Pronounced NEF-ro-lep-is, Nephrolepis is also called the sword fern or Boston fern. Its name comes from the Greek word nephro meaning ‘kidney’ and lepis referring to a ‘scale’, which in this case refers to the shape of the leaves.
The Green Fantasy variety of Nephrolepis has frilly, bright green fronds in a compressed shape. It is robust and doesn’t easily shed its leaves or turn yellow. Nephrolepis is relatively tough and has a high light tolerance.
Nephrolepis has its origins in tropical Asia, Africa, Malaya and New Zealand, where it is found growing in the wild.
There are two species of Nephrolepis in cultivation, Nephrolepis cordifolia and Nephrolepis exaltata. Nephrolepis cordifolia produces fronds of up to three feet long and is considered a weed in some countries, while the more common Nephrolepis exaltata has smaller fronds that droop. The latter is readily available in the UK throughout the year and is often hailed as being the perfect bathroom plant.
Nephrolepis is a species of fern that comes from the Davalliaceae family and the genus contains around 30 species of ferns. It is often treated in its own family, namely, the Nephrolepidaceae family.
Grow any fern in a humid environment for the best results. Bathrooms are a good choice, with the plant placed on a saucer of damp pebbles and given a daily misting of water. It prefers a bright spot, although it will tolerate lower light levels. Even small divisions will root if they are planted up carefully with lots of humidity and warmth – just make sure the division has enough roots. Ferns can also be propagated by spores, but this is an advanced and more difficult technique. It’s important not to let the temperature drop to less then 10°C. Be sure to remove any dead fronds and keep the plant pot regularly rotated. To propagate, simply divide the plant while repotting in spring.
Did You Know?
The Boston fern is very popular in corporate workspaces as it’s particularly good at absorbing toxins, particularly formaldehyde, and freshening the air. Just keep it well away from drafts and air-conditioning vents or it may fail to thrive.