How to Grow Staghorn Fern

Staghorn ferns are particularly impressive houseplants, and not just because of their long forked leaves that resemble staghorn antlers.

Like the ferns in bird nests, these plants are epiphytes and grow on the branches and bark of trees. To mimic their natural growth habit, staghorn ferns are usually mounted on a piece of wood or table hanging from the wall.

These ferns have two types of fronds: flat, round basal fronds, which grow at the base of the plant and can be green and succulent or brown and thin, depending on age, and elegant, pendulous-leaved fronds, which produce spores.

Varieties of staghorn ferns with longer, thinner leafy leaves are sometimes called elkhorn ferns.

  • Botanical name: Platycerium bifurcatum
  • Common name: staghorn fern
  • Plant type: epiphytic fern
  • Adult size: 2-3 feet tall, 2-3 feet wide
  • Sun exposure: bright and indirect light
  • Toxicity: non-toxic

Plant care

Staghorn ferns are often grown in wood, which makes watering difficult. It is best to give the entire plant, including the leaves, a good soak in the sink once or twice a week, similar to an air plant.

However, the easiest way to damage your staghorn fern is to overwater it, so check the moisture level of the sphagnum ball.

Squeeze the growing medium to check for moisture. If water is dripping, your fern doesn't need water yet.

As your plant's basal leaves grow, they go from shiny and green to brown, dry, and papery. Be sure to leave the basal leaves on the plant, as they help protect the roots and regulate moisture.

In terms of fertilizer, provide fern houseplant fertilizer that has been diluted in half once a month or more in spring and summer.

Wait six weeks between meals during the winter months. With enough light, water, and food, your adult staghorn fern should begin to produce young.

The best growing conditions for the staghorn fern

To grow your staghorn fern in a pot, fill a container that has a drainage hole with your chosen growing medium and moisten it well.

Lay the fern on top, with the underside of the basal leaves against the substrate surface. You can also grow a staghorn fern in a wire basket lined with an inch of sphagnum moss and filled with a well-draining growing medium.

To assemble your fern, you will need a board or flat piece of wood with a hanger on the back. Place a handful of sphagnum moss against the wood and trace a circle around the moss with a pencil.

Hammer the small nails at regular intervals along the circle, leaving a quarter-inch of the nail head above the surface of the wood.

Then place the staghorn fern on top, with the bottom of the basal foliage against the moss. Tie the wire to one of the nails and cross the wire over the basal leaves and moss, wrapping around the nails as you go, to secure the plant to the board.

Place your staghorn fern in a space that receives bright, indirect light. Staghorn ferns should be kept in a space with temperatures that do not drop below 50 degrees at night.

How to propagate staghorn fern

Although staghorn ferns can be grown from spores, the easiest way to propagate them at home is to wait for the branches, also known as chicks, to appear.

You can leave them on the mother plant for a larger, more complete sample, or remove them for a new plant to grow. The best time to remove offsets is in early spring, early in the growing season.

  • Step 1: Gather supplies to assemble or fill new staghorn ferns. Examine the mother plant for viable offsets, which are ready to be removed when they are three to four inches in diameter.


  • Step 2: Using a sharp serrated knife, cut the growing medium around the plywood, avoiding the new basal blades. If you are cleaning a group of larger, older ferns, you may need to trim the dry, brown basic leaves to remove them.


  • Step 3: Gently remove the offset cut from the growth medium at the base.


  • Step 4: Cover or assemble the offset according to the instructions above and take care of it as usual.

We hope you enjoy this video about How to Grow Staghorn Fern:

Source: The Arbor Gate

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