Ask a Question forum: Staghorn fern

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Jimmy
Nov 25, 2013 7:39 AM CST
Do you have any info on caring for staghorn fern? A friend gave us a big one she had cut into 4ths. How do insure they will thrive?
Name: Hetty
Sunny Naples, Florida (Zone 10a)
Plumerias Photo Contest Winner: 2015 Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Database Moderator
Forum moderator Region: Florida Cat Lover Garden Sages Cactus and Succulents Tropicals
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Dutchlady1
Nov 25, 2013 7:40 AM CST
Welcome! to ATP, Jimmy. It would help us if we knew your zone; maybe a picture would be helpful too. Here in Southwest Florida we stick them in the crook of a tree and ignore them, and they thrive Smiling
They are epiphytes, so you don't need to worry about soil.
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
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drdawg
Nov 25, 2013 8:04 AM CST
Welcome to ATP, Jimmy. I think you will find this site very informative.

As Hetty said, we'll need more information about your new staghorn in order to give you growing tips. I have lots of staghorn ferns, but since I live in an area that gets numerous freezes (the predicted lows for Wednesday-Saturday is in the mid to lower 20's!), all my stags are now inside.

If you can send a good quality picture or two of your staghorn, that would be great. If you cannot take pictures, let us know what your staghorn looks like. For example, how many foliar (reproductive) fronds are there and what are their average lengths? The foliar fronds are the long, forked, dark green "leaves". How thick is the basal frond layer? The basal fronds are the roundish, light green sterile growths usually in the center of the plant, and these basal fronds continue to grow over each other year after year, building up a layer that retains water. Is your staghorn mounted or is it potted? How do you want to grow it, potted or mounted?
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.

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dogpack
Nov 26, 2013 8:29 PM CST
Recently I got a staghorn and so far it is alive. I have it in a pot which is the next size up from the pot it came in, I remember it is in peat moss soil and something else. My understanding is that the young ferns do ok in pots but the older ferns may do better mounted, is this true? I prefer keeping my fern potted if at all possible because keeping it moist enough mounted may be more of a challenge than I can handle. I have limited vision, use a power wheelchair, and have medical ups and downs, so may not be able to regularly care for the plant each day.

What is the best substrate for these ferns when they are potted? How much humidity do they require ? What soil ph is best for them? do you have any other information/suggestions? Thank you for your help. Safe travels & many blessings. :grouphug:
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
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drdawg
Nov 26, 2013 9:20 PM CST
Staghorns don't really need a lot of care. Moisture is a far greater problem than dryness when it comes to staghorn ferns, but I understand your problem with limited moblity. Staghorns grow attached to trees in nature, so mounting them is the more "natural" way to grow them. Water quickly drains from mounted plants.

I grow mine from very small plants, grown on what are called plugs. I get my plants when the fronds are perhaps 1-2" long. I do pot up my plugs when I get them and use 1/3 general potting mix (sold at any big-box store), 1/3 coarse perlite, and 1/3 peat. I want a mix that does hold moisture yet allow for good drainage. You should allow the mix to dry out down to about 1" deep before rewatering. Do not allow your pot to sit in a water-filled saucer. Staghorns don't like "wet feet".

When my plants get fronds approximately 6-8" long, and perhaps have formed the basal frond, they all are mounted. That's what I sell - mounted stags.

I would suggest a couple of variations that may give you a better performing plant. One trick is to lay the pot on its side. This will allow the fronds to naturally arch downward, as they grow in nature. This trick also prevents, to a great extent, over-watering.

Another way to grow it is in a basket, hung from the ceiling or some other way. This is the way to grow a big staghorn. You can line the basket with coconut fiber matting, and this matting can also be found in big-box stores, or just purchase the basket with lining already put together. Use the same potting mix formula. The downside is the water will drain quickly through the potting mix and onto whatever surface is beneath the basket. That can be messy. Putting the basket in a sink and watering it there, allowing all the water to drain, will eliminate the mess but is a chore you might not be able to do.

When my staghorns are inside (keep in mind they will all be mounted), I mist them every week or so. These are epiphytes and are tropical, so they need humidity. I water my staghorns with 1/2 strength, general purpose fertilizer, something like Miracle-Gro is fine. They are fertilized every other month from October through February, and then once a month March through September.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.

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dogpack
Nov 27, 2013 10:40 AM CST
WOW! Thank you, thank you very much for the information. I'll have to think about your suggestions for a while so that I make the appropriate change correctly the first time which will eliminate stressing the plant.

I think a basket is the best option for me And the stag. I remember using course sand peat moss, and or some kind of moss that is used for orchids, right now can't find in my brain the name of this moss.

What varieties of stags do you raise and how can you tell one from another. I have no idea which stag I have. Would be nice to know for sure which one it is, so I can care for it to my best ability.

Safe travels & many blessings. Group hug
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
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drdawg
Nov 27, 2013 12:39 PM CST
The staghorns have one of the smallest if not the smallest number of varieties in the plant kingdom. There are less than 20. I have five varieties. You will almost surely have the Platycerium bifurcatum, since it is the common one. You might have the sub-variety of bifurcatum, the 'Neatherlands' but they look the same. The 'Neatherlands' wll take more temperature extremes and will handle dryness a bit better than the standard bifucatum. The other varieties are very rare and can be very expensive. The care is basically the same until you get into the really rare varieties. Those are seldom if ever seen for sell.

You probably are referring to sphagnum moss.

These are a pair of two-year old staghorns mounted on cork. The older they get, the more pronounced the forks in the fronds will be, thus their name "Staghorn". The fronds of these pair of young plants have not developed that deep forking yet. The light green, oval growth is called the basal frond and the elongated "leaves" are called the vegetative or spore fronds. Some people call these plants "Elkhorn Ferns", but the elkhorn is not even in the same family as the staghorn.

Thumb of 2013-11-27/drdawg/a4b633
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.

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dogpack
Nov 30, 2013 12:43 AM CST
I looked through most of your websit4e. You have a nice selection of plants. Praise God your business is going well for you.

After looking at several pictures of stags, my guess is that my stag is about 18 months to 2.5 years old. I found this plant on managers special among several ferns. When I have some money saved from a gift for birthday, Christmas, or similar occasion, and I find a plant which is 75% off regular price that I think I have a good chance os saving, I rescue it, bring it home, and research what what and why it needs, so that it thrives.

I'm thinking of changing the growing conditions for my stag to either a hanging basket with one of those formed to fit shape liners and then the substrate it will thrive in for many, many years.

The information you have provided is very much appreciated, much thanks.
What did you do in order to become a master gardener?
I've learned about growing plants first from watching my father and mother working in their garden, later by doing trial and error, and eventually doing research to find what the plant in question needs to have a long healthy life.

After reading about soil mixtures, mixing, and playing in soil, I use sand, peat moss, pot mixes, and, and, well, I'd have to think about the rest. Usually I research the plant and it's growing environmental needs, then toss together a mix which seems and feels right for the plant. I know God made the plants, so often, when my spirit is peaceful about what I've put together, I use the recipe, pot up the plant, and usually all is well. Occasionally, I would have to change something, however, this is rare and usually results in a better situation fro the plant. As I learn more about plants ant their needs I try to match as much as possible what they need. I consider my plants to be family. Smiling

When you acquired your green house(s), were they expensive? Did you build from scratch? I'm interested because my dream is to have a power wheel chair friendly large enough green house for me and my plants.

Oh yeah! I almost didn't mention that I was born premature which resulted in being placed into an incubator. I have been legally blind ( visually challenged) and for the past several years have hearing loss. So, I have a sense of adventure, enjoy my house plants, bring my own wheelchair, and life is a party with my animal and plant friends.

Safe travels & many blessings.

Oh when a geranium has yellow starting at the edges of the leaves and working toward the center of, taking eventually over the entire leaf, is this a nutrition issue? The plant seems to be in good health and thriving with the leaf exception. Let me know what you may know if possible, thank you.

one more issue to ask about. A while ago I was gifted an air plant which I believe according to the information I found was a medusa something or some thing Medusa. It lived well for many months and then for some reason started turning brown and eventually died. Do you know what and why this happened?

Group hug
Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
Charter ATP Member Garden Procrastinator Greenhouse Dragonflies Plays in the sandbox I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
The WITWIT Badge I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Dog Lover Enjoys or suffers cold winters Container Gardener Seed Starter
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woofie
Nov 30, 2013 1:05 PM CST
Was this your air plant? Cool looking plant!
Air Plant (Tillandsia caput-medusae)
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
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drdawg
Nov 30, 2013 2:26 PM CST
Post a picture and I can probably tell you how old your staghorn is, at least within 6 months.

One obtains Master Gardener certification by taking a course presented in a university setting (at least in Mississipp, where the course was at Mississippi State University). Generally the Extension Service prepares and presents it. Most of the presenters are university professors. After 3 months or so of classes, and then passsing a final exam, Master Gardener status is obtained.

My last two greenhouses were kits, and are built from the gound up. The one previous to these, at another house, was hand-made. My first one, again at another house on Mississippi Gulf coast, was professionally built or brick, marine aluminum framing, and glass. It was a huge 32'x14' greenhouse. A hurricane destroyed it partially in 1985 and then Katrina completely destroyed it.

The last greenhouse I built would probably be considered handicap-friendly. It has two sliding doors that open up to 5' and are approximately 6' high. A wheelchair could easily move through these doors and there is approximately 7' between my wire shelving, making the shelving easily accessible as well.

Geraniums are notorious bottom-leaf droppers. I am always removing brown leaves and dead-heading the spent flower stems.

I can't tell you what killed your air-plant (tillandsia). Cold and over-watering are the two most common causes of air-plant death. There are lots of plants considered "air-plants". Your staghorns are air plants and orchids (epiphytic) and many bromeliads are air-plants as well. The term "epiphyte" is more appropriate than using the "air-plant" term.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.

JP
Apr 14, 2014 2:57 PM CST
I realize this is an old thread (I found it while Googling a question regarding staghorns) but I am hoping you can help me. I recently acquired a staghorn fern from my mom. I believe she said that she has had it for at least 10 years. It's been hanging from a stand in her back yard. We were able to get it off the stand (it has to be at least 100 pounds, I swear!) and haul it to our house but now I'm not sure what to do with it. Initially I was thinking I'd create a "basket" out of chains and suspend it from one of our oak trees. Now I am wondering if I can attach it/ strap it into a crook of the tree created by 3 branches. I think it would be more secure in the crook but I'm not sure if this will damage the base leaves/fronds. I'm going to try to attach a picture. Can you please also tell me what kind of stag horn fern that it is? Thank you!!!
Thumb of 2014-04-14/JP/331fbc

Name: Hetty
Sunny Naples, Florida (Zone 10a)
Plumerias Photo Contest Winner: 2015 Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Database Moderator
Forum moderator Region: Florida Cat Lover Garden Sages Cactus and Succulents Tropicals
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Dutchlady1
Apr 14, 2014 3:22 PM CST
It will be absolutely happy in the crook of a tree. It is where they would grow naturally.
Name: Lin
Florida (Zone 9b)
Region: United States of America Morning Glories Region: Florida Houseplants Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Procrastinator Birds Butterflies Bee Lover Hummingbirder Container Gardener
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plantladylin
Apr 14, 2014 3:51 PM CST
Hi JP, Welcome! to All Things Plants!

Dutchlady1 said:It will be absolutely happy in the crook of a tree. It is where they would grow naturally.
It might be Common Staghorn Fern (Platycerium bifurcatum) and I agree with Dutchlady regarding placing it in the crook of a live oak tree ... but only if you live in a climate that doesn't get winter freezes.

~ Eat, Sleep .... Play in the dirt ~
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
Image
drdawg
Apr 14, 2014 3:52 PM CST
JP, I will bet you $10 to $1 that this plant is much older than 10 years. It is a huge Platycerium bifurcatum. I assume that you live in a sub-tropical area, perhaps S. FL or S. CA and can leave it outside all year? As Hetty said, placing it in the crook of the tree will be a great spot. It will be stable that way. Have you considered reducing its size by removing some of the plants? You know, there may be a dozen individual plants there. You could have multiple, though still large, plants. That solves the problem of weight. I too had a plant just as large as you and I divided it because I could no longer move it inside because of the size/weight. I DON'T live in a sub-tropical region. Sticking tongue out
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.

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