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House Plants/Boston Fern breaking my heart


Dear Darlene,

I read your post to another reader with a similar fern problem to the one I'm having.

I have a fern that was at my wedding 22 years ago.  It has always done well from Texas to Colorado where we are now.  In July we moved from 10,000 feet to 5400 feet altitude.  I thought the plants would be happier, but my beloved fern appears to be dying.

It is shedding leaves at an alarming rate.  I am watering and misting as I have always done .  It is in my bedroom in a SW corner with windows on 2 sides that allow plenty of light.  I gave it worm castings a couple of weeks ago, but otherwise haven't fed it.

Do ferns get old and die?  I am sick about this.  Please help.

Thank you,



OK, you are in Colorado now at a higher elevation. You did not say how long it has been since you repotted your fern. If the answer is never or a long long time ago that may be the problem.
Typically they fill their pots with roots that take the place of soil and thus there is little organic material left to hold water. It sounds like your fern is dyeing of thirst. So soaking now and then in a sink or tub full of water is the only route to go. Pick it up, if it is very light weight it definitely needs soaked and in the spring it needs to be divided into 2 pots with fresh soil around each section for it to grow into.

In their native habitat they thrive in moist, low light areas, beneath the tropical canopy. Too much light will cause their leaves to bleach out and dry out. You may need to move it to a less sunny location. Miracle grow your baby in the house at half strength, bi-weekly, but skip fertilizer in January and February then resume in March. Repot in April. Good luck.


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Darlene K. Kittle


I have been an Advanced Master Gardener for 24 years and I raise around 300 houseplants and bonsai trees a year including tropicals, succulents, and cacti. I have also been a professional plant care person for businesses in the Fort Wayne, IN area and currently professionally care for bonsai trees for my customers.


I am also studying the Japanese art of bonsai with tropical plants and is President of the Fort Wayne, IN Bonsai Club.

Fort Wayne, iN Master Gardeners. President of the Fort Wayne Bonsai Club. Allen County Master Gardeners

I am not a hortculturist. I am a Purdue University Advanced Master Gardener for 24 years. I have studied plants on a personal level by growing hundreds of plants annually for the last 35 years. I have also studied under several nationally known American Bonsai experts.

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