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Asplenium nidus

Botanical Name — Asplenium nidus

Common Name — Bird’s Nest Fern, Japanese Bird’s Nest Fern

Plant Family — Aspleniaceae


Background


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.


Growth Requirements


Sun

  • 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. 

Temperature/ Humidity 

  • 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. 

Water

  • 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.

Soil/Roots

  • 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. 

Flowering

  • Asplenium nidus are ferns and therefore reproduce by spores, not flowers.

Fertilization

  • 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. 

Propagation

  • Many ferns can be propagated by division, but this plant’s centralized structure makes that impossible. Avoid propagating this plant at home.

Health


Diseases

  • 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. 

Toxicity


  • Asplenium nidus are non-toxic to both pets and humans.