Birds nest fern care

Asplenium Nidus

Now I spend most of my time in Thailand I get to find all sorts of great indoor plants growing in the wild and within gardens. This A.nidus is growing in my neighbors garden attached to the tree in the picture (right of page).

Although a native to tropical regions – the A.nidus that roots itself on trees has adapted very well to growing in temperate regions as a house plant.

Two reasons it grows well under and attached to trees is because it receives the moisture (humidity) it requires and shade by taking cover from direct sunlight. Indoors we must also provide these humidity levels and provide enough light without direct sunlight to enable the plant to grow well and remain healthy.

How it looks: Ferns are quite an interesting group of plants to grow indoors because of the various types of fronds they display, so you could have three ferns in one room from the same class and genera that look kind of unrelated.

The Bird’s nest differs from many in appearance because of it’s spear like shaped leaves rather than feather or palm like fronds. The leaves (have a brown mid-rib and wavy margin) grow up to about 2ft long from a rosette of fronds where new leaves appear when the plant is producing new growth.

Displaying: While a plant is young and small it can be placed anywhere in a home or office with the correct conditions provided (light, etc.). Once it matures though, you’ll need to provide enough space for the rosette of fronds to spread out over 2ft each side. A conservatory is best suited or a fairly large room once it does mature.

Care level: The two main conditions to provide well is enough humidity and to protect the leaves from direct sunlight (they become scorched), although some sunlight is ideal for them. If a person has sufficient living space and can follow the straight forward care instructions below, anyone can grow and maintain them.

Growing Bird’s Nest Fern (Asplenium nidus)

Bird’s Nest Fern (Asplenium nidus) is a relatively carefree plant with an upright, clumping form and large fronds.

Light: Bird’s Nest Fern grows best in filtered or indirect light. An east- or north-facing window is ideal.

Watering: Water your plant as necessary to keep the potting mix evenly moist but not soggy. These plants also benefit from moderate humidity when grown indoors. The best way to increase the humidity around your plants is to run a humidifier nearby. You can also set plants in trays filled with pebbles or gravel. Add water to a level just below the tops of the pebbles (if the potting mix in the pots comes in contact with the water, the mix will draw water into the pot, which will cause the mix to become saturated, eventually leading to rot). Refill trays frequently to replace water lost through evaporation. (Our Humiditrays perform the same function without the need for pebbles.)

Temperature: Bird’s Nest Fern prefers to be kept at regular room temperature, with nighttime temperatures above 60°F.

Fertilizer: During the growing season (generally April into September) fertilize potted plants once a month using a houseplant formula mixed at 1/2 strength. Withhold fertilizer in fall and winter, when most plants rest.

Asplenium is a kind of plant that has two species, and one of them is the so-called Birds nest fern or the Asplenium nidus. Asplenium nidus is one of the species of Asplenium that is found through cultivation. The second species is the so-called Asplenium bulbiferum or known as its common name mother fern or spleenwort. This is one of the Asplenium species that is not easy to grow, and its look is different from the looks of the Bird’s nest fern. This type of plant is considered as epiphytic. Epiphytic means it is a kind of plant that usually grown together with the other plants. You can usually found this birds nest fern in the crooks of the trees in the rainforests.

The birds nest fern have the shape of a spoon like, and the color of its fronds is red apple that will grow from the center of the rosette. You can say that a plant is healthy if its fronds are three feet long, but healthy plants are considered rare if you will plant it indoors. The birds nest fern are an elegant and attractive plant that is in need to have a little more care to get its highest potential as a plant.

Facts about Birds nest fern Plant

  • Asplenium nidus is the botanical name of the Bird’s nest fern plant.
  • The most common and usual name of the Asplenium nidus is Bird’s nest fern or nest fern.
  • Bird’s nest fern is a type of perennial plant in warm climates.
  • The mature size of the Bird’s nest fern plant is four to eight inches broad and 20 to 59 inches long of its fronds.
  • Indirect or filtered light is the most suitable sun exposure for the bird’s nest fern plant.
  • The suitable soil that you should use in planting the bird’s nest fern plant is a peat-based potting mix type of soil.
  • The growth of the bird’s nest fern plant is faster every summer season and spring season. It can grow all year if the climate is suitable for the plant.
  • The bird’s nest fern plant doesn’t have any flower.
  • The color of its foliage is lush green.
  • Tropical Asia and East tropical Africa is the native area of this bird’s nest fern plant.

How to Grow Bird’s Nest Fern Plant

The Bird’s nest fern is a plant that can grow bigger and larger if it is planted inside a greenhouse. The Bird’s nest fern doesn’t have any flower to bloom, but the beauty of this can attract the eyes of many people. You can plant this Birds nest fern together with bromeliads, orchids or any plants that you can found in rainforests. Giving your Bird’s nest fern plant the right and suitable moisture and warmth can make the plant looks tidy and healthier. If you gave enough moisture and warmth to your bird’s nest fern plant, I am sure that it will require you to give a higher level of light. You can place your bird’s nest fern plant at the edges of your bathtub or your shower ledge near your window. It is the best place for your bird’s nest fern plant to have enough light, optimal warmth and humidity.

Bird’s nest fern plant is a type of outdoor plant. This kind of plant is commonly known as a type of plant that will attach itself to the crooks of the trees to grow directly in there. The bird’s nest fern plant will attach itself to the crooks of the tree if they find it a good spot for them to nestle with. The bird’s nest fern plant will usually like to attach themselves on the trees for it is the most suitable area for them to have the right amount of humidity, and the shaded or indirect sun exposure because of the leaves and branches of the tree they get attached.

If you took care for your bird’s nest fern plant properly, I am sure that it will give you the growth that you want in an easier and faster way. The leaves are now emerging to the main area of the said plant. The word “main area” refers to the nest of the plant. Do not ever touch the newly emerged leaves of the plant, or you can touch its leaves gently and conscientiously. These types of perennial plants are just like a glass that needs to be handled with care. It is a very fragile type of plant. If you tried to touch them hard, it would give your bird’s nest fern plant to deform or to be broken. Unlike euphorbia ABYSSINICA plant, this bird’s nest fern plant is safe for cats, dogs and human for this plant is not a type of poisonous plant.


The bird’s nest fern plant is a type of plant that requires light shaded to filtered light. Keep in mind that the bird’s nest fern plant is a type of plant that must not be exposed to direct sunlight no other than to the sunlight every morning. It is ideal for you to locate your own bird’s nest fern plant in the place where it faces the North and East directions.


Since the real habitat of this bird’s nest fern plant is in the rainforests, thus it is a type of jungle plants. Maintain the suitable level of its moisture and if possible give it the highest level of humidity. Do not ever let your bird’s nest fern turn soggy. Make sure that you will not put the water directly to its nest when watering because it will cause to develop mold and rot. You should put the water directly to its sol rather than putting it directly to the nest.


The suitable type of soil to your bird’s nest fern plant is a rich organic compost type of soil, loose soil or the peat-based potting mix. One part of perlite and two parts of peat is the mixture that you can also use when planting your bird’s nest fern plant. Or you can even try the soil that has the peat-based mixture and some organic fertilizer.


April to September is the growing season of the bird’s nest fern plant. During these months, it is the right time for you to fertilize your bird’s nest fern plant with a weak liquid fertilizer. Make sure that you will not add some fertilizer pellets to the nest of the plant. Reduce putting the fertilizer to the plant during the winter season it is because this kind of plant is on its resting phase during that season. If you will put too much amount of fertilizer to your bird’s nest fern plant, it can be the reason of deforming of your plant’s leaves and will develop some brown or yellow spotted to its leaves.

Humidity and Temperature

This type of perennial plant is in need to be placed in a warm location. Maintain the temperature of your greenhouse (if the bird’s nest fern plant is planted inside a greenhouse) between 60 to 80 degrees F. cold temperature will make your bird’s nest fern plant on its weak state. This kind of plant would like to be placed in an area that has a humid temperature such as a terrarium, greenhouse or your bathroom. Or if not, you can also place a humidifier beside your bird’s nest fern plant.


Bird’s nest fern plant is different from the other varieties of fern species it is because this bird’s nest fern plant is hard to be divided or to propagate unlike to the other varieties of fern. The bird’s nest fern plant comes from the tissue or spore culture. It will only mean that the propagation of this bird’s nest fern plant is not easy especially for those ordinary home growers.

Potting and Repotting

The bird’s nest fern plant is a type of perennial plant that is in need to be slightly underpotted. Epiphytic plants are known to grow in a soil that has organic fertilizer. A matured bird’s nest fern plant will usually have longer ferns that will shed the lower leaves of the said plant. The main problem is that a larger and longer ferns will usually tip over the smaller pots. If you want to re-pot your bird’s nest fern plant, you can do this every year but make sure that you will use a pot that is larger than the old one, also change the soil you have used and add some organic fertilizer on it.


One of the varietals of a bird’s nest fern plant is that it has frilly or crinkled leaf margins. Spleenwort or the so-called mother fern can be purchased through online or nursery. But spleenwort or the other species of Asplenium is harder to grow when compared to the bird’s nest fern plant.

Common Problems of Planting a Bird’s Nest Fern Plant

The following are the common problems that you can experience while growing your own bird’s nest fern plant.

Wilting and Limp Plant

In this case, you could put too much water to its soil or its nest directly.

Pale Fronds and Plant Lacking Growth

The primary reason for this problem is the lack of fertilizer to the soil. Pale fronds may also the cause of exposing your bird’s nest fern plant in the direct sunlight.

Brown Dots on Underside

This third common problem of growing the bird’s nest fern plant is called as the spores. The spores can be your indication that your bird’s nest fern plant is growing well and healthy. But if you see brown dots on the underside, it is an indication that your bird’s nest fern plant is not in a good condition.

Frond Tips Brown

The major cause of this common problem of growing a bird’s nest fern plant is the lack of proper humidity level and dry air. You can save your bird’s nest fern plant through increasing the level of the humidity temperature of its environment.


The scale is a pest that is very common to the bird’s nest fern plant. You can determine that your bird’s nest fern has the scale pest when you see that the leaves of your plant have brown and small dots on it. You can remove this kind of pest through the use of a damp cloth, gently wipe the leaves of your bird’s nest fern and immediately spray it with insecticide when you already removed the pest.


To sum it up, a Bird’s nest fern plant is a type of perennial plant. It is also one of the species of the Asplenium. The botanic name of this plant is Asplenium nidus, and the other species is the so-called Asplenium bulbiferum which has the common name spleenwort of mother fern. It is commonly found in the crooks of the tree. They don’t bear any flower to bloom yet it is still beautiful.

If you’re slowly turning your home into a haven for tropical plants, the birds nest fern is a must-have plant. This lush, leathery-leaved fern finds its home in humid environments naturally. Still, it can easily become a brilliant flush of green indoors or out. Does this sound enticing? If so, read on to learn all about the bird’s nest fern and how to care for it!

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Best Products To Fix Birds Nest Fern Pests/Diseases:

  • Beneficial Nematodes
  • Monterey BT
  • Garden Dust
  • Neem Oil
  • Safer Soap
  • Safer Brand Yard & Garden Spray
  • Garden Safe Slug & Snail Bait

Birds Nest Fern Overview

Quick care for the bird’s nest fern, illustrated by Seb Westcott.

Common Name(s) Birds nest fern, Bird’s nest fern, Bird’s-nest fern, ō-tani-watari, tani-watari, Crow’s nest fern, Nest fern, Bird’s nest spleenwort, Wild birdsnest fern, New World birdsnest fern
Scientific Name Asplenium antiquum, Asplenium australasicum, Asplenium nidus, Asplenium serratum
Family Aspleniaceae
Origin Tropical areas throughout Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, Australia, and the United States
Height 2-3 feet at maximum growth
Light Shade to indirect low light
Water Moist but not wet soil, water around base of plant
Temperature 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal for this tropical plant.
Humidity Loves high humidity.
Soil Extremely well-draining potting mix
Fertilizer Balanced liquid fertilizer, diluted to half or less strength
Propagation Spores or tissue culture
Pests Foliar nematodes, caterpillars, fungus gnats, mealybugs, scale, slugs. Also can experience bacterial blight.

Types of Birds Nest Fern

Asplenium antiquum, ‘Bird’s-Nest Fern’, ‘ō-tani-watari’, ‘Tani-watari’

Asplenium antiquum, cultivar “Victoria”. Source: scott.zona

Native to the temperate regions of eastern Asia, this fern commonly grows on tree trunks, cliffs, and in dark forests. While it is endangered in the wild, it’s commonly available throughout the United States and Europe as an ornamental houseplant. It grows on average 2-3 feet in height/width. Bright green blade-like leaves with a firm center rib and uniform width extend upward from the tight root mass. The edges of the leaves are delightfully crinkled and rippled.

Asplenium australasicum, ‘Bird’s Nest Fern’, ‘Crow’s Nest Fern’

Asplenium australasicum. Source: Tony Rodd

Originates from the New South Wales and Queensland regions of Australia. Asplenium australasium looks as though it would be as much at home on a desert island as it would be in your living room. A distinct central rib juts out from beneath its yellowish-green wide leaves. The rib appears almost like a boat’s keel. As the leaves grow, they uncoil themselves to reach towards the sun. This epiphytic plant isn’t just pretty, though. In Taiwan, it might just be part of dinner, as its leathery young greens are used as a vegetable.

Asplenium nidus, ‘Bird’s-nest Fern’, ‘Nest Fern’

Asplenium nidus. Source: Lauren Gutierrez

In the wild, Asplenium nidus comes from eastern tropical Africa, northern Australia, and tropical Asia. While it can be either epiphytic or terrestrial, it’s fond of rich organic matter. It often can be found living in bromeliads or on palm trees in its natural environment. It’s also wildly popular as a houseplant, with light to medium green leaves that are reminiscent of banana leaves in appearance.

Asplenium serratum, ‘Bird’s Nest Spleenwort’, ‘Wild Birdsnest Fern’, ‘New World Birdsnest Fern’

Asplenium serratum in a tree. Source: Alex Popovkin

Native to the Caribbean, Brazil, and Florida in the United States. The wild birdsnest fern is considered to be endangered in Florida and is rare to see in the wild now. It can live as either a lithophyte or epiphyte, and is happy on both eroded limestone and rotting wood. It also makes a beautiful houseplant, albeit one which may be a bit harder to find initially. Its leaves are typically quite crinkled along the edges, and tend towards medium to dark green in color.

Birds Nest Fern Care

The birds nest plant doesn’t have to be hard to take care of. In fact, it makes a fantastic houseplant because it’s so easy to care for! But it does have some very specific requirements you need to meet for optimal growth.

The birds nest fern prefers to have indirect sunlight or shade conditions. As an indoor plant, it can do surprisingly well with only occasional exposure to natural indirect lighting, or even under artificial light. Outdoors, it prefers shade as its waxy leaves will scorch easily.

It’s also easy to tell if it’s receiving too much light, as the leaves will begin to become pale rather than vibrant midrange green. In addition, the leaves will become more crinkled with the extra light.

These plants are tropical, and so they adore the humidity. However, they don’t like wet feet. If they are grown terrestrially in a potting blend, it has to be extremely well-draining. Regular mistings of this fern will help to keep the humidity levels around it up. Its pot can also be placed on top of a tray holding rocks and a small amount of water to increase the ambient humidity.

However, unlike some other fern varieties, the birds nest fern is forgiving of occasionally dry conditions. It won’t immediately wilt if you are forgetful and miss watering it for a day or two. It won’t necessarily thrive in drier situations, but it also won’t die off rapidly.

When watering, water around the outside edges of the plant, rather than from overhead. If it is watered from the top, too much water can collect in the central part of the plant and create a risk for blight.

Asplenium nidus in tree. Source: Lauren Gutierrez

As the birds nest fern is typically epiphytic (grows on wood) or lithophytic (grows on rock), it can exist without standard soil blends at all. You can find a particularly nice chunk of an old rotting log, or a board to hang on the wall, and use it for dramatic effect.

However, it can also be grown in a very well-drained potting soil. A blend that is designed for orchids or bromeliads works perfectly, or you can use a blend which is heavy in humus or peat moss and lots of perlite. The fern soil should be moist but not wet at all times.

Many gardeners who are attempting to grow birds nest fern outdoors in a shady environment find that it just isn’t humid enough around their plant. In situations like that, it’s good to pile a thick layer of mulch around the base of the plant to help keep up the humidity at its center.

With birds nest fern, too much fertilizer is more dangerous than not enough. An overabundance of fertilizer will cause the leaves to take on a brownish or yellowish cast along the edges. It may also deform the leaf shape. But it does need some food nonetheless. Fertilize during the spring or summer months only, and only a few times. Two to three times during the year will suffice. Use a balanced liquid fertilizer that’s diluted to half strength or weaker, and apply it to the soil or base of the plant rather than the leaves.

Unlike most ferns, birds nest fern is quite difficult to propagate for the average home gardener. It commonly propagates from spores in the wild. In commercial settings, it’s most commonly propagated by tissue culture. Because of that, it’s best to purchase your fern from a home and garden center than to try to propagate your own.

If you still would like to try reproducing your own birds nest fern, you can try to harvest spores. The spores look like little lines of brownish, fuzzy spots along the underside of some of the leaves. When these spores are fat and look quite fuzzy, trim off the leaf they’re on. Carefully place it into a paper bag. Over the next few days, the spores should collect in the bottom of the bag.

Once you have your spores, prepare a pot of sphagnum moss. Scatter the spores across the top surface, leaving them uncovered. Place your pot of moss and spores in a dish of water and allow the water to seep upwards through the moss from the bottom. Keep the spores moist by covering the pot with a plastic bag or plastic wrap, or hand-mist the top daily. Keep the pot at temperatures between 70-80 degrees in a shaded location.

The spores should start to germinate in 2-3 weeks, and if the pot is covered with plastic wrap or a bag, you should be able to remove it sometime between 4-6 weeks after starting the spores.


Since the birds nest fern is naturally epiphytic, its root mass doesn’t grow large enough for it to require repotting to prevent root constriction. However, it can become unstable as it becomes larger, and will need a larger base to attach itself to. Generally, it’s best to repot every 2-3 years or when it appears to become unbalanced on its current platform. If you have to repot fern plants, use an appropriate potting soil and a pot that provides side stability for the long fronds.

If you have your fern attached to a log or board, keep a watchful eye on it. Be ready to replace the wood with something larger when it seems to be needed. Take extreme caution when loosening its grip on its support wood, very gently prying the root mass away from its old wood. If necessary, you can trim some roots, which may encourage new root growth. Then train your plant to its new wood by helping it grasp onto the wood, spreading out the root mass. It may require temporary support while it learns how to hold on to its new home.


The birds nest fern often doesn’t need much in the way of pruning, as it tends to maintain its own shape and size. However, if you wish to trim it back, you can remove leaves from the outside of the plant down at the plant’s base. This is usually sufficient. You can also trim leaves which are less visually-appealing as necessary.


Most problems with growing birds nest fern come from pests, but there are a few other issues. Here’s a list of the most common difficulties and how to fix them.

Growing Problems

The worst two growing problems for most fern growers are overfertilization and watering it incorrectly.

Overfertilization is something to particularly avoid. This can cause yellowing or browning of the leaves, spotting, or leaf deformation. Be sure to avoid giving your bird’s-nest fern too much fertilizer!

If watered from the top, blight can be a major issue. It’s better to water your plant around its base, being sure that water does not pool there and that the soil drains easily. In ideal conditions, the soil will be moist but not soggy at all times.

If your fern’s leaves are extremely flat, it may not be receiving enough light, and might appreciate a little extra indirect sun occasionally. If its leaves are too crinkled, it’s getting too much light and needs more shade. Adjust the lighting conditions so the fern is to your preference.


The most common disease for birds nest fern is bacterial blight. In this condition, water-soaked, translucent small spots begin to form on the leaves. These rapidly enlarge, turning reddish-purple around the edges, and can spread up along the leaf veins. If you begin to see signs of this sort of damage, quickly trim off the damaged leaves at their base in an attempt to prevent further spread.

If it spreads even after you’ve trimmed the damaged leaves, most bactericides are ineffective. You can certainly try them anyhow to attempt to combat the bacteria. However, if trimming off the damage doesn’t work, your plant may need to be destroyed to prevent further bacterial spread. Do not use that soil for plants unless it has been thoroughly sterilized.


Foliar nematodes can be a major issue for ferns in contact with soil, and it looks an awful lot like bacterial blight initially. Small, water-soaked translucent spots will form on the leaves. However, instead of turning reddish-purple as they would with blight, these go brown to black. Often, plants which are showing signs of nematode damage need to be destroyed, and the soil will need to be sterilized to eliminate the nematodes. Before throwing out the plant, you may want to try applying beneficial nematodes and see if they will help eradicate the pest nematodes. They can also help sterilize the soil.

Caterpillars such as cutworms can be a problem, causing munching along the outside of fronds. If you discover caterpillar damage, apply Bacillus thuringiensis (BT) in either spray or powder form to all leaf surfaces, top and bottom. I like Monterey BT for this purpose, but Garden Dust also works quite well.

Another pest that can become an issue is the fungus gnat. The larvae eat lower parts of the plants and the root, and the adults become a flying nuisance while leaving superfine webbing on the plant surfaces. You can combat these using beneficial nematodes to find and consume the larvae, and use neem oil on the foliage to deter the adults from landing around the fern to lay their eggs.

Mealybugs can create cottony masses on leaves and roots. These pests will cause your plant’s growth to become stunted. You can deal with these rapidly by using a product such as Safer Soap or Safer Brand Yard & Garden Spray. Either option will kill the mealybugs off.

Scale insects will make your plants appear stunted. These insects feed on the stems and leaves of your birds nest ferns, and can sometimes look like spores, and other times be difficult to see at all. Use products like Safer Soap or Safer Brand Yard & Garden Spray to combat these pests, too.

Slugs are yet another problem pest for birds nest ferns. These cause feeding damage on the leaves which is pretty obvious, and a quick inspection on the underside of the leaves will reveal them. You can hand-pick them off and dispose of them. Use a product such as Garden Safe Slug & Snail Bait around the base of your plants to kill others who might go after your ferns.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: My birds nest fern is sticky. Help?

A: If it’s sticky, that’s likely something called honeydew, which is a result of having a scale infestation. Scale insects may be hard to spot, but that stickiness is a sure sign that they’re present. Use insecticidal soaps or pyrethrin sprays to combat these pests, such as the suggestions I gave in the pest segment.

Q: How can I attach my birds nest fern to an upright rock or board?

A: This process can be fairly complicated, especially if you’re trying to convince it to grow on a surface you plan to hang or set upright. However, products such as Liquid Nails have been used in the past to attach bromeliads to boards. You will need to carefully trim away part of the plant to create a flat surface in the root mass.

Then, use just enough of the glue to help anchor the center of the root mass to the board or rock so it doesn’t slide. Too much glue will prevent the roots from taking in nutrients from the surface you want the plant to live on. Carefully drape the rest of the roots around the board/rock and leave it leaning against the wall for a few days, misting it regularly, to allow the roots to take hold. Do not hang your board or rock until the plant has fully grabbed on and become secure.

So, are you going to try to grow this rainforest delight? It’s a stunningly beautiful houseplant, and it can really liven up your living space. I’m particularly fond of the crow’s nest fern myself! Tell everyone your favorite in the comments below.

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This is a far-out fern with a far-out name! I first saw this Crested Japanese Bird’s Nest Fern, whose botanic name is Asplenium antiquum “Leslie”, at our farmers market and had to have it. I love those wild, wavy edges and the crispy noise it makes when touched. This plant reminds me of an unusual green that I’d put in my salad. Crunchy new arugula perhaps?

“Leslie” loves her spot underneath the Loquat Tree in my garden. And yes, that yellow egg-shaped thing is a Loquat.

Care and Growth Tips

Mine grows outdoors but most of you will likely grow it as a houseplant. Ferns can be tricky to grow indoors because their fine foliage loves humidity. This one, however, is relatively easy because of its “leathery” fronds. Here’s what you know if you want to grow one. By the way, the care for a regular Bird’s Nest Fern (Asplenium nidus) is the same:

Nice bright light but no direct sun.


Keep moist but not soaking wet. An occasional drying out is better than overwatering it. And, don’t keep the crown of the plant wet – it will rot out.


The average home temp is fine. They don’t like old daytime temps or drafts of any kind. If you put it outdoors in the warmer months, make it it doesn’t get any direct, hot sun.

Potting Medium

Use one that’s high in organic content like compost, coco coir, bark &/or worm castings. Make sure it drains well.

Once in spring & once in summer will do it. Use a liquid fertilizer with a formulation like 14-4-14 or 20-10-20. (I use worm castings to nourish mine but it grows outdoors).

Check out the worm compost I use. Read about my worm compost/compost feeding right here.

Watch the video & see why I love this fern:

They are epiphytes and are usually found growing on trees in nature. That means you could grow it on a piece of bark just like the Staghorn Fern. This is one of those plants that also grows in the ground so it’s commonly sold in a pot. What do you think of my new far out fern?!

If you’re interested in more easy care houseplants, then be sure to check out my book Keep Your Houseplants Alive. It’ll ease your (interior) horticultural frustrations!

Look at how crazy, sculpturally wavy these margins are!

Bird’s Nest Fern Care – How To Grow Bird’s Nest Fern

When most people think of ferns, they think of feathery, airy fronds, but not all ferns actually look like this. The bird’s nest fern is an example of a fern that defies our preconceived ideas of what a fern should look like. Even better is the fact that a bird’s nest fern plant makes an excellent low light houseplant.

About the Bird’s Nest Fern Plant

The bird’s nest fern plant gets its name from the fact that the center of the plant resembles a bird’s nest. It is also occasionally called a crow’s nest fern. Bird’s nest ferns (Asplenium nidus) are identified by their flat, wavy or crinkly fronds. Their appearance can bring to mind a seaweed plant growing on dry land.

Bird’s nest fern is an epiphytic fern, which means in the wild it typically grows on other things, like tree trunks or buildings. When you buy it as a houseplant, it will be planted in a container, but it can be affixed to planks and hung on a wall much like staghorn ferns.

How to Grow Bird’s Nest Fern

Bird’s nest ferns grow best in medium to low indirect light. These ferns are often grown for their crinkly leaves and the light they receive will affect how crinkled the leaves are. A bird’s nest fern that receives more light, for example, will have more crinkled leaves, while one that receives less light will have flatter leaves. Keep in mind that too much light or direct light will cause the fronds on bird’s nest fern to yellow and die.

Care for a Bird’s Nest Fern

In addition to light, another important aspect of bird’s nest fern care is its watering. Under ideal circumstances, all ferns would like to have consistently moist, but not wet, soil. However, part of the reason that bird’s nest fern makes an ideal houseplant is that it will tolerate soil that dries out from time to time.

Furthermore, this plant does not require the same level of humidity that many other kinds of ferns need, making the care for a bird’s nest fern far more forgiving to the occasionally forgetful houseplant owner than other ferns.

Fertilizer should only be given to the plant two to three times a year. Even then, the fertilizer should only be applied at half strength and should only be given during the spring and summer months. Too much fertilizer will cause deformed leaves with brown or yellow spots or edges.

Now that you know more about how to grow bird’s nest fern and how easy these plants are to grow, try giving them a place in your home. They make a wonderful and green addition to the less brightly lit rooms in your home.

MANILA, Philippines – Asplenium antiquum (incorrectly referred to in some books and internet as Asplenium antiguum with a “g” instead of “q”) first appeared in United States in 1969. Since then, it has caught the attention of plant growers in Europe. The plant originated from Japan and can tolerate the cold unheated indoors in temperate countries thus making it a good indoor plant.

It became the biggest volume of fern traded in the auction markets during the late 80’s.

Asplenium antiquum resembles Asplenium nidus (common bird’s-nest fern) but is more compact and fronds are generally narrower. The plant grows to maximum 1 meter across. The upper midrib is roundish unlike in A. nidus where it is squarish or trapezoidal, while the lower midrib is definite rounded and not keeled. Stipes are short but do not have extended lower lamina and interfoliar root masses of Asp. cymbifolium.

Cultivated Varieties in Philippines:

Asplenium antiquum ‘Mt. Yonaha’. Same as the species but segments are bigger and wider. Some individuals sports wavy margins.

Asplenium antiquum ‘Victoria’ is the plicata-form of A. antiquum. Leaf margins are ruffled and fringed. Very decorative.

Asplenium antiquum ‘Osaka’ is similar to “Victoria’ but fronds are narrower and plant more compact; This variety is always incorrectly referred to in Mindanao as Asplenium nidus cv. Osaka.

Asplenium antiquum ‘variegatum’. Green and white stripes on both sides of the lamina. Very striking in appearance because of color contrast between emerald green and white. Variety produces alternate flush of highly variegated foliage and green foliage.

Asplenium antiquum ‘furcato-variegatum’. Asplenium antiquum variegatum with uniform forking leaftips.


Asplenium antiquum grows best under bright diffused light. Plants may be contained in plastic or terracotta pots, half the width of the plant. Over-potting results in over-watering and eventual decline of plants. If it can be helped, keep water off the foliage especially during rainy season. The plant can tolerate drying but not damp, wet conditions. Best looking plants are grown under plastic canopies with good ventilation.

A. antiquum prefers chunky or porous media. Panned (compacted) medium results in slowing down of growth due to lack of aeration around the root system.

Fertilizers may be used to increase the growth rate of the plant and to increase the leaf size. Foliar Orchid Fertilizers may be safely used at quarter dose that recommended for Orchids.

Slow release fertilizers are successfully being employed in big greenhouses in Netherlands.

Keep weeds off Asplenium antiquum. The spongy roots of Asplenium may serve as an ideal medium for unwanted plants. The plants may overwhelm the Asplenium if allowed to stay in the same pot.


Commercial production of Asplenium antiquum is generally through spores. Production time to marketable liner takes 2 years. Specimen sizes may be attained in 3 to 4 years from spores.

For large plants, the main stem may be split into 2 or 4 pieces then re-planted. Fully symmetric plants may be attained in 1 year time.

Commercial Production Potential

Among the different Bird’s-nest ferns, Asplenium antiquum A. musifolium and A. australasicum holds the highest potential for International Potplant Market. These three species are the only ones that can withstand near-freezing temperatures.

Other Asian species may not be as cold hardy and may not survive in an unheated interior during winter.

In terms of plant form, all the 3 species have upright fronds giving the products full form. Asplenium nidus and A. cymbifolium in contrast will give a flattened look with fronds growing laterally.

With the development of the different variegata forms: A. antiquum variegatum, A. antiquum furcato-variegatum and A. musifolium variegatum, the fern world is becoming more interesting. Gone are the days when ferns should be boringly green.

Reference: Hoshizaki, B. & Moran, R. Fern Grower’s Manual. 2001 ed. Timber Press.

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