How to Propagate Bird’s Nest Fern?

Bird's Nest Fern

Just as a bird nurtures its young, the Bird’s Nest Fern’s gentle, heart-shaped fronds create a nurturing environment for new growth.

But have you ever wondered how you can propagate this lush, tropical houseplant in your own home? Let’s delve into the captivating process of propagating the Bird’s Nest Fern, revealing how you can cultivate your very own green, leafy oasis. Also, here is a detailed article on how to care for Bird’s Nest Fern

Bird’s Nest Fern Propagation Basics

Before embarking on your propagation journey, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the fundamental aspects of Bird’s Nest Fern propagation. The table below provides a quick snapshot of the various methods, the ideal time for propagation, the working time involved, the total time each method requires, the difficulty level, and the materials you’ll need.

Propagation MethodIdeal Time for PropagationWorking TimeTotal TimeDifficulty LevelMaterials Required
DivisionLate winter or early spring1 hour2-4 weeksModerateSharp knife, potting mix, pots
Spore PropagationLate summer or early autumn2-3 hours6-12 monthsHighSpore paper, container with lid, potting mix, pots


The division method is the most common and simplest way to propagate Bird’s Nest Ferns. This method involves separating a mature plant into two or more segments, each with roots and fronds. The division is best done during late winter or early spring when the plant is in its dormant period. This method requires about an hour of working time and typically takes 2-4 weeks for the new plants to establish themselves. While it requires some experience, the difficulty level is moderate.

Spore Propagation

While more challenging and time-consuming, propagating Bird’s Nest Ferns from spores can be a rewarding endeavor. This process involves collecting spores from the underside of mature fronds and sowing them in a humid, controlled environment. The ideal time for spore propagation is late summer or early autumn when the spores are mature. This method demands patience as it requires 2-3 hours of working time and can take anywhere from 6-12 months for the new plants to grow. Despite the high difficulty level, those with a keen interest in botany often find this method fascinating.

Propagation Methods

Let’s take a more detailed look at the propagation methods for the Bird’s Nest Fern. We’ll guide you through each step, provide a list of necessary materials, and discuss the pros and cons of each method.


nest fern Division

The division is a popular method of propagation for Bird’s Nest Ferns due to its straightforward nature. However, it requires some care and precision. Here are the steps you need to follow:

Materials Required:

  • A mature Bird’s Nest Fern
  • A sharp, clean knife
  • Potting mix
  • New pots


1. Prepare Your Tools and Workspace:

Before you begin, ensure your workspace is clean, and your tools are ready. This includes having a sharp knife, a fresh potting mix, and a new pot.

2. Remove the Parent Plant:

Gently remove the parent plant from its pot, ensuring as much of the root ball remains intact. This reduces stress on the plant.

3. Divide the Plant:

Use your sharp knife to divide the root ball into sections. Each section should contain at least one healthy frond and a portion of the root system.

4. Plant the Divisions:

Place each division in a new pot filled with fresh potting mix. Water thoroughly and place the new plants in a location with indirect light.

Spore Propagation

Spore propagation is a method that requires patience and a bit of botanical know-how. Here’s a detailed breakdown of the process:

nest fern Spore Propagation

Materials Required:

  • A mature Bird’s Nest Fern with ripe spores
  • Spore paper or a clear, flat surface
  • A container with a lid
  • Potting mix
  • New pots


1. Collect the Spores:

Identify a mature frond with ripe spores, visible as brown patches on the underside. Carefully cut off this frond and lay it spore-side-down on spore paper or a clear, flat surface. Leave it overnight to allow the spores to fall off.

2. Prepare the Propagation Container:

Fill a container with fresh, sterile potting mix. Moisten the mix but ensure it is not waterlogged.

3. Sow the Spores:

Transfer the spores onto the surface of the potting mix. Do not bury them – they need light to germinate.

4. Create a Humid Environment:

Cover the container with a lid or plastic wrap to create a mini-greenhouse effect, maintaining humidity.

5. Monitor and Wait:

Place the container in a warm, bright location, but out of direct sunlight. It could take several months for the spores to germinate and develop into tiny ferns.

Common Problems in Propagating the Bird’s Nest Fern

Imagine this: You’ve got your Bird’s Nest Fern, you’ve read through the propagation guide, you’re ready to get your hands dirty and… something goes wrong. Propagation isn’t always a smooth journey, but don’t be disheartened! Let’s explore some common problems you might encounter while propagating this gorgeous fern, and how to tackle them head-on.

1. Lack of Root Development in Division Propagation:

After dividing your Bird’s Nest Fern, you eagerly await the appearance of new roots, but they just don’t seem to be coming. This can be a sign that the plant division is not getting enough humidity, or the potting mix is either too dry or too wet.

Solution: Ensure the potting mix stays consistently moist and consider increasing humidity around the plant, for example, by placing it in a terrarium or covering it with a plastic bag.

2. Difficulty in Collecting Spores:

Collecting spores can be challenging, especially if you’re new to it. You might find that the spores are not falling off the frond or are not maturing properly.

Solution: Be patient and make sure you’ve chosen a frond with mature spores – they should be brown, not green. Leaving the frond overnight on a flat surface often helps in successful spore collection.

3. Spore Germination Failure:

You’ve collected the spores, sowed them in a potting mix, and are waiting for the magic to happen, but the spores aren’t germinating. This could be due to a lack of light, incorrect temperature, or insufficient humidity.

Solution: Ensure your spores are placed in a bright location out of direct sunlight, in a warm room, and in a humid environment. Regularly mist the spores to maintain humidity.

4. Division Wilt:

After division, the new plant divisions might start to wilt or look unhealthy. This can be due to transplant shock, where the plant struggles to adjust to its new environment.

Solution: Keep the new divisions in a location with indirect light and high humidity. Water regularly but avoid overwatering, which can lead to root rot. The plant should recover in a few weeks.

Tips to Propagate Your Bird’s Nest Fern the Right Way

Growing a Bird’s Nest Fern can be likened to a tale of adventure. It’s a journey filled with trials and triumphs, and along the way, you’ll need a trusted guide to help you navigate. Here, we’ll impart the wisdom of the green thumb, offering tips to help you propagate your Bird’s Nest Fern successfully.

Basic Level Tips

At the most fundamental level, successful propagation begins with understanding the needs of your plant. Here are some basic tips:

Watering: Bird’s Nest Ferns, like many tropical plants, thrive in consistently moist (but not waterlogged) conditions. Always water your newly propagated plants regularly, but make sure your pot has good drainage to prevent waterlogging.

Lighting: These ferns prefer bright, indirect light. After division, place your new plants in a spot where they can receive ample light but are protected from direct sunlight, which can scorch their leaves.

Humidity: Bird’s Nest Ferns love high humidity. After propagating, increase humidity around the plant by misting it regularly or placing it on a tray filled with pebbles and water.

Advanced Level Tips

As you gain more experience, you’ll begin to appreciate the nuanced needs of your fern. Here are some advanced tips:

Division Timing: The best time to divide your Bird’s Nest Fern is in late winter or early spring when the plant is not actively growing. This helps the plant recover faster from the shock of division.

Spore Maturity: When collecting spores, ensure they are mature. You can identify mature spores by their brown color. Green spores are not ready for propagation.

Controlled Environment for Spores: To increase the success rate of spore germination, create a mini-greenhouse effect by covering the container with a clear lid or plastic wrap. This maintains high humidity necessary for spore germination.

Bird's Nest Fern (4)

FAQs About Bird’s Nest Fern Propagation

What is the best time of year to propagate Bird’s Nest Ferns?

The best time to propagate Bird’s Nest Ferns by division is during late winter or early spring when the plant is in its dormant period. For spore propagation, late summer or early autumn is ideal as this is when spores are mature.

Can I propagate Bird’s Nest Fern in water?

Bird’s Nest Ferns are typically propagated through division or spores, and not water. This is due to their rhizomatous root system, which prefers soil or a solid growing medium. While some fern varieties may be propagated in water, Bird’s Nest Ferns are not suited to this method.

Why are the fronds on my newly divided Bird’s Nest Fern turning yellow?

Yellowing fronds can be a sign of overwatering or inadequate light. Ensure your new plant is receiving bright, indirect light, and check that your potting mix is well-draining. It’s normal for a plant to show some signs of stress after division, but if conditions are right, it should bounce back in a few weeks.

How long does it take for spores to germinate?

Spore germination can be a slow process. It typically takes anywhere from a few weeks to several months for Bird’s Nest Fern spores to germinate. Patience is key when propagating ferns from spores!

What should I do if my spores aren’t germinating?

Ensure your spores are kept in a warm, bright, and humid environment, out of direct sunlight. It’s also crucial to keep the potting mix consistently moist, but not waterlogged. If the conditions are right, your spores should eventually germinate. However, remember that spore propagation has a lower success rate compared to division.

Can I propagate a Bird’s Nest Fern from a leaf cutting?

Unlike some other houseplants, Bird’s Nest Ferns cannot be propagated from leaf cuttings. The plant’s growth habit, with a central rosette of fronds growing from a rhizome, means it requires division or spore propagation for successful reproduction.

About Christopher Evans

Hello, I'm Chris, the green-thumbed Founder of I'm passionate about bringing the beauty of nature indoors through houseplants and indoor gardening. Let's create healthier and more beautiful living spaces, one plant at a time!

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