Japanese Fern vs Boston Fern Japanese Fern vs Boston Fern

For most people, the word fern brings up images of plants of various shades of green and they will not be mistaken except for one exception: the Japanese Painted Fern, or to give it its scientific name Athyrium Niponicum, has leaves of purple, silver and lavender on a green base with a red center stem, and is the most spectacular of all the ferns, besides being easy to grow even indoors.


It prefers partial shade rather than total shade so keep your fern far away from a window where no direct sunlight reaches it, or if planting outside put it under a tree or in a patch of the garden which is mostly in shade.


This plant has to be kept moist otherwise it will droop and the leaves will lose their luster.


The Japanese fern needs a good organic soil which is slightly acidic. Peat moss and compost mixed together make a good combination and help the plant keep its lovely colors most of the year.


Like all ferns it grows best in moderate temperatures; extremes of temperature are a no-no for this plant. If planted outside this plant is susceptible to frost.


There are many varieties of this plant which you might see at your garden center; they all boast gorgeous contrasting colors which will give your garden or rooms a distinctive look.


Another popular fern is the Boston fern (Nephrolopis exaltata), which originates from the tropics. In contrast to the Japanese fern, the Boston fern likes warm (not hot) to cool temperatures, and makes an excellent plant for a hanging basket because it has long green beautiful fronds which droop out from a center crown.


It prefers a filtered bright light but no direct sunlight, so take care where you put it if it’s in a basket or indoors, or where you plant it in the ground.


Like all ferns it has to be kept moist, not soggy, but it is a good idea to mist it now and again between watering as this will help to provide the humidity so necessary for ferns. Do not let it stand in the pot’s draining water as this will rot the delicate roots of this plant.


This plant does best in rich, loamy, well draining soil. There is a good mix on the market for potted ferns and if planted in the ground, the soil should include sand and organic material.  

Fertilizer and Pesticide 

Ask at your garden center for the best fertilizer for ferns. Don’t use excessively as you can burn the roots. Use every other week but if the plant shows sign of deterioration, use weekly. All ferns tend to be plagued by insect pests which you have to be on the lookout for as they can easily be dislodged by hand or by drowning them with a heavy shot of lukewarm water; you can also buy a pesticide suitable for ferns.


Both the Japanese fern and the Boston fern are two excellent examples of the beauty and magnificence of the Fern Family. If you are a fern lover, it is worthwhile having them both in your house or garden.

Got a New Project You're Proud of?

Post it on Your Projects!