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March 17th, 2021

Astral Gem Fern Almost Too Perfect to Believe

by R.S. Walsh

The Astral Gem Fern sounds like something from out of this world and it is almost too perfect to believe.

Asplenium nidus is a variety of bird’s nest fern and though it does not resemble the bird’s nest in any way, it does have a leathery leaf like the bird’s nest. It stays so perfect looking it almost looks artificial. Even though it does have the lacy look of normal ferns, it doesn’t have the paper-thin fronds that most ferns have. Most ferns prefer extremely high humidity to keep those filmy fronds from drying out and this one would also like an elevated humidity, but is much more tolerant of drier conditions.

The waxy coating on the thick shiny dark green leaves prevents it from drying out and shedding leaves. Austral Gem tolerates most indoor conditions, including bright indirect light and even shady locations. Water thoroughly when the soil starts to dry.

Another great thing about this Australian fern is the fact that it is sterile, so with no brown spores, it will stay clean and lovely looking. Grow this, like other ferns, in a hanging basket or a container set upon a pedestal or plant stand. Use it as a nice focal point or mix it with other indoor containers.

For the beginning gardener to the fern collector, this is a great fern to get started with or to add to your houseplant collection.

This plant column is a joint effort by all at In The Garden, Sanibel’s retail garden center, at 3889 Sanibel Captiva Road, Sanibel Island.

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