Sword fern, Boston fern, Wild Boston fern

Latin name: Nephrolepis exaltata
Common name: Sword fern, Boston fern, Wild Boston fern
Plant group:
Green plants
Plant family:
Davalliaceae
Climate:
Tropical rainforest climate
Minimal temperature: 14-16°C (57-60°F)
Optimal temperature: 24-28°C (75-82°F)
Recommended place:
bright, am or pm sunlight
Soil:
peat-loosely
Plant form:
shrubby, bushy
Height: 20 cm (7.8 in.)
Repotting: every 12 months (1 year)
Rarity: no
Diseases:
Black Root Rot (Thielaviopsis basicola)
Origin territory:
South America
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Nephrolepis exaltata has erect fronds up to 3" long and 6 wide in tufted clusters arising from underground stems called rhizomes. The individual leaflets are as much as 3 (7 cm) long and shallowly toothed, but not further divided. The round sori are in two rows near the margins on the underside of the pinnae.

 

There are dozens of cultivars of this species. Some of the more popular selections include "Rooseveltii plumosa" and "Fluffy ruffles" which have pinnae that are deeply incised and feathery on the tips. "Bostoniensis" (Boston fern) has broader fronds that arch gracefully downward and probably is the most tolerant of indoor conditions. There is also "Golden Boston" which has yellow fronds, "Hillii" which has doubly pinnate fronds, "Childsii" which has broad 3 or 4 pinnate, overlapping fronds and "Verona" has very drooping, 3 or 4 pinnate fronds.

 

Nephrolepis exaltata is a common native fern in humid forests and swamps in Florida, and occurs also as a native in South America, Mexico and Central America, the West Indies, Polynesia and Africa - a testament to the ability of wind to disperse tiny spores! Nephrolepis exaltata often grows on the trunks of cabbage palms. Some of the selected cultivars have escaped and established in Florida.

 

Nephrolepis exaltatas need a partial shade to shady outdoors and bright.

Propagate them by division of rooted runners. The various cultivars will not come true from spores.

 

They were the typical "parlor ferns" before the advent of central heat and air. Even today they can survive for a year or two in centrally heated homes, and still look pretty good.