Why Are Staghorn Ferns So Expensive? (The Most Accurate Answer)

The staghorn fern is classified as both a fern and an air plant.

However, it doesn’t have the common features of a fern that we are used to seeing. They have these unique antler shaped leaves that can liven up any growing space.

But do you know why are staghorn ferns so expensive?

As beautiful as they are, staghorn ferns sadly come with a seemingly excessive price tag, especially for low to middle income earners. They are almost seen as luxury items. The reason being is that up until just recently, they were seen as a rarity.

Why are staghorn ferns so expensive

Furthermore, due to their delicate nature, they can be difficult to transport around. Their soft ferny leaves (a.k.a. fronds) must be maneuvered with extreme care.

Suppliers spend more money ensuring they are stable and cannot be damaged, which drives the price up for consumers.

In this article, we’ll cover all of the reasons why Staghorn ferns can be expensive. We will also offer tips and solutions to the most common problems affecting these beautiful plants. 

Why are staghorn ferns so expensive? (12 Common Reasons Discussed)

Staghorn ferns are known to come with a higher price tag than many other ferns alike. It can often seem like a mystery, but there are some solid reasons to warrant a higher price. They are known to be rare, more difficult to grow, and take some time to grow into a fully mature plant.

You can purchase them for around $25, which is steep for a fern. Some more elaborate grown Staghorns can set you back as much as $250-$300. Let’s look at all the factors that can make a staghorn fern so expensive.

Why Are Staghorn Ferns So Expensive (12 Common Reasons Discussed)

It Can’t be Bulk-Produced

There’s a bit of a chicken vs egg feel about this factor. You could even put it in the supply vs demand category. Because these ferns were a bit of a rarity not too long ago, their price was much higher than it is today.

So, factories and companies that mass produce garden supplies didn’t bother to upscale due to the lack of buyers.

These ferns are still not mass-produced today, with the thought that they may not all become sold. So, in essence, they could mass produce, but It would be a risk that suppliers aren’t willing to take with something that also requires extra care to propagate.

Therefore there is not much supply which makes the price higher. 

Not Many Growers Available

This factor can also be attributed to the first point (bulk production). Growers may not always be able to sell their products. Additionally, Staghorn Ferns require more money, time and effort to grow.

This means that growers may opt to build their business around more common garden fillers that are much more economically viable.

Fewer growers are willing to do so. So, if a grower is basing their niche specifically on Staghorn ferns, they want to make sure that it’s worth their money, time and effort. Hence the higher price tag.

It’s Rare

Even though Staghorn Fern can be grown and bought, they have still considered a rarity in their natural environment. This fact alone makes the price tag feel worth it.

Growers are selling emotions and feelings. If the buyer knows and understands that a plant is hard to find, they will pay a higher price for it. The Staghorn fern is only found in Africa, Australia and South East Asia.

So those who don’t live in or near there would be willing to pay extra to have the luxury of a plant from there. 

Difficult To Grow

Staghorn Ferns require specific tools, nutrients and space to grow successfully. This can be a deterrent to the average home gardener. It also requires Staghorn Fern suppliers to have all these things available to continue their production.

Tools can break, nutrients need resupply, and space can also run out depending on product size, so these things must be counted in the long-term budget.

Additionally, these plants need containers that hang and can be easily accessible to water. The soil requirements need to meet certain pH levels. So both growing and caring for a plant like this can be costly.

Requires Massive Space

As discussed in the difficulty of growth section, Staghorn Ferns need space to grow. The fact that they are grown whilst hanging already means that a different growing setup or operation is required. Furthermore, they can grow to around 3 feet across.

Imagine the space where growers would need to have 10-20, even 50, plants growing to sell them for a profit. Also, growing to the size that buyers want them to requires time. It may feel a little counterintuitive to some suppliers. They might prefer to put funds into something with faster, more stable returns.

Requires special environment for germination

The time it takes to germinate staghorn fern spores is generally around the 3-6 months. As the spores germinate, it’s important to maintain a barrier between other airborne spores, such as ferns, fungi and moss, which can enter the growing environment.

The spores need to be gently pressed into the surface of peat moss without burying them. They should be watered from the bottom instead of the traditional top moistening methods.

The fickle nature of germination may be another point that deters growers from trying to produce these ferns. As a result, the price can be considerably higher. 

Takes Many Years to Grow

Another reason that Staghorn Ferns may be expensive is due to their slow growth rate. From a business perspective, some growers and sellers may not want to spend their precious time, money and energy in the hope of selling something that could fail.

These things can take 10-20 years to grow as much as 4 feet. To sit and wait even ¼ of that amount of time for a return on investment isn’t for the faint hearted. These types of plants are better suited to those growers that are well equipped and, of course, understand the growth rate.

Additionally, anything could happen during that period of growth. They can suffer from the weather, lack of funding or even succumb to the hands of pests.

Huge Demand for Decorative Indoor Plants

Regarding garden or indoor planting aesthetics, plants that aren’t mainstream are in high demand. Something about an abstract look or unique growing style draws those with or without funds to purchase.

This lush antler shaped fern is no different. People pay big dollars to have something many others don’t have or can’t afford.

Resistant to Common Diseases

One pretty handy benefit of the Staghorn Fern is that they have been able to build resistance against common diseases. It’s unclear whether its location of origin has helped create a DNA blueprint such as theirs. Either from being surrounded by nature or grown specifically as an air plant.

They are just pretty healthy plants in general. Furthermore, those that purchase the Staghorn Fern understand this fact. As a result, they are happy to pay larger sums to keep a plant that won’t then go on to infect other plants in the vicinity. 

Works as Natural Air Purifier

Staghorn Ferns have the amazing ability to remove potentially harmful gasses from their surrounding area. These plants help use their leaves to take in specific organic compounds that may be considered volatile.

These compounds are slowly moved through the plant, into the root system and eaten up by microbes living in the soil.

Removing these compounds helps reduce the risk of long term illnesses such as cancers. So people buy these plants to help keep their homes safe from the junk in the air. Hence driving the price up.

Resistant to drought

Compared to most fern varieties, the Staghorn can survive and thrive for much longer periods without water. That’s not to say that the theory should be tested, but it’s not uncommon for these bad boys to still be happy after a few weeks without a drink.

This calls for less maintenance and less frequent watering. It’s a great plant for areas that may not have instant access to water but can still allow some resources to be shared with the plant.

All those factors make the Staghorn quite sought after, increasing the price tag slightly. 

Used for few medicinal properties

The medicinal properties of the Staghorn Fern are only recently being studied. Meaning it’s unclear if the uses are only affected by the Staghorn.

However, it is said that this type of fern can be used to help reduce the formation of ulcers and prevent miscarriages.

Why are staghorn ferns so expensive a detail explanation

The fact that it is at least being trialed means a new market has slowly opened up. Further testing requires more plants to test with, meaning the demand is higher, so the price can also rise. 

How To Take Good Care Of Staghorn Fern?

Even though Staghorn Ferns are expensive, that doesn’t mean they are harder to grow. Like all plants, they need the right growing conditions to thrive.

As long as these requirements are met, this fern type is pretty smooth sailing. Not to mention that it’s a beauty to look at and admire. Let’s look at the knowledge required to take good care of a Staghorn Fern. 

How To Take Good Care Of Staghorn Fern

Watering Schedule

There are 2 areas of the Staghorn Fern that work in tandem and assist in taking in water, the roots and the fronds. Due to that fact, watering can be administered by both misting the fronds and/or soaking the roots. There is no universal water frequency rule.

It’s best to monitor the soil moisture content and watch the plant for any wilting or other characteristic changes. Watering once a week in the drier months and once every 2-3 weeks in the cooler months is a reasonable timeframe.

Of course, the frequency can be governed by various external factors such as climate, available nutrients, amount of light, etc.

Proper Soil/Potting Mix

Perfecting soil and/or potting mix is essential for any plant, especially the Staghorn. These ferns don’t thrive too well in traditional mineral based soils. It’s best to use well-draining, organic mixes such as sphagnum moss or orchid bark/cactus potting mix at a ratio of 50/50. Try to mimic its natural tree environment with tree matter. 

Mounting Equipment

A few pieces of easily obtainable equipment are required to enable your Staghorn Fern to resemble that of a mounted set of trophy antlers. Firstly, you’ll need a mature stag; it needs to be strong enough to hang.

Then some green sheet moss, twine/string or fishing line, and a sturdy wooden board you wish to mount to. Lastly, you need some hardware to help secure the fern onto the board and basic hand tools for hanging it onto the wall.

Sunlight Exposure

Staghorns grow best in bright, indirect, diffused light. They are native to tropical reasons, so the light is something they are used to and enjoy. 4-7 hours per day is a great time frame; the morning light is ideal as it’s less harsh. It’s recommended to be careful with their positioning during the afternoons when heat can burn the leaves. 


Staghorns thrive best when their growing location presents around 60% humidity. The average home has levels of between 40-50%. A humidifier can be a great option to obtain that extra 10-20%.

Also, misting the fern in the morning and evening can help increase the humidity levels throughout the day.


A Staghorn Fern doesn’t yearn for extra plant food. They get the majority of their nutrients via the air and soil. Regardless, fertilizing should be practiced for maintenance purposes.

How To Take Good Care Of Staghorn Fern

Water soluble solutions that are well balanced are all that are required. Aim to administer this plant food once a month during their growing season. They don’t require any extra nutrition during the winter months. 

Some Common Problems Of Staghorn Ferns

We’ve discussed why Staghorn Ferns are expensive, and we’ve dug deep into how to care for them, but what are some common problems to look out for? Much like any other plant, there are always some issues that can occur as they grow.

Some Common Problems Of Staghorn Ferns

Whether minor or major, it’s worth understanding what those problems are, what to look out for and how to correct them. The most common issues for the Staghorn Fern include: 


If a Staghorn Fern begins to droop or wilt, that’s an early sign of underwatering. Especially the lower areas of the plant. It will tend to prioritize healing the base of the plant over the older leaves above because, the lower areas are closest to the main water source, which of course, is the roots.

A quick fix here is to administer more water but keep in mind not to flood the soil.


Overwatering is one of many plants’ biggest causes of concern. Especially if the soil is not blended to allow adequate drainage, excess water that sits stagnant around the root system will drown the roots and cause issues such as root rot.

When a plant succumbs to root rot, reviving can be a nightmare. Furthermore, when a plant of this nature begins to rot at the roots, it is an open invitation to pests such as mealybugs, spider mites and aphids. So you are dealing not only with a rotting plant but also a bug infestation stemming from applying too much water.

These issues can be fixed by repotting, although doing so with a Staghorn Fern can be tricky. It’s best to take extra care when watering to save greater issues arising down the road.

Excess Sunlight

Too much sunlight, especially direct sunlight, will burn the leaves and slowly tire them out. They will first fade into a yellow color, then brown as they struggle to regulate the excess rays.

Ideally, set your Staghorn up somewhere that receives only 4-7 hours of indirect sunlight daily. If it is receiving too much, try to move it somewhere shaded.

Cold Temperatures

Staghorns can begin to shed their leaves if the mercury drops too low. The ideal growing temperature for a plant like this is between 64-75°F (18°-24°C). It’s best to keep them sheltered from any draughts or heavy winds.

Even being too close to an air conditioner can be dangerous for them. They are tropical plants, so it is a must to mimic their natural growing environment as much as possible.

Hot Temperatures

Excess temperatures will curl the leaves and slowly kill them if left uncorrected. Try to keep them away from windows that can amplify heat and radiators or any cooking equipment that can pump out excessive heat. If you notice the leaves curling, move the plant to a location with less heat to help relieve the plant. 

Cost of Staghorn Ferns on Average

  • Baby Staghorn Fern: Baby Staghorns can range anywhere between $10 and $50. They are expensive for their type but not too badly priced for the average income earner. The fact that they are quite young plays the biggest role. 
  • Large Staghorn Fern: Larger ferns can jump in price. They have been grown and nurtured for much longer, so their price tag of between $100 and $200 is warranted. At this stage, they are much easier to mount or visualize in their ideal spot before placing an order. 
  • Staghorn Ferns Above 25 Years: Aged Staghorns can sell for anywhere between a whopping $500 and $1000, depending on the uniqueness and growth patterns. The more obscure it is, the higher the price. People pay for rarity!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can staghorn ferns be planted in the ground?

The natural growing habitat of a Staghorn Fern is high up in trees where they receive misting and oxygen to their roots and fronds. However, it is possible to plant them in the ground. The key to successfully growing them this way is ensuring the correct soil type is used. They need a well draining, bark rich mix. Sphagnum moss or orchid bark/cactus potting mix at a ratio of 50/50 is optimal.

What direction should a staghorn face?

Staghorns rely on tightly controlled conditions, including humidity, light and temperatures. All directions are fine to have a staghorn facing except west. When facing west, the fern will receive too much afternoon sun, which often has more bite than the rest of the day.

Do staghorn ferns damage trees?

Not. Staghorn ferns are epiphytes. These plants grow on various organic matter, including tree trunks and/or branches. They can also grow on rocks in more humid, tropical forest areas.


The Staghorn Fern is a sight to behold. Their lush, green, drooping, antler-like leaves can be the envy of any prying neighbor’s eyes.

The only thing stopping the masses from flocking to purchase one is the price tag. Ah, we can only dream. We hope that this article has been helpful. Happy growing!

About The Author

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top