There’s a long-held belief that staghorn ferns were named after staggers, the old name for leprosy. This is because people in olden times believed that the plant cured leprosy.
Whether this is true or not has yet to be proven. However, staghorn ferns are named for their large, broad, antler-shaped fronds.
Native to warm and humid climates, they have become a popular house plant that’s relatively easy to maintain.
However, buying staghorn ferns can set you back a couple of hundred, if not thousands of dollars. What makes these strangely beautiful plants so expensive?
Staghorn ferns are so expensive because they are rare and hard to cultivate outside their natural habitats of Africa, Australia, and Southeast Asia. They require greenhouses in their early stages. They are not mass-produced and can take up to 10 or 20 years to mature to a height of about 4 feet.
What exactly are staghorn ferns and what makes them so popular?
What are Staghorn Ferns?
Staghorn ferns are a group of species of epiphytic ferns of the genus Platycerium. Native to Africa, Australia, and Southeast Asia, staghorn ferns do well in hot and humid environments.
They are so named because they resemble the forked antlers of male deer or elk. Some of the most popular varieties of staghorn ferns include Fiddleleaf Figs, Snake plant, Mother-in-Law’s Tongue, and of course, Monstera. They make great houseplants and can be grown all year round.
Staghorn ferns are virtually disease and pest-free. They are easy to care for and prefer shade to direct sunlight. They also don’t require as much water to grow.
Once or twice a week is the recommended watering interval depending on weather conditions. The ferns should be covered during cold winter nights to protect the leaves.
Staghorn ferns grow slowly but they can mature to 4 feet in length and weigh as much as 75 pounds, so ensure your plants have ample room.
The Average Cost of a Staghorn Fern
The cost of a staghorn fern greatly depends on how old it is. The older the fern, the more expensive it will be.
Young ferns do not require as much maintenance on the seller’s part and therefore cost less. You can get these at between $10 to $300. Large staghorn ferns cost about $100.
On the other hand, fully matured staghorn ferns older than 25 years cost between $500 and $1000.
Why are Staghorn Ferns So Expensive?
1. They are Rare Plants
Staghorn ferns are not naturally found in a cultivated environment. They need to be grown in a greenhouse.
They are not mass-produced either and they take a long time to mature into fully grown plants. This makes them a rare plant. A small young staghorn fern can take up to four years to mature. Most homeowners prefer to buy the ferns when they are older, at least 25 years and above.
These older ferns are usually very easy to maintain and can even go a long time without water. That is why the older staghorn ferns cost so much.
2. Difficult to Propagate
Staghorn ferns are epiphytes. This means plants that do not grow naturally in soil. Instead, they use their roots to attach themselves to host trees.
The trees act as an anchor and help them grow out into their beautiful spread appearance. They do not affect the growth of the trees in any way but instead produce their own food through their broad leaves.
However, when grown at home, staghorn ferns need to be properly propagated. As young ferns, wire baskets or wireframes work just fine.
As they grow larger and older, however, they require proper propagation. This process can be expensive and sometimes requires professional landscapers.
3. Medicinal Value
Staghorn ferns are used for medicinal purposes. Although there has not been any scientific study as to whether the plant is effective, certain herbal medicine practitioners recommend it for a number of ailments.
In ancient China, staghorn ferns were used for birth control. In recent times, it is recommended for high blood pressure, menstrual pain, and hair loss. This has increased demand for the plant to make the pastes used as medicine.
4. Air Purifier
Staghorn ferns growing indoors can help purify the air in your house. These ferns belong to an amazing group of plants that are great for removing common airborne pollutants like formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene which are reported to cause headaches, trouble breathing, and the growth of cancerous cells.
These kinds of plants are able to absorb gases through their leaves and roots and reroute these toxins to microorganisms in the soil that help to break down many volatile organic compounds. With such health benefits, the staghorn fern is worth the high price.
5. Staghorn Ferns are Endangered Species
The staghorn fern is very hard to grow outside of its natural habitat. It takes a long time to mature. According to reports, it is difficult to germinate the spores of the giant staghorn fern under natural conditions.
It is an uphill task to try and grow these ferns anywhere other than in their native habitats, making them pricey.
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How Much is a Large Staghorn Fern Worth?
The older a staghorn fern is, the larger it usually is. However, some ferns have grown to record large proportions. Large staghorn fern plants that reach five to six feet wide can cost upwards of $2,000 or more.
Most Expensive Staghorn Fern
Most staghorn ferns are sold through sites such as Craigslist and Facebook marketplace. One of the most expensive staghorn ferns recorded sold was at a price of $2499. The staghorn fern was a 6.5″ hanging plant.
Where to Buy Staghorn Ferns
Staghorn ferns are not mass produced so it is hard to find them at local plant shops. Online sites such as Amazon and eBay sell staghorn ferns.
Make sure to plant your staghorn fern in a loose, well-drained medium. Sphagnum moss, tree fern fiber, or leaf mold work best. Keep your fern shaded then sit back and enjoy your purified air and aesthetic plant.