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Growing Ant plant in the Tropics and Warm Sub-Tropics of Queensland

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I thought I would share with the other members the basic way that growers of Ant plants in Queensland Australia grow their plants. Even though there may be small differences between growers the basics are still the same. Firstly the majority of people grow their plants in a shade house, commonly called a bush house here in Australia, this is basically a frame which is covered with shade cloth normally 50-70%. The basic difference between this system and a glass house is that watering cannot be controlled to the same degree in the shade house, as when it rains the plants get more water. A quick example, at the moment it is the Wet season here in Queensland, at the start of last week we had approx. 300mm of rain in two days as well as having small showers of rain most days. Standard blond spagnum moss mixes would stay too wet and never get a chance to dry out and eventually rot the plant. The majority of growers here use a well drained Dendrobium orchid type of mix ( medium to large bark and charcoal type mixes), My mix is bark ,charcoal, coco chunks and jumbo size perlite, the larger the plant the larger the pieces. For growers in the sub-tropical south east of the state which has cool winters, plants are brought under cover or a cover is placed on the roof of the shade house to keep the plants dryer over the cooler months. My own method here in the south east of the state is to fit a 300 micron clear cover over my shade house leaving a 250mm gap on the bottom east and west sides for air movement and also leaving the whole of the north side open. This cover is fitted at the end of May and left on until the beginning of September, this cover helps me give my native ant plants from Cape York their natural dry winter rest as well as maintain a daily maximum average temperature of 25-26c instead of our normal 21-22c. This past winter (June - August) I was able to keep young seedlings planted in early February  (my first attempt) growing through the winter, though slowly. People living in the arid western inland of Queensland could not grow ant plants without special climate controlled glasshouses as summer temperatures commonly rise above 40c and humidity is very low and winter nights commonly fall below 0c. Growers living in the Southern highlands of Qld. would have problems with the cold.

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In Mackay, Central Queensland, the Ant Plants usually flower and produce drupes from November to March.

Propagation includes a layer of orchid nuggets (8 - 10mm), diatomite and jumbo perlite, some slow release fertiliser and a layer of sphagnum moss on top.

The seeds are squeezed onto the moss and watered in.

Germination usually about 7 days.


The trays of individual plants in 50mm tubes at rear were germinated in November and potted into tubes last week (20 weeks).


The large ant plant at rear on right is Myrmecodia platytyrea antonii (Mossman form).

I acquired it as a seedling on 01.10.2001 from Trevor Ford who lives near Mossman, Queensland.

The Ant plant at rear left is one that I have grown from the parent plant.


Trevor Ford also gave me seedlings of Hydnophytum moseleyanum Qld form and NG form on 01.10.2001.

They are now growing in 600mm trays.  Pictured is the original NG Hydnophytum moseleyanum.

Potting mix consists of 10mm orchid nuggets, cocochip, diatomite and jumbo perlite.




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Hello Jeff


Yes, the Hydnophytum moseleyanum, NG form, is magnificent.


In our nursery we propagate Ant Plants, Tassel Ferns (Huperzia sp.), Lecanopteris sinuosa, Platyceriums, Dischidias and Anthuriums.

These are all epiphytic plants and the same fertiliser is used on all of these except the Anthuriums.

The product is a controlled release fertiliser called Yates Nutricote Total plus Trace Elements, 360 day, which is an ammonium nitrate based fertiliser.

N 18.7, P 2.7, K 6.3


We have 12 varieties of Ant Plants.




Myrmecodia beccarii Southern Form, smooth caudex

Myrmecodia beccarii Northern Form, spiny caudex

Myrmecodia tuberosa, Cape York

Myrmecodia tuberosa, Lockhart River, Cape York

Myrmecodia platytyrea antonii, Mossman Form

Hydnophytum moseleyanum, Qld

Hydnophytum ferrugineum, McIlwraith Range, Cape York, Qld




Myrmecodia tuberosa Armata, Malaysia

Myrmecodia tuberosa Bogor Gardens, West Java

Myrmecodia tuberosa Dahlii, New Britain Island, NG

Hydnophytum moseleyanum, NG

Hydnophytum simplex, Aru Island, NG


Summer is the time when the Ant Plants are flowering and fruiting.

The seed is sown as soon as the fruit is picked.

Germination is usually from 7 days.

The photo below shows how I germinate my seeds.




The photo below is of the parent plants of M. tuberosa Armata, Malaysia which were given to me by Dr Ashley Field.

They are very prolific producers.




Ashley has also given me M. tuberosa Bogor Gardens and M. tuberosa Dahlii

and the very rare Hydnophytum ferrugineum which he personally collected from the McIlwraith Range in Cape York, Queensland.


Below is a photo of the original H. ferrugineum plant Ashley gave me as well as some that I have propagated.




Below is a photo of two M. tuberosa Dahlii that I have propagated from the plant that Ashley gave me.




Hope this has been helpful.













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Of specific interest in this list is Takarah Gardens whom are obviously performing important work that will greatly assist the protection of wild hydnophyte etc. populations.  Rita can you provide an email address for your nursery and perhaps a website URL. Although members herein can easily contact you, the outreach of this forum is already immensely larger than its membership and your nursery deserves wide marketing. 

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Congratulations on a great-looking setup and well-grown plants. It looks like you foresee robust native demand for these plants. From a friend in the Cairns area I understand that the movement to "restore" native forest ecosystems is pretty strong in Queensland gardeners. Are your plants targeting the hobbyist market or people who will use them for forest enrichment projects?





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Derrick and Stone Jaguar


We started our nursery, "Takarah Gardens", in 1996, in Mackay, Queensland with the intention of growing Tassel Ferns so the populations in the wild could survive while making available Tassel Ferns for the fern enthusiast. We have a Queensland Dept. of Environment and Heritage Propagator's permit as these are protected plants.


Of course, as we all do, we began to expand into growing other varieties of plants such as Platyceriums, Ant Plants and Dischidias.

We do not have a web site because we are a small nursery and struggle to keep up supply as it takes 3 years to grow a Tassel Fern large enough to sell.

I'm not sure we can handle the wide marketing that you are suggesting, Derrick.


A totally different story for Ant Plants and Dischidias.  It seems that these plants are becoming very popular.


With regard to forest enrichment projects, only the species from that particular area can be returned to the wild so the provenance of the plants is an important detail.

We have grown on some plants that were collected with permission from the wild so that they could be returned to their area once the development had been completed.




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