Tiger fern: the purr-fect houseplant
Tiger fern is the perfect houseplant to create a jungle atmosphere.
If you like Boston fern, you’re bound to be smitten with the ‘Tiger’!Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
The incredibly beautiful Tiger Fern (Nephrolepsis exaltata ‘Tiger Fern’) is a Boston-type fern, whose green leaves are marbled and streaked with a variegation that resembles a tiger’s stripes.
Showing no definitive pattern, each frond exhibits random markings in colors which vary from dark green to lime green to golden yellow. Intermixed between the striped foliage, a few fronds add richness to the plant as luminous blondes.
‘Tiger Fern' is a natural mutation of the Boston fern (N. exaltata ‘Bostoniensis’). It was discovered in Bogor, Indonesia, in the spring of 2000. Not surprisingly, this remarkable mutation was chosen as the best new foliage plant when it made its debut at the Tropical Plant Industry Expo held in Florida.
One of the more unusual aspects of the Nephrolepsis variety of ferns is their ability to mutate, always providing gardeners with “new” varieties – such as the ‘Tiger Fern’.
Ferns have been around for a long, long time. They were well established before the age of the dinosaur, with the Boston fern a descendant of one of the oldest known plants on Earth.
Once,extremely popular as houseplants in the Victorian days, ferns are making a comeback. With their frilly appearance, trailing older fronds, and slowly unwinding new ones, these plants bring a delightful feeling to any home.
‘Tiger Fern’, like most Boston ferns, is well suited to hanging baskets where the long, arching fronds hang gracefully downward, though it’s also becoming nestled in a tall, elegant wicker basket, eminently displayed on a simple pedestal, or even potted up in an ornate vase.
Despite good results growing most houseplants, as a beginning gardener I had only marginal success with ferns indoors, even though in my woodland garden they multiplied like rabbits. Every few years I would acquire a new, healthy, robust Boston fern – only to watch half the fronds shrivel and dry before its first birthday.
So, what changed?
Divine intervention, I think. One winter’s day, in an effort to hide the rather sad-looking plant from that evening’s dinner guests, I stuck my lopsided Boston fern in a bright, sunny room with a humidifier. Afterward, not wanting to track more dry leaves from room to room, I left it there to end its days in sunny comfort. So you can imagine my surprise, when, from that day on, my success with indoor ferns forever changed.
Well, while most hardy ferns thrive in shady areas outdoors, tropical ferns grow best indoors in a lot of indirect sunlight. Although a Boston fern may survive, not enough light will prevent it from growing vigorously.
With some practice, I found that during the short days of winter, I could successfully grow Boston fern close to a sunny window with no ill effects. But as the days lengthened and sunlight became more intense, my plants needed the aid of sheer curtains – or a bit of distance -- to keep their foliage from burning.
I also found that Boston fern, like most houseplants, needs consistency. For ferns to prosper indoors, they also need to be kept evenly moist. But evenly moist didn’t mean that the soil should remain constantly soggy – or subjected to extremes.