Houseplants forum: Birds Nest Fern

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Name: Deb
Pacific NW (Zone 8b)
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Bonehead
Mar 1, 2018 8:57 AM CST
I just bought a fern in a 6" round plastic pot. I am placing this is a tall planter and have often seen advice to NOT pot-up houseplants. While I don't quite understand this, it seems to be regular advice. So, my thought is to fill the bottom of the planter with something light (packing peanuts if I have any or perhaps just vermiculite which I know I have a sack of), nestle the existing pot in, and surround it with spagnum moss. Will that work? The pot is probably 30" tall by perhaps 12" wide, kind of a tapered square - going next to my tub and will be right next to a north facing window. At what point do I know when it might be time to pot up to an 8" pot?
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Name: Alice
Saint Helena Island, SC (Zone 9a)
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ardesia
Mar 1, 2018 11:13 AM CST
I would watch the roots, if they are packed too tightly and running around the outside of the root ball looking for air, it needs a new pot. The rule is not to re-pot, just to not pot up into too large a pot.
Minds are like parachutes; they work better when they are open.
Name: Deb
Pacific NW (Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Deer Organic Gardener Ferns Herbs Beavers
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Bonehead
Mar 1, 2018 11:39 AM CST
And why is that? Seems houseplants are all tropical plants which grow naturally in jungles with as much dirt as they want. I've always been a bit confused about this.
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Name: Alice
Saint Helena Island, SC (Zone 9a)
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ardesia
Mar 1, 2018 12:36 PM CST
There are probably some plants that can handle large amounts of soil. As a rule however, the soil mass should to be in ratio with the roots. If there is too much soil it *might* hold more water than the existing roots could absorb within a reasonable time and they could possible suffer, even rot. You want just enough soil so that the roots can promptly establish themselves and begin taking up water/nutrients. Going up one pot size at a time is a pain but generally it's the safest way to do it.

BTW, Birds Nest ferns are naturally epiphytic, they grow on trees so too much damp soil would be the death of one. Their roots need a lot of oxygen.
Minds are like parachutes; they work better when they are open.
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Mar 1, 2018 3:39 PM CST
Deb - I think Alice has very well explained the hazards of moving a plant prematurely into a pot that is too large. There is a book, titled "Don't Repot That Plant," that explains all this in great detail.

My rule of thumb is that if there is enough soil in the pot to retain moisture for a week or more, it should not be repotted. The primary purpose of the soil in the pot is to retain water like a sponge. But the roots also need regular doses of oxygen that come only when the soil is allowed to dry out regularly, roughly weekly. Without enough oxygen, the roots suffocate and the roots die. That is what is commonly referred to as root rot.

I like that you are double-potting your Fern. Sometimes in situations like yours, I use styrofoam or florists blocs to form a rigid platform that the nursery pot can sit on. Using an upside-down plastic pot is another alternative. I like to use Spanish moss to lay over the top to cover up the double-potting, It is very easy to work and it doesn't absorb water the way that sphagnum moss does.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
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Name: Deb
Pacific NW (Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Deer Organic Gardener Ferns Herbs Beavers
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Bonehead
Mar 1, 2018 5:53 PM CST
Here's another question about this particular planting. The planter I am using is tall with a self-watering reservoir at the bottom. No drain hole (which is actually OK with me as it will be sitting on a finished floor and I don't want to incur water damage). Assuming I build up the interior (likely with foam blocks) for the plant to sit on, will I need to worry about excess water accumulating in the reservoir? Seems most ferns like a moist environment.
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Mar 1, 2018 6:03 PM CST
I assume you are not using the self-watering reservoir as designed. If so, then the build-up of water in the bottom is not a problem as long as the water level stays below the bottom of the nursery pot. The purpose of the platform is to raise the plant to an appropriate visual level but also to keep the bottom of the grow pot above any water that accumulates. The water in the reservoir might contribute a bit to the humidity level. Just be careful the water does not stagnate and attract critters.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: Deb
Pacific NW (Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Deer Organic Gardener Ferns Herbs Beavers
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Bonehead
Mar 1, 2018 6:26 PM CST
You are correct that I will not be using the reservoir as designed. I didn't even realize it had one in it until I cleaned it out from my last (disasterous) attempt to move a sword fern inside. I figure if I keep the planter light enough, I should be able to jiggle it now and again to listen for sloshing. Hadn't thought about the critter aspect, with my luck I'll get a mosquito hatch! Yikes.
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Name: Alice
Saint Helena Island, SC (Zone 9a)
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ardesia
Mar 1, 2018 7:00 PM CST
Sounds like a fairly large container and perhaps a difficult one to tip and drain. Have you considered drilling a drain hole and setting it in an attractive saucer?
Minds are like parachutes; they work better when they are open.
Name: Lin
Florida (Zone 9b)

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plantladylin
Mar 1, 2018 7:05 PM CST
The potted birdsnest fern can be lifted from the decorative pot, taken to the sink (or outdoors) to water it; allow to drain and then put back in place. That way you won't have an issue with stinky, smelly water. LOL, don't ask me how I know about stinky, yucky, standing water in decorative cache pots. Rolling on the floor laughing
~ Playing in the dirt is my therapy ... and I'm in therapy a lot! ~


Name: Alice
Saint Helena Island, SC (Zone 9a)
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ardesia
Mar 1, 2018 7:06 PM CST
Much better thought Lin. Thumbs up
Minds are like parachutes; they work better when they are open.
Name: Tiffany purpleinopp
Opp, AL 🌵🌷⚘🌹🌻 (Zone 8b)
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purpleinopp
Apr 21, 2018 5:48 AM CST
How is your fern doing, Deb? I have trouble finding time to water this often enough. It gets dry about every-other day.
Thumb of 2018-04-21/purpleinopp/9650a3

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Name: Deb
Pacific NW (Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Deer Organic Gardener Ferns Herbs Beavers
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Bonehead
Apr 21, 2018 10:01 AM CST
So far so good. I like the notion of keeping plants in their plastic pots, much easier to switch things around. I may put the fern up higher and get a taller more vertical plant for the floor planter. Still toying with the idea of a bamboo, not sure if it would get enough light, although it would be right up against a large north-facing window so maybe. My cousin has one she wants to get rid of - free is always good for experimenting.
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Name: Tiffany purpleinopp
Opp, AL 🌵🌷⚘🌹🌻 (Zone 8b)
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purpleinopp
Apr 22, 2018 5:39 AM CST
Is it "lucky bamboo"? If so, the spot you described sounds fine. I'm always anxious to experiment for free too!
Lucky Bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana)
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The less I interfere, the more balance mother nature provides.
👒🎄👣🏡🍃🍂🌾🌿🍁❦❧ 🍃🍁🍂🌾🌻🌸🌼🌹🌽❀☀🌺
☕👓 The only way to succeed is to try.
Name: Deb
Pacific NW (Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Deer Organic Gardener Ferns Herbs Beavers
Dragonflies Spiders! Dog Lover Keeper of Poultry Birds Fruit Growers
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Bonehead
Apr 22, 2018 7:32 AM CST
No. It's a real bamboo, I think a runner.
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Name: Tiffany purpleinopp
Opp, AL 🌵🌷⚘🌹🌻 (Zone 8b)
Houseplants Organic Gardener Composter Region: Gulf Coast Miniature Gardening Native Plants and Wildflowers
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purpleinopp
Apr 22, 2018 7:54 AM CST
Ooh! Interesting!
👀😁😂 - SMILE! -☺😎☻☮👌✌∞☯🐣🐦🐔🐝🍯🐾
The less I interfere, the more balance mother nature provides.
👒🎄👣🏡🍃🍂🌾🌿🍁❦❧ 🍃🍁🍂🌾🌻🌸🌼🌹🌽❀☀🌺
☕👓 The only way to succeed is to try.

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