The Austral Gem Fern is THE Fern for the Fern Challenged

by | Mar 8, 2019 | 12 comments

I love ferns! Sometimes they don’t love me, though. I’m not the most consistent person when applying water and that is a big no-no with ferns. But, I have found a fern that is a forgiving, easy fern for the typical homeowner. Meet the Austral Gem fern (Asplenium dimorphum x difforme).

‘Austral Gem’ Fern Asplenium dimorphum x difforme

Why it is an easy fern.

The question asked is why is it easier? This is an asplenium like the bird’s nest fern (Asplenium nidus). Though it does not resemble the bird’s nest in any way, it does have a leathery leaf like the bird’s nest. It looks like a fake plastic plant.  Even though it does have the lacy look of normal ferns, it doesn’t have the paper-thin fronds that most ferns have.  This is good news! The Austral gem fern has thick leaflets that are forgiving of a dry spell, whereas other ferns are not. 

Frond of Austral Gem fern

Keep it moist

Don’t get me wrong. This fern  prefers to be moist like other ferns, yet it doesn’t die a quick death if left to dry out somewhat. I have done this. It has reacted by having some brown leaf tips, but as a rule, it perks back up with water. I’ve never had such an easy fern. Below is the plant tag that came with it.

Fern tag

Costa Farms variety

This plant is from Costa Farms who obtained the Exotic Angel plant company a few years ago. The tag actually has the right name and the right lighting recommendation. I love it! Often the tags are in the wrong plants or have no pertinent information.

Love the sun shining through the ends of the pinnae

Light recommendations

I’ve placed this fern in my east window in a medium light and it is doing great. It has dried out more times than I like to admit and it still looks amazing. I don’t recommend letting it dry out, but if it happens, as long as it isn’t that way for long, this plant will bounce right back. Another great thing about this Australian fern is the fact that it is sterile. Why is that so great? There will be no spores and therefore no brown powdery substance falling on your table or floor.

Close-up of fern frond


One note of warning. This fern, like other ferns can attract scale. Don’t ask me why. They just do. Check your plant often for small brown bumps on the fronds. Here is a blog post about scale insects. 


So the point of this post is: if you are fern challenged, this fern is for you.

Do you like ferns? Do you have problems with them? Tell me in the comments. 

Have a great week, plant friends! 


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  1. Jerry McDaniel

    How do you propagate this fern?

    • Lisa Steinkopf

      You know, I’m not sure. I assume from spores, but have never seen runners. Maybe from division. I’m sorry. I will look into that more.

      • Jori

        I divided mine when the pot became root-bound. They thrived.

        • Lisa Steinkopf

          That’s awesome. Mine hasn’t made more of itself yet.

      • Mary Radig

        I love this fern but it doesn’t like me.I have killed everyone that I have had.I am on my last one trying to keep it going but it doesn’t look promising.Tried misting it keeping it wet and in east window but I have no clue what I am doing wrong.I have over 70 plants but this one I don’t have luck with and it’s my favorite.

        • Lisa Steinkopf

          Hi Mary,
          I find that starting out with a smaller plant and growing it exclusively inside works better. Often ferns are purchased as large baskets and brought in after spending all summer outside and their reaction to the new environment isn’t good…. I don’t mist or add humidity, other than my plants are grouped together giving each other humidity.

  2. Sheri

    Just yesterday I said to my boyfriend while watering the houseplants, “This may sound awful, but these two plants (reference to the Austral Gem Ferns I was misting) almost thrive on my neglect.” I think these are the *easiest* ferns you could ever take care of, and somehow they have outlived all my previous generation of plants. They do like to be misted and kept moist (but not soggy!), but I could just leave them alone and so long as the soil is moist and they are in a shaded/diffused light, they don’t care if I mist them or not, whereas my other ferns have tantrums if I forget to mist or water them on schedule. Also, oddly I did not know what type of ferns they were and a plant identifier app said Black Spleenwort (or Black Maidenhair), so I had been taking care of them thinking this is what they were. Only just now in repotting them did I discover a label tag shoved in on the side which alerted me as to what they really were!

    • Lisa Steinkopf

      It is a great fern! I love how shiny they are, too! Thanks for your comments, Sheri!

  3. Kristy B

    I bought what was labeled an Austral fern, but it has been as hard to grow as every other fern I’ve tried! All my fronds are slowly drying up (crisp) and dying.. no new growth.. and the soil is completely moist! Idk what I’m doing wrong! 😔 I’ve tried bright, indirect light, low light- help!

    • Lisa Steinkopf

      Hi Kristy, Could you send me a picture? Does it look like the austral gem fern in my post or have you googled it? It seems to be easier to me because the fronds are thicker than other ferns and so is forgiving of drying out a bit more than other ferns.

  4. Andrea

    I have killed more ferns than I’d like to admit so now I stick to footed ferns and other epiphytic ferns, they tend to be much more forgiving, but maybe I’ll give one of these a try if I come across one

    • Lisa Steinkopf

      I think you will be surprised how well it does in the house. Thanks for your comment!



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