Growing and the care of ASPLENIUMS
Aspleniums are a wide and diverse range of ferns, ideal for the gardens,
in pots or in a hanging basket growing situation.
Follow the Asplenium links below to view photographs of various Asplenium species
The Asplenium is a genus of about 700 different species of ferns, the most commonly grown species is the Asplenium australasicum (commonly known as the "Bird's Nest" fern) but it is still widely known (in some areas, that is) as the Asplenium nidus (commonly known as the 'Lasagne' fern). In reality, the Bird's nest fern is a common name applied to several of the related species of ferns in the genus Asplenium. They grow in a tight, nest-like clump with a lingulate leaf rosette and are usually epiphytic [growing in trees]. The Bird's Nest fern may also be seen growing on rocks and they will also grow in the ground. The true Asplenium nidus is a totally different species as seen by following the links on this page. There are many other different Asplenium species which have a more typical fern-like growth habit and appearance. The Asplenium australasicum (the "Bird's Nest" fern) is a useful plant for shady areas. Being naturally an epiphyte or lithophyte, it is good for growing under trees where a few other plants can compete with the tree roots. The dramatic form works well within a modern garden style as well as a more naturalistic rainforest garden situation.
In nature, the Aspleniums grow in a diverse range of habitats, along the river or stream banks, in the rainforest areas, in the lowlands, in the alpine regions and along the coastlines. Generally, Aspleniums are terrestrials [growing in the ground] but some are epiphytes [growing on hosts, such as trees]. In cultivation, the Aspleniums grow successfully under 70% shadecloth in pots, in hanging baskets and also in the ground. They like conditions, within the garden situation, which are well lit, in filtered sun but protected from the direct sunlight, although they need air movement around them, they will also need protection from the strong winds. Some hardy species are frost tolerant, the Aspleniums makes an excellent pot or tub subjects and it prefers to be underpotted rather than overpotted; many species with the long, drooping fronds are more suitable for the hanging basket culture; many of the other species also grow well in the ground.
A well drained, open potting mix is generally suitable to allow for air movement around the roots system. Augment good quality potting mix with additional ingredients such as cow manure, tree fern fibre, charcoal or peatmoss. A small amount of lime/dolomite is also beneficial to the growing of Aspleniums.
Aspleniums like plenty of water during the warmer growing months and are best kept on the dry side during the cold winter months.
Aspleniums growing in pots and/or hanging baskets like a slow release fertiliser added into the potting mix and they also respond well to a regular treatment of half strength liquid fertilisers such as fish emulsions or seaweed extracts during the spring months and also in the summer growing period. Aspleniums, in the ground, like a spring dressing of blood and bone or cow manure as well as a regular liquid fertiliser at half strength in the summer months.
Both the scientific name and the common name "spleenwort" are derived from an old belief that the fern was useful for ailments of the spleen, due to the spleen-shaped sori on the backs of the fronds and "-wort" is an ancient English term that simply means "plant". A few of these ferns have some economic importance in the horticulture trade. The bird's-nest ferns (Asplenium nidus and several very similar, closely related species) are commonly found for sale as a house plant. The Australian mother spleenwort (Asplenium bulbiferum) is sometimes available at greenhouses and is of interest for the many small bulblets borne on the fronds that may grow into new plants; this characteristic is also shared with other species. However, many spleenworts are epipteric or epiphytic and sometimes difficult to cultivate.
Some hardy Aspleniums to grow are:-
Asplenium bulbiferum [hen and chicken] in the ground, on tubs or in hanging baskets.
Asplenium australasicum [bird's nest] in the ground or in a tubs.
Asplenium oblongifolium in hanging baskets or in pots.
Asplenium scolopendrium 'Cristatum' (Crested)