Is My Birds Nest Fern Dying?

Last Updated on December 8, 2022 by Stephanie

The fern that is known as the birds nest can be a stunning house plant, bringing an exotic greenery to your living space if you provide it with the right attention and care.

However the crowns and fronds (rosette) that make up your Asplenium Nidus could change color and begin to show signs of dying due to various causes.

Incorrect water is the main cause of the birds nest fern to die. The fronds that are not properly watered turn become brown and then wilt, and overwatering causes crown and root rot that could kill your plant. Check it for signs of pests (most typically scale insects) which can also lead to premature death.

A decrease in birds nest the health of ferns is usually an indicator of illness or pest, or even a problem with the culture. The positive side? Most of these issues can be fixed when you catch them early.

How Do I Know If My Bird’s Nest Fern Is Dying?

Birds nest fern is typically an easy, healthy and trouble-free grower that adds a touch of style and beauty to any room by its gorgeous fronds.

Even with its strength the birds nest fern could be killed if it isnt given the proper care and isnt given the right conditions.

Being aware that your Asplenium Nidus is dying is only half the fight. The second half is identifying the root cause of the problem and making the necessary steps to protect your plant.

Here are some of the most important indicators and signs that you must be aware of:

Browned Fronds and Leaf Tips

If you observe that the fronds of the fern that you have in your birds nest are becoming dry, brown and crisp on the outside Its probably experiencing a severe deficiency of water. Being an epiphyte, its used to pulling water from the air around it.

The brown edges and tips of the fronds could be because of low humidity, light, or extreme temperatures. The air surrounding the birds nest could also be dry and drafty.

The decline is usually very aggressive when it is accompanied by excessive fertilization and exposure to excessive indirect sunlight or warmth.

Asplenium nidus white pot

Brown Spots on Fronds

Brown spots on either or both the crown (rosette) or the fronds of your birds-nest The fern is a sign that the plants is suffering. This is usually a result of fungal or bacterial leaf spot disease.

The most common is the bacterial Blight. The disease is characterized by tiny, translucent spots that rapidly change to a brownish-reddish. As time passes the brown spots grow and spread outwards. The lesions will eventually spread across the entire leaf.

If the problem has gotten worse and youre seeing large brown blotches that are surrounded with purple halos. The affected fronds will begin to wilt then shrink and fall and cause the plants to die.

Leaf Discoloration or Paling

Your Asplenium Nidus is likely to die when the leaves are disappearing from its distinctive tropical green. The fronds that are old and in the inner part of the fronds initially pale due to the effects of light. If the tips or edges are brown and dry the chances are its dying due to excessive exposure to direct sunlight.

If light levels are the primary issue, youll likely notice some yellowing that occurs with paling. This is because soil is slower to dry, which is why its more likely to overwater.

Brown Center

Browning the center or crowns of your fern is a major warning sign to never overlook. Its a sure indication of a birds nest dying due to excessive humidity. The fronds that are eclipsing the crown tend to be soft, drooping dropping off.

Additionally, a distinct stink of rotting could emanate from the brown, rotten, or crowns that have been blackened. In addition to overwatering it can also result due to inadequate drainage or frequent overhead irrigation or a severe lack of light.

Yellowing Fronds

The fronds of the fern that is in your birds nest is usually a sign of excessive watering. If it continues for a long time it can lead to root rot and waterlogging.

A birds nest fern can be fragile and prone to disease as well as pests and many other problems which could lead to premature death the plant.

It is believed that nutrient deficiencies or a lack of water and aging in general can cause fronds to become yellow. Whatever the reason, yellowing is a indicator of a rapid decline in health.

Presence of Sooty Mold

The presence of black sooty mold usually indicates that mealybugs, aphids or any other pests that are common to your area have gathered at the birds nest fern.

The sap-suckers excreta honeydew which encourages the growth of mold-spores. The result is black, sooty mold or spots that appear on the rosettes and fronds.

Wilting and Drooping

The limp, wilting or drooping fronds of the fern that is your birds nest could result from excessive watering, damaged roots or an infestation of a serious disease.

Be aware of leaves that are soft or soggy, or even stained. They are often a sign of fungal root rot, which can eventually cause death to your plant if it is not treated.

What is Causing My Bird’s Nest Fern to Die?

Like all plants that are cultivated, a birds-nest fern isnt immune to damage and may be afflicted by a variety of issues which can result in a decrease in its health. The first step is to be able to pinpoint the problem that is affecting your plant.

Only then are able to take the appropriate treatments to prevent your Asplenium Nidus from becoming a death sentence for your.

Overwatering is the Most Common Culprit for Bird’s Nest Fern Dying

Although birds nest is a plant that loves moisture however, it shouldnt be able to tolerate being in moist soil or in excessively humid conditions. The potting mix must appear to be moist, but not ever soggy. The presence of water is bad for roots that are decayed and damaged, making them in a position to not absorb nutrients.

The signs and symptoms of wet soil is, naturally the most obvious sign of excessive watering. Over the soil, yellowing fronds are one of the first signs of an over-watered fern of the birds nest. If the soil is left waterlogged for a long time the leaves will begin to shrink and eventually disappear.

Lower fronds are first to change color and then those in the middle. When crown and root rot has begin to take hold the leaves can turn brownish-purplish. A birds nest fern that has been overwatered is also susceptible to pests, so make sure you check it for mealybugs, scale and Aphids.

How to fix a birds Nest Fern Dying due to overwatering

It is possible to prevent this from happening by implementing an established watering schedule. The irrigation of your plant every two to three weeks during periods of rapid growth (AKA in the spring and summer months) is sufficient. However, you should allow the mix of potting soil to become slightly dry between the watering.

As a professional in the field of plant care I would suggest you to check soil moisture to determine when its time to water. If you dont own an instrument to measure soil moisture the finger test will suffice. Do not water your Asplenium Nidus until the soil feels dry.

In the event that your nest of birds fern is already excessively hydrated The best solution will be determined by the severity of the issue.

If you have a mild case you can reduce the amount of water you are giving and allow the soil to dry up. Reduced humidity and moving the plant into a more shady location can speed up the process, but.

If you have noticed that your fern has rotted it is necessary to repot the birds nest-like fern.

  1. The first step is to take the birds nest from the pot.
  2. Cleanse as many soils from your roots as you can. Be gentle lest you cause more root damage.
  3. Eliminate any rotten roots. They appear black/brown, flaccid, and soft
  4. Dry the firm and healthy roots and allow them to dry prior to treating them using fungicides and hydrogen peroxide
  5. Plant your nest of birds fern using an all-new, well-drained, and moist soil mix

Be sure that your newly planted plant is not exposed to direct sunlight. If root rot has killed the roots completely, your only option is to propagate.

Browning of the Crown/Center of the Bird’s Nest Fern

The leaves of Asplenium Nidus grow from a thick center that resembles a birds nest. The densely vegetated fuzzy rosette is called the crown. Its definitely a beautiful appearance, however the center can turn brown if the plant is too moist or excessively moist.

The core that is rotten gives the impression of rotting and unpleasant. The fronds around the middle of the plant will begin falling off and droop. Root rot is usually present.

It is usually because of overwatering or poor drainage of soil. It could be caused by improper watering practices, such as over-the-top irrigation, or splashing of water onto the leaves.

Can you save the Birds Nest Fern by using Brown Center?

Theres not much that you could do to help your birds nest fern if the interior has turned brown and decayed. The rot-related disease will make its way into the fronds, which will cause the plant to die in the end.

Preventing is the best option here.

  • The first step is to avoid overwatering or overhead watering.
  • Make sure you have lots of light that is filtered.
  • It also requires a draining potting mix like those designed for orchids and bromeliads. The orchid soil premium by Leaves & Soul (Amazon link) is a choice.

Lack of Water

The birds nest isnt really a plant, which could help to explain why it isnt able to handle drought. The soil it grows in must be uniformly and consistently humid.

The signs and symptoms of an birds nest fern that is drowned will show the typical signs of thirst. The fronds can appear dry, scorched, or change color to brown. This is most evident in the edges or tips which appear to be burnt.


It is recommended to increase the frequency of your watering to meet the birds nest ferns water requirements. However, ensure that the potting mix is properly drained.

If the soil is dry you might want to place the plant inside a bathtub or sink that is filled with around four inches (10cm) of water. Allow it to soak in water for about one hour, or till the entire top of the plants potting mix is completely filled with water.

Bacterial Blight

The signs and symptoms of Bacterial blight is a common and dangerous disease that could cause the death of your birds nest fern. It manifests as small, translucent areas on the leaves. They grow quickly along the veins of the leaf, before turning into lesions.

As they grow they expand and then coalesce into brown-red blotches that eventually overflow the entire fronds. There are also purple halos within the center.

How to Control Bacterial Blight in Birds Nest Fern

Bacterial blight is not a known cure. It is a difficult pill to swallow. However, the condition is simple to control. However, early detection and treatment could make the key to success.

The first step is to trim any browned or diseased leaves as soon as you notice them. This will to stop the spread of disease and your plant will be fine if its in good health.

Remember that damp conditions can cause and encourage the growth of bacteria wit. Therefore, avoid wetting the plants and stay clear of excessive watering in order to avoid it from happening in the beginning. It is best to water during early morning hours, and direct the water directly towards the soil.

Bird’s Nest Fern Leaves Turning Yellow

As I mentioned earlier the fronds that are yellow are typically an early indication of an overwatered birds nest fern. It could also indicate the plant may be lacking in essential nutrients such as nitrogen because of insufficient lighting, damage to the roots, or a depleted pot mix.

How to Revivify Birds Nest Fern using Yellow Leaves

Use the yellowing fronds as an alarm signal that youre feeding the birds nest plant to excessive water. The best solution is to not water your plant till the upper inch of mix has dried slightly.

However, its not that easy -the issue could be deep within the soil. It could be sloppy or not properly drained. In any situation, its crucial to plant the birds nest fern with an afresh, fast-draining potting mix.

It is best to use a ready-to-use mix that is blended to suit bromeliads or epiphytic orchids. Make sure its high in organic matter (mix 1 part peat moss with 2 parts bark).

(Source: University of Florida).

Rhizoctonia Blight

The symptoms and signs of this disease is usually a threat to stressed and sick birds nest ferns. It is caused by a soil-borne fungus called Rhizoctonia solani. It causes a variety of symptoms, including:

  • Stems rot, beginning with the lower stems touching the potters mix. The affected stems appear rough dry, shriveled and dry.
  • The crown rot is accompanied by the appearance of brown-reddish lesions on the rosette
  • Root rot can lead to a slowed growth rate as well as wilting and dying
  • Blights like aerial and damping-off, which is more prevalent when leaves are damp


  • Maintain your birds nest fern well-nourished by adding some organic material to enhance your potting mix.
  • Be sure to eliminate and dispose of any affected plant material and any leftovers
  • To prevent infection avoid reusing pots and soil from the plant that is infected and water it early in the morning, and do not touch your plant after touching the soil.

Too Much Fertilizer

Signs and symptoms The application of too excessive fertilizer may cause the edges and tips of the fronds to change brown. The burn on the leafs edge or tip results due to the accumulation of fertilizer salts within the mix of potting. They cause damage to the roots and hinder the absorption of certain minerals and nutrients, such as iron.


Birds nest fern does not require much fertilizer. Feed it every month and every three to four weeks throughout the growth period. In the majority of the US This is usually between the beginning of spring (April) until the end the season (September).

Make use of a water-soluble standard household plant fertilizer. Be sure to dilute it to half the strength suggested from the company that makes.

  • If excessive fertilizer salts have already deteriorated the soils quality it is recommended to repot the soil using fresh pot mix.
  • Remove the salts from your soil, by watering the plant thoroughly from the top.

Pest Infestations

Although a birds nest fern generally is not a problem however, it can be targeted by insects. The most frequent pests are mealybugs, snails and slugs, as well as scale as well as leaf nematodes. They are likely to cut holes through the fronds leading to sulking, withering, and slow growth.

Scale Insects

The symptoms: Very common, scale insects typically attack the crowns and fronds of older fronds prior to shifting to the fronds central veins and the fronds surfaces.

Theyre usually located on the back of the fronds. There, they release honeydew, which causes sooty mold . It can also draw insects. Fronds that are heavily affected by scale tend to become yellow and can even fall.

Insect Control: It is possible to eliminate the small amount of scale insects by wiping them away with a cotton cloth soaked in alcohol. If not, spray your plant with insecticidal soap, insecticides, or horticultural oils. Be sure to trim off the fronds that are severely damaged.


Signs: If you see the appearance of white waxy or cottony residue on the fronds or the crowns of your birds nest fern, it could be that mealybugs are present. Honeydew, stunted growth, and sooty mold are all common symptoms.

In the event that you spot the problem in its early stages, you can swiftly get rid of mealybugs by wiping the plant with cotton swabs.

If you are experiencing severe infestation, think about using cotton swabs soaked into ruby alcohol. Oil spray or insecticidal soap can also be effective against an extensive infestation.

Leaf Nematodes

The symptoms: As the name implies, they tiny nematodes like to eat the leaves that your plants. They get into the breathing pores in the fronds of your birds-nest fern. Spots or black specks close to the central vein of frosts are an obvious sign of the foliar nematode.

If the problem is excessively extreme, the fronds will begin to lose turgidity, collapse and then fall off. Then, your entire plant will be affected by falling down and dying.

Control: Try not to wet the fronds with water when you water them. If you have a large infestations that have caused too many fronds to die it is best to dispose of the plant.

Slugs and Snails

The signs of snails and slugs are easily identified because they enjoy eating on the back of fronds. Slugs and snails can do extensive leaf destruction, leaving holes that are gaping.

Control: Just pick and dispose of snails and slugs. It is also possible to spread snail or slug baits ( check the price on Amazon here) over the potting mix for an ongoing measure.

Light Problems

The symptoms and signs The paling of fronds on the ferns that you have in your birds nest are an indication of light problems. It is important to determine if the fern is receiving too little or too excessive light.

In excess sunlight (especially bright sunlight) can cause leaf discoloration, as well as dry, brown leaf edges or tips. A severe light deficiency can result in yellowing, paling or both.


If the leaves have burned or brown, take them away from the hot sunlight. The birds nest fern must never be placed in direct sun.

To ensure the best growth, put it in front of an East-facing windows. If you choose to go for the western or southern exposure, ensure that the light is blocked or indirect.

Fern Anthracnose

The Fern Anthracnose fungal blight disease that is often found in birds nest ferns in spring. The cool and wet conditions encourage the growth and germination of fungal spores.

Signs and Symptoms The fungal illness starts as tiny irregular brown or yellow spots that appear mostly on veins and on the surfaces of the leaves. Theyll grow in time, and eventually transform into darker, sunken spots.

The dark lesions can be seen on crowns, flowers, and even on stems

What distinguishes fern anthracnose from other leaf spot ailments is the presence of tiny brown or tan spots at the rear of the leaves.

How to Treat Fern Anthracnose

A clean environment is the first method of protection against the fern anthracnose. It typically resides within dead plants, ready to attack the birds nest fern during spring. Therefore, it is ideal to eliminate affected plant parts and remove the fallen leaves.

It is possible to use an fungicide containing copper to combat the condition. But, be careful not to go overboard because the build-up of copper in the soil could harm beneficial microbes that live in the soil mix.

Make sure you are following good irrigation practices. If you can, consider using an automatic watering system to reduce the need for overhead watering and to avoid wetting the plants.

How Not to Kill Your Bird’s Nest Fern?

  • Begin with the right foot Start by selecting an attractive, healthy and disease-free birds nest fern from a nursery or a shop for houseplants. Make sure there arent any spots, discoloration of the leaves (especially yellowing) or insects.
  • Pots in the correct soil mix - Birds Nest Ferns prefer a loose, well-draining peat-based pot mix that contains a significant amount in organic material.
  • Direct light is the lifeblood of a plant. Do not expose your plants directly to sunlight. Instead, provide it with ample light that is filtered by placing it near a north- or eastern-facing windows.
  • The fern of your birds nest excessive amounts of water is sure to destroy it. You should wait until 1 inch below the surface of the soil is dry. It shouldnt be placed on a soggy or wet soil.
  • Effective watering practices will benefit your plant. In addition to avoiding overwatering, do not direct irrigation to the nest of the birds ferns center. Instead, place on the base of the plant to prevent damping the foliage.
  • Be careful not to overdo it. Apply a half-strength of water-soluble fertilizer every four weeks between April until September. However, you should avoid fertilizer application until September and into the springs early.
  • Birds nest ferns love an area that is warm and humid. Use an pebble tray or humidifier, or mister to maintain the highest humidity (anything that is above 50 percent relative humidity will keep it content). In terms of temperature the fern thrives between 70 and 90 degrees F (2132 - 32degC).


Went from an inexperienced gardener to a half-decent one over 10+ years. I cover anything from general indoor plant guides and lawn care, to succulents and flowers. Super happy to share my tips and tricks with you :)