Are Bird’s Nest Ferns Slow-Growing?

A bird’s nest fern is one of the most intriguing houseplants you can ever grow at home. This large, leafy plant is epiphytic in nature, meaning it grows on top of other plants. 

The plant has a stout stem that usually remains concealed under the glossy rosette of spoon-shaped fronds that look like a nest hence the name, bird’s nest fern.

Bird's Nest Fern

The most fascinating aspect about this plant is that when growing outdoors, the fronds of the bird’s nest fern can reach up to 5 feet long, but when growing indoors, they can only reach 2 feet long.

Bird’s nest ferns also seem to grow faster in their natural habitat than when growing indoors.

In this post, we discuss this strange phenomenon and we shall answer the question – are bird’s nest ferns slow-growing?

Are bird’s nest ferns slow-growing?

No and Yes. Bird’s nest ferns can either be slow-growing or fast-growing depending on several factors. Like any other plant, a bird’s nest fern requires the right combination of light, temperature, and moisture, for healthy growth.

The growth rate depends on the above factors and other dynamics such as grow medium, pH level, humidity level, and the climate of the area. 

Bird’s nest ferns thrive in medium to low indirect light, while the ideal temperature for fast and healthy growth should range from 70°F – 90°F. 

Then again, the soil where you grow your fern should have a pH level of 5. It should also be moist but not soggy to prevent root rot.

How fast do bird’s nest ferns grow?

It takes anywhere from 2 months to 6 months for a bird’s nest fern to grow to maturity. Bird’s nest ferns reproduce through spores, which take about 2 weeks to germinate. 

Bird's Nest Fern1

Most gardeners use root divisions instead of spores to grow their ferns since it doesn’t take long before the fronds begin to sprout.

But whether you are using spores or root divisions, it can take up to 6 months for your fern to mature. 

As mentioned earlier, the growth rate of a bird’s nest fern can be slow, fast, or moderate, depending on how you feed it with light, moisture, warmth, and humidity.

If you provide it proper care, your fern will grow quickly and healthily.

What may cause bird’s nest fern not to grow?

A bird’s nest fern may stop growing due to lack of adequate humidity. In case you didn’t know, bird’s nest ferns are high-humidity plants that require constant moisture to thrive. 

The higher the humidity in your home, the longer the fronds of the plant will grow. If the humidity level in your home is too low, your fern may dry out and stop growing, or eventually die. 

Fortunately, you can increase the level of humidity in your home by investing in a humidifier. Another way to increase humidity is by putting your plant in a pebble tray filled with water.

Read Ways To Increase Humidity

Make sure the plants are on top of the pebbles rather than in the water to prevent root rot.

How big does a bird’s nest fern get?

A bird’s nest fern can grow as big as 4 feet in diameter with its fronds growing to 5 feet long. When grown as a houseplant, the fronds of a bird’s nest fern can only reach 2 feet long. This is because ferns usually thrive in their natural habitats.  

Big Bird's Nest Fern

For the fern to reach its optimum size, you must provide it with adequate warmth, humidity, light, and shade.

Make sure you transfer it to a bigger pot if the plant outgrows the current container.

Why are the tips of bird’s nest fern turning brown?

The tips of your bird’s nest fern may turn brown as a result of dry air. As you know by now, ferns are high-humidity plants, meaning low humidity may lead to stunted growth and cause the tips of the leaves to turn brown.

Allowing the soil to dry out may also cause brown tips on the leaves of your plant. Ideally, the soil should be moist, at least 3 inches from the top.

Check the soil for any sign of dryness before deciding when to re-water. 

You should ensure that the soil is moist but not soggy by watering your ferns at least once every week.

Overwatering can also cause problems such as root rot and other fungal diseases. It can also cause the leaves to turn brown on the tips.

Read Are Bird’s Nest Ferns Frost Tolerant

Why are the leaves on bird’s nest fern turning yellow?

The fronds or leaves of your bird’s nest fern will turn yellow as a result of overwatering. On the flipside, too little water may also cause the fronds to yellow and wilt. If the soil is too dry, the fronds of your fern may turn yellow and fall off.

As much as bird’s nest ferns require constant moisture and consistent watering to thrive, you should not overwater them.

Overwatering can lead to root rot and other fungal diseases, eventually causing your ferns to die.

You should make a point to check the humidity level in your home and the moisture in the soil to know when your fern requires watering.

Can you save your bird’s nest fern?

If you notice your bird’s nest fern is yellowing, wilting, or stalling, you can save it from dying by simply repotting it to another pot or container with fresh soil. 

The existing pot might be too small for the thin roots of the fern to fit, and this might inhibit the absorption of water and nutrients.

Repotting to a larger pot can help give your fern a fresh start in a moist, well-drained, disease-free soil. 

Additional reading: Are Bird’s Nest Ferns Easy to Grow?

Other reasons may include under-watering, overwatering, dry air, low or high temperatures, and inadequate light. 

You can save your fern from dying by increasing the level of humidity in the room, watering the plants regularly as necessary, setting the right temperature, and exposing the fern to sufficient natural indirect sunlight.

Should you mist a bird’s nest fern?

As you already know, bird’s nest ferns are high-humidity plants. This means they thrive in humid spaces, and the soil has to be consistently moist for healthy plant growth.

Misting the fronds of your bird’s nest fern is a great way of ensuring the humidity levels around the plant remain high.

However, you should avoid misting the center of the plant as it acts as a cradle, and it is susceptible to rotting.

For best results, you should mist your bird’s nest fern at least once every 1-2 weeks, but this depends on the level of humidity in your home.

You may have to mist your plant every day in the evenings if your home has very low humidity.

Can bird’s nest fern grow in water?

A bird’s nest fern can grow in water, but there is a very high chance that it will die before it matures. 

As much as bird’s nest ferns flourish in moist environments and they require plenty of water, too much water can kill these plants.

The excessive water can cause root rot and provide a suitable setting for fungi to thrive.

Do ferns require a lot of water?

Ferns are high-humidity plants that grow best in evenly moist soil and require regular watering to keep them healthy.

Letting the soil dry out and not watering the fern as required will not only stress the plant and but also lead to stunted growth.

You should check the level of moisture in the soil by dipping your finger 3 inches deep to know when to water your fern.

Be careful not to overwater your fern since too much water will make the soil soggy and it can cause root rot.

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

Ideally, you should water your bird’s nest fern every 1-2 weeks. The frequency of watering, however, depends on the size of the plant, the level of humidity, and the lighting conditions in the room. 

Since plants use light for photosynthesis and tend to use more energy during this process, you should water less often in lower light and more often in brighter light.

The opposite is true for more humid spaces. You should water less often in high humidity and more often in low humidity to keep your plant healthy throughout the different seasons.

Are coffee grounds good for ferns?

No. Coffee grounds are not good for ferns. Even though some plants grow best in soils mixed with coffee grounds, ferns do not do so well in such conditions. 

Coffee grounds might be a good slow-release fertilizer for some plants but they are highly acidic, and this can inhibit the growth of various plants, including bird’s nest ferns.

Final thoughts

Growing a bird’s nest fern at home can be a fun and fulfilling experience. These high humidity houseplants are not too demanding, and they are very easy to grow.

You just need to know the right amount of light, temperature, and when to water them to keep your plant healthy.

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