Sword Fern

Sword Fern

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The Sword Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata), also commonly known as a Boston Fern, is found in a number of hot, humid areas across the Americas, Africa and the West Indies where they occur naturally in shaded forests and swamplands. Their arching fronds are a mutation that developed from the typical straight fronds of other ferns - it is said that this mutation may have occurred as part of a large shipment of ferns that were being sent to Boston, hence the 'Boston Fern' common name.

Ferns are some of the oldest plants around, with some types tracing all the way back to the times of the dinosaurs!

As a houseplant, ferns such as the Sword Fern have been popular since the Victorian times, when it became fashionable to display exotic plants in the home as a way to show how wealthy and cultured you were. These moisture-loving plants did especially well in the dark, damp homes of the Victorians. Hopefully your home isn't damp(!), but with the right care and right lighting, your Sword Fern can thrive just as well.

Sword Fern


Sword Ferns can sometimes be a bit sensitive, but once you figure out what they want and maintain those conditions for them, you'll be rewarded with a happy and healthy plant. Luckily, these ferns tend to be a bit more forgiving than other more diva-like ferns, so can be a good gateway into learning how to take care of these types of plants.

The most important thing to remember is that Sword Ferns don't like to dry out - try to keep the soil moist (but not overly wet) at all times, and keep the humidity nice and high. They are well-suited to being kept in bathrooms, where they'll enjoy the steam and heat from your shower. However, make sure that there is enough light in your bathroom before moving your fern there. These plants do prefer somewhat darker conditions, as they're used to the dappled shade of their natural environment, but they still need some indirect light in order to stay healthy.

The long tendrils of Sword Ferns can look really impressive and tempting to touch - but try not to! They prefer to be left alone, and your fern's lovely foliage may actually start to turn brown in response to being manhandled. Admire it from afar instead.

Most homes aren't naturally humid enough to be ideal for ferns - they like above 50% humidity. Try misting yours regularly and / or, if possible, you can use a pebble tray or invest in a humidifier.

Sword Fern 2


The Sword Fern has been used as a house plant for several hundred years and often thrives with the right amount of light and water.