Check Out These Pages, Too!

"Possibility and promise greet me each day as I walk out into my garden. My vigor is renewed when I breathe in the earthiness and feel the dirt between my fingers. My garden is a peaceful spot to refresh my soul." Meems

Welcome to my Central Florida Garden Blog where we garden combining Florida natives, Florida-Friendly plants, and tropicals.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Hidden Treasures

When we moved to this new garden I inherited a few jewels hidden here and there in the garden. Gardens that have been around for a while are like that. I didn't pay too much attention to any of them until we made the decision to make this our permanent home. Each treasure has become more highly appreciated as time and perspective reveal its worth. Sometimes the scales of indifference, or maybe resistance is a better word in this case, have to fall off in order to clearly see the true gifts right in front of you. Clear sight is a true gift in itself ... right!
You can see the staghorn in the center of the photo (taken June 1, 2014) prior to me starting to cultivate
this area with my own design.
The ancient (and ginormous) stag horn fern hanging heavy and low on a 40' red maple tree is one of the treasures left here by my former neighbor.  I don't recall the exact history surrounding it, but I think it belonged to her parents or grandparents. I do vividly recall my neighbors painstakingly wrapping it with several quilts close-pinned together at the threat of every frost each winter season.  Although I think this particular variety is probably hardy to around 25°F. This enormously wide specimen has begun to wrap itself around the trunk with its thick basal fronds clinging to the maple tree.

Surprisingly, this staghorn fern receives a good deal more sunshine than is generally recommended for shade-loving staghorns. A side-note tidbit about this new garden: the backyard used to be filled with pine trees, sweet gum trees and citrus trees. The former owner/neighbor had to remove most of them one by one as they got too old or in the case of pine trees were hit by lightning. It appears the fern has adapted to the changing sunlight conditions as those conditions have evolved over time.

Once I started putting my own plants in this garden I designed around the fern (it would take a crane to move it.)  The staghorn became the centerpiece to the main pathway that leads to the back garden. It also serves as a lush tropical, welcoming marker on the left side of one of the entrances to the open fire pit seating area. I moved some holly ferns from my old garden and a cobalt blue container planting to mark the right side of the entrance. 
Upright portion of the basal frond.
Staghorn ferns are among the group of plants called epiphytes. Meaning they thrive on nutrients from the air and rain. Surrounding plant debris and fallen leaves collect in the upright part of the basal fronds. As the collection breaks down it provides additional nourishment. In other words they are mostly self sufficient when placed in the correct environment.

The underside of the big fern at the base of the tree.
You can see the sterile basal fronds overlapping as they attach to the tree and to each other. A beautiful and unique structure creates a bowl shape underneath.

Foliar fronds are the lobed pieces coming out of the base to create the beautiful shape and texture of these amazing wonders.

I brought two other staghorn ferns from my old garden. They are large, but not close in size to this mammoth treasure that wasn't so hidden after all.

Do you grow staghorn ferns in your garden?

Come hang out with me and other gardening friends for daily updates at Hoe and Shovel on Facebook... here's the link:
*** Hoe and Shovel on Facebook  **

All material © 2007-2014 by Meems for Hoe and Shovel Gardening Blog. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.


  1. Your staghorn is huge! So, they are shade lovers. Hmmmm! I have a huge one I can't move that is now hanging in the sun part of the day, afternoon sun to be exact. It's been there for many, many years though, but had some shade up until last year when the neighbors had their huge black oak taken down.

    I also have a smallish one that customers gave me at work, and two big ones found thrown out on my way to work one morning. I left the third one as it was loaded with ants.

    Yours is very green and healthy!

    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving dear Meems ~ FlowerLady

  2. I have a big staghorn. It isn't near as large as this dude in your garden. It is 43" wide tho. I have to bring it inside during winter. It is getting so big that it is difficult for me to carry. I don't know what to do with it when it gets too heavy to move. I have tried to cut off some of the smaller stags but they don't live for me. I am afraid to cut it in half which is what I need to do to be able to move it around easily. You are lucky you can grow them outside. Mine came from Fl. My Sister brought it back in a stainless steel basket. It didn't last long in that thing. I don't know why but I took the remaining two that grew back to back out of the basket and put them in the top of a pot and there they have been for years making babies and getting rounder and rounder. I just don't know what to do as I said when it gets larger. Sigh~~ I guess that is a good problem to have. :)

    1. It is a good problem to have ... unless you live where they don't prefer your winter. It sounds like you may need to consider some sort of rolling portable apparatus for your growing beauty,Lisa. :-)

  3. I have an itty bitty one hanging in a basket in my garden, and it's one of my favorite plants ever. It came off a huge, 7 foot mama of a staghorn at my friend's farm in St. Cloud. I am more than happy to be patient with it, and I've enjoyed watching it go from one skinny leaf to a full (if small) plant; my only concern is now it seems to be growing over the flimsy metal basket and I know it won't hold it's weight forever. But I guess (hope?) I have time to figure it out. Thanks for all your inspiring gardening pictures--it's good to see what grows in our area when I need ideas. :)

    1. You probably want to start your staghorn in a more permanent home before it gets out of hand. They are quite weighty as they increase in size. I love to hear the stories that surround plants.

  4. The staghorn is amazing! I love it! Thanks for the post! Greets!


Have a blessed day,

September 2010

Back Garden: October 2010

Louise Philippe: Antique Rose

Tropical Pathway