I recently purchased and planted these 2 beautiful (and expensive) variegated bird nest ferns in a newly made garden bed in my backyard.
The garden bed gets no direct sunlight and I dug up the existing soil and mixed in hortico garden soil, pine gro compost soil improver and osmocote garden soil. The soil appears to be free draining. I also planted Asplenium Antiquum in this garden bed as well as blue star ferns, cast iron plants, elk horn ferns, maiden hair ferns and heucheras. Everything appears to be doing well except my variegated birds nest fern. I have watered weekly with seasol since planting and misted / watered as required. As I mentioned this garden bed gets no direct sunlight, so the soil is not drying out. It is still moist, but not wet.
I dont know if I have overwatered, the seasol was too strong, or if it’s the really windy conditions we’ve had since planting.
Can you provide any advice on how I can nurse these 2 pants back to health or what may be the cause of the browning?
Thank you for joining us and sharing your question about your bird nest fern.
I agree that getting the right balance with watering is in itself a balancing act. Too much or too little water is not good for the plant. Because Variegated Birds Nest Fern is technically a tropical plant, extra steps may be needed to maintain it.
Let me tag our experienced member @Adam_W for his recommendations.
If you need further assistance, please let us know.
Hi @Nat2 short & simple I'd say they are staying too wet.
Bird's nest ferns are all typically epiphytes - they grow on things, not in soil.
They will grow on rock faces, cracks between rocks, forks of trees, on tree trunks etc. in places where leaf litter collects and drainage is excellent.
Except in very unusual circumstances, such as say a raised planting mound comprised of very free-draining material, they will not survive in garden soil.
I'd also be concerned that some of the other plants you've added may suffer a similar fate after an extended rainy period when soil stays wet.
Thanks for your thoughts on my problem with the variegated birds nest fern. Yes I think I will definitely have to keep a close eye on that garden bed. I had my eye on many other plants for this area but many of the shade lovers I considered were toxic to dogs, so I had to look for other things that tolerated shade.
On the positive side, when I built this garden bed, I dug out about 20cm (depth) of the existing soil and replaced it with free draining good quality garden soil. Also this garden bed runs along a fence that is actually on the boundary of a retaining wall and the entire length of the fence is all “fill”. So I do believe that it is draining quite well 🤞🏻. We are going to place a (self contained) water feature in the centre of the garden beds so hopefully during summer this along with a misting irrigation system can keep the humidity up around the plants (without making them too wet).
I definitely may have been a bit over zealous with the watering in the first couple of weeks, but I’m also worried I didn’t dilute the seasol enough (as I applied this upon planting and every week for the next few weeks). I can’t help but compare the “white” bits of variegation to the old school project of celery drinking water with food coloring…… and wondering if the white bits have gone brown because of the seasol. I may be way off track but I have backed off with the seasol and reduced watering to see if things don’t improve. But I will definitely keep in mind what you have said and watch all of the plants for any further deterioration….. I will be devastated if I lose them, as I have grown to love all the plants in this garden bed as they were a treat I bought for myself just before lockdown, just to make the backyard a nicer place to be!
Thanks for sharing @Nat2 and please keep us updated. We'd love to see the water feature and hear how your plants hold up.