Sunlight is one of the most important factors for plant growth as it provides the energy needed for photosynthesis. While all plants need some sunlight to survive, different species have different sun exposure and light intensity requirements. For example, some plants thrive in direct sunlight, while others prefer partial shade.
People often think that the amount of light a plant needs is directly related to its size. This is not always the case though. In fact, there are many larger plants that do well in low-light environments. One such plant is the Boston Fern that, despite its size, is a lower light plant.
Boston Ferns are a type of fern that do well in shaded areas or in places where there is indirect sunlight. They should not be placed in direct sunlight, as this can damage their leaves. If you don’t have a place for them that gets indirect sunlight, you can also use artificial light. Led lights are a good option for Boston Ferns and open the door to more growing locations.
In this article we’ll talk all about how to get the best lighting for Boston fern for optimal growth.
How Much Light do Boston Ferns Need?
Boston Ferns are originally plants that grow in tropical jungles. That’s why they need indirect and filtered sunlight. They’re used to receiving filtered light from below the taller plant’s canopies.
In most cases, you’ll want your Boston fern to receive 2-3 hours of indirect sunlight per day. You don’t want to give it too intense of light as this can burn out the leaves. Morning sun with afternoon shade is a great pattern to follow. Outside of that, placing it a few feet away from an easterly or westerly facing window is also a good location. For a true southerly facing window look to place it 5-7 feet back to avoid the majority of the direct sunlight.
Understanding the Sun Exposure and Light Intensity
Boston ferns are quite fragile, and even short periods of direct sunlight can damage them. As noted above, indirect light is best for this plant.
The range for the light intensity should be somewhere between 10,000 and 12,000 lux. You can use a light meter to measure it. This will help you to determine the best place for your Boston Fern, for example a north/east facing window.
You can also use your feel to check a location. Warmth is generally correlated with light intensity, the warmer a location gets the more direct light it’s likely receiving. Boston ferns don’t like being too warm either, so choose a spot that gets a little heat but not too much. That will generally line up with being in-directly lit, which makes it a great spot for your fern.
Winter Light Intensity Changes
The time of the year is also an important factor. Sunlight is often less intense in winter, so that can change where the best location for your Boston fern is.
This means that during the winter some direct sunlight is okay. Usually for about an hour per day, but you should still be careful not to overexpose it. This is especially true if the area gets sufficiently warm, you don’t want too much heat for your plant.
During summer you should follow the other tips in this article and keep your plant in indirect sunlight. Keep your plant a few feet away from the window to give it correct light and reduce the chances of heat stress.
How To Use Artificial Light to Grow Boston Ferns
If you want to grow Boston Ferns indoors, you can also provide them with artificial light. This is a great way to supplement an existing light source or grow in a location that gets too little natural light. Grow lights are also much less likely to cause damage to their plant as they are usually less intense than sunlight.
Place the bulbs about 6 inches above the plant and leave them on for 4-6 hours per day.. Be sure to keep an eye on your ferns and adjust the light as necessary to prevent them from getting too much or too little light.
Our general recommendation is to use LED bulbs. These bulbs are fairly cheap to run, and don’t give off much heat. While you can use other types of bulbs, be wary of those that give off heat, like incandescent, as this excess heat can damage your plant.
Signs of Sun Damage on Boston Fern
If you notice your Boston Ferns wilting, discoloring, or drying out, it could be a sign of sun damage. The leaves may turn yellow or brown and the fronds may droop. If you see these signs, move your plants to a shadier spot. Too much sun can scorch the leaves and damage the plant.
These symptoms can also be brought on by too much heat. This is usually coupled with being in direct sunlight, but that isn’t always the case. If you have your plant near a heat source, especially in winter, then this can cause similar issues. If you notice the above signs, but your plant is already in an indirectly lit location, try moving it to a cooler location and checking if that helps.
How to Fix Sun Damage on a Boston Fern
Should your Boston Fern be damaged by too much sun here are a couple of quick things you can do to help repair it. Note that the earlier you catch issues the easier it will be to save your plant. That’s why it’s recommended to make a quick visual inspection of your plant every few days.
- Place your plant in a shaded area and remove the damaged leaves. This is the most important step otherwise the issues will persist and get worse.
- Provide your plant with plenty of water. You can place the entire plant in a container filled with water. This will help with moisture and recovery while not risking overwatering as the soil will only absorb so much water.
- Mist your plant with water daily. This hydrates your plant without risking overwatering and helps keep the ends of leaves moist.
- Wait to fertilize the Boston Fern until it is fully recovered, doing so too soon can cause extra stress on your plant.
Lighting For Boston Ferns
Boston ferns are easy plants to grow, and their light needs are generally easy to achieve. They enjoy indirect light, and that makes them easy to grow indoors. You’ll likely have not problems getting enough light for this plant, even in the dead of winter.
For more Boston fern tips, check out our full article where we go into all the other care you’ll need such as watering and feeding.