Staghorn Fern Care

COMMON NAMES: Staghorn fern, elk horn fern
FAMILY: Polypodiaceae
GENUS: Platycerium
SPECIES: bifurcatum

Staghorn ferns are epiphytic plants which means they grow on other plants in their natural habitat. We use good old Platycerium bifurcatum a tough staghorn hailing from Java, New Guinea and southeastern Australia. Each plant has antler fronds and shield fronds. Do not be alarmed when the round, shield fronds turn brown over time and please don’t trim them. Antler fronds have a protective layer of dusty looking fuzz, take care not to rub it off.

Where to hang:  Indoors, a spot with bright, indirect light near a window avoiding direct light. Outdoors they like part-shade to shade. If you live in zone 9 or above, your Staghorn can live outside year round. Our ferns are used to living indoors, so if you hang your fern outside start it out in full shade to get it used to outdoor life.They prefer to stay in the 50-100 degree range. 


When: Environmental conditions like light, humidity and temperature along with the time of year, will guide its watering needs. Typically a 7-14 day schedule works, watering more frequently in the summer and less in the winter. It’s better to err on letting it go too dry rather than too wet. Dry,droopy fronds will pop back up after a good soak, while rotting wet plants will need a good drying out period and can be more difficult to reverse. 

How: To water put the mount in a sink or bathtub and get a good saturation going on the top layer of the moss with the tap. Then reduce the flow to a tiny drip, set your phone alarm for 5-10 minutes to thoroughly soak. Let dry before rehanging. Misting with a fine spray will make their humidity loving fronds smile.

Food: Fertilize seasonally, with a 1:1:1 water-soluble fertilizer. Spring/summer feed monthly, winter/fall every other month or less. Mature plants need less food in general and can get by with 2-3 feeds a year.

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