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Plant-o-Pedia: Bird’s Nest Fern

A question we get a lot is ‘What fern can I keep alive’? While ferns are certainly not members of the easy-care club, Asplenium nidus, aka the Bird’s Nest Fern, is one that won’t turn sad and crispy instantly in the drier confines of the average home. With some attention to the humidity situation around it, and consistent watering, you’ll see this long leafed fern thrive.

Native to tropical regions, the Bird’s Nest Fern is actually an epiphyte (meaning it grows non-parasitically on another plant, rather than in the ground), growing high up in the crook of tree branches and collecting nutrients from the organic materials and water that fall into the center of its ‘nest’. In the wild, the leaves can grow to be 4-5 feet long! Indoors, leaf length is usually confined to 1-2 feet, making it a little easier to find a good spot for it.

GET THE GREEN:  Bird’s Nest Fern  (Asplenium nidus)

WATER: Keep the soil evenly moist to the touch, but not soggy. Added humidity is a must with this plant. Try using a humidifier, a humidity tray (a saucer filled with pebbles and water, with the water coming to just below the surface of the pebbles, which you set the plant directly on top of), or even just placing it in a humid room like a bathroom or kitchen.

SUNLIGHT: Bright indirect to medium indirect light.  Avoid direct sun, though a small amount of morning sun is generally tolerable.

PLACEMENT: Asplenium nidus prefer to be a bit ‘root bound’, meaning kept in a small pot (relative to the size of their root ball), so the plant may grow to be top heavy, tipping it’s pot over. A wide plant stand may help stabilize, or just group it with other plants that can help support it. We also love using it as ‘hair’ in planters with faces.

EXTRA CREDIT: This tropical beauty likes it warm! Temperatures below 60 degrees are difficult for this plant to tolerate. Avoid drafty areas, which may turn the leaf edges brown.

WORD OF CAUTION: According to the University of CaliforniaAsplenium nidus are non-toxic to cats and dogs. As always, consult your veterinarian and use caution whenever bringing a new plant into your home.

Learn how to make this DIY cement tile planter here!

Alternative Text Danae Horst

Total Plant Geek. Check out my botanical shop and design firm, Folia Collective.

14 responses to “Plant-o-Pedia: Bird’s Nest Fern”

  1. Clarie says:

    They are soooo amazing seriously. Can I expet this plant in Asia as well?

  2. Murali says:

    I’ve got this plant in exactly all the conditions listed (I live in Hawaii, to boot), and while mine isn’t dying, it’s just not thriving. I was going to repot to give more room, hoping it would help, but you say it PREFERS to be a little root bound? Any other insight into what might be happening?

    • Danae Horst says:

      It’s hard to say without knowing exactly whats going on with it. If you can give me some more info about what it’s ‘symptoms’ are, I’m happy to help troubleshoot!

  3. Lukas says:

    My ferns would always dry up no matter how i water it until my mom told me about that watering tray trick. I only water from the tray and i never let it dry out and my ferns are thriving!

  4. Sukhi says:

    I love the idea of putting plants in colorful planters that have cool patterns. Easy way to decorate a space with lots of bang for your buck. Ferns are absolutely beautiful. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Natalie says:

    great article!

  6. Veronica says:

    I will try the watering on the try trick too for my fern.. i have learnt some thing too…thank you lukas

  7. Feel so better after reading this, thanx for this amazing blog

  8. Elena says:

    I definitely do NOT have a green thumb? I have been buying all sorts of faux plants and although not all do the trick, some others look real but I feel like a fake ;) Do you approve of faux plants?

    i have even killed cacti …

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