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A picture of a Sword Fern

Sword Fern

Nephrolepis spp.

Also known as

Boston Fern, Boss Fern, Ladder Fern, Boston Sword Fern

Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata) by Mokkie (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Partial Shade
Easy care
Moderate watering


USDA zone


Minimum temperature

Expected size








More images of Sword Fern

A photo of Sword Fern
Nephrolepis exaltata
A photo of Sword Fern
A photo of Sword Fern

Sword Fern Overview

Nephrolepis is a genus containing 22 accepted species of stoloniferous or rhizomatous evergreen ferns in the Nephrolepidaceae family, native to tropical zones worldwide. Commonly know as Sword or Boston Ferns, they have clumps of arching, usually light green, narrow pinnately-divided fronds. In cool climates, they are usually grown under glass or indoors as houseplants and they are said to be effective at cleaning indoor air. Most cultivars are derived from Nephrolepis exaltata, making them very popular as an indoor plant or planted in hanging baskets.

Common problems with Sword Fern

Susceptible to rot in wet conditions.

Sword Fern Companion Plants

Plant in damp shade, with ferns and sub-tropical plants.

How to harvest Sword Fern

Pick the green leaves to use in flower arrangements as needed.

How to propagate Sword Fern


Divide the stolon with leaves attached to form new plants.


Sow spores as soon as ripe.

Special features of Sword Fern

Attractive leaves

Drought resistant

Can tolerate dry spells.

Indoor plant

Place in bright filtered light and mist when the humidity is low.

Pot plant

Plant in a moisture retaining potting mix, and keep the mix moist.

Wet sites

Will tolerate wet sites, as long as they are not permanently wet.

Glasshouse | Area Specific

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