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Killing Platycerium

  • Subject: [ferns] Killing Platycerium
  • From: Roy Vail vailroy@yahoo.com
  • Date: Sun, 13 Oct 2002 06:56:29 -0700 (PDT)
  • In-reply-to: <002f01c24f08$87362340$b71b16cb@MYISP.COM>

Sometimes I wonder if I haven't killed more Platys
than I have had.  This has been the WORST summer for
my collection that I have ever had.  

They have been outside two summers now, and next
summer they will stay in the greenhouse.  The biggest
problem has been insects.  Those little white dot
things, I thought were called snow scale.  What in the
world will kill them?

It seems to me it is not right to consider all
Platycerium like they required the same conditions. 
When someone says what works for them, it would be
helpful to know what species they are talking about.

Over the long run I have had Platycerium veitchii
survive my care the best.  It can get very dry and it
doesn't bother it.  It can also take a lot of light. 
If you water it too much, and keep it in too little
light, it will become long, lanky, and the tops of the
shields will become round.  It doesn't look like it
does in nature.

The easiest for me to kill with too much water is true
grande.  I've never had one over about 2 or 3 years. 
P. superbum is almost as bad.  Someone told me they
decided they could not keep the solitary species. 
Looking at my own collection, I wonder why I didn't
decide that long ago.  I have a P. wandae that seems
to be far less sensitive to over watering than P.
superbum or grande.

It seems to me that if a person is in the business of
selling Platycerium, he/she should consider what the
person is apt to do to the plant.  Most people will
over-water, so P. hillii cultivars are great choices. 
So is Platycerium alcicorne, and P. ellisii (which few
hobbyists grow). P. superbum is a poor one.  People
selling Platycerium, and ferns in general, to the
general public, should do so in a way that will cause
the buyer to have a good experience with the plant. 
If they don't and the plant dies, then the person has
a bad experience, and we loose a potential hobbyist.

By the way, I don't think you can tell much about the
requirements of a Platycerium by how thick the shields
become.  The shields of Platycerium hillii become very
thick, and it lives in very wet places.  The same is
true for P. coronarium.  The shape of the upper part
of the shields is a far better indication.  I've
proposed the idea that species like hillii, alcicorne,
and madagascariense that have shields that close the
top of the cluster, are adapted to ample rainfall, not
collecting water.  Those with shields that extend
forward, leaveing the top of the plant, or cluster,
open, are adapted to collecting water and are adapted
to dryer conditions.  P. elephantotus has in
interesting adaptation.  The large veins of dead
shields, when dry, bend forward, opening the top of
the plant, and when wet bend backward, closing the top
of the plant. 

Roy Vail,
Mena, Arkansas
Zone 7A  USA

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