Sunday, 29 April 2012

What to do with too many plants? - Bird's Nest Fern (Asplenium nidus)

When we bought this house, there were four bird's nest ferns planted out in a few urns in the backyard. The urns were past their best and they went - but the plants growing in them stayed. I wanted to keep them - the problem was they were so big I had no idea where to put them. This is how some of them sat for a while until I worked out where to accommodate them:

                              The width of the plants is impressive - almost two metres!

The bird's nests went on a merry-go-round of plantings around a yard which really didn't have a spot for them. Of course, parting with them wasn't an option (I could hardly throw them out!) but they continued to spread making my small garden seem even smaller.

I'm almost embarrassed to admit that I didn't realize (until I did some research) that these ferns are both lithophytic and epiphytic (meaning they can grow either on rocks or on tree branches).  They derive nourishment from the fallen leaf litter that decomposes in their centre, so aren't as dependent on good soil or the like for food (they are shaped like a giant funnel which helps channel the leaves into it's centre). With that in mind, I then proceeded to mount the four birds nests in various places in my trees: 

I'm quite happy with the result; I think they look a lot like they do in their native area (which is North-Eastern NSW & South East Queensland).

This last one was the greatest challenge - it was quite a feat grasping to the trunk with one hand and a heavy plant in the other while on top of a tall ladder (and a windy day too!). So not only was I afraid of losing my balance, but I had soil and other organic debris fall from the fern and sting my eyes!


  1. Top marks for dedication for that last image! We have one in one of our garden beds. I'll have to check it out more closely and see how it's going.

  2. Thanks brismod. It actually fell down today so back to the drawing board!

  3. Well done on your effort. What a shame the last one fell out of the tree. You need some pantyhose to tie it on with! The others look brilliant up in the trees and I bet they settled in really well.

  4. I would be most happy if you can let me know the ID of the tree in the last photo. I have a similiar one in my garden.


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