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How to care for your Bird's Nest fern

How to care for your Bird's Nest fern

Common name: Bird's nest fern

Botanical name: Asplenium nidus

Content: 

  • Position and light
  • Feeding
  • When must I repot my Bird nest fern?
  • Why are my Bird nest fern's leaves turning yellow? 

One of the most glorious and popular ferns grown as houseplants is the Bird’s Nest Fern. Like most other indoor tropical plants, they won’t be happy if you place them in a full sunlight position, so get them away from sunny north-facing window sills. 

Position and light

Medium light levels that remain consistent over the course of the day would be best, so the south side of the house or apartment would be ideal.

They have very few problems and are readily available. With a little bit of care – and the right humidity – they’ll give you years of delight. Because they enjoy steamy atmospheres, they’re fabulous to have in a kitchen or bathroom. 

To get them to grow extra large, and to have extra shine, you’ll need to be misting regularly. But if you haven’t got time for that, consider keeping them in a terrarium. 

Make sure you don’t let the soil dry out at all, especially during the growing season, but on the other hand, don’t water them too much or you may make the soil too soggy which will lead to root rot. 

Try to keep the soil just moist throughout the growing seasons in spring and summer. During winter, only water every few weeks. If you’re worried about how moist your soil is, and don’t like getting your hands dirty doing the finger test, get yourself a moisture meter which will do the work for you. 

If they’re in a room which gets very warm because of heaters etc, be fastidious about checking the soil as it will dry out quicker. This is about the only issue these lovelies have, in that they don’t like too much heat, so in the summer months too, check the temperature is in the 10 - 22°C range. 

Feeding

They’re not terribly fussy when it comes to fertiliszing – as long as you don’t overdo it – but like with all growing things, they will need food. So feed with a diluted fertiliser once a month or so when they’re actively growing, or give them a booster shot of normal strength plant food once every three months. 

When must I repot my Asplenium nidus?

If you notice the roots completely filling the pot, you’ll need to move it into a slightly larger container, otherwise it will stop growing. Just make sure when repotting that the crown isn’t buried, make sure that it’s sitting at the same level as before. 

Don’t use leaf shine products on your bBird’s nNest, they’re very sensitive to chemicals, so if they’re looking a little dusty, pop them under the shower and dowse the foliage with tepid water. 

Why are my Asplenium nidus (bird’s nest) leaves turning yellow? 

Yellowing foliage on your fern is usually a sign of overwatering, with black-tipped leaves a definite sign of root rot. (Time for that moisture meter if you’re not getting it right.) Do remember that leaves do infrequently turn yellow as a part of their natural lifecycle. If the edges of the leaves are curling or crispy, up the humidity by either misting more often, placing the plant on a pebble tray, or installing a humidifier during the cold, dry winter months. 

Unlike outdoor plants, pale foliage on your fern is more than likely caused by too much sunlight, so if it’s looking a little washed out, or has brownish crispy patches, moved it somewhere slightly darker. And check the moisture in the soil at the same time to check it doesn’t need a drink. 

Pests and disease

Pests and diseases usually happen when a plant is under stress or not happy with the way you’re treating it, so sort out environmental factors first. 

Do not water into the center of your fern, use a long spout watering can to water onto the soil. Any water that may collect in the crown could lead to new fronds rotting. If you find this happening – you may see some mould – remove the dead bits and mould, and let the centre dry out. Other than this, the only other issue you may find would be mealybugs or spider mites. To combat those, quarantine it away from other plants, and spray it down with an organic pesticide, making sure it doesn’t pool in the crown.

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