June 16, 2014

Bird's Nest Fern (Asplenium nidus)

As the days get hotter, I move more plants from the greenhouse to a cooler, shady location. Today the Bird's Nest Fern went to perch under an Oak.

As I loaded it on the little green wagon for transport I noticed some strange little dark structures on the back of some fronds.

I looked up images of spores on Asplenium. Yes. Spores.

I sought expert opinions:

These are not easy to propagate and cannot be divided, as with some other fern species. They are usually raised from spore or tissue culture, meaning propagation is usually beyond the reach of most home growers. -- About.com.

Asplenium nidus can be grown from spores. Place a leaf with mature spores on a piece of paper or in a paper bag. In a day or two, the spores can be collected. Place the spores on the surface of moist, sterile medium in a clean pot. Place in a shady, sheltered location and mist daily. (Bornhorst 1996) -- Bornhorst, Heidi L. 1996. Growing native Hawaiian plants: a how-to guide for the gardener. Honolulu: The Bess Press. p. 76-77.

Asplenium are produced from spores. Sphagnum or peat moss are good substrates for spores, but peat moss as a medium is improved by the addition of 100 grams of dolomite per cubic foot. Spore germination should take place in about 2 weeks if temperatures are 70-80°F. Only fresh spores should be used. High humidity can be maintained by covering flats with glass or plastic, but use of intermittent mist 15 sec/30 min during daylight is preferred. If glass or plastic is used, the cover should be removed 4-6 weeks after sowing, and the young fern misted. Due to the wide, robust fronds and spreading habit from a central axis, one plant is usually placed per container. --University of Florida/IFAS
Besides these I read some REALLY scientific papers and consulted the blog of Mr. Superlative. Since Mr. S's first try at growing Asplenium nidum from spores started out really well and hit a snag and he has not tried a second time, I blunder on, undismayed.

Spore collecting in a take-out tray from Zaxby's.

Actually I don't need any more Ferns like this. It declined in the house and I put it under a shelf in the greenhouse, where it reached proportions that can never go in the house again. 

It started out such a cute little thing. One day I noticed scale on it which was treated with alcohol on a Q-tip and a soapy bath, neither of which seemed to hurt the fern. The scale disappeared.

It was getting daily misting in the greenhouse. I hope the lower temperatures under the tree will make up for the decreased humidity. It is potted in a plastic pot that sits inside the clay pot. A piece of brick brings it up to the right height and the brick is kept wet.

It does look kind of tropical. Does it? 


Alison said...

That's a great fern, it does have a tropical look.

outlawgardener said...

Gorgeous fern! Good luck with your experiment!

Janie Jurkiewicz said...

It does, did you buy the seeds for it? Or from a nursery? I have similar things like it growing near the creek but not sure if it is the same...will have to take pictures to see if it the same thing.

Jean Campbell said...

I bought it, Janie. They're tropical ferns. There is an Aspelenium native to the US but it has fronds similar to a regular fern.

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