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Wild Willy

How to Grow and Care for Boston Ferns

Nephrolepis exaltata

Avocado trees take many years before they produce fruit From the sound of it you found a real treasure. I am sure that the plant is in need of some fresh soil, and to accomplish this you will either need to repot it in a larger pot, or divide it. Either of these options will create a certain amount of stress for the plant, but in the long run it will be beneficial. If you decide to repot, remove the plant from its current pot and carefully loosen up the root mass and remove as much of the old soil as possible. The roots will have become ingrown over time, and you will want them to be able to reach out into the new soil. You will undoubtedly do some damage to the roots, but don't worry about it, just do your best. You will want to use a 15 inch pot which will also be a bit deeper. Put enough good commercial potting soil into the bottom of the pot so that when you put the plant in, the original soil level will be about an inch below the rim of the pot. Clip off all of the dead fronds from the plant and put it into the new pot, then add more potting soil to the sides, watering liberally to move the soil down into the root structure. Keep adding soil until the pot is filled to within an inch of the pot rim. The important things to remember are that you want to use good, sterile soil, and to eliminate all of the air pockets around the roots. You will probably lose some more fronds before you are done because of shock and root damage, but just trim them off, and the plant will recover on its own.

Defininition of Plant prefixes and suffixes

If you would prefer to divide the plant, you basically follow the same procedure. You can either cut the root ball vertically with a sharp butcher knife in half or quarters, or you can use your hands and seperate the roots. Cutting with the knife is easier and will do less root damage.
Grow lights are special bulbs which are designed to imitate natural sun light. Plants need both red and blue light to thrive, which they get from natural light but it is not available in normal light bulbs. There are several companies which produce these grow lights in florescent tubes and standard bulbs. Using artificial light will enable you to regulate the amount of time that your plants receive the light, which should be between 12 and 16 hours a day. In some instances it is very convenient if the plant you are growing relies on seasonal changes to induce blooming, such as with Christmas or Easter cactus. If you are growing your fern in a room with a lot of indirect, bright light you don't necessarily need the grow lights, but they sure can't hurt since the plant obviously did well under them.

Flower / foliage colors

aurea, aureo golden
alba, albo white
glauca blue
rubra red
purpurea, atropurpurea purple
coccineus scarlet
croceus yellow

Leaf shapes / forms

angustifolius narrow leaves
acerifolius maple-like leaves
aquifolius spiny leaves
buxifolius boxwood-like leaves
ilicifolius holly-like leaves
parvifolius small leaves
macrophylla large leaves
heterophylla varied size leaves

Place of origin / discovery

africanus native to Africa
alpinus native to alpine regions
campestris native to plains and fields
canadensis native to Canada
canariensis native to the Canary Islands
chinesis native to China
japonicus native to Japan

Plant parts / descriptions

dendron tree-like
flora, florum, florus flowers
phyllus, phylla, folia leaves
baccatus having berries
campan bell
rotund round
cordatus heart shaped
edulis edible
floridus free flowering
fulgens shiny
grandi large, showy
macro large
micro small
officinalis medicinal
plumosus feathery
rugosus wrinkled, rough

Plant shapes / habits

altus tall
arboreus tree-like
compactus compact, dense
contortus twisted
elegans slender, willowy
humilis small, low growing
nanus dwarf
procumbens trailing
repens, reptans creeping
scandens climbing
marginata variegated margins
variegata varigated foliage
bicolor two color blend of variegation
tricolor three color blend of variegation
pendula weeping growth
zebrinus striped