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Boston Fern Plants

Q.Overwintering a gigantic Boston fern

Zone Phoenixville, PA 19460 | lorihynson1201@gmail.com added on September 16, 2016 | Answered

My enormous (really!) Boston fern has been spending every winter in my friend’s greenhouse, but that is no longer possible. I’ve read that they can be allowed to go dormant, but I’m not sure of the exact process. Since the fern is so large, I cannot move her gradually to my basement. It takes several people to move her. So I will need to move her all at once. Should I cut her back to the stems–cutting off most of the green? Otherwise, she will lose the greens and make a huge mess. Also, should I water her about once a month or so? I’ve read to keep her in a dark place, no colder than 55 degrees. We live in the Northeast with freezing temps, so my basement is my only option. Thank you!

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Certified GKH Gardening Expert
Answered on September 16, 2016

Wow, that is an enormous fern! You should be able to overwinter the fern in your basement. Cut off all the foliage may be risky, but you can cut maybe half of it. When you move it indoors, try putting the whole thing in trash bag after watering it well. This should keep it moist for the winter. And that way the foliage that drops off should collect in the bag.

Over the winter, you should water sparingly, about once a month as you suggest, but avoid fertilizing. Also remove the dead foliage once in a while.

Another option is dividing the plant now to make it more manageable.

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