We can’t all be born with green thumbs. Luckily, there are some plants out there that can tolerate even the unluckiest of plant parents. One great plant that doesn’t require a lot of attention is the bird’s nest fern. This gorgeous plant is known for its crinkly fronds that stretch outward and its ability to filter toxins from the air. It’s also a great pet-friendly pet as well!
So exactly how much care does a bird’s nest fern need? We put together the best info and care tips—water, light, pruning, propagation, fertilizer and pest control—so you don’t have to worry about making newbie mistakes.
Bird’s Nest Fern Details
AKA Bird’s Nest Fern, Bird Nest Nidus
Light: Low or medium indirect light, shade
Temperature: 70-90 degrees F
Height: 2-4 feet
Pest: Aphids, scale insects
Disease: Root rot and fungal issues if overwatered
Toxicity: Nontoxic for cats, dogs, and humans
Benefits of Bird’s Nest Ferns
They’re Perfect As a Hanging Plant
Because of their wide, ribbon-like foliage, bird’s nest ferns make lovely hanging plants. Since this type of fern does best in the shade and indirect sunlight, keeping them in hanging pots indoors is the best way to go. Plus, bird’s nest ferns can grow quite wide and reach a diameter of four feet. Imagine how incredible a bird’s nest fern would look hanging in your home!
They’re Ideal for Small Apartments Without a Lot of Window Space
This type of fern does best in low to medium indirect, though it can thrive in bright indirect light. It’s vital to give this fern some shade and to keep it away from too much direct sunlight. If your fern is kept on a windowsill, the fronds will eventually turn yellow and die.
If you don’t have a ton of natural sunlight in your home or you’re stuck in an office or dorm, you’re in luck! Bird’s nest ferns do wonderfully in shady spots with indirect sunlight.
Bird’s Nest Ferns Filter Formaldehyde, Xylene, and Toluene
These chemicals hang in the air and can be caused by cigarette smoke, cleaning supply vapors, and polluted air. Formaldehyde in particular can cause coughing, wheezing, and burning sensations. Bird’s nest ferns (and most ferns in general) are one of the few plants out there that can effectively filter out these chemicals!
Care for Bird’s Nest Fern
This fern is very easy to care for and is an excellent choice for beginners. Keep your plant away from direct sunlight, but keep it in a room with windows so it can get indirect sunlight. This fern does well when it’s slightly rootbound, meaning that it prefers a smaller pot to a large one.
You should only water your bird’s nest fern weekly and test your soil moisture level regularly, as this plant cannot handle excessive amounts of water. A great way to give your ferns root rot is by overwatering! Check your soil moisture regularly by sticking a finger into the soil. It should be slightly damp, not soggy or bone dry. If the soil is dry, add about an inch of water.
Humidity & Temperature
A misting bottle is a must-have for bird’s nest ferns. This jungle plant loves humidity and will thrive in a warm household where it is occasionally misted with clean water. Aim for the fronds when misting. It may even be beneficial to top your soil with a layer of mulch to help it stay damp. If your bathroom has a skylight or window, an Asplenium nidus would do quite well in that environment.
Bird’s nest ferns love warm temperatures. They’re native to tropical places like Hawaii and Polynesia after all! Keep your fern in a room that is between 70 and 90 degrees F (21 and 32 C) to keep it as healthy as possible. Temperatures that are slightly outside these ranges won’t hurt your plant, but its growth may slow significantly.
Because they are such a slow-growing species, Asplenium plants do not need very much fertilizer. However, they can benefit quite a bit from monthly treatments. The best fertilizer for a bird’s nest fern is a balanced 20-20-20, water-soluble liquid fertilizer. Mix 1 tablespoon of fertilizer into 1 gallon of warm water. Apply the treatment to the soil surrounding the plant no more than once per month.
Pruning a Bird’s Nest Fern
Bird’s nest ferns do not need to be regularly pruned. When fronds on the underside of the plant grow old and “crispy,” remove them with sharp pruning shears.
Common Care Mistakes to Avoid
Even though the bird’s nest is an easy beginner plant, there are some common mistakes that plant parents should avoid:
- Never water the center of your plant (a little reservoir known as the “rosette”) because it will trap water and cause your fern to rot.
- Don’t keep your bird’s nest fern in a plastic or lightweight pot. They enjoy being rootbound but will become top-heavy as they grow, and will tip over. Opt for a ceramic or other heavy material for your pot.
Avoid placing your fern in a high-traffic area, such as right beside a door or in narrow walkways. The fern’s fronds are very fragile, and constant bumping will cause them to die.
Propagation of Bird’s Nest Fern
The best way to propagate your bird’s nest fern is through spores.
To do this, simply remove a large, mature leaf from your plant using clean and sharp shears. Place the leaf inside of a paper bag. Around two days later, check the bag. The spores will have fallen from the frond and will appear as brown, fuzzy spots. Place these spores on top of a pot with a mix of sphagnum moss, peat moss, and dolomite. The pot should have a drainage hole in the bottom. To water these spores, place your pot in a shallow dish with water and let it soak upward through the soil.
Moisture is key to propagating a bird’s nest fern. Cover the pot with plastic wrap or mist daily to help the spores propagate. After around two weeks, you should have the beginning of a new bird’s nest fern!
Purchasing a Bird’s Nest Fern
Bird’s nest ferns are popular houseplants and can be purchased from a variety of places.
Gardens, greenhouses, and plant stores in your area will likely carry bird’s nest ferns. Depending on the climate you live in, they may only have this type of fern available in the spring or summer.
This lovely only plant shop carries a massive range of houseplants, seeds, and potting accessories. You can purchase a bird’s nest fern in a small or medium size, in the pot of your chosen shape and color, directly from their website.
Bird’s Nest Fern in Custom Planter
If you’re looking for the perfect tropical houseplant, look no further than the Bird’s Nest Fern. Known for its wavy ripple-edge fronds that grow out of a central rosette, this plant will add vibrant pop of green to any space.
Another excellent online plant shop, Bloomscape offers plants that are pet-friendly, unique packaging and shipping materials, and excellent online support. Bird’s nest ferns are available from Bloomscape with a number of accessory and pot combinations.
Bird’s Nest Fern in Custom Ecopot
This plant thrives in low light areas, and its textured, green leaves and slightly untamed growth will brighten those darker spots in your home or office. It also requires less humidity than other ferns and is a great option for a forgetful or busy plant owner.
Amazon is the online seller of many trusted houseplant suppliers, including Costa Farms, Hirt’s, and House Plant Shop. While there are hundreds of options to choose from, we like the great reviews, brand reliability, and size and price of this American Plant Exchange Asplenium nidus.
American Plant Exchange Bird's Nest Fern (6-Inch Growpot)
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.
Bird’s nest ferns are excellent, low-maintenance plants for beginners and experts alike. If you live in a warm, humid climate and appreciate slow-growing plants, this is the one for you.
Now that we’ve covered the basics, are you ready to be a plant-parent to a new bird’s nest fern? Let us know in the comments what plant you’d like us to write a care guide for next. Happy indoor gardening!