Boston Fern Repotting Guide: Steps and Tips

Introduction to Repotting Boston Ferns

Boston ferns, scientifically known as Nephrolepis exaltata, are lush, leafy plants that add a touch of wilderness to any indoor environment. With their long fronds and vibrant green hue, they are a popular choice among houseplant enthusiasts. However, like all potted plants, Boston ferns occasionally need to be repotted to ensure they remain healthy and continue to grow. Repotting is crucial for providing extra space for roots to expand, refreshing the soil, and removing any pests or diseases that may be lurking in the old potting mix.

When to Repot Your Boston Fern

Before you begin repotting your Boston fern, it’s important to identify the right time for this task. Look for signs such as roots growing out of the drainage holes, soil drying out more quickly than usual, or the plant looking crowded in its current container. Typically, repotting should be done in the spring or early summer when the plant is entering its growth period. This timing allows the fern to recover from any stress and grow new roots before the lower light levels and temperatures of autumn and winter.

Supplies Needed for Repotting

  • A new pot, about one or two sizes larger than the current one with adequate drainage holes
  • High-quality potting mix suitable for ferns, which is generally peat-based and well-draining
  • Watering can and water
  • Gloves to protect your hands, if desired
  • A small trowel or garden fork for loosening the soil
  • Scissors or pruning shears to trim any dead fronds or roots

Steps to Repot Your Boston Fern


Start by watering your fern a few hours before repotting. This will help ensure that the roots and soil hold together better during the process. Then, gather all your supplies and choose an appropriate work area, preferably outdoors or on a surface that can be easily cleaned.

Removing the Plant

With care, tip the pot sideways and gently coax the plant out by supporting the base of the fern with one hand and tapping the bottom of the pot with the other. You may need to use the trowel or fork to loosen the soil around the edges of the pot if the fern is not easily removed.

Cleaning and Pruning

Once out of the pot, inspect the root ball. Use your fingers or the trowel to gently loosen and remove any excess old soil without damaging the roots. Look for and trim off any dead or rotting roots or fronds with your scissors or shears. This will encourage healthier and more vigorous growth.


Select your new pot and ensure it has good drainage. Partially fill the pot with fresh, moist potting mix. Place the fern in the center of the new pot and carefully spread the roots outward. Once positioned, add more potting mix around the roots to the same level on the stem as before, gently firming the soil to eliminate air pockets. Leave about an inch of space at the top of the pot for watering.


Water the fern thoroughly after repotting to help settle the soil and give the roots moisture. In the weeks following repotting, keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged, and keep the fern in a location with bright, indirect light. Avoid fertilizing immediately after repotting; wait for a month or two until the fern has had a chance to establish in its new home.

Tips for Successful Boston Fern Repotting

  • Ensure the new pot is just slightly larger than the old one; too large a pot can lead to water retention and root rot.
  • When adding soil around the roots, beware of compacting it too much, which can hinder water absorption and aeration.
  • After repotting, keep your fern in a more humid environment, if possible, as this will help it recover and thrive.
  • Maintain a consistent watering schedule to strengthen the newly potted fern.
  • Be patient and allow your Boston fern to adjust to its new container, avoiding the stress of additional pruning or relocation for a few weeks.


Repotting your Boston fern is a simple process that can greatly enhance its health and longevity. By providing it with new soil and more space to grow, your fern will continue to flourish and bring natural beauty to your home. With these steps and tips in hand, even novice gardeners can successfully repot their Boston ferns, ensuring these elegant plants remain a vibrant part of their indoor garden for years to come.

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