Why is my Birds Nest Fern Dying?

Bird’s Nest Fern Dying? (9 Common Problems and Solutions)

Your Bird’s Nest Fern is dying due to Crown rot if the center of the plant is browning. If your dying Bird’s Nest Fern has brown spots on the fronds, it is dying due to Bacterial blight. Check the plant for pests like Aphids, Mealybugs, and Scale as they can kill your Bird’s Nest Fern too.

Asplenium nidus is the scientific name of our beloved Bird’s Nest Fern plant. Bird’s Nest Fern plant is epiphytic in its habitat.

This plant has large, simple fronds that resemble the leaves of a banana plant. The fronds arise from a central rosette and are often crinkled or wavy.

Fronds when they just arise look like eggs of a bird, this is why the plant is named so. This plant makes for a unique houseplant.

Why is my Bird’s Nest Fern turning brown?

Fronds of the Bird’s Nest Fern turn brown when the plant doesn’t get enough water. Crown of the Bird’s Nest Fern turns brown due to overwatering. If you are seeing brown spots on the fronds, then it is Bacterial Blight /leaf spot disease.

Bird’s Nest Fern brown tips

If your Bird’s Nest Fern gets too little water then the tips of the fronds turn brown. This also happens when the temperature is too low or the air is too dry.

Bird’s Nest Fern is an epiphyte. It habitually grows on other trees and thus is used to absorbing moisture from surroundings.

So, less humidity causes brown tips of the fronds. There are ways to increase humidity around your Bird’s Nest Fern plant.

Do Bird’s Nest ferns like to be misted?

Yes, it is a good idea to mist your Bird’s Nest Fern. The plant absorbs moisture from the surroundings when in its natural habitat.

So, it is only ideal to mist the plant. Occasional misting helps the plant retain moisture and you’ll not see brown tips.

What causes brown spots on birds nest fern?

Brown spots on Bird’s Nest Fern plant are caused by leaf spot disease. This disease is also called the Bacterial Blight of Bird’s Nest Fern.

Bird’s Nest Fern Bacterial Blight

Initially, translucent spots develop all over the fronds of the plant. These translucent spots all turn into reddish-brown spots eventually. These spots have purple halos at the center.

These spots spread along the leaf veins. If you see such damage on your fronds, quickly cut off the infected ones as you can probably save the healthy ones.

If trimming of the infected leaves stops the spread then it’s fine. If it doesn’t then dispose of the infected plants as there’s no way to cure this disease.

Try to buy plants that are free of this disease. Be careful when watering your Bird’s Nest Fern, you shouldn’t wet the fronds.

Bird’s Nest Fern Crown Rot

Crown rot is a common disease in Bird’s Nest ferns caused by overwatering. It presents as brown, mushy roots and lower fronds. The center crown of the plant often turns black and dies.

To prevent crown rot, allow the soil to partially dry out between waterings and ensure the pot has drainage holes. Water less in winter when growth is slower. Improve air circulation around the fern with a fan to reduce humidity.

Birds Nest Fern crown rot treatment

Remove dead or dying fronds to prevent the disease from spreading. If caught early, crown rot can be treated by repotting in fresh potting mix and trimming away rotted roots and fronds.

There’s no way to treat the plant once the crown is rotten. The infection spreads to the fronds and eventually, the plant dies. You can take some precautions to prevent this in the future though.

Birds Nest Fern turning pale

Bird’s Nest Fern’s fronds turn pale when the plant gets too much or too little light. Perhaps it’s time to assess the abundance of light your plant gets.

If you think it’s getting too much light, move it away from the window. If you think it doesn’t get enough sunlight, move it closer to the window.

Monitor the plant after you made the change, if the plant’s color improves then you did it right. If not, correct the position again.

Always make sure your plant is near a west, south, or east-facing window. These windows get the best light.

Bird’s Nest Fern yellow leaves

Bird’s Nest Fern’s fronds turn yellow when you overwater the plant. Yellowing is the initial symptom of overwatered plants.

It is tricky to grow Bird’s Nest Fern plant. You should never let the plant sit in waterlogged conditions. If you haven’t already, plant it in an epiphytic orchid planting mix.

Whenever I want to water the plant, I just take it out of the pot and put it in a sink. Water the plant until the water runs through.

Keep it there in the sink and let the excess water drain away. You should treat your plant carefully while it’s still in this stage.

The fronds will turn yellow and brown because of this. If you don’t care well the plant will run into a rotten root issue and it’ll be hard for the plant to recover.

Bird’s Nest Fern Wilting

Bird’s Nest Fern’s fronds wilt and turn yellow if the plant isn’t watered enough. The soil becomes dry and the entire leaves turn yellow.

Eventually, the yellowed leaves fall off. Underwatered fronds are dry and overwatered are droopy, this is the major difference between the two conditions.

White spots on Bird’s Nest Fern

White, powdery spots are seen on Bird’s Nest Fern when the plant is infected by Powdery Mildew. While not fatal, it can spread to cover leaves and stunt growth.

Powdery mildew thrives in humid conditions with poor air circulation. To prevent it, keep humidity around 50-60%, water early in the day, and space plants to allow airflow.

Prune the affected fronds to limit spread. Treat mild cases by spraying neem oil or potassium bicarbonate solutions on leaves.

For severe infections, use fungicides containing Myclobutanil, Triforine, or Copper Octanoate as directed. Improve air circulation with fans to deter future outbreaks.

Bird’s Nest Fern Pests

A variety of sap-sucking insects like Scale, Aphids, and Mealybugs can infest Bird’s Nest Ferns. Foliar Nematodes also feed on the fronds of Bird’s Nest Ferns.

Scale on Bird’s Nest Fern

Scale is the most common pest that infects Bird’s Nest Fern plant. They are found on the undersides of the fronds.

They seem like brown discs. They cause the yellowing of the fronds. Fronds also fall off prematurely if the infestation is severe.

You can wipe them away with a damp cloth if it’s just a small infestation. Spray the foliage with insecticides once you wipe the scales off.

If the infestation is severe, cut off the affected fronds.

Aphids on Bird’s Nest Fern

Aphids are also a common pest problem of the Bird’s Nest Fern plant. You need to act quickly to get rid of these pesky pests.

If the infestation is minimal you can dislodge the visible aphids with a garden hose. Spraying the infected plants with Neem oil works wonders.

Bird’s Nest Fern Mealybugs

If you see sticky, white residue on your Bird’s Nest Fern then you can confirm the presence of Mealybugs. The insects themselves are white too.

You might see them in the center of the plant (crown). These bugs often leave a cottony mass in the crown area. The infected plant eventually becomes stunted.

If the infection is in the initial stages wipe them off with your hand or cotton swabs. If it is severe, wipe them off with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol.

Tip: Never spray any liquid directly on the crown.

Foliar Nematodes Bird’s Nest fern

There’s this Nematode that loves to feed on the fronds of the Bird’s Nest Fern. These are microscopic Nematodes that enter the plant via its breathing pores.

Brown spots first appear near the central vein on the base of the fronds. These spots slowly spread parallel to form brown bands.

A large part of the frond will be infected. Infected leaves die soon and the plant dies too if you neglect it.

You should cut off the infected leaves as soon as you see them. If the plant is severely infected, dispose of the entire plant.

Do not wet the fronds of the plant when watering the plant.


Here are some frequently asked questions. People mail me these questions all the time. So, I decided to answer these on the blog here.

Do Bird’s Nest Ferns like to be rootbound?

Yes, it’s what they like. They don’t really want to be root-bound. They just don’t grow a large root system which is why they just need a little space to thrive.

In their natural habitat, these plants grow in small spaces and don’t need to grow a lot of roots.

If the plant gets well established you may just need to give it a bigger supporting substratum.

Are Bird’s Nest ferns frost tolerant?

A species of Bird’s Nest fern called A. australasicum is frost tolerant. A. nidus is not that tolerant in my experience. So, get this species if possible.

The cool climate won’t have any effect on this hardy plant.

Do Bird’s Nest ferns need sunlight?

Bird’s Nest Fern is a beautiful plant that thrives in filtered sunlight/partial shade. The plant can survive in 100-200 light candles.

Do not expose the plant to direct sun, you’ll regret the decision. You may want to place the plant near a North-facing window.

This way the plant won’t get direct sunlight but gets adequate indirect light.

Happy Growing 🙂