A Fairly Easy Fern For The Self-Proclaimed Fern Killer

by Barbara-

Yes! One of the few ferns I have been able to keep alive.  I don’t only have one but two and they are all alive! This is definitely cause for celebration. If you struggle keeping ferns alive, this is the fern for you. IMG_2724

I have said many times how I am bad at keeping ferns, however the Bird’s nest fern is surprisingly easy to keep. Although bird’s nest ferns are sold in planters, they are actually epiphytic and therefore can be mounted much like the Staghorn fern.  They get their common name from the fact that they look like a bird’s nest owing to their rossette forming leaves.The new young leaves unfurl from the center and it is a beauty to see. I know of two species of Asplenium both called bird’s nest fern – A. nidus and A. antiquum. I had always thought my pant was nidus but while researching for this post, I realized it is an antiquum. It seems the difference is with the leaves and size. While A. nidus is bigger with broad leaves and less wavy leaves, A. antiquum is smaller with deeply wavy leaf margins. I have two of these plants and the younger one is so wavy it actually looks crinkly.  I have seen the smaller plant also called “crispy wave”.


The bird’s nest fern will do well in low to medium light. Indirect bright light is best and keep away from direct sun. It also loves humid conditions but not as high as other ferns, which makes it an easier fern. I kept the small plant in a terrarium to increase humidity until it was too big and had to take it out. It needs repotting big time.

baby fern

Keep the potting medium moist but not soggy. It can tolerate dry soil fairly well and will not totally collapse if you forget to water it for a day or two (guilty). When watering, water around the outside of the rosette so as to prevent water from sitting in the center of the rosette which might cause rot.


One thing I noticed is that the new leaves look like they have been gnawed on by something (as shown below). I have looked all around the plant to see if perhaps a slug is hiding in there somewhere but to no avail. Could it be due to the dry air? I haven’t seen any pests either although they can be prone to scale, fungus gnats, caterpillars, mealybugs and of course slugs.

IMG_2712 Don’t be alarmed if the older bottom leaves wilt and fall off. They propagate by spores which can be found on the leaves’ underside. Because they propagate by spores, this makes them difficult to propagate by the average houseplant owner.


I say this is an easy fern because if I have been able to keep alive, so can you. I am sure though some may have had a not so easy experience. Share your experiences below – easy or not.



Hi, I’m Barbara and I’m a little obsessed with house plants. I share my house plant adventures in the hopes of inspiring you to continue to enjoy the greens in your home. And if you have no plants (yet!) I hope this blog inspires you to add some green to your home. So go on! Try it! I think you might quite like it. And who knows? You may end up being … obsessed too.


  1. Wayne Thornton aka Curious Kale.

    I forgot to attach the picture of my crispy wave so here it is.

    16 . Jan . 2018
  2. Wayne Thornton aka Curious Kale.

    Hi Barbara thank you for your introduction to this beautiful and very forgiving fern, the only Fern I’ve ever grown. Like you, I also am a avid plant collector. I was curious on the background of this fern and found that it was discovered in Japan in 1960 or 64 for and was introduced in 1994 after years of studying and cultervating providing the Crispy Fern we all know and CAN grow today. It is indeed a sought after Fern because of its ability to grow under less desirable conditions contrary to many of our other household plants making this an ideal plant for beginners. I’ve had mine for 2 years and was the size of a tea cup. I transplanted it once and it hasn’t grown very much since. I am attaching a picture although nothing to brag about I just want to share. It will hopefully have a growth spurt over this coming summer ha,ha.. You said that it can be mounted to a piece of wood such as the staghorn, I was wondering do you have any information on how to go about mimicing this procedure? I’m very interested in trying that. I’ve always wanted my own Staghorn, maybe someday i will have one but until then I’d like to try that technique with my crispy wave. Thank you for any information you can provide. Curious Kale!

    16 . Jan . 2018
  3. B Squared

    I bought one of these at Jewel our local grocery store and some of the leaves are turning brown. I think it wants more light. How much light do your ferns get?

    09 . Sep . 2016
  4. Pam T

    Love your blog! The day I can keep a fern happy will be a day to rejoice, will have to give this one a try. Keep up the great work, look forward to reading about your green obsessions. 🙂

    29 . Jan . 2016
    • Barbara

      Yes, definitely give it a try!

      30 . Jan . 2016
  5. Peter/Outlaw

    I’ve been tempted to get one of these but keep telling myself that there are already too many houseplants in my collection. It’s also been easy to pass up because of my preconceived notion that they’re difficult. It’s nice to hear that they aren’t as fussy as some ferns. You’ve given me the courage to try one and a reason to go shopping!

    29 . Jan . 2016
    • Barbara

      Glad to have inspired you 🙂

      30 . Jan . 2016

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