Ask a Question forum: Need help for huge Staghorn Fern ASAP Please

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Seminole, Florida
Eseiger69
Nov 12, 2017 1:08 PM CST
The previous homeowners left this huge plant hanging high in a tree in back. It was dying so I took it down and started caring for it about 3 months ago. Its made a great comeback but it now is getting areas turning black and I'm seeing white oblong flecks and white spots on most of the antler fronds and tiny almost transparent brownish looking spiders crawling on it. This is my first Staghorn so am learning as I go. If anyone can provide me info on the above PLEASE help. Thank you!




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[Last edited by Eseiger69 - Nov 12, 2017 1:33 PM (+)]
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Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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DaisyI
Nov 12, 2017 3:48 PM CST
Welcome!

You have bugs! But you knew that.

Get out your hose with a sprayer and blast them off. Pry up enough of the basal frond edges to spray under them also. You will have to keep doing it until the bugs give up.

If you are not opposed to pesticides, use some Insecticidal Soap.

Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

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Seminole, Florida
Eseiger69
Nov 13, 2017 9:03 AM CST
Thank you very much Daisy for the helpful info. Ill start spraying right now! Oh...do you know if the black parts of the plant are from over watering or the bugs? If over watering, then how do I blast the bugs and water the top without it getting to the blackening bottom parts? I look forward to your reply. Thank You!
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[Last edited by Eseiger69 - Nov 13, 2017 9:04 AM (+)]
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Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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DaisyI
Nov 13, 2017 10:52 AM CST
Is it sitting or did it fall on the balck side? Looks like mechanical damage. When Staghorn ferns are not in pots, I don't think you can overwater.

Someone else want to chime in? @drdawg?
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

Webmaster: osnnv.org
Name: Ken Ramsey
Vero Beach, FL (Zone 10a)
Tropical Plants & More
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 13, 2017 12:59 PM CST
Really large staghorns such as this one @Eseiger69 are usually not very "beautiful" plants. It is just the nature of them having so much dead tissue (basal fronds). You do have an insect problem and if you are seeing spiders, that's another thing to deal with other than the typical insects. I would use Bayer 3 in 1 because it has an insecticide, fungicide, and a miticide. Follow directions.

The reproductive fronds are normally covered in a fine, white, fuzz and you don't want to remove that fuzz.

Have you considered cutting this huge glob of plants back, removing the healthy (individual) plants and discarding the rest? You would end up with numerous smaller plants and you could mount each one as you wished. Individual plants would not only be more beautiful (and probably healthier) but far easier to care for.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
http://www.tropicalplantsandmo...
I don't have gray hair, I have wisdom-highlights. I must be very wise.
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
Image
DaisyI
Nov 13, 2017 1:40 PM CST
Thumbs up
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

Webmaster: osnnv.org
Seminole, Florida
Eseiger69
Nov 19, 2017 11:10 AM CST
I would love to break up this plant into smaller ones but not sure how to do it when its grown around the wire basket they have it in without killing it.
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Nov 19, 2017 11:13 AM CST
It can be divided, but why would you want to?
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Seminole, Florida
Eseiger69
Nov 19, 2017 11:15 AM CST
Because I'm worried I'm killing it and thought if it was in smaller parts, maybe I could get the bug infestation down easier.
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Nov 19, 2017 11:20 AM CST
You are more likely to encounter other problems if you try to divide it. Dividing it will not make it any easier to treat the pests. BTW, have you identified the pests and how are you treating them?
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Seminole, Florida
Eseiger69
Nov 19, 2017 11:37 AM CST
I'm told they are spider mites and mealy bugs. I first sprayed the whole plant with mixture of water and dawn dishwashing soap for a few days but the shield fronds starting getting black viens so I stopped. I didn't know how much soap to use in the water so I might've used too much. Then I was told to blast them with water so I tried that. Now my poor plant has damaged shield fronds and a crust of white covering some of the green shield fronds and leaf fronds. I'm so worried that I'm doing more harm than good that I just don't know what to do now.
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Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Nov 19, 2017 11:48 AM CST
All I see in the most recent photo are some healthy new shields and fronds and no pests.

For future reference, just a small squirt of liquid dish soap (insecticidal soap is too drying for delicate ferns) in a spray bottle is enough. Spray only if and when you see any new pests.

Blasting the plant with water can cause physical damage, so I would avoid that.

I don't know what you mean by a "white crust." The fronds are normally covered with white fuzz that is an important part of the plant and should not be removed or treated.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Seminole, Florida
Eseiger69
Nov 19, 2017 4:44 PM CST
This isn't a fuzz looking white cover. Its more crust like and only came up after I blasted it with water which I won't do again. Let me see if different photos will show you better. I'm going to try and attach more than 1 photo here.
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Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
Image
WillC
Nov 19, 2017 5:52 PM CST
I don't know what it is, but it is not a pest or a disease. Maybe physical damage. I would not worry about it at this point.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: Ken Ramsey
Vero Beach, FL (Zone 10a)
Tropical Plants & More
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 20, 2017 8:04 AM CST
Will, surely you understand the difficulty many people have when growing staghorns that weigh over 100 lb. I have had experience in just that. Other than botanical gardens and the like up where you live and work, I doubt you'll see those size plants in existence. Just my opinion, you understand.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
http://www.tropicalplantsandmo...
I don't have gray hair, I have wisdom-highlights. I must be very wise.
Seminole, Florida
Eseiger69
Nov 20, 2017 10:08 AM CST
Thank you guys. The damaged/torn fronds and white crust looking stuff DID show the morning after I blasted it with water so I'm guessing the white crust is the plant trying to protect itself. The spider mites and mealy bugs showed up again that afternoon so blasting it with water didn't help get rid of them but the black vienes I was starting to see before I blasted it are now fading so I'm guessing I had too much soap when I sprayed it with the dish soap and water mixture. I was told these insects have developed a tolerance to chemical pesticides and that sometimes using pesticides like that can actually cause the bugs to increase breeding. I was told by some neighbors to keep spraying it daily with a mixture of water with only a couple of drops of dish soap until the infestation is smaller and then use Neem Oil after that. Does this sound like it would work to save my plant? I've been working so long and hard to save it after I saw it was left by the previous home owners and dying high up in a tree in the back yard. I know it will be beautiful once it fully recovers IF this doesn't kill it beforehand. This is my first Staghorn so I'm learning as I go and appreciate all your helpful advice. I'm all ears!
Seminole, Florida
Eseiger69
Nov 20, 2017 10:23 AM CST
Another question, I currently have this huge plant sitting on what use to be my portable wooden cutting-board table that's on wheels and it's falling apart now. I need to move it to something more stable but have no ideas on what to use that would hold its weight, have adequate holes for water drainage as well as be something on wheels so I can roll it inside should the temps drop. Any thoughts on what I could use?
Name: Mary
Lake Stevens, WA (Zone 8a)
Near Seattle
Bookworm Garden Photography Plant and/or Seed Trader Plays in the sandbox Region: Pacific Northwest Seed Starter
Winter Sowing
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Pistil
Nov 20, 2017 12:02 PM CST
Hello Eseiger69-
I have another comment, nobody has addressed the issue of the wire basket. I have never had a Staghorn Fern so the pest part I really cannot comment on.
The way you describe it as having grown around an old wire basket, I wonder if some of the problem is the basket. It seems to me the fern might get strangled, like how a tree is "girdled" and damaged if a wire is tied around it. A weakened plant that cannot grow strongly is a disease magnet. I might just break the whole thing up and assume I will get at least one functioning plant, or at the least would consider trying to get wire cutters down in the plant to loosen it up some.
Name: Ken Ramsey
Vero Beach, FL (Zone 10a)
Tropical Plants & More
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
Image
drdawg
Nov 20, 2017 4:15 PM CST
Staghorn ferns are epiphytes, Mary. Their roots basically grow for attachment/anchorage.

The vast majority of folks that grow staghorns to this size (and really, with only limited photography, I can only guess at her weight), end up with these plants in huge, heavy-weight baskets or really large plaques/panels of wood. A chain is then attached to this basket/wood and it is hung under really strong limbs, such as under a mature live oak tree. They are seldom if ever brought inside. I have had one that weighed over 100 lb. and it took two men to move her inside during the winter months. I dealt with that only for a single year and then divided her into 8-10 very healthy plants, and mounted those plants individually. Not a single one of those divisions died. In fact, they all flourished.

Others may have experiences unlike mine and if so, can give you various ways of handling large staghorns.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
http://www.tropicalplantsandmo...
I don't have gray hair, I have wisdom-highlights. I must be very wise.
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
Image
WillC
Nov 21, 2017 5:52 PM CST
Ken - I certainly agree that a very large and heavy Staghorn might best be divided. But I was unaware that the one in question here was that large.

I know that many Fern species are sensitive to a variety of chemical sprays, including Neem. I have not used Neem on Staghorns so I don't know if that is the case. In general, it is best to test any sprays that you use on a small portion of the plant before treating the entire plant.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care

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