With shiny fronds in bright apple green, nest fern banishes the sadness from dim room niches. The primeval form of prehistoric fauna can confidently do without a flower, because the wavy, undivided fronds in a lush rosette shape are a feast for the eyes enough. No extensive care is required for Asplenium nidus to transform the living space into an evergreen refuge. Only a little rethinking is required when it comes to the water and nutrient balance. Here you can find out how easy it is to cultivate. The riddle of the propagation of the magnificent leaf ornamental plant is also solved here.


  • Plant Family: Spleen Ferns (Aspleniaceae)
  • Art: Nestfarn (Asplenium nidus)
  •  Native to the rainforests of the tropics
  •  Undivided, glossy green fronds up to 100 cm long and 20 cm wide
  • Dark brown midrib with brown spurs at maturity
  •  Rosette-shaped habit without spurs
  •  Use as a houseplant in a tub

In addition to the pure species, specialist shops offer a few varieties. One of the crowd favorites is ‘Crispy wave’, a nest fern with heavily curled leaves and a growth height of 40-60 cm. As another cultivar, ‘Fimbriatum’ has made a name for itself thanks to its feathery, light green fronds.


The linchpin in the professional care of nest ferns is the choice of an adequate location. A look at the regions of natural occurrence shows what the green plant values. Although it thrives in the twilight of tropical rainforests, it prefers a spot in the trees to get at least a modicum of sunlight. Therefore, keep Asplenium nidus in these locations:

  • Half-shady to shady location
  • Ideally on or near the west or east window
  • No place under the blazing midday sun

The light intensity should be the same on all sides of the fern so that a harmonious silhouette develops. Where this requirement is not met at the location, turn the houseplant by 90 degrees every few days. Incidentally, electric or solar-powered turntables from specialist retailers take care of this routine for you.

temperature and humidity

The minimum temperature for nest ferns is 16 degrees Celsius. If you place the plant in a cooler place, growth will falter and the ornamental leaves will lose their beauty. The primeval plant achieves its optimum when the mercury column is between 18 and 22 degrees Celsius. This goes hand in hand with the requirement for air humidity of 60 to 70 percent, which is high for local conditions. If you set up bowls or humidifiers filled with water, your own well-being will also benefit from this measure. In addition, an indoor fountain or an aquarium increases the humidity in the room to the desired level.

Tip: A plant saucer filled with pebbles and water optimizes the humidity in the immediate vicinity of nest ferns and prevents harmful waterlogging.


Spoil your nest fern with soft, room-warm water. Ideally, use collected rain or stale tap water. The irrigation water should not exceed a degree of hardness of 12 °dH. In German households, water usually comes out of the tap with a degree of hardness of ° 15 dH. Special precautions must therefore be taken to water Asplenium nidus in a species-appropriate manner. It is enough to let the tap water stand for a few days. If you are particularly kind to your house fern, hang a peat-filled nylon stocking in the water during this time as a natural decalcification method. How to perfectly regulate the water balance:

  • Water the nest fern regularly as soon as the substrate surface has dried
  • In addition, spray every 1-2 days with lime-free, lukewarm water
  • Immerse the root ball completely in water once a week in summer

During the winter break in growth, the amount of irrigation water is reduced a little. Nevertheless, the desire for a constantly slightly moist substrate remains. Only the immersion bath should be canceled during the winter.


The nutrient requirements of nest ferns are low. From March to September, apply a diluted concentration of a liquid fertilizer for lime-sensitive green plants every 30 days. In the period from October to February, an Asplenium nidus receives a light intermediate fertilization every 6 weeks.

Note: If the wavy leaf edges on nest ferns turn brown, the plant is suffering from a lack of nutrients and air that is too dry. From now on, fertilize weekly with a nitrogen-rich, salt- and lime-poor preparation. Also spray the leaf ornamental plant daily with lukewarm, soft water.

To cut

Only completely dried fronds are cut off. Make the cut leaving a minimal brown border on the plant. Do not remove a green fern leaf as it will not grow back on nest ferns. In order not to open the door to diseases and pests for an infestation, the cutting tool should be freshly sharpened and meticulously disinfected.


Parallel to the Central European winter, nest ferns dormant from October to February. The framework conditions at the location can safely be maintained during this phase. The minimum temperature of 16 degrees Celsius should be observed. Reduce the water requirement accordingly and only give a small dose of liquid fertilizer every 6 weeks. So that the dry heating air cannot harm an Asplenium nidus, the fronds continue to be sprayed regularly.


Nest fern shows a leisurely growth. Changing to a larger pot is necessary every 2-3 years on average. Choose early spring for this care measure, just before the new growth period begins. Loose mixtures of leaf soil, peat and sand can be used as substrate. For convenience use commercial peat growing medium (TKS2) and add a handful of lava gravel or perlite for best permeability. How to proceed professionally when repotting:

  • In the new bucket, lay out potsherds over the bottom opening as drainage
  • Fill in the recommended substrate halfway up to make a well in it with your fist
  • Unpot the nest fern and plant in the middle while maintaining the previous planting depth
  • Pour in plenty of lukewarm, lime-free water

On this occasion, prudent hobby gardeners take a close look at the root ball. Dried up or rotten root strands are cut out with disinfected scissors.

Tip: Fresh substrate is sterilized in the oven before use to prevent pathogens and pests. The earth is simply filled into a fireproof bowl. Put the bowl in the middle of a preheated oven at 150 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes. Alternatively, place the vessel with the substrate in the microwave for 10 minutes at 800 watts.


Since nest fern produces neither offshoots nor children, vegetative propagation is out of the question here. Instead, use the abundant spores on the undersides of leaves for sowing. If fine dust rises after a touch in summer, the spores are ripe. In order to harvest the propagation material, a frond must now be sacrificed. Cut the leaf and put it in a paper bag or cotton bag. The spores dry up and fall off within a few days. Standard soil with a pH of 5.5, which is sterilized in the oven or microwave, is suitable as a propagation substrate. As a propagation vessel, you should preferably use a low bowl. Flat Weck jars are excellent because they have a transparent lid. Prepare cling film or a pane of glass to cover a bowl. Once the spores have been collected and the sterilized substrate has cooled, propagation proceeds as follows:

  • Fill the seed tray with the substrate
  • Spread the fern spores thinly on top and moisten with a fine shower
  • Provided with the transparent cover and set up in a partially shaded location
  • Moisten regularly at constantly warm temperatures between 22 and 25 degrees Celsius

Nest fern propagation requires a long line of patience. Several months pass before germination finally begins. During this time, the spore seed must not dry out and requires a permanently warm, humid microclimate without mold spreading. Therefore, air the cover for a few minutes every day. If a moss-like, green covering develops, the process is successful. You now have the prothallia in front of you, which do not yet show any resemblance to a nest fern. Small plants only thrive after a further week or month of care. These are pricked out when the seed container becomes too narrow. If the sowing threatens to become mossy or if algae settle, it should be pricked out early. Proceed with these steps:

  • Fill small pots with pricking soil or peat culture substrate 2
  • Make a small hollow with the pricking stick
  • Lift the tiny nest fern out of the seed pot with a spoon or the pricking stick
  • Place in the fresh substrate to press the soil down to the lower leaves with the pricking stick

Place the mini greenhouse in a partially shaded, warm window seat. Continue to keep the substrate moist and spray your pets daily with lukewarm rainwater. When the plants have reached a height of 5-6 cm, they receive the first dose of liquid fertilizer in a highly diluted concentration.

diseases and pests

The high humidity and the repeated spraying of the fronds keep diseases and pests at bay at the same time. As a rule, you will hardly have any problems with ubiquitous aphids or mealybugs. The wet cultivation calls leaflets on the plan instead. These are 1 mm small threadworms that are transmitted with the irrigation water. The pests find access to the plant through the stomata in the leaves and suck out the lifeblood. The first symptom is glassy spots on the apple-green fronds, which eventually turn brown as they progress. Immediately isolate the infected nest fern and stop foliar spraying for a period of time. There is still a lack of effective control agents, so if the infestation pressure is high, the plant should be disposed of.

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