Develop and Look after Chook’s Nest Ferns

Asplenium spp.

There’s a lot to like in regards to the hen’s nest fern.

The massive, rippling, brilliant inexperienced fronds that create a rosette of foliage with an enthralling “nest” within the center. It’s easygoing nature that received’t have you ever continually fussing with it.

It’s the right fern for many who are simply beginning out on the planet of Polypodiopsida.

A close up vertical image of the foliage of a bird's nest fern (Asplenium spp.) growing in a pot indoors. To the center and bottom of the frame is green and white printed texgt.

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The Victorians had been completely obsessive about ferns. They even had a reputation for it: Pteridomania.

Chook’s nest was some of the in style ferns throughout that point, thriving within the sometimes darkish inside of the Victorian residence with no need quite a lot of care, and with a novel look that no different houseplant might match.

A lot of crops in style throughout Victorian instances have since fallen out of trend, however hen’s nest ferns have continued to seize our hearts.

In case you’re able to deliver this magnificence into your property, this information can assist you discover success. Right here’s what we’ll go over:

Nice information, pet lovers. Chook’s nest fern is protected for pets (and people) as a result of it’s unhazardous. In truth, it’s edible. That, and much extra enjoyable info, coming proper up:

What Are Chook’s Nest Ferns?

There are about 700 species within the Asplenium genus, and lots of of those are generally known as hen’s nest ferns since they share an identical morphology, however it’s A. nidus particularly that most individuals bear in mind.

All species within the genus are epiphytes that may adapt to life within the soil as nicely.

A close up vertical image of a bird's nest fern (Asplenium nidus) growing in a white decorative pot indoors.

Of their pure habitat they sometimes develop in palm timber, however can thrive as terrestrial crops in unfastened, humus-rich soil.

They’ve a shallow rhizome that enables them to anchor onto timber, deadwood, mossy rocks, or within the earth.

All species can develop outdoor in Zones 10 to 12.

A. nidus is indigenous to japanese Africa, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, Australia, and the Pacific Islands, the place it grows in heat, tropical climates.

A close up horizontal image of a bird’s nest fern (Asplenium nidus) growing outdoors in the garden.

The plant has a basal rosette of lengthy, slim leaves that type a dense cluster on the heart. This heart space is the place the “nest” moniker comes from. Particles and moisture fall into this nest and decompose right into a wealthy humus that the plant makes use of as its meals supply.

The fronds additionally curl again and switch brown as they age, additional creating the central nest-like look.

Every leaf can develop over three toes lengthy, and the plant might be as much as six toes throughout. The central rosette can turn out to be so wealthy and dense that different crops and animals use it as a nest.

As a real fern, the plant reproduces by creating sporangia on the undersides of the fronds. These brown sporophores open and disperse into the wind, sending them far and large.

A. australasicum is the commonest hen’s nest fern species accessible for buy in shops, and it’s seemingly that until the vendor particularly calls out which species it’s, these in North America are normally coming residence with A. australasicum.

A close up vertical image of the underside of a bird’s nest fern (Asplenium australasicum) frond with light filtering through.

You’ll be able to inform the distinction between A. australasicum and A. nidus by on the lookout for the outstanding midrib that runs alongside the underside of the fronds. The leaf folds inward barely from this outstanding central ridge, which is missing in A. nidus.

This species is indigenous to Australia, the place it grows as an epiphyte. As a result of it’s not as well-adapted to terrestrial life as A. nidus, it’s particularly delicate to moist roots and desires glorious drainage.

The opposite widespread hen’s nest fern species is A. antiquum, which is usually differentiated as Japanese hen’s nest fern or ō-tani-watari in Japan.

A close up horizontal image of bird’s nest ferns (Asplenium antiquum) growing wild.

You’ll be able to inform this one other than the opposite two by its fronds, that are all a uniform width – the opposite species taper from the center of the leaf.

Native to Japan, Taiwan, Korea, and China, it grows about 40 inches tall. Like A. australasicum, it wants extraordinarily gentle, well-draining soil.

Cultivation and Historical past

This plant isn’t only a looker, although the lengthy leaves are engaging. It’s additionally a supply of meals for individuals in Polynesia, Malaysia, and Taiwan. The younger fronds and shoots are eaten as greens.

A close up horizontal image of bird's nest fern greens sauteed on a white plate.

Historically, ferns had been thought to have the ability to heal the spleen, which is immortalized within the widespread identify “spleenwort,” a time period given to many fern genera thought-about helpful for the spleen.

Chook’s nest ferns actually gained consideration through the Victorian period, as did many houseplants that we nonetheless know and love right this moment.

They had been such in style crops that within the US, the cultivar A. nidus ‘Victoria’ was one of many first fern cultivars to be patented.

Chook’s Nest Fern Propagation

Chook’s nest ferns are simpler to propagate than another fern species, particularly in case you develop them from cuttings.

However you even have the choice to start out them from spores, or you possibly can simply buy a plant from a nursery. Most locations specializing in houseplants will carry hen’s nest ferns.

From Spores

It’s potential, although difficult, to propagate hen’s nest ferns from the spores that they produce on the undersides of the leaves.

A close up horizontal image of the underside of a bird’s nest fern frond showing the spores ready for propagation.

It’s a time-consuming course of, however in case you do it proper, you possibly can produce tons of of child crops from the spores collected from only one frond.

Study this course of in our information to rising ferns from spores.

From Cuttings

Chook’s nest ferns are readily propagated by way of cuttings.

Begin by filling a small pot with half vermiculite and half soilless potting medium – don’t use a medium that accommodates soil. Moisten the medium.

Pull or reduce off a big frond, taking care to incorporate a little bit of stem on the base.

A close up horizontal image of a pair of scissors from the bottom of the frame pruning a frond from a bird's nest fern.
Picture by Kristine Lofgren.

Insert the leaf into the potting medium at the very least an inch deep and agency the medium up across the base.

Place it in an space with brilliant, oblique gentle and preserve the medium moist. After a number of weeks, the leaf will seemingly start to develop roots.

If it doesn’t begin to droop or flip brown, then you possibly can safely preserve ready for so long as the leaf seems wholesome.

In case you’re curious how issues are creating underground, you possibly can stick your fingers into the soil and wiggle them a number of inches beneath the bottom of the leaf. Gently raise it up and search for roots.


In case you deliver residence a potted plant from a nursery, otherwise you begin your personal from cuttings or spores, ultimately you’re going to wish to maneuver the plant into a special container.

A close up horizontal image of two hands from the bottom of the frame potting up a small bird’s nest fern into a terra cotta pot.

To do that, put a layer of potting medium within the backside of the brand new container. Gently take away the plant from its rising container and loosen up the roots somewhat.

Maintain the plant in place so it would sit on the identical top within the new pot and fill in round it with recent potting soil.

Watch out to not bury the plant deeper than the “nest.” Water the potting soil and add somewhat extra if it settles.

Develop Chook’s Nest Ferns

This plant is made within the shade. It received’t tolerate full and even partial daylight. Something over 5 hours of direct gentle per day will ultimately kill it, although somewhat morning gentle is tolerated.

Meaning indoors you need it the place it is going to be in about 60 to 85 % shade – the type of gentle you’d discover in case you had been standing below a deciduous tree.

That might translate to an space fully out of direct gentle however not so dim that it’s in full darkness. In case you take a look at the bottom, it’s brilliant sufficient to forged a obscure, vague shadow.

A close up horizontal image of a small Asplenium in a biodegradable pot set on a wooden surface.

Select a spot close to a north-facing window or a number of toes away from a south-, east-, or west-facing window. A south-facing window coated with sheer curtains can be excellent.

If the plant is uncovered to an excessive amount of gentle, it might cease rising and the leaves will turn out to be deformed and ultimately die.

Whereas they are going to be high-quality in any commonplace potting combine, Asplenium species want a barely acidic soil with a pH of 5.5 to six.5.

Most industrial potting mixes are barely acidic to impartial, however they hardly ever spell out the pH.

You’ll be able to both search for a product that lists the pH on the packaging or select a mixture with sphagnum moss added, which creates a barely extra acidic atmosphere.

My favourite choice is FoxFarm Ocean Forest Potting Combine, which accommodates earthworm castings, bat guano, fish meal, humus, and sphagnum peat moss. All issues that epiphytic houseplants love.

FoxFarm Ocean Forest Potting Combine

Decide some up at Amazon in 12-quart luggage.

A product with good drainage, a number of aeration, and water retention is ideal.

Hold the potting medium moist always. The very floor of the soil can dry out, however no extra.

In case you stick your finger within the soil, it ought to really feel like a well-wrung-out sponge. Any soggier, and also you danger root rot.

While you water, you’ll want to water on the soil degree and never on the leaves – don’t permit any water to get into the central rosette or “nest.”

You can too mount the plant, which is an effective way to keep away from root rot, because it’s tough to overwater mounted crops.

Mounting includes wrapping the roots in moss and securing this to a wire or wooden help.

Fertilize twice a 12 months with a gentle, balanced meals. In case you feed these crops an excessive amount of and too typically, it may end up in stunted development and the fronds might thicken and turn out to be deformed – or the guidelines of the fronds might flip brown and die.

As soon as within the spring and as soon as in the summertime is lots. Search for a meals that’s formulated for houseplants. These are normally delicate and have a balanced NPK ratio.

For instance, Dr. Earth’s Pump & Develop Home Plant meals is available in a handy pump container and has a 1-1-1 NPK ratio.

A close up of a bottle of Dr Earth Pump and Grow Houseplant Fertilizer isolated on a white background.

Dr. Earth Pump and Develop Fertilizer

I like the pump container as a result of you possibly can apply it on to the potting medium or add it to a watering can with no muss, no fuss. Seize a 16-ounce container at Arbico Organics.

Keep away from exposing the crops to temperatures beneath 65 and above 90°F – they’ll’t survive beneath 50°F.

Your hen’s nest fern received’t really look its greatest until you present it with excessive humidity. Purpose for a relative humidity of about 60 %. It may definitely survive in decrease humidity, however you may see brown leaf ideas.

Grouping crops collectively can assist elevate the relative humidity round them, as can rising in a toilet or subsequent to the kitchen sink.

You’ll be able to be taught extra about rising ferns indoors in our information.

Rising Suggestions

  • Develop in brilliant, oblique gentle. Keep away from direct gentle.
  • Hold the soil moist however not moist.
  • Feed twice a 12 months with a houseplant-specific meals.


Keep in mind all that discuss its easygoing nature? You don’t have to prune or in any other case keep these crops besides to take away any fronds which can be useless, diseased, or deformed.

A close up horizontal image of three houseplants grouped together by a window.
Picture by Kristine Lofgren.

If a frond breaks, go forward and take away it. Turns yellow? Snip it off.

You’ll be able to gently pull the frond away or reduce it as near the bottom as you possibly can with scissors or pruners. Make certain they’re clear!

Because the plant ages, you will have to repot into a bigger container because it outgrows its present residence.

A close up horizontal image of a small bird's nest fern growing in a white pot set on a wooden surface.
Picture by Kristine Lofgren.

When the bottom of the leaves begin reaching inside an inch of the pot edges, it’s time for an improve.

Select a container one dimension up, fill it with potting soil, and place the previous plant in it on the identical degree because it was within the earlier container. Fill in across the roots with extra potting soil.

Chook’s Nest Fern Species and Cultivars to Choose

A. antiquum and A. nidus are the 2 most typical species you’ll see referred to as out by identify in shops.

If there isn’t a species identify and the plant is solely listed as “hen’s nest fern,” it’s more likely to be A. australasicum.

A close up square image of a bird's nest fern in a red pot set on a white surface next to a window with the blind closed.

A. nidus

You’ll find A. nidus accessible at Planting Tree.


‘Campio’ has the basic development behavior of its A. nidus mum or dad, however has lobed, fringed, ruffled leaves which have the lacy look we normally affiliate with ferns.

The lengthy fronds are only a bit wider than these of the species.

House Depot carries this charming cultivar in a six inch pot.


This A. antiquum cultivar has a extra open development behavior and grows bigger than the species, with fronds reaching as much as 60 inches lengthy.

The leaves have an attention-grabbing forked tip, like a snake’s tongue.


Snag one in a four-inch pot from Wekiva Foliage by way of Amazon.

Crispy Wave

A. nidus ‘Crispy Wave’ is one among my favorites due to its wavy, wrinkled leaves. They seem like inexperienced ribbons rippling within the breeze.

A close up horizontal image of an Asplenium 'Crispy Wave' growing in a small pot.
Picture by Kristine Lofgren.

The plant stays about the identical dimension because the species, it’s simply the wavy fronds that make it stand out.


A. antiquum ‘Vitasphur’ aka hurricane fern is a stand-out choice.

A close up horizontal image of a hurricane bird's nest fern growing in a small pot held up by a hand from the bottom of the frame.

The leaves really seem like they’re being whipped round within the wind of a hurricane.

The fronds curl and twist round in a clockwise path on this newer cultivar, which was bred in 2013 by Henk van Duijnhoven in Mariahout, the Netherlands.


Invite the storm to your house, and seize one in a six-inch pot from BubbleBlooms by way of Amazon.


You might be forgiven for considering you’re taking a look at a pot full of some type of funky lettuce whenever you first set eyes on this A. antiquum cultivar.

A close up horizontal image of a variety of Asplenium ferns growing in pots at a plant nursery.

‘Leslie’ has a extra upright form than the species, with rippling fronds capped with wavy, forked ends. It’s an interesting and crowd pleasing plant.

Go to House Depot to seize a reside plant in a four-inch hanging basket.


‘Osaka’ is an A. nidus cultivar identified for being extra cold-hardy than the species, tolerating temperatures right down to round 40°F.

A close up horizontal image of an unfurling frond on an Asplenium.

It additionally has barely wavy edges on the fronds, additional setting it other than the species.

It’s a great choice if your home tends to be chilly or if you wish to develop yours outdoor in areas that don’t drop beneath 40°F.


One take a look at A. nidus ‘Victoria’ and also you’ll be in love. It has leaves with ruffled and crinkled edges. It’s engaging with out being ostentatious.

A close up horizontal image of the textured, wavy foliage of an Asplenium 'Victoria' bird's nest fern.

Go to House Depot to select up ‘Victoria’ in a four-inch hanging pot.

Managing Pests and Illness

Offered that you simply water on the soil degree, quarantine your new crops earlier than bringing them into the house, and frequently look at your specimens for pests, the probabilities are low that you simply’ll have any hassle together with your hen’s nest ferns.

After all, no plant is totally resistant to points, so listed below are some to look at for:


There are two bugs that may steadily feed on Asplenium species, they usually’re intently associated.


Mealybugs are oval, flat, sap-sucking bugs that use their sucking mouthparts to attract the sap out of crops.

They’re coated in a waxy grey or white coating, they usually are likely to cluster collectively and transfer slowly. It’s simple to mistake them for a white fungal illness fairly than pests.

In case you see them hanging out on the undersides of the fronds or on the stems, you possibly can handle the problem by wiping them with a cotton swab dipped in isopropyl alcohol.

This removes their protecting coating and leaves them uncovered.

Past that, we’ve a number of different ideas for coping with mealybugs in our information.


Intently associated to mealybugs, these bugs look and act in an identical method, besides that they’re brown and don’t have a fuzzy coating.

You’ll be able to take care of them the identical method. We even have a information that can assist you handle an infestation.


Translucent, water-soaked spots on the fronds are indicative of bacterial blight, which is a illness brought on by Pseudomonas cichorii or P. gladioli.

Because the spots age, the facilities flip brick pink with purple margins. In the fitting situations – scorching and humid – the spots can merge, and the entire leaf will die.

There isn’t an efficient therapy so avoiding an infection within the first place is essential. Don’t permit water to splash on the foliage, as a substitute, you’ll want to water on the soil degree.

Don’t neglect about root rot, as nicely. This isn’t a illness, however a physiological subject brought on by overwatering, which drowns the roots and deprives them of oxygen.

Scale back watering in case you suspect root rot, which exhibits up as drooping, soggy brown fronds.

Greatest Makes use of for Chook’s Nest Ferns

As an epiphyte, you possibly can develop this plant mounted on wooden or bamboo.

A close up vertical image of a bird's nest fern (Asplenium) growing in a pot indoors.

Chook’s nest ferns are lovely houseplants and since they’ll tolerate cramped situations, they’re preferrred if you wish to replenish small, attention-grabbing pots.

Many houseplants want giant pots, however these ferns can develop in these small, funky, typically impractical pots you typically see at backyard shops.

Fast Reference Rising Information

Plant Sort: Evergreen fern Foliage Colour: Inexperienced
Native to: Africa, Australia, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Pacific Islands, the Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand Tolerance: Some shade/low gentle
Hardiness (USDA Zone): 10-12 Upkeep Low
Publicity: Brilliant, oblique gentle Soil Sort: Unfastened, humus-rich
Time to Maturity: 2 years Soil pH: 5.5-6.5
Planting Depth: Crown barely above soil Soil Drainage: Effectively-draining
Top: As much as 3 foot Makes use of: Specimen, mounting
Unfold: As much as 3 foot Household: Aspleniaceae
Water Wants: Average Genus: Asplenium
Widespread Pests and Illnesses: Mealybugs, scale; bacterial blight, root rot Species: Antiquum, australasicum, nidus

The Fern for Everybody

Ferns could be a problem to develop indoors, however hen’s nest is the right choice for brand spanking new growers who wish to dip their toe within the fern-growing waters.

They’re a lovely choice for extra superior growers too, so don’t overlook them even you probably have mastered the artwork of rising the tougher species.

A close up horizontal image of a bird's nest fern (Asplenium) growing in a pot indoors.

Are you rising hen’s nest ferns? Tell us within the feedback part beneath!

And for extra details about rising different varieties of ferns, take a look at these guides subsequent:

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