Expert Advice: Fern Migration

Learn how to best care for an indoor/outdoor fern.

We overwintered a fern and now would like to plant it outside. Any tips on doing this? We know they don’t like full sun.
—Albert Burdge, Little Silver, NJ

I’m guessing you were given a Boston fern (Nephrolepis exaltata, Zones 10 to 12), which has light green, cascading fronds 2 to 5 feet long. Boston ferns were popular parlor plants in Victorian times, and they’re still commonly grown as houseplants. Ferns of this type grow wild in shady, tropical forests where the humidity is about 70 percent and temperatures never fall below 30°F.

In colder areas like your region, Boston ferns can be enjoyed outdoors during the summer months, but they need to spend the winter indoors. Since you’ll need to move your fern in and out, I suggest you continue to grow it in a pot.

Place the pot in shade to part-shade, and make sure it’s planted in rich organic soil that’s kept consistently moist. During summer, feed it monthly with a dose of half-strength fertilizer.

Photo: Rob Cardillo