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My sad Boston Ferns, please help

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by Rubberband Girl on April 08, 2006 03:15 AM
Hi there, I'm new today and found your wonderful site while Googling for advice on my once lovely Boston Ferns.

I have read many of your posts so far, but it seems each case is different, so I will try to explain my specific problem.

About 3 years ago, this May, I purchased 5 small Boston Ferns to provide some needed privacy along the patio of my apartment. They are in hanging plastic baskets and receive indirect sunlight until later in the afternoon, since they face northwest. I nursed them along and by the following spring I had repotted them. For the past two years, and through the winters in Southern California, I enjoyed their full growth and health.

However, in the last 3 months, since the holidays, they have been such a source of trouble.

In January, I noticed a light infestation of tiny black mites?(I mean flat top pin size) on the delicate new growth. I had this same problem with indoor English Ivy and used the Q-tip alcohol method, then an insecticide. I used this same method on the ferns, to no luck. I also used a diluted dish soap spray, with also no luck. This last method seemed to burn the interior of the plant, but not harm the insects.

Now, I am not sure how to proceed. I am extremely attached to them, and do not wish to split them, since I would have no space for addition plants. I'd like to maintain their adult size and health for the next few years.

I have read that I should repot them with fresh soil in the same cleaned containers, having loosened and cut back about 1/3 of the root growth and fronds. The plants seem to be pot bound, with heavy root growth over the top of the pot. I was also encouraged to do this before a new growth season, which would be about now.

I appologize for the length, but I wanted to provide as much information as possible.

I regularly water the ferns by soaking in a bucket once a week with a small about of Miracle Grow. They are sprinkled or misted later that same week.

So, please, what could have caused this slow deterioration of my ferns? The insects? Are they in need of a repotting? Was the winter too cool this year?

I'd really appreciate any help, since I was planning to do the repotting this weekend, but I thought I'd post here first. My five babies will love you for your help. [Wink]

Thank you,
Rubberband Girl
by Rubberband Girl on April 08, 2006 03:18 AM
I also didn't mention that the interior of the plant has browned, and the slight growth of new fronds are infected with these pests.
by Handbright on April 08, 2006 10:06 PM
Hi Rubberband girl...
These mites are not insects, so a traditional insecticide will not help them at all.
there is a product called bio-neem that is a mitracide that might help. The first defence is to eliminate as many of the little ghostlike webs and arachnids that you might see when you hold the plant up to a light. By manually removing them with a good "frond washing" and then following with the mitrocide, you might be able to save these friends.
Make sure you direct the shower water away from the pot and toward the tips of the fronds.
Cutting back as many of the damaged fronds as you can will help too, just by lessening the stress on the plant to support diseased growth...
And good luck, I love my boston ferns too!

* * * *
the first duty of love is to listen
by Rubberband Girl on April 09, 2006 01:47 AM
Hi Handbright,

Thanks so much for responding. It's really nice to have found a place with people so helpful. I was at my wit's end!

I will try this weekend and let you know how it goes. [Wink]
by Handbright on April 10, 2006 02:56 AM
Please do let me know when you have time. Looking forward to hearing how you fared with these very pretty, showy ferns.

* * * *
the first duty of love is to listen

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