Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata "Bostoniensis") - Best Air Cleaning Plant #1

With chemical removal rated at 9 out of 10 and transpiration rate at 9 out of 10, the Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata) is the top air cleaning plant on the list. Here's the one I got from Garden World, all transplanted in its nice new pot.

The Boston fern isn't from Boston and quite honestly doesn't even grow particularly well in Boston. There are varying theories of why this variation got the name. The species of Nephrolepis exaltata normally has erect fronds, but this variation of Nephrolepis exaltata cv. Bostoniensis has arching fronds. Some say that the name came when this mutation was discovered as plants were shipped from Boston to Philadelphia in 1894, while others say the name came from Florida pioneer John Soar, who shipped some of the plants to a friend in Boston. Whatever the origin, the name stuck and this plant is forever associated with Boston.

The plant is really native to humid forests and swampy areas, such as in Florida Central and South America, and Africa. Its ability to thrive in humid areas is what makes it a great air cleaning houseplant, as it is used to taking in water and transpiring it. It's that same property that makes it a bit difficult to care for, especially in rooms that we keep climate controlled and dehumidified.

There are a couple things you can do to let your plant feel a little bit more at home. Make sure to place the pot on a tray of pebbles; this way, when the water in the tray dissolves, it'll help hydrate the plant. Also, you'll want to mist the plant once or twice a week. It's not sub-Saharan Africa, but it's close enough. If you see the leaves turning yellow, it's time to increase the humidity.

You'll also want to make sure your soil NEVER dries out. This is not to say to keep it soaking, but if the soil dries out that's not going to be great for the plant.

1) Temperature: Keep between 68-80 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything below 55 and they will die
2) Sunlight: Partial shade and indirect lighting is best. Think the ground of an old growth forest.
3) Care and feeding: Keep soil evenly moist but not soggy. Does not need a lot of fertilizer, feed once or twice a month with a diluted houseplant fertilizer.

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