Platycerium ridleyi cultivation

RainforestGuyAugust 12, 2011

If ever there was a xeriscopic staghorn, this species (and P. quadridichotomum, and maybe P. wallichii) would qualify for this title.

I have found that this species likes it breezy and drier than most staghorns.

The way this fern grows suggests that this plant remains stout and not really pendulous as other species.

Its upright growth habit allows good drainage to occur and witout worries of water being trapped between the layers of shield fronds.

P. ridleyi probably likes its growing point to be free from water.

This plant in the wild is inhabited by ants which live deep inside. Many species of plants (lecanopteris, hydophytums, hoyas, dischidias, etc.) all have modifications to allow ants to cohabit in a symbiotic relationship.

I have found this species to be relatively easy, providing they are allowed to dry off by night and not stay very wet for long periods of time.

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houstonpat(9a)

Nice lookin ridleyi. Has it grown much since you got it? Insect problems? What area of the country? Greenhouse?

    Bookmark   August 15, 2011 at 7:52PM
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RainforestGuy

has it grown much? yes, it puts out new basal fronds every few months and each frond gets bigger and bigger than the previous. The problem I think with ridleyi is that we feed it too much and water it too much. It will be fine just growing as an air plant, like how we grow tillandsias. Water does get channeled to the roots eventually. I do like growing these in baskets because they are easy to maintain. While this mounted specimen is established on the cork, I have several that are just sitting in a redwood baskets.
I will be transplanting a few ridley's soon and will photograph what I do. Once they are set up in the greenhouse its difficult to photograph. I like the nylon stocking method of fertilizing and find that this species respond best to small doses of fertilizers than a heavy dose. A weak constant feed works best for this species and of course good air circulation/lighting.
Insect problems? No ants and no sucking pests. I use a systemic granule mixed with osmocote or magamp in a nylon stocking. These get watered regularly and fert/insect-dosed when I get at it with the hose. Otherwise a drip/mist catches this on a timer and is regulated by weather conditions.
I grow mine is Hawai'i so we have favorable weather the year around.
The greenhouse that I keep ridleyi's in are without side enclosures and without a shade or protective roofing. The roof is basically a metal cage type used for hanging and I also have rare tillandsias hanging among the ridelyi's. I also have a more shadier house with similar roof with my madagascariense mixed with the younger ridleyi's growing out until they need to be replanted.
I am in the process if getting some ridleyi's out into full sun. I believe these will be the best looking ridleyi's once acclimated.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2011 at 3:13PM
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houstonpat(9a)

Sounds like a sweet set up. Can't beat the islands for growing such ferns. I lived there for a few years like Dad. My bro just moved from Maui to the mainland after 7 years. I found it interesting that not many rare and exotic ferns are grown there. We hear about issues with Angiopteris in Manao canyon and S. cooperi, but the folks there seem mostly ate up with palms. I think the rare Platyceriums, Dipteris, Elaphoglossum and such deserve a more prominant place in Island landscape.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2011 at 8:11PM
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RainforestGuy

Actually there is a big fern grower on Maui. I am not familiar with him as most growers (including myself) are very private and rarely or never display their plants for fear of theft or vandalism.
I live on Oahu and while there are many growers of orchids and all sorts of fancy collectible plants, very few staghorn growers are around. There are a few people who grow them but practice such strange growing habits many don't mingle or get plants from each other. A grower in Waimanalo has never fertilized her staghorns and grow them in too deep a shade house that you would need lights to view her plants.
She also raises nepenthes and does a terrible job in even keeping them alive and rarely produce pitchers.
As mentioned previously I had to move up some ridley's that were outgrowing their mesh pots. I got tied up and couldn't do a step by step transplanting. I will do this when I transplant my next batch of madagascariense later this year or next month.
These ridleys do grow fast and are accustomed to the trade winds that keep them happy and healthy.

I like the nylon stocking fertilizer bags for a good steady feed when watering.

They grow fast and produce a good sturdy root system when constantly fed when watered.

The interesting thing with ridleyis is they prefer to grow with their roots growing downwards.

Most staghorns grow roots widely and spreading across their support.

Ridleyi's like a deep bed of moss/hapu'u fern fibers for best growth.

Having good air circulation and good sunlight filtered produces hefty succulent plants.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2011 at 8:57PM
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RainforestGuy

From recently transplanted plants shown above, tehse beauties have staretd their growth. Note the overlapping of shield fronds even over the basket itself.

here's another plant showing established growth qualities. Note the stocking of timed release osmocote fertilizer balls. These help get newly transplanted material off to a good start.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2011 at 8:28PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Awesome pics and plants!

Hey, Rainforest, I didn't know you were on Oahu!
My grandpa lives over in Kaaawa and has a considerable collection of Hoyas and orchids.

Josh

    Bookmark   October 4, 2011 at 11:55AM
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houstonpat(9a)

As usual Rainforest, super photos and growth. Great job!
For years I was puzzeled why more exotic ferns weren't grown there. Most folks are all ate up with palms.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2011 at 6:04PM
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RainforestGuy

Josh is your grandfather Ted Green?

Pat,
I find it odd that you're not familiar with the many collectors here in Hawai'i. I have a nice collection, but mines are just samples of a bigger and better collection of platyceriums, orchids, bromeliads, tillandsias, etc. I know collectors in circles that grow exclusively a particular item and do it to a "T!" This is why so many Japanese, Philippine, Chinese and Thai customers always flock to Hawai'i to expand their collection of plants. Luckily I know some great collectors so when they visit here, I am invited and partake in the booty of jewels that accompanies many collectors. Plus I am surrounded by a wealth of very keen friends who always share their stock with me because of my excellent growing conditions, exacting, timed misting, drip and targeted watering and proficient care.

Palms? No one I know of grows palms, I do know a lot of crazy cycad collectors with very rare and huge specimens but nobody consider these to be "palms." One grower strictly makes species seeds and another strictly hybrid seeds. In any event, both have plants that are unknown elsewhere. Strange how they end up here of all places.

The Japanese also grow a wide variety of rare cacti and succulents, things I have never seen anywhere else, even from habitat where they grow naturally.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2011 at 8:25PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Yep, that's the one ;-)
Good ol' Grandpa Ted!

Josh

    Bookmark   October 4, 2011 at 10:03PM
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