Are Bird’s Nest Ferns Easy to Grow? (For Beginners)

Plants add a distinctive feel to any location, especially when kept indoors. They offer all the wonder and beauty of the outside world without all the mess of pests.

When it comes to plants like the bird’s nest fern, the benefits associated with it practically double when compared to other species.

Not only are these fascinating specimens easy to maintain, but they also adapt to most indoor settings with ease.

Bird’s nest ferns require less lighting than most plants to maintain their healthy color and appearance. This characteristic makes them ideal for indoor plant owners, but it also makes them fantastic groundcover for trees in outdoor landscapes. No matter where you plan on setting up these low-maintenance plants, you can’t go wrong with a species like the bird’ nest fern.

Are bird’s nest ferns easy to grow?

Bird’s nest ferns are one of the easiest ferns to grow, primarily because they require minimal maintenance and withstand numerous conditions other plants can’t handle.

Native to some of the warmest climates in the world, such as Australia, Hawaii, and Southeastern Asia, they thrive where other plants wither from the heat.

They do best in USDA zones 11-12, but they also act as remarkable indoor plants in other parts of the country.

In addition to these amazing qualities, bird’s nest ferns don’t call for large amounts of light or space to survive.

How fast do bird’s nest ferns grow?

Ferns are slow growers in general, though they don’t always have too far to go. While some of them take several years to reach their full size, the bird’s nest fern is among the moderate growers.

This designation means they typically grow anywhere between one to two feet each year.

| Additional reading: Are Bird’s Nest Ferns Slow-Growing?

How much sun does a bird’s nest fern need?

Bird’s nest ferns do best when grown in partial to full shade. Their propensity toward thriving in the shadows doesn’t mean they avoid light altogether.

To grow healthy, sturdy leaves, at least 3-6 hours of sunlight is recommended each day. This light should never be direct.

Instead, filter the sunlight either by placing the plant further away from the window or keeping it in shaded areas.

While bird’s nest ferns love the heat, the scorching afternoon sun damages the leaves, leading to scorching or wilting. This species fares best when kept in the early morning sunlight that is not as intense as the rays later in the day.

How big does a bird’s nest fern get?

How big your fern gets depends on its location. Bird’s nest ferns kept as houseplants typically only grow anywhere from 2 to 3 feet tall with a similar spread.

However, if you plant a bird’s nest fern outdoors, they have significantly more room to grow. Mature height is generally 5 feet tall, while fronds themselves may expand to as far as five feet, too.

As a result, the fern may become as wide as eight feet at its full size.

What is the easiest fern to grow?

There are numerous species of ferns available, all of which come with a list of pros and cons that set them apart from other plants.

Though the bird’s nest fern finds itself among the easiest species of ferns to grow, there are others you may find just as appealing.

Lemon Button Fern

Beyond the way plants look, the most appealing thing about them is their fragrance. The Lemon Button Fern stays true to its name by producing a pleasant scent similar to the citrusy fruit.

In addition to its “scent-sational” qualities, Lemon Button Ferns are easy to care for and compact enough for indoor gardening. They are also non-toxic and safe to grow around pets. 

Kangaroo Paw Fern

As its name might suggest, the Kangaroo Paw Fern is native to the island continent of Australia. Just like the bird’s nest fern, it prefers warmer climates with high humidity.

As a result, it is more suited to growing indoors and loves greenhouses. The unique texture and style of its fronds are what sets this fern apart from other species.

The most notable issue with these plants is a fungus known as “ink spot.” However, using a fungicide as a regular treatment prevents such issues from becoming a problem in the first place.  

Boston Fern

Another popular fixture in gardens is the Boston Fern. These are incredibly easy to grow, with the only drawback being in their mobility.

While they fare just as well indoors as they do outside, they don’t appreciate making the move from one setting to the next.

If you plan on growing these plants, keep them as a hanging basket. That way, they can enjoy the best of both worlds without uprooting and leaving their home.

Maidenhair Fern

A gorgeous plant with stunning foliage, the Maidenhair Fern offers so much to love. This slow-growing species possesses a lime green hue with fan-shaped leaves rather than the spindles or fronds seen on other ferns.

They often grow where no plant dares to go, making them the perfect addition to rock gardens. Not to mention, their soft petals and dangling tendrils make it the ideal contrast for succulents.

How often should you water a bird’s nest fern?

Water your bird’s nest fern every one to two weeks. Allow the soil to dry out halfway in between each watering.

Don’t let the soil get too dried out in between watering, as this may potentially damage the plant. A nice, moist consistency is best.

Should you mist your bird’s nest fern?

Misting is one of the best ways to increase the humidity around plants. This technique works in climates where humidity is low or when tending to bird’s nest ferns kept as houseplants.

Bird’s nest ferns not only thrive in some of the hottest locations in the world, but they also need plenty of humidity to keep them cool. Misting helps it grow larger and gives it that extra-special sheen.

| Additional reading:Ways To Increase Humidity

Can you divide a bird’s nest fern?

Dividing plants is a regular practice employed by gardeners when handling ferns. While these particular species maintain a smaller size regularly, they still may grow to unmanageable proportions at times.

Dividing them cuts the ferns into smaller portions, allowing for larger outdoor plants to be brought indoors for the winter.

It also makes houseplants that have outgrown their containers easier to control.

General tips to keep in mind when growing ferns:

While we’ve already discussed the necessary protocols for taking care of your ferns, you may still have some questions about how to care for them.

You realize they need to be kept in the shade and warm weather, but is it better to grow them indoors or outside? Use these helpful tips to get you started.

Plant ferns in appropriate containers

Ferns do well in numerous types of containers so long as they’re given plenty of room to spread their fronds.

Hanging baskets work exceptionally well. They keep ferns out of reach of most animals, including pets, and let them uniquely display their cascading fronds.

Glass terrariums are especially helpful for developing bird’s nest ferns as it most accurately recreates their natural habitat.

The glass casing replicates the humidity ferns need to thrive, making it even easier to care for them than when kept in terracotta pots. 

Know Where to plant bird’s nest ferns

Knowing where to plant your ferns seems to be a never-ending question. Do you place them inside or outside, and then where do they call home them from there?

If setting up your ferns outdoors, ensure you live in zones warm enough to keep the plant as close to its natural habitat as possible.

Plant them somewhere the species receives plenty of shade throughout the day, potentially beneath a large tree or under a large awning.

Exposing it to too much light or the intense afternoon rays results in damage to the plant.

If you live in an area that’s too cold for your plant to survive, the indoors is best. Your fern doesn’t have to be a houseplant all year long, but you certainly should bring it in starting in the early fall.

Leaving houseplants by a sunny window is a common way to get them all the nutrients they could ever want.

However, since intense lighting is harmful to these plants, it’s better to place them a little further away than ordinary plants. They should still receive plenty of sunlight, though from an indirect angle a few hours a day.

Use a Powerful Pest Control Method

Even though bird’s nest ferns see little to no disease or pest problems, there’s always the exception. In those rare cases, it helps to have an effective pest control method on hand.

Luckily, natural insecticidal soap is generally all you need to reduce the insect population and retake control of your fern. For some DIY insecticides try these neem oil pest control solutions.

Final Thoughts

By now, you’re probably ready to tackle any gardening challenge your fern throws at you. While growing anything new often involves a learning curve, the bird’s nest fern is a resilient, forgiving plant perfect for beginners to test their skills.

So don’t be afraid to bring your new plant resident home with you, and show it lots of love.