This poor Superbum Stag horn fern is finally getting a new shield, which will eventually cover the damage it endured during its stay at the Monterey County Fair this year. Stag horn ferns grow new shields only about once per year. I entered the amazing specimen when it was huge and healthy and looked like this: It was awarded a blue ribbon, but it was hung low enough that people touched it and rubbed its fuzz of. I know it’s hard to resist, but it doesn’t grow back. We also had record high temperatures during the five days that it was on display and it was badly scorched.
What has caused everything this spring to bloom so above and beyond? The long suffering drought… followed by above normal rain this season? We don’t know, but it’s amazing!
This Epiphyllum (Orchid cactus) has over 50 buds!! We can hardly wait until it’s a huge, hanging mass of flowers. My sweet peas have grown so tall that I have to use a ladder to cut my daily bouquet. I learned to plant sweet pea seeds in mid September when I lived in the hot San Joaquin valley. They sprouted nicely in the warm fall weather to about 6″ tall. Peas handle cold winter temperatures easily, and they start to shoot up by February. You get blooms early, that fizzle later in the hot weather. Now with the cool summers here on the coast, they keep blooming for months!This Echium pininana alba, also known as Echium ‘Snow Tower’ is a rare white form of the Tree Echium. It’s grown over 12 feet tall (so far), and is covered with bees. Totally drought tolerant, this plant doesn’t need any summer watering, and really dresses up the cactus garden. The lupine across the street is putting on a show like never before. Until last year, Popeye the neighborhood horse lived there, and kept everything trimmed to the ground. This property was sold and he had to move next door. Hopefully the new owners like lupine too.
This old Platycerium bifurcatum is thriving in the rainy weather we’ve had recently. You can see the brown spores on the underside of the frond on the left. The spores will be released when it warms up this spring… although unlike Platycerium superbum, this variety is usually propagated by ‘pups’ instead of spores. More Staghorn ferns
The moose head staghorn fern on the right has more fronds on one side, so I added an old deer antler on the other side to even things out. Every so often I hear a loud crunching noise and have to chase a squirrel away, who has been chewing on the antler. I’ve tried spraying with water and cayenne pepper to keep it away, but it is undeterred. Google revealed that squirrels and other animals eat antlers for calcium and other nutrients. Learn something new every day…
We’re excited that Nest Egg Gardens did so well at the fair this year! Participating is a fun way to showcase special projects and living art as well as a good way to meet other plant collectors. We brought home the special award for Excellence in Horticulture (aka grand prize). Two entries won both first place and Best of Show for their category: 1) our big staghorn fern that looks like a moose and 2) the double brain cactus in the head vase pot. The succulent frame won 2nd place. The frame is one of the many works of art being donated by Aromas Artisans to the Art Raffle drawing November 22nd at the AHA Holiday Art Fair in Aromas.
We’ve found an easier way to mount staghorn ferns! No more cutting and getting cut by wire. Use pantyhose to wrap the ball of soil and moss to keep compact. Staple onto a redwood board or slab. Wrap the ball with moss again to cover the pantyhose and use fishing line and staples… criss-crossing back and forth, attaching securely. New staghorn shields will soon grow over and hide the fishing line. The same method worked for
This Staghorn fern (Platycerium bifurcatum) has been freshly mounted to a piece of redwood 1 x 12. The root ball was surrounded by plenty of sphagnum moss before attaching it with aviary wire and staples. Eventually its shields will cover the wired ball… and even the board itself. A good drenching in rainwater every week or two and a shady spot on the wall is all it needs. These ferns are epiphytes; they live on trees but are not parasites; they derive no nutrition from the tree; only an anchorage. The base fronds form a basket that funnels rain, bird droppings and leaves to the roots of the fern.
This Staghorn (Superbum variety) was originally mounted using 1 inch chicken wire. It had rusted out at the bottom, so we patched it up with some extra moss and a piece of aviary wire tucked up underneath the shield.
This Superbum Staghorn fern is getting so large! It almost totally covers the wooden board it’s mounted on and it barely fits in the can of rainwater. Staghorn ferns love to be submerged occasionally. Soon it will need to be mounted to a larger slab of wood permanently. Then it will need to be watered with the hose or watering can when the rain isn’t sufficient.
When the forecast called for three nights of freezing temperatures, I took some succulent cuttings of particular tender varieties (Sunburst Aeonium, Dudleya, etc.) that were growing in unprotected areas and stored them in the garage and greenhouse. The cuttings will survive just fine for a month or more, growing roots after a couple of weeks. They can replace those plants killed by the freeze when the weather warms up… just by sticking them back in the ground.
Staghorn Ferns are also sensitive to the cold, so they spent a few nights in the greenhouse, where the temperature doesn’t drop below 40 degrees.