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Help Needed: Bird's Nest Fern

AddyBeez | CA, USA, Zone 9b
5 years ago
last modified: 5 years ago

Yesterday, I found a truly sad looking plant in the clearance section. I put it in my cart thinking that its roots were likely unable to get oxygen and thus just needed repotting. I can only say that having calatheas is likely what made me think this would be so simple.

I got the plant home and found out that it was nested in two pots because the roots had outgrown the first pot by a large amount. It was very root bound so I made five incisions to the roots and pulled them apart as gently as possible, which was difficult because the roots were very strong.

Once I repotted it (which I now think was a mistake when it comes to ferns possibly suffering shock), I untangled its leaves. The fern was now completely limp as its tangled stems had been the only thing propping it even slightly up. I also did a quick trim of dead/yellow leaves.

After I started reading about this plant, and looking at pictures of Bird's Nest Ferns, I no longer felt so optimistic. Actually, I was horrified. I found this fern sitting on a shelf in full sun, in triple digit heat.

It has been a full 24 hours since I repotted, trimmed and watered the fern. I am keeping it in cooler conditions, and in indirect light. You can't see it, but it's sitting on a small tray filled with pebbles and water. It is beginning to show some life!

Is there any chance that this plant can recover without doing something drastic, like cutting its leaves back to the soil? If anyone has experience with this-- can you please let me know what timetable I might expect? I don't want to trim it back, risking further shock, too early. I really want it to have as much time as it needs to recover but I honestly don't know if trimming it quickly would be best for its overall health. I could really use some guidance as this is my first fern.

Thanks in advance; any advice is greatly appreciated!

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