If you are looking to get new plants for your home, you have probably occasionally wondered, why are staghorn ferns so expensive? A few of the explanations for the price tag might surprise you!
Staghorn ferns are expensive for several reasons, but one major one is that they are difficult to cultivate. That means growers have to work hard to get them to germinate and grow into healthy young plants. They are also expensive because they are rare, labor-intensive, and very slow-growing.
Why Are Staghorn Ferns So Expensive?
As mentioned above, there are quite a few reasons for staghorn ferns to cost so much, and it’s worth paying attention to these reasons – partly because knowing more about what drives the price up may help you to find slightly cheaper options. However, you are unlikely to get a staghorn fern very cheap, no matter what you do.
Quite a few factors feed into their high price point, including:
- They are hard to germinate
- They are rare
- They are disease resistant
- Growing them involves a lot of labor
Let’s explore the reasons why are staghorn ferns so expensive in more detail!
1) They Are Hard To Germinate
One of the biggest reasons that staghorn ferns cost so much is that they do not germinate readily. Even in very good conditions, it can take a month to get the seeds to germinate, and many will not germinate at all.
This means that growers have to put a lot of time and energy into getting seedlings to grow in the first place – and even once they have grown, they are delicate and prone to dying.
It also takes a long time for them to grow from a seed into a salable plant, and they require a greenhouse or another warm, suitable environment if they are going to survive. This makes it challenging to mass produce them.
According to ExpensiveWhy, it can take up to 4 years for a staghorn to reach a reasonable size for selling, and a lot of buyers are looking for much bigger plants than these. In some cases, a plant will need to be grown for 25 years or more before it is ready to sell – which obviously makes it pretty expensive.
2) They Are Rare
Because of the difficulty in germinating them and their slow growth rate, staghorn ferns are also pretty rare. Few nurseries stock them, and that means you’ll have to find a grower who specializes in staghorn ferns or exotic plants – which usually comes with a high price tag. If you buy online, you’ll be looking at shipping fees too.
You might occasionally find a nursery that does stock staghorn ferns, but even here, you are probably going to pay quite a lot for one. The nurseries will either have to source the seedlings and put time and energy into raising them, or they will have to buy them at fairly high prices themselves.
Either way, staghorn ferns are not common plants, and many people have never even heard of them. If you want to buy a staghorn, you’ll have to search for a seller, and you will probably have to buy one online. This rarity massively increases the price, because sellers know that buyers have limited options, and will pay higher prices as a result.
3) They Are Disease Resistant
Being disease resistant does make staghorn ferns easier to grow, but it also makes them more desirable plants for the homeowner. If your home is not very suitable for plants, you’ll have better chances with growing a staghorn fern than with many other kinds of ferns.
Staghorn ferns, once established, are very hardy. They can tolerate droughts, pests, and many plant diseases. That makes a lot of people keen to grow them, and they are popular in establishments such as hospitals, as well as homes, because of their resilience.
4) Growing Them Is Labor-Intensive
Staghorn ferns take a surprising amount of labor before they get established, which means that growers have to put a lot of time and energy into the plants. These ferns need significant amounts of fertilizer, applied at the right time and in the right ways.
You need to do quite a lot of research into the requirements of a young staghorn fern if you want it to survive, and then commit time to providing the environment it needs. You must have greenhouse space available for each plant, and you must be able to keep the humidity levels high. If you don’t meet the requirements in every way, the young fern is likely to die.
The importance of good care, coupled with the slow growth rate of the staghorn fern, means that growers put an enormous amount of time into each plant before it reaches the stage at which it can be sold to buyers. To recoup the cost of all that time and energy, plus the greenhouse space required, growers have to charge high prices.
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Now you know the answer to why are staghorn ferns so expensive! There are other potential factors too, like the fact that they help purify the air, and they were once believed to have medicinal properties. That means that they still command high prices, and you generally have to purchase them from specialized growers.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is so special about staghorn ferns?
Staghorn ferns are partly special because of their unusual appearance. As the name suggests, they look surprisingly like the antlers of a deer or an elk. This makes them very unique among ferns. They are also considered special because they grow slowly, but they can reach surprising sizes.
Furthermore, these ferns are epiphytic, so you can mount them on a wall, rather than growing them in a container. A lot of people like to do this because it shows the fern off to its best and allows its more unusual qualities to shine.
Are staghorn plants expensive?
Staghorn plants are expensive, yes. We have explored some of the reasons for this above, but you should also bear in mind that the more expensive a plant is, the more desirable it seems to many people – which means that more people want to buy it, and this drives the price up further.
Staghorns may become cheaper at some time in the future, but for now, they are expensive plants, although by no means the most expensive that you can buy. If you want a staghorn fern, consider shopping around online until you find one that is a little cheaper, or buy a smaller fern.
Why are staghorn fern endangered?
Staghorn ferns have become endangered because they do not germinate readily. This means that as soon as the plants become threatened, they are less and less likely to reproduce successfully, and their numbers will quickly dwindle in the wild.
The ferns germinate surprisingly slowly, even in ideal conditions. In some experiments reported on by DownToEarth, it took 30 days for three quarters of the fern seeds to germinate in a cultivated setting (while the remaining 25 percent did not germinate). In the wild, it takes them even longer to germinate.
This slow germination rate means that the ferns spread more slowly, and therefore are more likely to become endangered in the wild.
Hey, I’m Lisa and I’ve been an avid gardener for over 30 years. I love writing, talking and living in the garden! Feel free to connect with me on my socials below