In this article on bird’s nest fern care you’ll learn more about this easy to care for plant, including comprehensive indoor care tips, popular species and common trouble shooting suggestions.
Bird’s nest fern or the Asplenium nidus is a common name for one of the 2 tropical Asplenium species that are cultivated worldwide. The other is known as the mother fern-it’s much harder to grow and doesn’t look like its cousin at all.
It’s a plant whose homes are the tropical regions of Australia, Southeast Asia, east Africa, and Hawaii. They’re naturally epiphytic, that is, they grow on the surface of other plants.
With proper care in the right environment, this wonderful plant can thrive and make an awesome, unique decorative plant.
Its fronds are simple and large and quite similar to banana leaves. Interestingly, they can grow up to 3 feet in length in nature – however indoors, this is much rarer.
Indoors their height and spread is usually around 24 x 12 inches.
They have a light green color and are wavy or crinkled and rise from a rosette in the centre. This rosette is fuzzy and reminds you of a bird’s eggs and hence, the interesting common name.
It can be a great choice for areas with lower light as it’s able to tolerate indirect or filtered light.
Bird’s nest fern health benefits include improving the air in your home or office-it can filter out xylene and formaldehyde.
If you have dogs, cats or small children around-don’t worry, this is a plant that’s not toxic to humans and animals according to the ASPCA
How to Care for a Bird’s Nest Fern
Bird’s Nest Fern Light
This plant enjoys filtered light to a slight shade. It doesn’t like to be exposed to direct sunlight other than the pleasant early sun in the morning.
The best place for this fern is definitely a window on the east or on the north. Bathrooms can work well too.
This plant will give you the most if you keep it in a warm area- ensure it’s between 68 and 80 degrees F.
Avoid placing it where it will be affected by cold drafts and sudden temperature changes.
Water & Humidity
Being a jungle plant, bird’s nest fern needs moist compost all the time; however, you should never leave it soaking in water.
When watering the plant, don’t water right into the nest due to the risk of rot and mold. Water right into the soil.
Mist every day or two with rainwater or distilled water, or set on a tray of damp pebbles.
This plant should grow in a loose and rich organic compost or peat-based potting mixture.
2 parts peat and 1 part perlite will do just fine. Or, you can go with a peat-based mixture and organic material.
In its growing season which is from April through September, you should feed it around twice per month with a weak liquid balanced fertilizer. If using pellets, avoid putting them right into the central nest.
In the wintertime, pause the feeding as the plant is in resting phase and doesn’t need it. Excessive feeding may show itself through leaf deformation or brown and yellow spots on the leaves.
This plant will do well when it’s slightly under-potted. And, as it’s epiphytic, it’s doing fairly well when grown in minimum organic material.
With younger plants, you should repot the plant every other year in spring. Choose a pot that’s one size bigger and freshen the compost.
Bird’s Nest Fern Propagation
Unfortunately, bird’s nest fern can be difficult to propagate as it can’t be divided in the same way that other ferns can be.
Most home growers are unable to do it as it only works with tissue cultures or spores.
Bird’s Nest Fern Varieties
Mother Spleenwort or Chicken Fern
This unique native to New Zealand has baby plantlets that are produced on the upper surface of the fronds on the mother plant.
It’s excellent for water gardens and bogs. Australiasicum
This fern is common in Australian gardens.
It boasts long, leather-like, and shiny green fronds growing in a dramatic funnel-like shape.
Asplenium Antiquum or Victoria
This striking feature variety has bright and green wavy fronds that are great option for hanging baskets or patios.
Don’t handle the sensitive young fronds while they’re emerging. Touching them can deform or damage them so avoid it.
This plant doesn’t have flowers-still; it will offer you stunning and lush tropical and calm foliage.
Since it’s a plant that’s quite sensitive to chemicals, avoid using products for leaf shining. The leaves have enough natural gloss anyway!
Trouble Shooting- Common Issues
Problem: the fronds have brown fuzz
Cause: This is something common for this plant during spring and early summer.
Solution: It’s totally harmless-leave it like it is or gently wash it off of the plant.
Problem: brown tips on the leaves
Cause: Dry air or too dry soil in between watering.
Solution: Boost the humidity in the room and make sure the soil doesn’t dry too much between waterings.
Problem: leaves are going yellow
Cause: If it’s on the base of the fronds, the temperature is too high for it. Other possible causes are draught exposure, hard and cold water or too much chemicals.
Solution: Make sure you move it to a less hot place, remove it from draught, use rain or filtered water and don’t put too much fertilizer.
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