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by Saved by Grace on March 18, 2006 10:47 AM
Ive had these two ferns for about 3 years now. They both look like Boston ferns but one of them has short fronds(?) and they never get long.

Anyways, they are starting to look a little rough and Ive read that they need to be cut in half?? Im really nervouse about chopping my plants there a particular time I should do there a better way to get them to bounce back? Would it be better to just repot them or do I have to cut them in half? They have thrived for the past 3 years, its only in the last 4-5 months that they have started going down hill.

Thanks for any help that can be given.

Saved by grace

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A vessel of mercy.
by tkhooper on March 18, 2006 10:13 PM
Hi Victoria. Boston ferns grow in a ring shape. As they get older the center dies and the new growth in on the outside. So you want to divide the plant so that each piece becomes the center for a new plant. Otherwise they develope bald spots lol. And yes it is very scary to divide a plant. I was busy dividing up my canna last fall before I stored them and I know how you feel.

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by Will Creed on March 19, 2006 08:53 AM
Hi Victoria,

There are many different varieties of Boston fern and that would account for the difference in frond length. It is probably genetic and nothing you can do about it.

Can you describe in detail what you mean by "rough-looking" and "going down hill?" There is probably a cause for what you are observing and dividing or repotting is not likely to deal with that cause. A photo would be particularly useful.

Will Creed
Interior landscaper
by Saved by Grace on March 19, 2006 11:50 AM
I actually like the two ferns being different so that works out pretty good.

There is slow but constant death on the ferns...on the biggest one it has lost about 1/2 of its fronds over the last several months. The short fern looks really good until you pull up the green fronds and look underneath and then all you see is dead fronds.

I cant post a pic right now (my computer freezes everytime I try to load pics from the camera??) so I hope these discriptions help a little.

All I can say is they looked great for a long time and now they are slowly dying, I dont want to lose any of my plants especially the ferns (they were gifts from my husband, so they actually have a history behind them for me).

I want dividing them to be last resort (unless its healthy for them). Could it be lack of fertilizer? I only fertilize once a month, but I have always done that and my plants have always done great with there a special fertilizer I should use for ferns?

Thanks again,

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A vessel of mercy.
by Will Creed on March 19, 2006 12:04 PM

It is part of normal growth habit for older fronds to die back as they are replaced by new ones, so I am not sure that you actually have a definable problem. That's why a photo would help.

Gradual decline is usually because of inadequate light and/or improper watering.

Boston ferns need a lot of bright light with at least a couple hours of direct sun early or late in the day. Right in a north or east window is best. They are not really low light plants.

Like most ferns, these don't tolerate dry soil at all. If you are regularly allowing the soil to get a bit too dry, then that could be causing the slow decline. When properly potted and when in good light, it is very hard to overwater a Boston fern.

Fertilizer is not the answer. Save it for your plants that are healthy and growing vigorously.
by Saved by Grace on March 21, 2006 02:27 AM
One fern is in the north window and the other is in the east window, so I dont think light is the problem.

I water once a week (the soil does get dry on the ferns so I will water them a little more).

Thanks again!


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A vessel of mercy.

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