The bird's nest fern was first found in regions of tropical Asia. The plant is considered an epiphytic fern. Epiphytic ferns grow naturally on trees in the tropics and soilless conditions. The bird's nest fern is considered by many to be one of the easiest ferns to grow in a house setting.
The bird's nest fern grows long apple-green fronds that often reach 60 inches in length. The fronds have a wavy appearance and stand quite erect. Older bird's nest ferns sport a striking black midrib that stands out as a backdrop to the fronds. Spores appear on the underside of the fronds. Fronds are quite delicate and do not like to be handled or bumped, which can produce dry dead spots.
Soil must be a light, well-drained mixture for the bird's nest fern to thrive. They prefer to be grown in two parts peat moss and one part loam with one part sand. The soil needs to be kept moist at all times for the plant to thrive. If the soil becomes heavy then the plant will need to be promptly replanted to thrive. Heavy soil conditions can quickly result in the fern's death.
Temperature, Humidity and Growth
Temperatures should ideally be between 70 and 90 degrees F for the bird's nest fern to produce abundant growth. A small temperature deviation will not kill the plant but it will dramatically slow its growth rate. The plant also prefers to have regular high humidity levels.
Propagation can be achieved from using the fern's frond spores. Place a piece of paper underneath the fronds to catch the falling spores. The spores can be successfully sown in the winter in moist peat moss. The ideal temperature for spore germination is between 68 and 70 degrees F. Cover the container with the spores and peat moss in a plastic bag to help maintain a high humidity level and keep soil constantly moist.
Light and Mist
Place the bird's nest fern out of direct sunlight. Mist the plant daily using a handheld sprayer or place the plant in a bathroom where the steam from bathing and showering will be enjoyed. If the edges of the leaves begin to have a dry, crisp appearance then the plant is not receiving enough water or the humidity in the air is lacking. In tropical climates the ferns can be placed outside during the hot, humid summer weather. Place the plants outside in a shady location out of direct sunlight.