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How to Care for Staghorn Ferns (Platycerium bifurcatum)

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10 Reasons to Brighten Your Space with a Staghorn Fern

Staghorn Fern is a unique plant that resembles deer antlers or elk antler fronds. These beautiful Polypodiaceae plants, native to Asia and Australia, grow slowly but mature to be quite enormous and stunning. There are 17 Platycerium species, but only one is commonly grown indoors the staghorn fern.

They grow and flourish in warm climates outdoors and indoors. They grow on trees and need to be mounted or in a basket, and it requires constant monitoring of light, temperature, and moisture. The flat leaves (known as shield fronds) are sterile and age to brown paper. They overlap to stabilize the fern on a mounting platform such as bark, driftwood, or rocks. Staghorn fern is an exotic addition to any indoor plant collection!

Additionally, research has shown that having plants in your house will have amazing benefits for you! Visit our article Amazing Psychological Effects of Nature in Pet-Friendly Interiors to find out more!

How to Care for Staghorn Ferns (Platycerium bifurcatum)

Staghorn Fern Hanging Basket – Live Plant in a 4 Inch Hanging Pot

Selecting the Best soil for Staghorn Ferns

They are a unique and interesting plant that makes a great addition to any indoor or outdoor garden. Unlike most plants, these ferns are epiphytes, meaning they live on the sides of trees or other plants in the wild. In order to recreate this environment, most gardeners install them on wood planks or plaques rather than pot them.

Cedar is a naturally rot-resistant staghorn fern mounting board and will thrive in this environment.

Selecting the right pot for Staghorn Ferns

They are relatively easy to care for, but they do require a bit of special treatment when it comes to potting and mounting.

To grow a staghorn fern in baskets, line the basket with wet sphagnum moss, then fill it with a well-drained potting mix made of equal parts bark chips, sphagnum moss, and standard potting mix. Smaller baskets work well with Staghorn ferns, but larger ones work better.

If you choose to mount the plant on wood, begin with a mature fern and a plaque with four or five mounting screws on the front. Remove the fern from its pot and break apart the root ball. Place the plant on the plaque’s center, with the antler fronds facing up. Sphagnum moss can be used to hide exposed soil and roots. Twine the wrapped root ball to the screws.

How to Care for Staghorn Ferns (Platycerium bifurcatum)

Staghorn Fern Hanging Basket – Live Plant in a 4 Inch Hanging Pot

The Best light for Staghorn Ferns

Staghorn ferns are native to tropical regions, so they thrive in warm, humid environments. If you want to grow a staghorn fern of your own, there are a few things to keep in mind.

First, they need bright indirect light. A room with windows facing east, south, or west is ideal. You can also position the plant on the opposite side of the room from your windows.

Second, they prefer constant, filtered light. However, they can handle greater sunlight with appropriate water, warmth, and humidity. Third, avoid allowing direct sunlight to hit the plant, as this can scorch its leaves.

Finally, remember to give your staghorn fern plenty of moisture. These plants love humidity, so mist them regularly or place them on a water-filled pebble tray.

How to Care for Staghorn Ferns (Platycerium bifurcatum)

Staghorn Fern 6.5″ Hanging Plant – Exotic House Plant

How to Water Staghorn Ferns

Staghorn ferns are epiphytic, which means that they grow on other plants in their natural habitat, often on the branches of trees. Staghorn’s are not parasitic; however, they get their nutrients from the air and rain, not from the plant they are growing on.

Staghorn’s do need to be moist at all times; their roots are very sensitive to drying out. The best way to water a staghorn is to soak the entire root ball in a sink or tub filled with tepid water. Allow the water to drain away completely, then mist the foliage lightly with tepid water.

Staghorn like humid conditions, so misting will help to increase the humidity around the plant. Depending on the room’s potting medium, temperature, and humidity, staghorns will need to be watered weekly in summer and every 2-3 weeks in winter.

How to Care for Staghorn Ferns (Platycerium bifurcatum)

Staghorn Fern 6.5″ Hanging Plant – Exotic House Plant

How to Fertilize Staghorn Ferns

One of the best things about staghorns is that they do not require special fertilizer. During the growing season, stags thrive on weak liquid plant food treatments. During normal watering, apply a quarter or half-strength balanced fertilizer, such as 10-10-10 or 20-20-20.

If the manufacturer recommends monthly feedings, use a quarter strength fertilizer for weekly or half-strength for biweekly watering. Feed your staghorn fern monthly in spring and summer, then every other month in fall and winter. Staghorn’s are an intriguing and low-maintenance plant that makes a great addition to any home or garden.

Best Temperature and Humidity for Staghorn Ferns

Staghorn ferns are unique and beautiful plants that thrive in temperatures between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. They enjoy the heat and humidity in the summer, but they shun direct sunlight. Staghorn plant health requires high humidity, so keeping it away from heat sources like vents and fireplaces is important.

The best way to increase humidity for a Staghorn fern is to mist the fronds daily. If the fronds start to brown, but the root ball remains moist, spray more often. Another way to increase humidity is to move the plant to a bathroom or perhaps the shower.

Finally, you can place your Staghorn fern in a naturally humid area of your home, such as the bathroom or kitchen. If that doesn’t work, use a small humidifier or mist the plant frequently. With a little care, your Staghorn fern will thrive!

How to Care for Staghorn Ferns (Platycerium bifurcatum)

Tree Plant-Fern Mounted Large Live Staghorn Live Houseplant 10″x 9″ Walnut Stain Plaque

How to Propagate Staghorn Ferns

Staghorns usually reproduce by spores or division of pups. Spores are tiny seeds that are found on the undersides of fern fronds. You can plant them in a sterilized seed starting mix after you harvest them. There are several methods for planting spores, but they are all complicated and can take up to a year for the plant to mature.

Another way staghorns reproduce is by the division of pups. Pups are baby plants that grow from a mature Staghorn Fern. To divide pups, examine the soil between and around mature plants’ basal fronds. You should be able to see small, developing plants on the mother plant.

You can then carefully separate and pot the pup from the mother plant, thinning them to 3 inches apart. Doing this will create a vigorous young staghorn ferns colony.

Staghorn Ferns Common Pests and Diseases

Staghorn ferns are relatively easy to care for, but there are a few things to keep in mind in order to keep them healthy. First, spider mites can infest your fern if nearby houseplants are infected. Otherwise, they are mostly pest-free.

Second, your Staghorn fern might frequently develop black spots as a result of excessive humidity or spore migration. Neem oil or another natural fungicide can be used to treat the fern.

Finally, scale insects can infest a staghorn fern if it is stressed by overwatering or underwatering, and Overwatering causes root rot. The best way to avoid these issues is to provide adequate lighting, temperature, humidity, and water.

How to Care for Staghorn Ferns (Platycerium bifurcatum)

Staghorn Fern – Platycerium bifurcatum | Live, Easy to Grow and Low Maintenance Houseplant (6″ Wide Pot)

When should I repot my Staghorn Ferns?

Staghorn ferns are one of the most unique and beautiful plants that you can grow in your home. Unlike most other ferns, they don’t mind being slightly crowded and, in fact, thrive in these conditions. Repotting them is only necessary every few years when they start to get overcrowded, and the best time to repot them is in the spring.

When you’re ready to repot, prepare a container that is at least 2 inches wider than the current pot. Line it with an inch of moist sphagnum moss if you’re using a wire basket. Then fill the basket or pot halfway with a loose, well-drained potting mix like pine bark or sphagnum. You can also use regular potting mix but no more than one-third of the total mix.

Carefully move the staghorn from its current container and place it in the new one. Be sure to thoroughly firm up the potting mix around the roots and water. Your staghorn fern will be happy and healthy for years to come with just a little bit of care on your part.

How to prune Staghorn Ferns

Trimming the plants is all that is required to improve their appearance, but they cannot tolerate significant pruning. But if you decide to prune or trim your plant, these instructions are recommended:

1.- Examine the leaves to identify basal and fertile fronds. The fertile fronds trail down and resemble staghorns, while the basal foliage is rounded.

2.- Discard any damaged fertile fronds. If only part of the frond is dead or damaged, cut back to the nearest healthy foliage. Leave dead or damaged basal fronds on the plant because they decompose into food for the fern.

3.-If the staghorn fern or the basal foliage appears crowded, look for offsets or new plants forming around the base. These are miniature ferns with their own root system – simply offset or remount them to grow new plants.

How to Care for Staghorn Ferns (Platycerium bifurcatum)

House Plant Shop | Fern ‘Staghorn’

Final Thoughts

Introducing houseplants into your space can instantly spruce up any room and evoke a feeling of warmth and serenity. Whether you’re looking for an easy-care addition to brighten your home or want to add a showstopper statement piece like a Staghorn Fern, there are many things to consider before jumping in.

Doing proper research and knowing where to find affordable houseplants is essential. You’ll also want to determine which plant species are pet-friendly, learn about the toxicity of plants you may be interested in, and provide adequate humidity levels with the potential use of a humidifier.

Furthermore, ensuring you understand different light sources regarding planting growth is key. For example, some houseplants prefer natural indirect light while others require sunlight or supplemental lighting through grow lights if not enough natural light comes in.

Using a moisture meter correctly can help ensure water doesn’t get wasted on over-watering or prevent under-watering during hot summer months—resulting in healthier and happier plants!

Overall, understanding how much sun exposure certain varieties need and conversing with your fern will lead to successful plant care down the line, and you may even see yourself joining the trend of creating hanging gardens!

Care for Staghorn Ferns – FAQ

Does my Staghorn Fern need direct sunlight?

No, they do not. Your Staghorn fern will grow in both low and high light conditions but prefer filtered light. They will also do well under artificial lights.

Is it necessary to water my Staghorn Fern daily?

No, it is not necessary to water them every day—water when the soil feels dry to the touch.

What type of potting mix should I use for my Staghorn Fern?

Your Staghorn fern plant prefers a loose, well-drained potting mix like pine bark or sphagnum. You can also use regular potting mix but no more than one-third of the total mix.

Does my Staghorn Fern need to be fertilized?

Yes, Staghorn Fern care is easy, and to be fertilized, use a half-strength fertilizer solution every two weeks during the growing season. Discontinue fertilizer during the winter months.

How often should I repot my Staghorn Fern?

Repotting is only necessary every few years when they start to get overcrowded. The best time to repot them is in the spring.

When should I prune my Staghorn Fern?

Trimming the plants is all that is required to improve their appearance, but they cannot tolerate significant pruning.

Is Staghorn Fern Care difficult?

No, Staghorn Fern Care is not difficult. They are a low-maintenance plant that is easy to care for. Just provide them with adequate water and filtered light, and they will thrive.

What is the difference between Elkhorn Fern and Staghorn fern?

The Elkhorn Fern(Platycerium bifurcatum) has thinner, wispier leaves and multiple “eyes” or rosettes of foliage, whereas the Staghorn (Platycerium superbum – emphasized middle syllable) has a single eye and larger leaves.

What type of light do indoor Staghorn ferns need?

Indoor plants need bright indirect light. 

What are basal fronds?

Basal fronds are leaves that grow from the base of the plant.

Is growing Staghorn ferns hard?

No, and new Staghorn ferns are also easy to care for.

How fast do Staghorn ferns grow?

A Staghorn fern grows slowly, up to 4 feet tall and wide over a period of 10 to 20 years.

How to Care for Staghorn Ferns (Platycerium bifurcatum)

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M.Arch. Julio Arco
M.Arch. Julio Arco

Bachelor of Architecture - ITESM University
Master of Architecture - McGill University
Architecture in Urban Context Certificate - LDM University
Interior Designer - Havenly
Architecture Professor - ITESM University

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