Botanical name: Platycerium bifurcatum
Synonmy: Platycerium alcicorne
Common names: Staghorn Fern, Elkhorn Fern, Antelope Ears
Platycerium bifurcatum commonly called Staghorn Fern, Antelope Ears or Elkhorn Fern bears large and spectacular fronds which are usually divided at their ends into antler-like lobes.
The fronds 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.
Elkhorn Fern is fun to grow while mounted on a suitable surface or in a hanging basket.
The Staghorn Fern grows to a height of about 3 ft with a spread of about 2.5 ft.
The heart-shaped sterile fronds are about 5-18 in. long while the strap-shaped fertile fronds grow to about 2.5 ft long.
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.
Platycerium bifurcatum is native to Java, New Guinea and eastern Australia where it grows as an epiphyte in the rainforests.
Staghorn Ferns (Platycerium bifurcatum) are non-toxic to humans and pets according to ASPCA. The ferns are safe to grow indoors.
Staghorn Ferns in various sizes are readily available at Etsy. Buy Staghorn Fern (Platycerium bifurcatum) online from Etsy.
Staghorn Fern (Platycerium bifurcatum) thrives in bright, indirect light away from direct sunlight, warm and humid conditions and moderately moist, rich, free-draining soil coupled with monthly feeding during the growing season.
Platycerium bifurcatum requires repotting only when it becomes overcrowded in its current pot. Keep reading for more on these growing conditions and how to achieve them.
Platycerium bifurcatum (Elkhorn 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.
Take the Staghorn Fern out of its 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 in an ordinary pot like this shredded bark orchid potting mix available at Amazon.
Staghorn Fern grows best in bright, indirect light. Keep it away from direct sunlight as it can scorch the fronds. It can also grow under a grow light where the natural light is not adequate.
For optimum growth of Elkhorn Fern, maintain the sphagnum moss moderately moist; water when the fronds begin to wilt and the medium feels dry to the touch.
Reduce watering during the cold season as growth is minimal at this time but do not allow the soil to dry out completely.
Make sure that the pot has a drainage hole to prevent the medium from getting too wet as it can lead to rotting.
Average warmth between 16-240C is ideal for the Staghorn Fern.
Keep it away from draughts like windy doors and windows to avoid sudden changes in temperature as it requires consistent warmth.
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 or use a cool mist humidifier to raise humidity.
Feed Staghorn Fern with a balanced water-soluble fertilizer once a month during the growing period. Withhold feeding during the cold season as growth is reduced at this time.
If growing the Staghorn Fern in an ordinary pot, repot the fern at the beginning of the growing season when it becomes overcrowded in its current pot.
Ensure the pot has a drainage hole and the soil is loose and free-draining inorder to prevent it from getting soggy as it can lead to rotting.
Staghorn Fern (Platycerium bifurcatum) propagation can be done at the beginning of the growing season from pups growing around the mother plant or from spores.
Carefully seperate the pup from the mother Staghorn Fern by cutting with a sharp sterile knife.
Wrap the 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 Elkhorn Fern.
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 frond and place it on a piece of paper with spores side down.
Allow time for the spores to fall out of the cases onto the piece of paper.
The spores can also be obtained by shaking the frond occasionally.
Thinly spread the spores on moist medium 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 medium moist through out by watering from the bottom.
The spores should sprout in about 3-6 months.
Allow at least 3-4 true leaves to develop before transplanting the new Staghorn Ferns after which you can begin routine care.
Staghorn Fern (Platycerium bifurcatum) growing problems include wilting, yellowing, curled leaves, brown leaf edges, pests and diseases among others. Continue reading for more on these problems and how to fix them.
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 Elkhorn Ferns.
The cause of curled leaves and brown leaf edges in 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.
Soggy soil is the cause of yellowing fronds in Staghorn Fern. Ensure that the pot has a drainage hole and the soil is free-draining to prevent it from getting soggy.
Wilting fronds in Staghorn Fern is an indication of underwatering. Water the fern thoroughly and the fern should recover immediately. Thereafter, maintain the potting medium moist at all times and do not let it dry out completely.
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.
Common pests in Staghorn Fern are scale insects and mealy bugs. Isolate the affected fern to avoid spread to other houseplants and treat it with Neem oil to get rid of the pests.
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