Synonyms: Thamnopteris nidus
Distribution & Habitat: native to tropical southeastern Asia, northern Queensland in Australia, Hawaii, Polynesia, Christmas Island, India, and eastern Africa.
Bird’s Nest Fern, Crow’s Nest Fern
Description: Asplenium nidus gets its common name, bird’s nest fern, from the fact that its shiny, undivided fronds are arranged in an upward-spreading, bowl shaped rosette. These apple green, slightly undulate fronds may grow up to 1.5 m long, but are more often about 45- cm long by 5-8 cm wide. Each one has a dark brown central rib that narrows and fades to merge with the colour of the rest of the frond for the last third of its length. For the first few weeks, new fronds, which unroll from a central spongy, fibrous, dark brown core, are delicate and easily damaged. They should not have the dust wiped off them at this early stage. Harder, more mature fronds, on the other hand, will benefit from occasional wiping with a damp cloth. Brown spore cases are arranged in herringbone fashion on the backs of some of the mature fronds of the plant. Asplenium nidus does not produce offsets.
Light: These Aspleniums should be exposed neither to bright sunlight nor dense shade. Give them medium light all year long.
Temperature: All these species do well in normal room temperatures although they can actually withstand quite low temperatures.
Watering: During the active growth period water plentifully as often as necessary to make the potting mixture thoroughly moist. Water the potting mix, not the center of the rosette, otherwise it can easily rot.
During the rest period water sparingly, enough to keep the potting mixture from drying out. It will not hurt these ferns to dry out for a while, but it is best to keep them evenly moist.
Feeding: Apply liquid fertilizer to well established plants once a month during the active growth period.
Potting and repotting: For a suitable potting mixture use a FERNS potting mixture. Aspleniums have fine, dense, black roots, which form very solid root balls. Repotting is needed only when the root ball becomes so dense and crowded that the pot is full of roots and obviously the plant is not absorbing enough moisture when watered. When this occurs, move plants into pots one size larger in the spring.
The roots of these plants will often adhere firmly to the sides of a pot, and in some cases it may be necessary to carefully break the pot so as to be able to remove the plant.
Propagation: Propagation of Asplenium nidus is possible only by spores and is impractical for most amateur growers.
Propagation of Asplenium nidus is not easy because each spore case on this frond contains millions of spores which are almost impossible to see, let alone handle.
Asplenium nidus will make a wonderful centerpiece in any garden decoration, whether planted in a pot, container, hanging basket or even on ground. Excellent as an accent in any landscape or rock garden. Being an epiphyte growing on large trees in the rainforest, parks or along roadways, it can be cultivated on trees growing in one’s garden to enhance the garden view.
Problems: Leaves will scorch if plant is in a draft or dry air. If scale insects invade plant, spray with soapy water followed by clean water.
These plants require some special conditions and are unlikely to thrive without them.
Foliage – green
Shape – rossette
Watering in rest period – sparingly
Watering in active growth period – plentifully
Light – medium
Temperature in rest period – min 16C max 24C
Temperature in active growth period – min 18C max 24C
Humidity – high