The Uses and Benefits of Bird’s Nest Fern Plants (Asplenium nidus) Backed by Leading Research Studies
Bird’s nest ferns, or Asplenium nidus, are one of the most popular picks for indoor ferns. The bird’s nest fern adds a lush feel to any room with its bright, apple-green hue, rosette shape, and distinctive crinkly fronds. But these tropical ferns do more than just look great; they offer several benefits, too. From air purification to ornamental value, bird’s nest ferns are a welcome addition to any houseplant haven.
- About Bird’s Nest Ferns
- The Uses and Benefits of Bird’s Nest Ferns
- 1) Air Purifying Properties
- 2) Use in Feng Shui
- 3) A Low-maintenance & Easy Care Plant
- 4) Ornamental Value
- 5) Easy to Propagate
- 6) Tolerates Low-Light Conditions
- 7) Help with Allergies
- 8) Reduce Stress
- 9) Medicinal Properties
- 10) Boost Productivity and Improve Memory
- 11) Filter Odors
- 12) Help You Sleep Better at Night
- Wrap Up
About Bird’s Nest Ferns
Asplenium nidus, commonly known as bird’s nest ferns, have long been cultivated for their ornamental value. Though these unique plants belong to the Aspleniaceae or fern family, they look a bit different. Instead of the deeply divided pinna of many ferns, A. nidus has long, undivided fronds.
They’re prized for their glossy, bright-green foliage that’s the color of a fresh Granny Smith apple. When grown in optimal light exposures, the fronts boast attractive crinkled margins that add to the fern’s distinctive look.
Fronds grow in a rosette pattern, emerging from a central crown or “nest” that gives the plant its common name. When grown outdoors, the plants can reach up to 5 feet tall and 8 feet wide. But when grown indoors and in containers, bird’s nest ferns will grow slowly to about 3 feet long and wide.
A. nidus grows from rhizomes and reproduces through spores. They’re gound on the underside of fronds in clusters known as spori. The shape of these spori gave the fern’s genus, Asplenium, its common name: the spleenwort genus. Long ago, people believed that the spleen shape of the spori lent the plants the power to cure spleen ailments. Of course, this isn’t accurate medical advice, but it did result in the 700 or so Asplenium species having the collective name of “spleenworts.”
A. nidus’s native habitat includes Australia, the Pacific Islands, Southeast Asia, and Madagascar. Bird’s nest ferns grow in warm, humid tropical climates. They thrive in the forest understory, enjoying dappled light, consistent moisture, and rich soil.
In the wild, bird’s nest ferns are often epiphytic, growing on logs, trees, and structures. There, the fern’s “nests” collect rainwater and organic matter, providing them with the nutrients they need.
The Uses and Benefits of Bird’s Nest Ferns
1) Air Purifying Properties
Research indicates that certain houseplants purify the air. Plants may reduce the amount of harmful pollutants commonly found in indoor air, such as benzene, carbon dioxide (CO2), formaldehyde, toluene, and trichloroethylene. Indoor plants can also filter containments such as cigarette smoke and solvents.
Research supports the air filtration properties of bird’s nest ferns, indicating that the plant removes containments. A 2015 study found that bird’s nest ferns reduced CO2 concentration from 2000 ppm to a safer level of 800 ppm. Study results also indicated that bird’s nest ferns also lower temperatures and increase relative humidity.
2) Use in Feng Shui
Plants placed in corners move energy around the home. Low-light tolerant plants such as the bird’s nest fern are an excellent choice for corners that don’t receive much light.
Spots in the home that only receive reflected light are suitable for an A. nidus. Bathrooms are another great place to house a bird’s nest fern, as they appreciate the room’s humidity.
3) A Low-maintenance & Easy Care Plant
When provided with the right growing environment, bird’s nest ferns are relatively low-maintenance and won’t need repotting very often. They thrive in conditions that mimic their natural habitat. In the home, this means:
- Temperatures between 70 and 80 degrees F
- Plenty of humidity
- Rich soil mix that’s consistently moist, but never wet
- Acidic soil pH of 5 to 6.5
- Indirect medium light exposure.
- Occasional pruning to encourage new growth.
4) Ornamental Value
There’s a reason why bird’s nest ferns are among the most popular indoor plants. Thanks to their sweeping fronds, they have great ornamental value and instantly add a lush, tropical feeling to any room.
Their glossy foliage is an eye-catching shade of bright apple-green. Plus, their fronds’ crinkled margins add a unique touch that differentiates bird’s nest ferns.
Finally, fronds grow from a central crown or nest. This rosette form gives the plants an attractive shape that looks wonderful on a table, shelf, or in a hanging container. Large plants look great on the floor in a basket, and they’re a perfect choice to brighten up lower light areas of the home.
5) Easy to Propagate
Propagating is a fun, low-cost way to grow more houseplants. While bird’s nest ferns aren’t the simplest plants to propagate, at-home gardeners can do it.
Find a frond with lots of large, fuzzy spores on its underside. Cut off the frond and place it in a paper bag. After a few days, the spores will drop into the bag. Sprinkle the spores on top of moist (not wet) peat moss in a dish. Cover with plastic.
Place in a shady spot and keep moist. Maintain a room temperature of about 70 to 80 degrees F. Germination should take about two weeks. Remove the plastic once ferns sprout and keep misting to keep moisture consistent.
6) Tolerates Low-Light Conditions
In their natural habitat, bird’s nest ferns thrive in the dappled light of the understory. When grown in the home, they prefer medium indirect light and can even tolerate spots that only receive reflected light.
That makes bird’s nest fern a choice for low-light conditions. A north-facing window, near an east-facing window, or a south- or west-facing window with a sheer curtain is also good choice.
7) Help with Allergies
If someone in your home suffers from allergies, bird’s nest ferns may help. Not only do they help filter contaminants from the air, but they also increase humidity. Low humidity levels are associated with increased allergies. A grouping of bird’s nest ferns can raise humidity levels and may offer some allergy relief.
In addition, bird’s nest ferns do not produce flowers and pollen that contribute to hay fever. They may be a good choice for those who suffer from seasonal allergies.
8) Reduce Stress
Research indicates that indoor plants can help reduce stress and improve mental health; bird’s nest fern is no exception. For instance, a 2008 study looked at two groups of high school students. One group learned in a classroom filled with plants, while the other was without plants.
The students in the plant-filled class reported lower stress levels and less anxiety. They described their classroom as comfortable and fresh.
9) Medicinal Properties
Bird’s nest fern contains a rich concentration of bioactive flavonoids. Studies show that these naturally occurring components may have antioxidant, antibacterial, and anti-cancer properties.
This modern research supports the traditional use of bird’s nest fern in folk medicine traditions. A lotion created from foliage extractions has been used to treat fever, while an infusion of leaves has been used to ease labor pains in childbirth.
10) Boost Productivity and Improve Memory
Studies indicate that indoor plants can help people focus their attention. A 2010 study found that people working in an office setting with plants had better memory retention.
The subjects that worked in a room with plants showed higher attention capacity and better performance than those subjects working in a space without plants. Add a bird’s nest fern to your workspace to help boost your productivity and improve memory.
11) Filter Odors
As NASA’s plant study indicates, houseplants can help clear the air of pollutants. This includes contaminants such as cigarette smoke, chemical solvents, and other substances.
When plants act as purifying air filters, their transpiration helps remove odors from the air. Some scientists even recommend using phytoremediation on a large scale to combat air pollution.
12) Help You Sleep Better at Night
Plants like the bird’s nest fern can even help you sleep better. Plants emit oxygen, and putting plants in your bedroom (especially near your bed) can increase oxygen levels, helping you get a better night’s sleep.
Add in the increased humidity that helps reduce allergies and plants’ ability to reduce stress, and it’s easy to see why an A. nidus in the bedroom is a great idea to enhance your rest.
Bird’s nest ferns make an attractive, lush addition to any home. But along with their natural beauty, A. nidus offers several benefits. From fresher air to better sleep, good Feng Shui to less stress, these lovely ornamental plants are a great choice for your indoor garden.
Linsay is an American copywriter based in the Pacific Northwest with a background in academic writing and research. Linsay holds Master's degree in both Anthropology and Library and Information Sciences and has written for numerous national and international publications including USA Today, SFGATE, Hunker, and The Bump across an array of topics in the gardening, green living, and travel sectors. When she's not writing, you'll usually find Linsay reading, kayaking, sailing, snowboarding, or working in her garden.