If I could describe this plant in one word, it would be unique! With its deer-like appearance, it seems less of a fern and more like an elk!
Once planted, it would require patience and devotion to allow this Platycerium to grow. But once matured, this plant will not fail to steal gazes and turn the heads of the people visiting your house. Its rare and rustic beauty is an eye-catcher for sure.
When grown indoors, the Staghorn Fern can reach up to 3 feet in height and possibly more when grown outdoors. Unlike your usual potted plants, this one needs to be mounted on a wall. Think of it as a precious painting on display! Its foliage consists of two variations; shield fronds and antler fronds.
Worried about the mounting process? We’ve got you covered. This video is a DIY on Staghorn Fern wall mounts.
Table of Contents
Meet Staghorn Fern: Basic Knowledge and Origins
These plants fall into the category of epiphytes, plants that do not grow in soil but on plaques instead. Plaques can be anything from a host tree or a wooden plank on the wall – as long as it provides the Staghorn with an anchoring surface. It derives nutrients from an external body; hence it is not a parasitic plant. The best growing medium or plaque for the Staghorn Fern is the Sphagnum Moss.
The Staghorn Fern is a Platycerium, a genus comprising at least 18 known fern species. The best part is that these unique-looking polypods aren’t as complicated to grow as they seem.
|Common Name||Staghorn Fern, Elkhorn Fern, Antler Fern, Antelope Ears|
|Botanical Name||Platycerium Bifurcatum|
|Size||can grow as tall as 3 feet|
|Native Area||Australia, Asia|
|Sun Exposure||Partial shade|
|Soil Consistency||Not applicable|
|Toxicity||Non-toxic to animals and humans|
|Sun Exposure||Spider mites|
Varieties of Platyceriums
Platycerium alcicorne Desv
Platycerium andinum Baker
Platycerium angolense Welw. ex Hook.
Platycerium angustatum Desv.
Platycerium biforme Blume
Platycerium biforme Hook
Platycerium × elemaria
Platycerium ellisii Baker
Platycerium grande J. Sm
Platycerium hillii T. Moore
Platycerium holttumii Joncheere & Hennipman
Platycerium madagascariense Baker
Platycerium × mentelosii Hoshiz
Platycerium platylobum Bidin & R.Jaman
Platycerium quadridichotomum (Bonap.) Tardieu
Platycerium ridleyi Christ
Platycerium stemaria (P. Beauv.)
Platycerium superbum de Jonch. & Hennipman
Platycerium vassei hort. Rev
Platycerium veitchii C. Chr.
Platycerium velutinum C.Chr
Platycerium wallichii Hook
Platycerium wandae Racib
Platycerium wilhelminae Reginae
Platycerium willinckii T.Moore
Source: The Plant List
How to Care for the Staghorn Fern
The best approach to growing this unique plant is replicating their natural growing conditions as much as possible. They usually grow under canopy trees hence do not do well in direct sunlight. They thrive in the tropicals thus have a high affinity for humidity.
A temperature of around 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal for the Staghorn Fern.
One should preferably place these ferns in partial shade. However, they can survive in sunlight as long as they do not receive direct concentrated rays. Direct sunlight exposure for long hours can burn the leaves of the Staghorn Fern. Ensure frequent water replenishment against more sun exposure.
Potting mixtures are your friend when you first plant the Staghorn Fern. Upon maturation, you would have to shift it to a wall mount. Once mounted with an appropriate medium, no more soil is required!
These plants demand frequent watering. The Staghorn Fern has both sterile and fertile leaves, each having different water-absorbing properties. Watering them would require removing the mounting followed by soaking the roots in water for about 20 minutes.
The plant base should be allowed to dry at least once a week to maintain a balance in moisture levels.
The Staghorn can survive freezing temperatures, albeit poorly. Prolonged cool temperatures will lead to their death.
Dense and humid climates allow these ferns to thrive, which is why you should stock up on a humidifier. Staghorn Ferns love moisture; it ensures their healthy growth and survival. Temperatures should not exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit nor drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
It is advisable to supplement water-soluble fertilizers every month. However, you should adopt this frequency only during the spring or summer seasons.
Propagating the Staghorn Fern
You may propagate these ferns by division. Simply chop up the plant into small pieces such that their root ball remains intact. Pot these individually and allow them to grow; one should note that it would take a considerable time for roots to develop.
It is also possible to propagate the Staghorn Fern by spores.
Pruning the Staghorn Fern
These plants do not require pruning. Shall you spot some leaves that have browned over time, do not chop them off as they are sterile leaves and offer several benefits to the plant. These sterile leaves absorb moisture and nutrients; they also protect the root ball used for propagation.
Mounting the Staghorn Fern
Mounting the Staghorn fern isn’t as hard as you might think, and all you need are some basic hardware supplies along with your mature Staghorn Fern. We suggest watching this video for a better understanding.
Challenges & Solutions
Holes in the Leaves or Plant
Holes in the leaves suggest that aphids, mealybugs, or other moisture-loving insects feed on it. Try using some insecticidal soap to repel them.
Black Leaf Spot
This is a rapidly-spreading fungal disease and can infect many of your plants in the vicinity. To eliminate this, you will have to address the root cause: fungal infestation. Discard all infected parts followed by a pesticide solution.
Ask Away: The FAQ Section
The Staghorn Fern is a non-flowering plant.
Staghorn Ferns do not naturally grow in soil but a host tree or moss medium instead. However, it is possible to grow them in pots.
These are moisture-loving plants and would do well in high humidity. One way to increase humidity is by misting the plant.