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Killing Platycerium an essay

  • Subject: [ferns] Killing Platycerium an essay
  • From: Dan Clemons slk4fun@yahoo.com
  • Date: Sun, 25 Aug 2002 07:51:50 -0700 (PDT)

Killing Platycerium
By Dan Clemons, Escondido, CA

First, I dont consider myself an expert in the fine
art of growing Platycerium.  Unlike Barbara Joe, Roy
Vail, and my good friend Miles Goodman, I am not an
expert.  Like you, I have learned to turn to them for
answers to my questions.  

Over the past 16 years, I have lost more than my fair
share of even the hardiest of Platycerium until I
discovered what I was doing wrong.  That is the
subject of this essay.    

As you know, the entire plant relies on its bud for
everything.  It relies on its bud for food from the
roots.  To make shields that attaches to something and
store water.  Lastly, the front of the frond is a
solar collector while breathing takes place on the
bottom of the frond.  If Platycerium could talk it
would tell you that it was born with an extremely
tender bud.  If your favorite platy could talk it
would tell you its not the water behind the shield
that kills but the water directly on the bud.  I had
four small dwarf P. Bifurcatums mounted on a football
shaped basket with pencil-sized buds that died due to
excess water running off the sphagnum and onto the
bud.  I was devastated when I lost that plant.  In the
end, I knew I was at fault for the way I watered the
plant.  By the way, New Zealand Sphagnum moss absorbs
the water better preventing runoff.  Who could ask for
more than living right next door to a neighbor that
loves Platycerium?  Peeking over the fence, I could
see he watered all his plants by dunking them in a
tub.  In less than 4 months he had managed to kill
them all.  Wait, there is more.  How many plants did
you lose this year, I asked Don Callard, a fine
collector of beautiful Platycerium and friend of mine.
 Not one, he says.  Not one, with over a hundred
plants, how could that be?  Do you water any of your
plants from the front?  No, he says.  Do you dunk any
of your plants?  Again, he insisted, I water all my
plants on a drip system.  Don uses a smidgeon of
sphagnum and waters regularly.  Dons plants are
healthy, happy, and often win in shows. Lastly, the
plant itself tries to protect its bud from moisture by
covering it with a shield.  They all seem to grow fine
hair over it as well.  The P. Bifurcatum and P.
Superbum pull their shields forward to keep the rain
off the bud.  If you have lost more than your fair
share of Platycerium, try keeping the water off the
bud.  I can truthfully say that I have not lost one
plant since I started keeping the bud dry.  PS:  The
plant most sensitive to water on the bud is P.
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