Can a Boston Fern Live in a Bathroom?

Boston ferns (Nephrolepis exaltata ‘Bostoniensis’) are one of the most popular tropical ferns in the US. Although they thrive in shady spots outdoors in warmer regions, they’re pretty flexible and can grow comfortably indoors under the right conditions. Because it’s easy to grow them indoors, they’re sometimes called ‘parlor ferns.’

A Boston fern can live in a bathroom because of its high humidity requirements, and it can thrive in moderate light conditions. As long as the bathroom doesn’t go below 45 °F (7.2 °C) in the winter, your Boston fern can live in there temporarily.

This article will explain the benefits and downsides of letting your Boston fern live in a bathroom. I’ll also share some tips on making your bathroom comfortable for this lovely plant. Read on!

Why Boston Ferns Thrive in Bathrooms: Key Advantages

Boston ferns are native to the southern and western parts of the US and became widely known in the late 19th century for their fast growth and beautiful fronds. They have sword-shaped fronds, earning them the nickname “sword fern.”

These ferns are perennials that can live over 100 years in their native habitat. In the colder regions of the US, they can last decades, provided they’re kept in suitable conditions. They grow lush foliage outdoors during the warm season but can be pretty challenging to maintain in winter due to their sensitivity to low temperatures.

It can be challenging to replicate their natural environment indoors due to their specific growth requirements. Luckily, the bathroom presents a good alternative. 

Here are some advantages of growing a Boston fern in a bathroom:

High Humidity From Hot Showers

Boston ferns thrive in humidity levels above 50%. This level can be too uncomfortable and costly to maintain indoors. However, low humidity levels can dry up the fronds, so leaving your Boston fern in the bathroom is a low-cost and convenient solution.

The occasional humidity spikes from hot showers help raise the humidity to suitable levels for Boston ferns. As such, you don’t need to switch on a humidifier to keep your ferns adequately hydrated.

Accessibility of Water Sources for Misting or Watering

Boston ferns prefer moist soil during the warm season. But when temperatures are freezing, you must water the soil only after the latter has thoroughly dried; otherwise, you risk overwatering the plant. When there’s not enough humidity, the fronds will fall off.

If you want to avoid using a humidifier in the bathroom, you can place your potted Boston fern on a pebbled tray. Ensure that the water in the tray doesn’t touch the bottom of the pot so the soil won’t be too moist. Overwatering can be detrimental to your fern’s roots in winter.

Placing your ferns in the bathroom makes it easier to get enough water for misting the fronds or replacing the water in the pebble tray. Be sure to use tepid water when misting the fronds.

Enhance Your Bathroom’s Aesthetics

A happy and healthy Boston fern can add life to an otherwise dull place. As long as the plant is well-maintained, you won’t have to worry about dried fronds falling off and creating a mess.

Boston ferns are also pretty flexible since you can grow them in pots or hanging baskets. You can place them next to a curtained window or a cabinet where they can receive artificial light from your bathroom lamp fixture.

Regular fluorescent lamps make an excellent light source for indoor plants like Boston ferns.

Overcoming Drawbacks: Cold Temperatures and Inadequate Light

Although bathrooms are great for your Boston ferns, they also have limitations that need to be addressed to make them conducive to your ferns’ overall health.

Here are some downsides of bathrooms as a temporary residence for your ferns:

The Bathroom Might Get Too Cold in Winter

The main reason gardeners move Boston ferns indoors is to keep them away from freezing temperatures. These ferns thrive in warm temperatures between 65 and 95 °F (18.3 and 35 °C). They can survive in as low as 45 °F (7.2 °C) but not for long.

US households employ various mechanisms to prevent the water from the pipes from freezing. In winter, it’s best to keep the temperature between 55 and 65 °F (12.8 and 18.3 °C). Efficient insulation can help your Boston fern adapt to the microclimate in the bathroom. 

However, if your bathroom doesn’t have good insulation, your ferns might suffer from drastic changes in temperature throughout the day, especially if there’s a large gap between the high and low. 

For instance, a hot shower can increase the temperature in the bathroom. The temperature may drop extremely low during the night. Frequent temperature dips are unacceptable as the fronds may curl up or wither.

Irregular Hours of Light and Dark

If your bathroom has access to inadequate natural light and depends on artificial light, your Boston fern might not grow as well as it should. This is especially true when the light fixture switches on only when the bathroom is in use.

Remember: Boston ferns thrive in partial shade or moderately bright light but not in deep shade. Low-light conditions can cause the fronds to have large gaps between pinnae, making them less attractive.

If your bathroom lamp is not suitable for plant growth, you must install an appropriate light fixture or grow light you can keep on for at least 12 hours a day.

How to Help a Boston Fern Thrive in a Bathroom

After considering the pros and cons cited above, it is possible to make your bathroom more suitable for Boston ferns. Although I don’t recommend leaving your ferns in the bathroom all year round, adequate planning and execution can make it possible.

Here are some essential things to keep in mind:

Place Grown Plants in the Bathroom

Young Boston ferns need adequate sunlight and warm temperatures as they develop roots. The fluctuating temperatures and amount of light in the bathroom will likely stunt the ferns’ growth. Therefore, it’s best to keep young Boston ferns in a greenhouse or a special indoor space for growing plants.

On the other hand, mature Boston ferns with established roots and plenty of fronds can adapt to bathroom conditions more readily.

Keep the Bathroom Temperature Above 55 °F (12.8 °C)

In winter, Boston ferns will be fine with this temperature but may exhibit slower growth. They generally love warm and humid environments. Although some cultivars can tolerate lower temperatures, most Boston ferns prefer around 75 °F (23.9 °C) for optimum growth. 

If your house has a central heating system that allows your bathroom to stay around such a temperature, that would be even better for Boston ferns. They might continue to grow as long as their other requirements are met. It’ll then be possible to keep your ferns in the bathroom all year round.

Provide Appropriate Light Sources During the Day

If your bathroom has access to natural light, place your ferns close to the window. If the light is too hot and bright, you can place a curtain on the windows. Alternatively, you can use a grow light or fluorescent lamp rich in blue light for better frond health and color.

Move Your Fern Outdoors in the Warm Season

As long as temperatures don’t get too high or too low during the day, your fern can sit comfortably on the porch or in a shady spot in your garden. This temporary exposure to a more natural environment can revitalize your fern and ensure it can last a few more winters in your bathroom.

Keep the Fern’s Fronds Away From Water Splashes

Bathroom water can be too cold or hot for your Boston fern’s fronds. Although your fern can benefit from the increase in humidity from hot showers, it’ll likely curl away from direct contact with hot water. On the other hand, cold water can create water spots on the fronds.

Divide It Regularly to Prevent Overcrowding

After providing your ferns with a suitable growing environment in the bathroom, you must keep an eye on their growth. Well-established Boston ferns grow aggressively under the right conditions and may outgrow their pots in 2-3 years.

If you don’t want them to grow bigger while indoors, you can restrict their growth by keeping them in a small pot. Divide them every three years to prevent overcrowding. Otherwise, their fronds might turn brown and fall off.

Final Thoughts

Boston ferns can temporarily live in the bathroom during the cold season to get adequate humidity. However, keeping them there all year round is only ideal if your bathroom has controlled temperatures, humidity, and light intensity.

Alexander Picot

Alexander Picot is the founder of and its lead content writer. He created the website in 2022 as a resource for horticulture lovers and beginners alike, compiling all the gardening tips he discovered over the years. Alex has a passion for caring for plants, turning backyards into feel-good places, and sharing his knowledge with the rest of the world.

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