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Bird's Nest Fern

Scientific Name

Asplenium nidus


Bird's nest fern, nest fern

Origins / Hardiness Zones

Asia, Australia, Africa / 11-12 USDA


A bit of a wild-child, this fern's playfully ruffled fronds create a tangle that resembles a bird's nest. Some say the fuzzy buds of new growth that are yet to be unfurled have the look eggs nestled at the center of the plant.

Light Needs

Water Schedule


Humidity Levels




This fern prefers high humidity and moist environments, such as a bathroom, greenhouse, or terrarium. To raise the humidity around a bird’s nest fern, you can use a humidifier. Or you can set its pot on a tray filled with pebbles and water. But make sure the bottom of the pot isn’t sitting in the water because that can lead to root rot.

A non-toxic plant pal! You can introduce this plant to your whole family, pets and children included. While it'll be a sad day for you and your plant if someone takes a nibble, you don't have to worry about poisoning anyone!

To thrive, this fern prefers medium to bright, indirect light. The leaves are prone to burn in prolonged direct light. Avoid a low light situation as this moisture loving plant could succumb to root rot. Indoors, an east- or north-facing window is ideal.

The ferns prefer a consistent amount of soil moisture, but they don’t do well sitting in soggy soil. Water whenever the top inch of soil is dry. Avoid watering directly into the center of the plant, as this can encourage mold growth and rot in the dense nest. Aim water at the soil to avoid wetting the fern's fronds.

The bird’s nest fern thrives in warmth with temperatures between 60-80°F. It can tolerate temperatures down to 50°F, but anything colder than that can harm the plant, especially with prolonged exposure. Indoors, be sure to protect your plant from cool drafts, such as air blowing from an air-conditioning vent.

No serious disease or pest problems affect bird's nest ferns, though they can be affected by some insects common to houseplants, such as scale. Natural insecticidal soaps are the best solution to combat pest issues, since chemical pesticides will damage this plant's fragile leaves.

Since Bird's Nest Ferns grow in dense clumps, you can always divide these into multiple plants when repotting. You'll simply pull apart the roots into your desired clumps. Or, if a bit rootbound, you may need to cut them apart. You can then pot each one up into their own appropriately sized vessel.

Bird's nest ferns must be potted in a container with ample drainage holes. As an epiphytic plant, bird's nest ferns are accustomed to growing with minimal potting media. So your plant generally won’t need repotting because its roots have run out of space. Instead, these ferns will need repotting once they’ve grown so large that they’re unstable in their pot and need a larger container to attach themselves to. This will typically occur every two to three years, and spring is the best time to repot.

During the fern's active growing season (April through September), fertilize once a month with a balanced liquid fertilizer that's diluted to half strength. Make sure to apply the fertilizer to the soil and not the fronds, as direct contact with fertilizer can burn foliage. Withhold fertilizer for the rest of the year because too much food can cause the fronds to have an abnormal shape or take on a yellowish or brownish color.

Bird's nest ferns are generally healthy plants, but they can be prone to a few issues that largely have to do with an improper environment.

Too much sun can cause the foliage of a bird's nest fern to turn yellow. Likewise, too much fertilizer also can cause yellowing.

Fronds naturally turn brown as they die and are replaced with fresh growth. But browning along the edges of a frond is often due to drafts hitting the plant.

Usually brown spots are an unwelcome sight on your plant, but in the case of ferns, it's likely a reproductive spore that can be propagated (kind of like a seed). You'll know it's a spore if the spots are lined up in neat rows, look and feel like tiny bumps, and are kind of crispy.




Pests / Diseases

Common Problems



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