Saturday, January 15, 2022

30 Year Old Staghorn Fern

 Ahoy all.  I haven't posted in a year and a half.  Did you miss me?  I kinda stopped because I rarely get comments and it doesn't seem worthwhile if you aren't reading.  So, if you want me to post more, please let me know.

On Christmas Eve I backed out of our driveway on my way to work and noticed that my 30 year old Staghorn Fern -Platycerium bifurcatum had fallen.  The chain finally completely rusted away and the plant was sitting on the ground.  Luckily there were no plants underneath is to get crushed! I planted that fern 5 houses ago when I still worked at a nursery back in maybe 1990!  

This is the plant that when people come to my garden they say "What IS that?" I've had it for so long and except for a few surgeries it's no trouble.  When we were house hunting I wanted a tree for my Staghorn fern.  I knew that if the house had all the other things I wanted but no tree, I would have given the fern away.  But our Ash tree holds it fine!  

Long ago I began with a 12" wire basket.  What you do is place wet green moss inside the basket lining it completely. Then fill with some potting soil. Then set one or more stag horn ferns on top.  You can use fishing line(or whatever works) to tie it down because there are no roots to hold it up.  The fern grows shields that anchors it to the basket(or if mounted on wood) and spreads by spores(or magic) to eventually cover the whole basket.  It gets watered when I water the rest of the garden.  

New baby shield groping

And the plant being a fern spreads by spores to make more shields and antlers. 

brown spores

Back to the present.  I thought UGH, that is going to be a ton of surgery to cut into it to find the old wire basket(assuming it has not disintegrated) to attach new chain.  Then I bought the wrong chain at a nursery and had to go to Home Depot to buy stainless steel chain.  I spent too much money.   Then my Rick offered a different solution, to make a circle of chain with three chains attached too it, essentially cradling the fern.  Yay, less work and no surgery!  

So, Rick bought even more chain and made the cradle.  We put it under and around the fern.   He bought pulleys to lift it with rope.   We had it all harnessed and tried to lift it.  It was still too wet as we had enjoyed 6" of rain before and after Christmas.   So we waited a week.  It was still too heavy.  

So, it sat for 2 weeks sitting on a milk crate to dry out.  

Today it got lifted!  It's too low in my opinion.  But we'll wait to adjust it.  

Here I am with my old friend.

Do you grow a Staghorn Fern?  I'd love to hear about it.  Thanks for reading.  

Happy Gardening! 


  1. Welcome back Aprille. I used to have a Stag Horn Fern, but sadly lost it when it blew down and then died after I 're-potted' it. I had to take it into the greenhouse each winter. Yours is magnificent. PS. I need to get back to my pelly blog.

  2. Please post more. I just discovered your blog and have enjoyed reading your posts.

  3. One of my favorite pictures is holding this staghorn! I'm glad it could be salvaged :)

  4. It looks wonderful. I inherited my large stag from Mom who inherited it from my Aunt...who was big into plant clubs and exotic plants. Ken Ueda drilled a rod right through the middle of it and made it so I could hang it. Originally it had been on a board but grew well beyond the board. One thing about stags. The shields expand the stag size as they grow. The spore makes new stag plants and that can be a fun adventure in itself.

  5. I have one that is around 25 yo. It is growing around a Magnolia tree.
    Strange how to trunk of the tree is skinnier where the Staghorn is sitting. I forgot how much I enjoyed your post.

  6. If you're in the market for landscape bark, you have a few options to consider. Fir is the cheapest, but will give you slivers. Hemlock is a better choice and doesn't attract fleas. You are curious to know more about wood chips, find out here.

  7. If you want a softer, more natural look, you can use nugget bark. This is particularly useful for areas that get a lot of wind and water. The following are some tips for choosing landscape bark.If you want to get more interesting details about play bark, you may go here.


  8. Thank you so much for your fantastic advice and insight! I am always looking to other gardening sites for information and inspiration!

    Your site looks amazing and you provide huge value in the field of gardening!

    Have an awesome sunny day!

    Rick Smith