Birds nest fern spores

Caring For Bird’s Nest Fern Houseplants

Birds Nest Fern Basic Houseplant Care:

Bird’s Nest Fern (Asplenium nidus) plants are tropical plants native to Hawaii and the Pacific Islands. Very slow-growing, Asplenium nidus plants are excellent for seasoned houseplant growers. Care for Asplenium nidus plants, sometimes known as spleenwort, requires attention to watering and propagation but does not require as much attention to fertilization and light as many other houseplants. Bird’s Nest Fern plants, though care is not for the faint of heart, make beautiful additions to homes, rock gardens, and patios.

Birds Nest Fern Plant Care: Light Requirements

Bird’s Nest Fern plants grow best in shady areas. Found naturally in lightly wooded tropical areas, Asplenium nidus plants grow in moisture-rich areas closer to or on the ground. Large trees often prevent excessive light from reaching the plants. To care for Asplenium nidus houseplants, place in an area of the home with indirect or shady light.

Birds Nest Fern Plant Care: Water Requirements

Asplenium nidus prefer evenly moist surroundings. Watering the soil often during growth and housing the plant in a moderately humid area will help to maintain a healthy environment during care for Bird’s Nest Fern. Never allow the soil to become dry to the touch. However, take care not to allow the plant to sit in water as this can lead to pathogen problems. Reduce the frequency of watering in the winter during the plant’s dormant period.

Birds Nest Fern Plant Care: Fertilizer Requirements

As a very slow growing plant, Bird’s Nest Fern houseplants do not require as much fertilization as most houseplants. Asplenium nidus plants perform best when a balanced (20-20-20) liquid fertilizer is reduced to half strength and applied monthly to the soil surrounding the plants. Over fertilization can cause burn in Asplenium nidus plants similar to row-crop plants that receive chemical burn.

Birds Nest Fern Plant Care: Pests & Diseases

Asplenium nidus care may result in the treatment of various pest and pathogen (fungal and bacterial) problems. Aphids and scale insects are common pests affecting Bird’s Nest Fern. Plants that have been watered excessively may experience root rot and other fungal problems. If rot occurs, check the soil and the pot of your plant for proper drainage.

Birds Nest Fern Plant Care: Propagation & Potting

The most popular method for propagating Bird’s Nest Fern is by spores. Place a mature leaf on a piece of paper or a paper bag. The spores can be collected after a few days. Grow these spores under glass or plastic on a moist and sterile medium such as peat moss. House the medium in a cool, shady environment during propagation. Mist daily. These Asplenium nidus plants can be transferred to pots when large enough to care for individually.

Buy Asplenium nidus from your local flower shop.

How to Care for and Grow Your Bird’s Nest Fern

How to maintain a beautiful and healthy Bird’s Nest Fern

Take care of your Bird’s Nest Fern and it will take care of you! Below are simple tips to continue caring for and growing your Bird’s Nest Fern over time.

  • Pruning – The birds nest fern does not need much pruning, though it is normal for lower leaves to grow old and scraggly, in which case you can remove them at the base with sharp, clean pruning shears.

  • Cleaning – Take each leaf between two soft tissue cloths and wipe off the top to reveal a healthy shine (also helps the plant soak in more light!).

  • Repotting – Ferns generally do not become rootbound, but if the plant is looking unstable or that it might “fall out” of its pot, consider repotting into something slightly bigger with fresh soil.

  • Repotting – Houseplants grow much slower than they would in the wild. Depending on the size of your plant and the density of the roots, this is nice to do every 2-3 years to provide fresh nutrients and encourage new growth.

    • When to repot – if or when the plant looks unstable in its soil, it is time to repot

    • Pot sizing – if you want your plant to grow taller, find a nursery pot that’s 2” in diameter larger than the current pot.

    • Get your hands dirty – spread out newspaper on the floor, remove the plant from the pot and shake off as much of the old soil as possible so that you have clean roots. Place the plant in the center of the pot, add new soil and pat down firmly. Water the soil thoroughly and place the plant in an area with bright indirect light. Your plant will take 2-4 weeks to settle from the shock and adjust to its new home.

How to propagate a Bird’s Nest Fern

It is very difficult to propagate Bird’s Nest Ferns, though if you would like to try, it is best to use tissue culture method.

  • Harvest spores – The spores of your bird’s nest fern look like tiny brown lines on the undersides of the leaves. When the spores have grown large and fuzzy, trim the leaf they are growing on and carefully place the leaf in a paper bag. The spores should collect at the bottom of the bag after a few days.

  • Germinate spores – Place the spores on top of a small pot of sphagnum moss, and place the pot in a dish with water. Make sure there is always water in the dish, and mist the spores on top daily. After 2-3 weeks, they should begin to germinate.

  • Repot in fresh soil – Once you seedlings, pot in fresh soil and keep consistently moist for the first 3-4 weeks.

Magnolia Thyme

Light Requirements

Low to Medium Light. Keep the Bird’s Nest Fern out of direct sunlight as the leaves can become sunburned, and the fronds will die. If placing the Bird’s Nest Fern in front of a south-facing window, a sheer curtain can be used to filter the light.

Don’t know what kind of light you have?

Water Requirements

Moist but not soggy soil. Ferns prefer soil that is consistently moist but not wet. The Bird’s Nest Fern will tolerate soil that dries out from time to time. Do not water into the crown, or the “nest”, of the fern. Doing so can cause rot and mold to accumulate.


Normal to High. The Bird’s Nest Fern is not as strict as other ferns when it comes to humidity requirements. This makes the Bird’s Nest Fern better for beginner plant parents.

Potting & Repotting

Bird’s Nest Ferns will only need to be repotted once every two years. The Bird’s Nest Fern prefers to be slightly pot-bound. When repotting, increase one pot size.


The Bird’s Nest Fern does not require a lot of fertilization as they are a slow growing plant. If you choose to fertilize, feed the plant once a month through the growing season (April – September). Use half-strength liquid fertilizer and apply to the soil. Do not put fertilizer on the plant leaves as that can cause the plant leaves to burn. Withhold from fertilizing during the winter.

Additional Care

Place the Bird’s Nest Fern in a place where people or pets will not brush up agains the fronds as the fronds are fragile.

How do I know what kind of light I have?

Low Light
A room with low light should be bright enough in which you can comfortably read a book. If the room is too dark to read a book, we do not recommend placing a plant in this area. Low light areas include rooms with a north-facing window, foyers, small bathrooms, office spaces, and rooms where there is not enough sunlight but is plenty of fluorescent light throughout the day.

Medium Light
A room with east or west facing windows that receives indirect or filtered sunlight throughout the day. This room might receive direct sun in the mornings or afternoons. A plant that requires medium light can flourish 5-10 feet away from a south-facing window, making sure direct sunlight does not hit the plant.

Bright Light
A room with south or south-west facing windows that receives direct sunlight for a large portion of the day. Direct sun in a bright light room can burn the leaves of your plants. It is best to place a sheer curtain over the window to diffuse the light or keep the plants a few feet away from the window.

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