Bird Nest Fern’s Yellow Leaves Solution

A bird nest fern also known as Asplenium nidus is a great houseplant because of low light tolerance. But why are your bird nest fern leaves turning yellow?

In this article, I will answer this question in detail. Plus I will tell you what to do when your bird nest fern leaves start to yellowing.

But before diving deep into the details I will put the answer to our main question as simple as this: why are bird nest fern leaves turning yellow? A bird nest’s fern leaves turn yellow either because of underwatering, overwatering, lack of humidity, normal aging, too much light, high temperatures, low temperatures, or chemicals.

Keep reading to know the real reason behind your plant’s yellow leaves.

Image shows yellow leaves of bird nest fern plant

Why bird nest fern leaves are yellowing

There is more than one reason behind the leaves’ yellowing. So the trick is to know the real reason to take the right action to stop further yellowing. Below are the reasons:


Overwatering is the most common reason behind bird nest fern yellowing leaves. A bird nest fern needs moist but not waterlogged soil.

Reassess your watering schedule. If you water your bird nest fern too often, most probably the leaves’ yellowing is caused by overwatering.

Please note that only water your bird nest fern when the top two inches of the soil are dry.

Also, take into account that a bird’s nest fern located in a low-light place will need less water compared with the ones located in a medium to bright-light place.

Also, Bird nest ferns will consume less water during winter unlike in the growing season ( spring and summer).

Also, note that in overwatering scenario the edges of leaves will turn brown and yellow.

This is a sure sign that your plant is suffering from overwatering. Adjust your watering practice and the yellowing will stop.

Although the yellow leaves will not recover, it is better to cut them.

image shows bird nest fern that has yellow leaves edges that caused by overwatering
Leaves yellowing in the edges caused by overwatering


Underwatering can lead to yellow leaves too. But the difference is that in underwatering the whole leaf will turn yellow and then fall, unlike in the overwatering scenario.

In overwatering, the leaves’ edges will turn brown and yellow. Reassess your watering schedule. If you found that you are giving your plant too little water.

And you allow the soil to dry out completely between the waterings, most probably your bird nest fern is suffering from underwatering.

Adjust your watering schedule and your plant will bounce back.

Image show a bird nest fern plant that has a whole yellow leaves caused by underwatering.
Bird nest fern with yellow leaves caused by underwatering

Lack of humidity

Although bird nest fern is not so demanding when it came to humidity needs, unlike other ferns. But if your plant is facing a heating device it may be too dry for it.

A lack of normal humidity may be the cause of the yellow leaves. Move your bird nest fern away from any heating or air conditioning devices and your plant will love you for that.

Too much light or direct sunlight

Bird nest fern is native to the rainforests. In the rainforests, bird nest fern grows in the shade of other tall plants. Direct sunlight is blocked by other trees. Instead, it gets low light in its natural habitat.

This is what it used to and like. And your indoor bird nest fern is not an exception. It needs low to medium indirect sunlight. If your plant is exposed to direct or bright sunlight its leaves will turn yellow.

Make sure to put your bird nest fern in a location that receives only low indirect light and your plant will be fine.

Inappropriate temperatures

Bird nest fern will thrive best in an environment that has temperatures between 50 F and 70 F. If the temperature rises above such a range the leaves may turn yellow.

Also if the temperatures fall below such range the leaves’ yellowing may happen. Therefore make sure that your bird nest fern gets a temperature between 50 F and 70 F.

Chemicals exposure

Another reason why your bird nest fern leaves turning yellow is the chemicals in the soil that are gathered there by tap water.

Tap water contains treated chemicals that build up in the soil through time which will hinder the roots from absorbing the right amount of water and nutrients. It is always better to water your plant with rainwater or filtered water.

But in case you only have access to tap water you can use it after processing it. You do so by letting the tap water set in an open container overnight for some chemicals to evaporate.

Normal aging

It is normal for the plant to lose its old leaves in order to focus its energies on the new ones. The yellowing can be due to normal aging. If the yellowing only happens in the old leaves it can be normal. And you don’t have to worry about it. Simply trim those yellow leaves and you are good to go.

But in normal aging, the yellowing will not be intense. Only a few old leaves are turning yellow, while new leaves are light green and look healthy.

In conclusion

In this article I hope I answered the question of why my bird nest fern leaves turn yellow: The yellowing in the bird nest fern’s leaves can be either because of overwatering, underwatering, lack of humidity, inappropriate temperatures, normal aging, or because of chemicals.

It is important to know the real cause in order to take the right actions. Finally, For more detailed information and a holistic perspective on caring for potted plants and mastering Container Gardening, Get my book Container Gardening: A Step-by-Step Practical Guide.

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