Shade ferns are Boston ferns, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need any sunlight….they do! A couple of hours in the morning sun and maybe a little in the afternoon will be plenty. Ferns stationed on a porch that gets some sunlight is usually sufficient.
You usually find Boston ferns for sale in hanging baskets. The really big ones may be in 1-2 gallon containers. Their fronds tend to be softer looking, and tips drape downward.
Kimberly Queen Ferns – Sun Ferns
The ferns that can take the full sun as long as they are adequately watered are Kimberly Queens. Their fronds tend to point upward, but the larger the fern grows they will have a downturn too.
We always used sun ferns around the pool and pool house when we lived out in the country. It’s amazing how those ferns can take the hot Mississippi heat…..as long as you keep them watered and fed. The frequent watering required washes out the nutrients in the soil and fertilizer, so they need to be fed a little more often than every 4-6 weeks.
The Easy Way to Do It
In years past, we would always re-pot ferns as soon as we purchased them. Big, huge pots that I would hate to know how much they weighed when we were finished.
The Boston ferns did well; for a while, and we would haul those big heavy pots into the house during the winter. What a mess that was! It was impossible to keep the floor clean and I also damaged an area of wood flooring when I let a pot leak onto the floor.
So, we don’t do that anymore. Now I buy new Boston ferns each spring. We continued to re-pot the new ferns for a while and let them die out during the winter. They were also very difficult to remove from the pots come next spring!
I have five of these big pots that we have used for years…..in the fall once the ferns have died, I fill them with mums and pumpkins.
Boston ferns are usually sold in plastic hanging pots. So now for the last few years, I still use the same big pots filled with dirt, but now I remove the handles from the plastic hanging pot and just set the fern, hanging pot, and all, over into my container.
If the pot sits up too high, you can remove some of the dirt. Sometimes I use wood shavings if the dirt level needs to be elevated. And make sure your pots both have holes for drainage.
Boston ferns need to be watered regularly, but they don’t need to sit in water. Sometimes I give them a good spray to help remove loose leaves but only do this when there will be plenty of drying time. Wet leaves can lead to problems with pests or diseases. But I really haven’t found that to be a problem.
Typically, you may only need to water 2-3 times a week, but it all depends on how the ferns are potted and where they are positioned. If they start getting yellow, you could be watering too much. If they are dropping a lot of leaves, you could be watering too little.
I water my Boston ferns at least every other day because they are in their original plastic pots and have less area to draw moisture from.
Bone meal is the only thing I use to feed ferns. And it is exactly what it says is it, ground-up bones. It adds phosphorus and will make your Boston ferns (or Kimberly Queens) rich and green. Feed about every 4-6 weeks and follow the directions on the package.
Side Note: Bone meal is organic and it doesn’t have an unpleasant smell, but it always gets Browser’s attention. Such a keen sense of smell!
It hasn’t been a problem where we live now, we have some woods in the backyard, but we’re not overrun with wildlife. Back at our old house when we lived in the country, I did get up a time or two to find my newly fertilized ferns dug completely up out of the pot and laying on the porch. Raccoons or armadillos perhaps? So, just so you know)))
My ferns do just as well using this method of just setting the plastic pots over in my containers. They grow the same, and look the same! I do have to take a little more care about watering but considering the amount of work we have eliminated….a little extra watering is no problem at all)))
Plus, once they die down in the winter, you pick up the pot and put it in a large trash bag and you’re ready to go fern shopping in the spring.