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Bird's nest fern (Asplenium nidus)
Photo: Jardin botanique de Montréal (Josée Bouthot)
Asplenium nidus



Origin and description

Asplenium is an epiphytic fern native to the Asian and Polynesian tropics, growing in moist locations protected from the sun. It reaches 50 cm to one metre tall, and has a funnel-shaped rosette of large, showy fronds. The simple fronds are glossy, bright green and slightly wavy, with a dark central vein.

Species, cultivars and related plants

Asplenium antiquum 'Victoria' resembles bird's nest fern, but has wavy frond edges. Asplenium bulbiferum has finely divided fronds that resemble carrot leaves. It bears numerous plantlets on its fronds, that fall to the ground and grow into new ferns. Asplenium daucifolium (syn. Asplenium viviparum) resembles Asplenium bulbiferum, but its fronds are darker, arching and divided into very fine pinnae.

Common name

Asplenium / Bird's nest fern

Latin name (genus)

Asplenium nidus

English common name

French common name

Botanical family

  • Aspleniaceae

Growing conditions

Asplenium tolerates average lighting but grows best in fairly bright light (bright but slightly filtered). Preferably place it in an east- or west-facing window. Avoid direct sunlight. The ideal temperature is 20ºC year round, and never below 15ºC in winter. Avoid sudden temperature changes and drafts. Provide it with high humidity by using a humidifier, setting the pot on a pebble tray filled with water or misting the foliage with room-temperature water.

Easy to grow?

This plant is fairly easy to care for if you provide it with high humidity.

Watering and fertilizer

In summer, water it frequently to keep the rootball slightly moist. Cut back on watering in winter. Humus in the soil provides most of the nutrients the plant needs. Fertilize three or four times during the active growing period with balanced indoor plant food or all-purpose fertilizer like 20-20-20, at half strength.

Pruning and maintenance

Use a damp sponge to clean the fronds, except for the delicate, fragile new fronds.


This plant should be repotted only once the roots are obviously potbound and emerging from the pot. Repot it in spring with well-aerated, acidic, well-drained potting mix that is rich in organic matter, along the lines of equal parts potting soil, peat moss and commercial orchid mix.

See also

Pests and diseases
Physiological disorders

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