Ask a Question forum: Repotting Birds Nest Fern

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Name: tfc
North Central TX (Zone 8a)
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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tx_flower_child
May 19, 2018 1:28 PM CST
I have a Bird's Nest Fern that came in a 4" round pot. I keep it inside, near but not close to a window. It's been craving water so I popped it out of the pot and saw that it had been potted in what I think is a soilless mix. Not sure if that's the true term, but it's what many florists use. (this was a gift and came for a florist) Could be peat.

So anyway, I want to repot it and have 3 questions.

Should I keep some of the current 'soil' while adding more in a bigger pot? Only thinking it might prevent some shock and my talent for being too rough on roots.

How big a pot can I put this in? (I have all sizes, shapes, etc) Can I use clay or ceramic or just stick with plastic?

What kind of mix should I use? I have good potting soil, perlite, a mix for cactus & succulents, and I think that's it. Also have supplements like earthworm castings, mycorrhizal fungi, etc. Also have compost but think it would be too 'heavy' for a small fern.

Any advice before I dive in and do this?
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Profess plant consultant & educator
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WillC
May 20, 2018 9:17 AM CST
If there is enough soil in the pot so you don't need a thorough watering any more than twice a week, then it does not need repotting. If it does need water more than twice per week then move it into a 5 or 6-inch pot that is the same shape as the one it is now in. A plastic pot will retain moisture longer than a terra cotta pot and may be preferred with a Fern that does not tolerate dry soil. Most importantly, the new pot must have drain holes.

The existing potting mix is probably a soilless, peat-based potting mix which is the preferred potting mix for your Fern and many other indoor plants. The nursery growers know what they are doing, so don't expect that you can improve things with the other materials you have mentioned.

If you repot, don't disturb the roots by trying to replace the existing potting mix. Keep the existing rootball intact and move it into a pot that is one size larger. Add potting mix to the bottom and sides of the rootball, but not on top.

Your Fern does best in the brightest indoor light you can provide as long as it is beyond the reach of the sun's rays falling directly on the leaves. Right on a north or east windowsill is best. Never more than several feet away from any window or too far off to the side.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
Contact me directly at [email protected]
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: tfc
North Central TX (Zone 8a)
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
Image
tx_flower_child
May 20, 2018 12:00 PM CST
Thanks, Will.

One follow up question. Or really a clarification. If I repot, you used the term 'potting mix'. Since I know that you're a specialist, are you referring to a special or specific type potting mix? (not brand but content)

Thanks again.
tfc


Name: Will Creed
NYC
Profess plant consultant & educator
Image
WillC
May 20, 2018 12:50 PM CST
I use the term "potting mix" because the term "potting soil" includes soil and I don't recommend the use of soil for most indoor plants.

Yes, it is content that matters rather than brand name. If you use a packaged potting mix, read the ingredients list carefully and look for a mix that contains only peat moss, coir and perlite and maybe some limestone. Avoid mixes that contain humus, soil, compost and bark chips because all of those are potential sources of fungus gnat larvae. Also, avoid wetting agents and moisture control agents. You can easily make your own mix that contains 4 or 5 parts peat moss mixed together with 1 part perlite.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
Contact me directly at [email protected]
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: tfc
North Central TX (Zone 8a)
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
Image
tx_flower_child
May 20, 2018 2:04 PM CST
Thanks much!

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