Botanical Name — Asplenium nidus
Common Name — Bird’s Nest Fern, Japanese Bird’s Nest Fern
Plant Family — Aspleniaceae
Asplenium nidus are epiphytic ferns native to tropical southeastern Asia, eastern Australia, Hawaii, Polynesia, Christmas Island, India, and eastern Africa. Known for its thick, spear-like leaves that unfurl from a central “nest,” this plant in the wild can easily grow to have a six foot wingspan. At home, they prefer an environment that mimics their habitat clinging to larger trees, where they enjoy filtered sunlight through a higher canopy.
- Bird’s Nest Ferns grow best in light shade, or medium to bright filtered sunlight. However, a few hours of direct sunlight in the morning could benefit this plant and encourage it to grow faster. An east facing window would be ideal.
- Asplenium nidus will thrive in high humidity environments. Ambient moisture is essential to keeping these feathery fronds lush and green. A bathroom or kitchen where there is plenty of humidity is a great spot.
- A temperature of about 70°F is ideal, avoid anything below 60°F.
- Consistent temperature is key. These ferns are not very tolerant of temperature fluctuations or cold, drafty air.
- Keep soil evenly moist, but not soggy. Water when the top of the soil feels dry to the touch. For a 6 inch sized pot, this should be about every 2 to 3 days. In very warm conditions it could be as often as every day or every other day.
- The rhizomes should not be allowed to dry out. Mist them daily to keep them moist.
- In their native environment, Asplenium nidus are spoiled by a rich, moist, well-drained soil, and fertilized by decaying organic matter. Coco coir and compost are excellent amendments to ensure that soil provides adequate moisture and is high in organic nutrients.
- Bird’s Nest Ferns have shallow root systems. Do not plant them too deeply, and keep rhizomes at the soil surface to avoid rot.
- Asplenium nidus are ferns and therefore reproduce by spores, not flowers.
- Fertilization is generally not necessary, but if you choose to fertilize, feed your fern once every two weeks with a water-soluble fertilizer diluted at half the recommended strength. Ferns love fish emulsion.
- Many ferns can be propagated by division, but this plant’s centralized structure makes that impossible. Avoid propagating this plant at home.
- Because these plants like moisture and high humidity, gray mold and other types of fungal infections are a concern. Prune away any unhealthy fronds and treat with a fungicide for plants. If mold is found in the soil prune away any affected roots and repot the plant in a clean pot using fresh soil.
- Aphids, mealy bugs, and scale are attracted to these plants. To treat, wipe leaves with rubbing alcohol or diluted neem oil.
- If infestation is especially bad, washing the foliage with a gentle soap is known to be effective. Be sure to rinse thoroughly.
Maintenance (pruning, legginess, repotting)
- Repot when the plant is rootbound, and only during the spring and summer. These will do best in a plastic or glazed clay pot. Unglazed clay wicks away moisture and leaves the soil prone to dryness.
- Even in the most ideal conditions, lower fronds will brown and eventually die. Pruning these away will allow the plant to dedicate energy to producing new growth.
- Asplenium nidus are non-toxic to both pets and humans.