How to grow and care for Staghorn Fern (Platycerium bifurcatum) Indoors

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Staghorn Fern, Platycerium bifurcatum

Botanical name: Platycerium bifurcatum
Synonmy: Platycerium alcicorne
Family: Polypodiaceae

Staghorn Fern Description

Staghorn Fern also called Antelope Ears or Elkhorn Fern bears large and spectacular fronds which are usually divided at their ends into antler-like lobes.

The fronds in Staghorn Fern are of two types; those at the base are heart-shaped and sterile while those above are long, arching, forked and strap-shaped, grey-green and spore-forming.

The genus name is derived from the Greek word platys meaning flat and ceras meaning horn. The species name bifurcatum means bifurcated or forked. Both names refer to the fertile fronds.

Staghorn Fern is fun to grow while mounted on a suitable surface or in a basket.

Staghorn Fern Size

The Staghorn Fern grows to a height of about 3 ft with a spread of about 2.5 ft.

The heart-shaped sterile fronds in Staghorn Fern are about 5-18 in. long while the strap-shaped fertile fronds grow to about 2.5 ft long.

Platycerium (Staghorn Fern) Varieties

Staghorn ferns are a group of about 18 species in the genus Platycerium of the polypod family (Polypodiaceae) which are native to Africa, Australia and Southeast Asia.

Ferns in this genus are widely known as Staghorn or Elkhorn Ferns due to their uniquely shaped fronds.

Staghorn Fern Origin

The Staghorn is native to Java, New Guinea and eastern Australia where it grows as an epiphyte in the rainforests.

Buy beautiful and healthy Staghorn Fern (Platycerium bifurcatum) from Etsy.

Staghorn Fern, Platycerium bifurcatum

Photo Credit: Flower Power

Staghorn Fern (Platycerium bifurcatum) Care Indoors

How to grow a mounted Staghorn Fern

Staghorn Ferns are epiphytes which grow mounted on trees. The best way to grow Staghorn Ferns is by mounting them on wood, log or any suitable material or in a basket.

Remove the Staghorn Fern from the pot and cover the rootball with moist sphagnum moss.

Attach the covered rootball to wood, log, cork or in a basket with plastic covered wire.

Staghorn Fern can also be grown in loose, free-draining medium like shredded bark in an ordinary pot.

Staghorn Fern Light Requirements

Staghorn Fern grows best in bright, indirect light. Keep it away from direct sunlight as it can scorch the fronds. Check out this guide on understanding light for houseplants.


How to Water Staghorn Fern

For optimum growth of Staghorn Fern, maintain the sphagnum moss moderately moist; water when the fronds begin to wilt and the medium feels dry to the touch.

Reduce watering for your Staghorn Fern during the cold season as growth is minimal at this time.

Ensure the pot for your Staghorn Fern has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy as it can lead to rotting.

Temperature for Staghorn Fern

Average warmth between 16-240C is ideal for your Staghorn Fern.

Protect your Staghorn Fern from draughts as it requires consistent warmth. Read more on understanding temperature for houseplants.

Humidity for Staghorn Fern

Staghorn Fern requires a humid environment. Mist around the fern regularly especially if the air is too dry or set the pot on a wet pebble tray to raise humidity. Check out these techniques on how to raise humidity for houseplants.

Fertilizer (Feeding) for Staghorn Fern

Feed Staghorn Fern with a balanced water-soluble fertilizer once a month during the growing period.

Withhold feeding for your Staghorn Fern during the cold season as growth is reduced at this time. Read more on how to feed houseplants.

Staghorn Fern Repotting

If growing your Staghorn Fern in an ordinary pot, repot the fern at the beginning of the growing season when it becomes overcrowded.

Ensure the pot for your Staghorn Fern has a drainage hole and the soil is free-draining inorder to prevent the soil from getting soggy as it can lead to rotting.

Staghorn Fern (Platycerium bifurcatum) Propagation

Staghorn Fern propagation can be done at the beginning of the growing season from pups growing around the mother plant or from spores.

How to propagate Staghorn Fern from pups

Carefully seperate the pup from the mother Staghorn Fern by cutting with a sharp sterile knife.

Wrap the Staghorn Fern pup in moist sphagnum moss and tie it to a piece of wood or log with plastic-covered wire.

Continue with the normal routine care for Staghorn Fern.

How to propagate Staghorn Fern from spores

Spores are brown dots on the underside of the antler-like fronds. When the ripen, the cases open and tiny dust-like spores fall out.

Cut the Staghorn Fern frond and place it on a piece of paper with spores side down.

Allow time for the Staghorn Fern spores to fall out of the cases onto the piece of paper.

The Staghorn Fern spores can also be obtained by shaking the frond occasionally.

Thinly spread the Staghorn Fern spores on moist soil and cover the set up with clear polythene to maintain humidity and warmth.

Place the set up in a brightly lit area and maintain the soil moist through out through watering from the bottom.

The Staghorn spores should sprout in about 3-6 months.

Allow at least 3-4 true leaves to develop before transplanting the new Staghorn Ferns.

Staghorn Fern, Platycerium bifurcatum

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Staghorn Fern (Platycerium bifurcatum) Problems Indoors

Staghorn Fern brown dots or lines on the underside of fronds

These are spores which can be used for propagation of new Staghorn Ferns. They indicate that the frond is mature and healthy.

In their natural environment, these spores drop to the soil and grow into new Staghorn Ferns.

Staghorn Fern curled leaves and brown leaf edges

The cause of curled leaves and brown leaf edges in your Staghorn Fern is too dry air.

Mist around the fern regularly especially if the air is too dry or set the pot on a wet pebble tray to raise humidity. Check out these techniques on how to raise humidity for houseplants.

Staghorn Fern yellowing fronds

Soggy soil is the cause of yellowing fronds in Staghorn Fern.

Ensure the pot has a drainage hole and the soil is free-draining to prevent the soil from getting soggy.

Staghorn Fern wilting fronds

Wilting fronds in Staghorn Fern is an indication of underwatering.

Water your Staghorn thoroughly and the fern should recover immediately. Thereafter, maintain the potting medium moist at all times and do not let it dry out completely.

Staghorn Fern brown shells scattered on fronds

Brown shells scattered on the fronds of Staghorn Fern are an indication of a infestation by scale insects. Isolate the affected fern to avoid spread to other houseplants and treat appropriately.

Staghorn Fern pests

Staghorn Fern pests; scale insects and mealy bugs. Isolate the affected fern to avoid spread to other houseplants and treat it appropriately for the pests.

Is Staghorn Fern (Platycerium bifurcatum) toxic?

Staghorn Ferns (Platycerium bifurcatum) are non-toxic to humans and pets. Staghorn Ferns are safe to grow indoors.

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