Why Are Staghorn Ferns So Expensive?

Staghorn ferns are a unique and eye-catching plant species. Their unusual growth habit and striking appearance make them a favorite among plant enthusiasts. However, they are also known for their relatively high price tag. So why are staghorn ferns so expensive? Let’s explore.

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What is a Staghorn Fern?

  • Staghorn ferns, also known as Platycerium, are a genus of about 18 fern species. They are epiphytes, which means they grow on other plants or structures, drawing nutrients and water from the air and rainfall.
  • Native to tropical regions, staghorn ferns are known for their dramatic fronds, which resemble the antlers of a stag.

Staghorn Fern 6.5" Hanging Plant - Exotic House Plant

Factors Contributing to the High Cost of Staghorn Ferns

let’s delve further into the factors contributing to the higher price point of staghorn ferns:

Extended Nursery Care

  • Staghorn ferns grow significantly slower than many other common houseplants. This slow growth rate means that it takes longer for a staghorn fern to reach a sellable size.
  • During this extended time in the nursery, the plant requires space, resources, care, and supervision. All these aspects contribute to the overall cost of the plant.

Unique Growth Requirements

  • Unlike many other indoor plants, staghorn ferns are epiphytic, meaning they grow on other plants or objects rather than in soil. This unique growth habit requires nursery growers to invest in specific materials like wood, coir, or other suitable mounting substances.
  • This isn’t required for most other plants, which grow in regular potting soil. The cost of these specialized growing materials adds to the overall cost of the plant.
  • Additionally, staghorn ferns have specific humidity needs. In their native tropical habitats, these plants thrive in high humidity. To replicate these conditions in a nursery or greenhouse, additional equipment may be necessary, adding further to the cost of production.

Elephant Staghorn Fern Live Plant - Platycerium elephantotis - Wellspring Gardens Starter Plant

Transportation and Handling

  • Staghorn ferns, particularly mature ones, can be quite large and delicate. Their antler-like fronds are prone to damage if not handled with care.
  • This means they require more careful and therefore costly packing and transportation methods to ensure they reach sellers and ultimately customers in good condition.

High Demand and Limited Supply

  • The unique and dramatic appearance of the staghorn fern makes it a highly sought-after plant among enthusiasts and collectors.
  • As with any product, when demand is high and supply is relatively limited (due to slow growth rates and specific growing conditions), prices will inevitably be higher.

Species Rarity

  • Within the staghorn fern genus, there are several species. Some are more common, and others are quite rare.
  • The rarer species are often more difficult to propagate and grow, which can significantly increase their price. Some rare varieties are also sought after by collectors, further increasing their value.

The cost of staghorn ferns is influenced by their specific growing requirements, the additional care and time they require in nurseries, the cost of specialized growing materials, the careful transportation they require, and their high demand, especially for rarer species.

Why are Staghorn Ferns So Expensive


The cost of staghorn ferns is influenced by several factors, including their slow growth rate, specialized care requirements, and high demand among plant lovers. While they may require an initial investment, their striking appearance and unique characteristics can make them a worthwhile addition to any indoor plant collection.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why are some staghorn ferns more expensive than others?

The price of a staghorn fern can vary based on its size, age, and species. Rare species or particularly large, mature specimens will generally be more expensive.

Are staghorn ferns hard to care for?

While staghorn ferns do require specific care to thrive, they are not necessarily difficult to care for, especially once you understand their needs. They require high humidity, bright indirect light, and well-draining growing media.

Can staghorn ferns grow indoors?

Yes, staghorn ferns can be grown indoors, provided they have sufficient light and humidity. Many people mount them on boards and hang them as living art pieces.

How often should I water my staghorn fern?

This can depend on your home’s humidity levels, but generally, staghorn ferns like to be watered once a week. They prefer to dry out slightly between waterings.

How long do staghorn ferns live?

With proper care, staghorn ferns can live many years. Some have been known to live 50 years or more, growing into large, impressive specimens over time.