By Heather Rhoades
When most people think of ferns, they think of feathery, airy fronds, but not all ferns actually look like this. The birda??s nest fern looks much different and makes an excellent low light houseplant. Read more here.
Bird's nest fern (Asplenium nidus) earned its name with the whorled habit of its foliage, which resembles a bird nest. It performs well outdoors within U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 9 to 12, but is more commonly grown as a potted houseplant. Bird's nest ferns are largely self-sufficient and suffer few serious problems. However, they will look better and live a longer, healthier life if their growing needs are met.
As drought-tolerant succulents, hens and chicks plants are among the best perennials for rock-gardens—they also grow well in cracks, whether in stone walls or between garden stepping stones. In their native Europe, they were grown on thatched roofs to help prevent fires and provide a winter vegetable, as they are edible.
If you're looking for a ground cover, you can replace your lawn with a combination of hens and chicks plus creeping sedum. Your hens will spread via underground roots and will produce at least four chicks each growing season. These little plants are called offsets and can be broken off and transplanted to new areas should you choose.
The hens may flower in the summer, which can happen after one year or after several years. The flowers are dramatic, but the mother hen will die after flowering, and you should remove the dead plant. Flowering can also be a sign of poor conditions, so you might check that drainage and sun are adequate in the spot where the mother was growing.
Grow your hens and chicks plants in full sun (at least six hours daily), which will lead to both optimal coloration in the foliage, as well as ample "offspring." That being said, the plants can grow in partial shade as well, especially if being cared for in an especially hot, dry climate.
Hens and chicks plants are especially unfussy about their soil and will grow best in a mixture that is poor and sandy. The main soil requirement for the plant is that it be well-draining. If your soil is heavy and doesn't drain well, work some peat into the mixture to increase the aeration and drainage. If you're growing your plants in a container, the best potting medium is a mix formulated for succulents and cactus. You can also choose a pot that is made from clay or terracotta to help wick extra moisture from the soil. The hens and chicks plant also prefers a soil pH that is neutral.
Hens and chicks are drought-tolerant perennials, so they can withstand going weeks at a time without proper watering. Give newly transplanted plants sufficient water to help them get established, but once they are, be careful not to over-water them. Check the soil and make sure it is dry before watering.
Hens and chicks can be successfully grown in a range of temperatures, but prefer an average climate between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. If temperatures drop too low, they will not necessarily die off but will definitely stop growing and go into a semi-dormant state. Additionally, hens and chicks tolerate a wide range of humidity levels and are quite popular in dry climates.
This ground cover will thrive in poor soils, so there is no need to fertilize hens and chicks plants.
The Bird's Nest Fern or Asplenium nidus is one of the several popular and beautiful ferns grown as houseplants. Ferns like this one can be grown in North facing windows perfectly well and will truly relish the type of light and cooler temperatures these places receive.
Bird Nest Ferns can look good in many areas of your home
In return the Bird's Nest Fern will give you lots of naturally glossy leaves arranged in a circular pattern which resemble a bird's nest (hence the common name for these houseplants).
These Ferns have very few problems, are cheap to purchase and readily available. They're particularly good indoor plants for bathrooms or a frequently used kitchen because these places tend to have a steamy atmosphere.
This is important because a Bird Nest Fern needs some humidity to really thrive indoors, they'll still cope and deal with an average room but for that extra shine and extra large size you'll need to be misting regularly.
Alternatively, if you don't have the time for all that misting, the Bird Nest Fern is an ideal plant to keep in a home terrarium or glass bottle garden, these enclosed spaces create naturally moist and protective environments that many types of plants, including most ferns, will do well in.
The older glass bottle garden are a little old fashioned we'd admit, but as design pieces themselves they have started to become more popular again with interior designers. You may have a larger selection to pick from at car boot sales or in antique shops, but Amazon have a few of the more modern fashion trends to give you some inspiration. Take a look at the links below.
When it comes to what Bird Nest Ferns you can buy there is generally really only the common type and that is Asplenium nidus. As with most ferns it's difficult to create different cultivars, although you may still be able to find some which have curly or frilly ruffled leaves if you search hard enough. The photo below shows a newer cultivar called "Crispy Wave" because of how the entire leaf from base to tip is crinkled.
Although harder to find, there are cultivars out there that have crinkled rather than flat leaves
Even if you can't find different varieties in your local houseplant stores, a lot of people would say the original is potentially the most beautiful looking anyway. So now you know a bit about the plant let's get cracking with the care instructions.
Maidenhair ferns are delicate plants with very small fronds and a lace-like appearance. They're considered hardy ferns, rather than tropical ferns, but don't let the description fool you: maidenhair ferns can be difficult to keep healthy indoors, as they're quite particular about their growing conditions. The most important environmental factor when it comes to growing this fern with success is humidity—it thrives on moisture and needs a lot to survive, which can often be difficult to achieve in indoor environments. Still, with the proper growing conditions, maidenhair ferns can be an interesting and beautiful addition to any indoor plant collection.
In their natural forest environment, maidenhair ferns are primarily covered by a canopy of trees, receiving a bit of shade and a bit of partial sunlight. To successfully grow the fern indoors, it's best to try and mimic these conditions by finding a spot in your home that receives indirect sunlight only. Avoid harsh light or direct rays, as the delicate leaves of the maidenhair fern can burn very easily.
Maidenhair ferns prefer moist but well-draining potting soil. As mentioned, water is very important to this fern, so up your chances of creating the proper environment for it by incorporating moss or an organic matter like compost into the soil to help it to retain water.
Your best bet when it comes to ensuring your maidenhair fern thrives is to focus on multiple water sources for this thirsty species. Consistently moist soil is a great place to start—from there, be sure to water your fern consistently, either daily or every other day, never allowing the soil to dry out. Keep the fern in a plastic pot with holes, then place the plastic pot in a more attractive outer pot if you wish. This way, you can easily check on the moisture levels in the plastic pot, and the drainage holes will prevent the soil from becoming too soggy.
This fern requires very warm, humid air. To mimic its ideal conditions, mist the plant with warm water a couple of times a day in order to maintain the proper moisture levels on its delicate leaves. Alternatively, you can place the potted plant near a humidifier or atop a tray of wet pebbles to increase moisture levels. Also consider housing the plant in a moisture-rich environment at home, such as a bathroom or garden greenhouse. If you notice the fern's leaves are curling up, the leaf tips are dry, or the leaves are falling off frequently, it's likely that the air is too dry and the plant needs more moisture and humidity. Temperature-wise, the fern is best kept above 70 degrees Fahrenheit and should not be placed anywhere in your home where the temperature or cold drafts dip below 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
It's not necessary to fertilize a maidenhair fern, as the plant will do just fine without it. However, if you wish to provide it with an added dose of nutrients, feed with a balanced, diluted blend once a month, avoiding any feed with too much nitrogen (200 ppm or less), which can cause the tips of the leaves to burn. Additionally, regular trimming and the removal of browned leaves can also help the fern grow denser foliage.