Ask a Question forum: Potting on Birds Nest Fern

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UK
SpamAllan
Jul 24, 2017 3:37 PM CST
I decided to pot on my Birds Nest Fern today (it is in a tiny pot and I am worried about it drying it). For some reason that I can't understand now I thought I would just make up what to do rather than research.

So what I did is this: Mixed some standard potting-on compost with some sphagnum moss and planted the fern in that. Was that stupid? I am now worried that this mix won't be right for it.

Thanks,
Sam
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Jul 24, 2017 3:55 PM CST
Bird's Nest Fern (Asplenium nidus) is an epiphyte, meaning that in its natural habitat, it is growing on a tree without any soil. It also means that pot size should be minimal - a very large plant can grow in a surprisingly small pot. I had some really old, really huge ones when I had a larger greenhouse. They actually grow a trunk with age. I kept mine in heavy clay pots to keep them from tipping over.

The potting medium should be peat based - sphagnum moss is going to be peat someday but not yet. Smiling Keep it moist but not soggy.

I asked my daughter to take a photo of the one I gave her. I will post it later.

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UK
SpamAllan
Jul 24, 2017 4:06 PM CST
Thanks for the rapid reply! So the soil should be ok but it maybe didn't need potting on at all!
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
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DaisyI
Jul 24, 2017 4:18 PM CST
The soil is not okay and it probably didn't need repotting. Sphagnum moss is nutrient deficient and water retentive. It breaks down quickly and needs to be replaced once a year or so. Sphagnum Peat moss is also nutrient deficient but, after spending a million years in a bog, its quite acidic. Peat based potting mixes are formulated for Azaleas and other acid loving plants. But you can make your own by using regular potting soil and adding peat. Here in the U.S., I buy soil formulated for African Violets.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

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SpamAllan
Jul 25, 2017 1:40 AM CST
Hi DaisyI, I misunderstood your first reply. I have moved it back into the old pot with as much of the original soil as possible and some more acidic soil I bought. I have probably caused it unnecessary stress but I have learnt my lesson! Thanks for all your help! PS I would love to see your giant fern.
Name: Tiffany purpleinopp
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purpleinopp
Jul 26, 2017 1:53 PM CST
I find that my plant is so dry, it stops making new leaves if I am unable to water it daily. It is in a standard plastic hanging pot and is just so constantly thirsty. In UK with much cooler temps, a lot more cloudy days, that experience might be quite different. As long as the soil mix has plenty of air in it while moist, and excess moisture flows out of pot, roots should not be at risk of rotting.
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Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Jul 26, 2017 2:57 PM CST
Tiffany, I found that the only way I could keep mine alive and doing well was to do what everybody swore I shouldn't do - fill the 'bird's nest' full of water. Smiling

SpamAllen, Here are the two I had for several years before giving them away when we moved. The first was about 4 ft x 4 ft and had those great 'snake tongue' leaves. The second was smaller (maybe 3 x 3) but older and had a trunk which you can't see because of the 5-fingered ferns. The ferns (along with Maidenhair ferns) are native to California and come up in everything. Both Bird's Nests are in very heavy 2-gallon pots. The third photo is the smaller of the two ferns (my daughter has managed to get rid of the 5-fingered companions) with her hand in the photo for size. The soil is about halfway down in the pot so most of the trunk isn't showing. I think I will suggest to her that it might be time to transplant Smiling but it does illustrate just how little soil they need.
Thumb of 2017-07-26/DaisyI/c5ff00
Thumb of 2017-07-26/DaisyI/f4752a
Thumb of 2017-07-26/DaisyI/9ce9bf

Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

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Name: Cheryl
Texas (Zone 9a)
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ShadyGreenThumb
Jul 26, 2017 6:50 PM CST
Thanks for this post. I repotted mine this year because it was falling over and because of the trunk. I am wondering what type of Bird's Nest Fern I have? It looks much different that @daisyl 's? But I haven't had mine for as long, only about 4 years or so.
Thumb of 2017-07-27/ShadyGreenThumb/167a8b

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[Last edited by ShadyGreenThumb - Jul 26, 2017 6:51 PM (+)]
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Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Jul 26, 2017 7:20 PM CST
I don't know what you have. I know that my oldest one has narrower ruffly leaves and the bigger one has leaves that fork more than once. Yours seems to be the wide flat leafed one. I know, I am a fountain of knowledge but was just happy to keep them alive for all those years. Smiling
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

Webmaster: osnnv.org
Name: Cheryl
Texas (Zone 9a)
Region: Texas Greenhouse Plant Identifier Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Plumerias Ponds
Foliage Fan Enjoys or suffers hot summers Tropicals Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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ShadyGreenThumb
Jul 26, 2017 7:58 PM CST
Well! @DaisyL if you don't know what it is then I think I may be in trouble! This plant came from the now liquidated, Jerry's Jungle in Houston. Jerry and his wife were known for bringing fabulous plant life from their travels into Houston. They grew them in an amazing plant setting fitting for photographers. I was told this was a Bird's Nest Fern but that was it. Who know what it is or where it came from? I think I will have to post on Plant ID forum next!
Life is short, Break the rules, Forgive quickly, Kiss slowly, Love Truly, Laugh
uncontrollably, And never regret anything that made you Smile.
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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DaisyI
Jul 26, 2017 9:01 PM CST
It is a Bird's Nest Fern but there are a lot of varieties. Sorry if I confused you.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

Webmaster: osnnv.org
UK
SpamAllan
Aug 2, 2017 7:22 AM CST
Thanks for posting those photos! They look great! Mine has a long way to go, it's currently about the size of my fist.

I returned the fern to its original pot and it seems to be happy. Thanks for the help!

Sam

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