Asplenium - Bird's-Nest Fern, Hart's Tongue Fern, Mother's Fern, Rusty Back Fern, Spleenwort
DESCRIPTION: These Ferns are natives of North America, Africa, India and other countries. With long, broad, bright green leaves that can grow up to 18 inches high, this plant doesn't really look like the typical fern. The tougher plants come from North America and they are good for growing outdoors in gardens as long as they have well-drained soil. A. platyneuron (Ebony Spleenwort), A. viride (Green Spleenwort), A. Bradleyi and A. Trichomanes (Maidenhair Spleenwort) are all hardy Aspleniums. They are mostly small Ferns that grow in clusters and are great for planting in shady crevices in the rock garden, in rock walls and in wild gardens. The greenhouse varieties can differ in shape and size of the leaves. Some of the plants have undivided leaves such as A. Nidus (Bird's-Nest Fern), some have leaves that are finely divided such as A. bulbiferum. They all need the same treatment, except some need a higher temperature than others do.
POTTING: The hardy kinds need well-drained soil that isn't too rich. All, except A. Bradleyi, need a limey soil. Planting may be done in the fall or spring. The greenhouse plants should be repotted into slightly larger pots in the spring, when they begin to grow, if necessary. The best compost to use is equal parts of loam, peat, and leaf mold, with a generous amount of sand added. They need to have a humid atmosphere and be kept out of direct sunlight. All the greenhouse kinds are suitable to use as houseplants as long as their roots are continually wet and the atmosphere isn't too dry.
PROPAGATION: The hardy kinds can be propagated by division. The greenhouse plants can be increased by spores and division and in the case of A. bulbiferum, by plantlets that form on the leaves.
VARIETIES: Cool greenhouse (minimum winter temperature of 50 degrees) - A. bulbiferum; A. Colensoi; A. dimorphum; A. platyneuron; A. viride; A. Bradleyi; A. Trichomanes. Tropical greenhouse (minimum winter temperature of 60 degrees) - A. Nidus; A. alatum; A. cicutarium.
A. NIDUS (BIRD'S-NEST FERN)
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