Asplenium nidus: How to Grow the Crispy Wave Fern

The Crispy Wave Fern is a cultivar of the popular houseplant species Asplenium nidus.

A beautifully bright green fern with characteristically sword-shaped, ruffled leaves give it the common name ‘Crispy Wave’. Or it also goes by “Bird’s Nest Fern” for the way the leaves radiate outward, leaving a leafy basin in the centre.

Despite the fact that Asplenium nidus can grow fairly large, it’s actually an effective epiphyte.

In its native South East Asian countries, you’ll often find it naturally growing in the forked branches of trees. Fun fact, the Crispy Wave Plant was rated highly by NASA for its air purification qualities – making it a very useful terrarium plant indeed.

Asplenium Nidus (Crispy Wave Fern)

Where to Buy Asplenium nidus ‘Crispy Wave’

See the links below to purchase from reputable terrarium plant shops and marketplaces (may include affiliate links). 

US – See on Etsy
UK – See on Etsy

Crispy Wave Fern Care & Growth

Plant TypeFern
LightingMedium – high indirect light
Temperature60-72°F (15-22°C)
WateringRegular, even moisture
HumidityHigh humidity (60-90%)
Growth8-40 inches


The best lighting conditions for the Crispy Wave Fern is bright, indirect light. Despite being found halfway up trees in the wild, it’s still usually protected from bright sunlight by the canopy.


The Crispy Wave Fern will grow best on/in an evenly moist environment. It may need additional misting if grown as an epiphyte, or if you’re using a substrate with poor water retention.


When grown terrestrially, Asplenium nidus ‘Crispy Wave’ isn’t too demanding for substrate conditions. After all, they’re used to growing on trees, not in soil.

Though it does have small roots, so the substrate must be able to retain moisture in the top layer.

This fern can be grown epiphytically in the wild, but it’s not recommended for terrariums because even their juvenile plants are larger than your average hardwood branch.

Temperature & Humidity

As a native jungle fern, the Crispy Wave Fern will thrive in the warm, humid conditions of a closed terrarium. It’s particularly sensitive to humidity, so its important to maintain a consistently high level.


Under ideal conditions, Asplenium nidus ‘Crispy Wave’ can eventually grow very large. Thankfully they grow tend to grow slowly (taking many years to reach full maturity) and only grow to fill their space. In a terrarium environment, overgrowth shouldn’t be an issue for a very long time if at all.


The Crispy Wave Fern is a challenging plant to propagate. Unlike most of the terrarium ferns on this list, Asplenium nidus cannot be divided. They must be propagated by spores or tissue culture.

Varieties & Similar Plants

Asplenium nidus doesn’t come in a wide variety of cultivars but there are a few varieties. Asplenium nidus ‘Crissie’ and ‘Osaka’ are both available online and suitable for terrarium use.

Common Problems

Take care not to pool liquid into the central basin of the so-called “Bird’s Nest Fern” when watering. The curly fern can struggle to get rid of the water in a static terrarium environment, and it can lead to rot.