How to tell if Birdsnest Fern is Rotting?

minibot(z9bNorCA Sz16)June 15, 2005

Hello there, I have a birdsnest fern that seemed to be doing alright and I kept it sitting in some water. I'm wondering since the roots are pretty dark if it is slowly rotting and I just don't see it yet? How do you tell if you have crownrot? I can't believe I didn't follow up with culture information before trying to care for the plant! I relied on intinct only, and thought it looked good, but there's been little growth in new leaves and the new babies in the center are looking kinda mucky, although there is still green. I've since drained it on ppr towels, should I repot into fresh media?


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leemcallister(Z10 SFL)

Birds nest ferns are very susceptible to rot, especially if you water over the top of the crown. Another interesting thing is that the root mass is very small relative to the above ground part of the plant. If you have over-potted the plant then obviously you increase your risk of rot and various other bacterial/fungal infections.

Over the years I have gravitated to a mix of orchid bark and peat moss. This is very free draining but retains enough moisture between waterings.

I'd repot (under-potting) to ensure that going forward you have created as optimal an environment for the plant as possible.

BTW birds nest fern roots are typically dark; the best way of doing a quick health-check is to examine the roots to see if they have light coloured tips. If so they are definitely OK.

Good luck and I hope you get to appreciate these wonderful ferns for many years to come.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2005 at 4:41PM
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minibot(z9bNorCA Sz16)

Thanks for the advice, I'll have to unpot it and check it. It looks like the little leaves coming out are green, but I guess time'll tell. I'm probably going to repot tonight. I didn't really think about treating it like my other epiphytes, because for some odd reason I thought they liked boggy conditions :-) I'll have to mix up some lighter soil combo with bark with whatever I have. Maybe pumice mixed with bark and supersoil. Should I wash away the old soil? The roots look pretty dark I don't think I saw any light tips, but perhaps there are closer to the plant. I saw these ferns on Maui in the trees! Didn't even think that they need more air :-) Duh. That's probably what killed my very first one in 6th grade...I had it in a glass bowl.

minibot (hopefully not earning the title "fern killer" soon)

    Bookmark   June 16, 2005 at 4:05PM
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leemcallister(Z10 SFL)

To be honest I am not sure if washing the soil off will make any difference.

And don't worry about the 'fern killer' moniker ; You've made all the same mistakes I did when first starting out :)

    Bookmark   June 17, 2005 at 9:22AM
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