How to Care for Bird's Nest Ferns

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A tropical plant, the bird's nest fern (Asplenium nidus) grows well as a houseplant. The plant's growth pattern forms a funnel shape that resembles a bird's nest. The fronds often reach up to 5 feet in length. The reproductive spores appear on the undersides of the leaves. In U.S. Department of Agriculture zones 9 to 11, the fern can survive outside as a garden ornamental but in colder regions it must be kept indoors.

Things You'll Need

  • Tray
  • Small pebbles
  • Handheld mister
  • 14-14-14 slow-release fertilizer
  • Plant the bird's nest fern outdoors in a shady location. For indoor use, place the plant in a north-facing window away from direct sunlight.

  • Place the fern in a planting location where its fronds to do not touch anything. The delicate fronds of the bird's nest fern are easily damaged.

  • Water the bird's nest fern in the spring, summer and fall before the soil dries out. The plant requires moist soil during its growing seasons. In the winter months, allow the soil to dry out before watering.

  • Place the bird's nest fern in a tray with small pebbles when grown as a houseplant. Keep the pebbles moist to help raise the humidity around the plant.

  • Mist the plant daily during the winter months. Boil the water or only use rainwater on the delicate foliage.

  • Apply a 14-14-14 slow-release fertilizer around the fern weekly in the spring and summer. Follow the directions on the fertilizer's label for application rates.

Tips & Warnings

  • The bird's nest fern prefers 40 percent humidity.
  • Consider placing a humidifier in the room with the bird's nest fern during the dry winter months.
  • Avoid placing the fern in a location within the home that suffers drafts.
  • Maintain an indoor temperature of 68 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit for best growth.
  • The fronds of the bird's nest will turn yellow and brown if subjected to sunlight.
  • Watch for scale insects on the fern. Use insecticidal soaps to treat.
  • Chemical pesticide sprays can kill the bird's nest fern.
  • The bird's nest fern requires a minimum temperature of 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

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