by John R.
The common staghorn fern, Platycerium bifurcatum, is an epiphytic species native to New Guinea and Australia. Striking, long grayish-green “antler” fronds (fertile) give the staghorn fern it’s name. Another type of frond, the shield frond (sterile), starts out soft and green and matures into a hard, brown shell that protects the plant’s small root system. In their natural environment you would find them growing in trees or on other plants so we best mimic this indoors by hanging them using wood plaques and baskets.
Light and Watering
Keep your staghorn in bright but indirect light as you would with other tropicals. Remember that this is an epiphyte- the root system is small and very susceptible to rot from over-watering if potted. They pull water in through their fertile fronds so a regular misting is welcomed. I’ve found that my staghorns respond best to being moved to the bathroom for a shower once a week. I’ll soak them down and let them sit for an hour or so, allowing them to soak up some humidity and drip dry themselves before rehanging.
A young staghorn will do just fine in a pot and you may find it is easier to keep them watered properly when potted at this stage. As your plant matures, though, you will want to mount it. Keep an eye on your shield fronds- when they begin to harden and turn brown your plant is likely ready to be hung. We carry them both in pots and on plaques, but if you want to try and mount your own here’s how to do it.
Supplies you’ll need:
- Wood plaque
- Fishing line (or floral wire)
- Sheet moss
- 4-5 small screws or nails
- Screwdriver (if using screws)
- Your staghorn!