Repotting my fern

by Melissa Swain
(Calgary, Alberta, Canada)

Hi, I have 2 ferns that were given to me and branches are slowly turning brown. I can’t even touch the soil because there is such a nest of dead branches in the centre of the pot, then nice green branches coming off of the outside. I think it’s rootbound perhaps? I already tried repotting a Boston fern, and it died quite fast after so I’m afraid to lose these! I asked someone for help and they said to take trimming shears to get rid of the nest but it is so tangled up and mixed in with the green branches I just don’t know what to cut. I appreciate any help you can give!! Thank you!!

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Saving Your Ferns
by: The Hydroponics Guy

Hi Melissa,

I'm afraid your problem is the type of plant. Your plant is called a "Fluffy Ruffle" Boston fern.
It's not root bound. The problem is lack of humidity. Those paper thin leaves can't hold moisture in dry air. They turn brown and crispy - and then fall off.
Unfortunately there's not much you can do because these plants just don't tolerate living indoors during the winter.
On the other hand, your plant will thrive outdoors next summer. Cool temps and damp nights is exactly what it likes.
My advice?
1. remove all the brown leaves and stems leaving the "nest of dead branches". new fronds will grow out of them (plant might not look very good but that's okay for now).
2. move to a cool spot that has good light (garage window works as long as temps stay above freezing).
3. water just enough to keep plant alive (about 2 cups once a week - no fertilizer).
4. then, next summer when weather warms, move plant outdoors (total shade). Increase watering and nutrients and you'll have a happy plant that will grow back.

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