humidity> 50%
PestsDon't use chemical insecticides right away after repotting.
FertilizerDon't feed your plant fertilizer right away.
Favourable Condition for Repotted Boston Fern


Place your re-potted Boston fern in a shady spot. It is best to place them indoors in a semi-lit location. Or, place them on a shaded balcony with zero sunlight.

Once they have been successfully rooted, you can position them in a sunny location with plenty of indirect light.

Light and Temperature

Make sure that your Boston ferns do not receive any direct sunlight for about a week after re-potting. Also, ensure that the temperature is within 15 degrees Celsius to 30 degrees Celsius.

The roots need to adjust themselves to the new potting mix before they can function in full fledge. In addition, excessive heat and light can kill your newly re-potted Boston ferns.


It is best to water your re-potted ferns frequently but sparingly. It is advised to water them every day for about two weeks until the roots have been established adequately to the new pot. However, make sure not to give in too much water or drench the soil thoroughly.

The soil needs to be moist at all times; this helps the roots to adjust efficiently in the new soil composition.


It is best to keep the humidity levels high to avoid drying and wilting of the fronds. Newly re-potted roots are not very efficient in water absorption; hence, an extra boost of humidity will do an excellent job.

You can mist your ferns to increase the humidity around them. However, misting should be limited to twice a day only during hot summers.

A Healthy And Shiny Boston Frond
A Healthy And Shiny Boston Frond (Source: Unsplash)


Do not feed a newly re-potted Boston fern with fertilizers or plant vitamins. Instead, wait for at least six to seven weeks before fertilizing your ferns.

Minerals in the new soil are enough for your ferns for at least a few weeks. If you add in any chemical fertilizers before the roots have been well established, you will end up burning the new roots.

On the other hand, gardeners have reported using organic fertilizers after the second week of re-potting. It is always recommended to use a slow-releasing liquid fertilizer for any kind of potted plant.


It is not recommended to use chemical insecticides on a newly re-potted fern. The strong chemicals and inorganic substances might hinder the establishment of the plant to a new growing medium.

However, if the infestation is life-threatening to your Boston beauties, you can use a diluted neem oil spray to get rid of the bugs. However, make sure not to spray down on the topsoil.


Boston ferns are very responsive to their environment and care. Hence, once you re-pot them, you can immediately see the good results in about a week.

What’s stopping you to re-pot your Boston ferns? Fears that you might end up doing worse than good?

Well, Boston ferns are hardy plants; chances are they will love that re-pot and extra space. After all, who doesn’t want a bigger living space, right?

Happy re-potting!

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