Staghorn ferns are interesting-looking plants that make a great addition to any home with a little bit of care. These ferns are epiphytes, meaning they need air to circulate around them in order to thrive. They’re tropical in origin, but can grow well indoors and look lovely hanging or mounted on a wall; this is a great deal for them, too, because they can receive enough airflow to feel comfortable.
Staghorn ferns, of the family Platycerium, have origins in South America, Africa Southeast Asia, Australia and New Guinea. They get their name from their fuzzy fronds, which bring big buck antlers to mind. They grow from vertical surfaces, so the fern fronds and their mount often resembles a vegetable version of a mounted stag head.
For a Staghorn fern to thrive, it needs humidity and plenty of light. Try to recreate the tropical environment where it would normally grow. If you don’t have a greenhouse at your fingertips, consider hanging your Staghorn in a sunny window, and misting it weekly to recreate a humid environment.
Normally, you can buy your Staghorns already attached to a piece of board or bark, ready to hang and grow. If not, prepare a place for it by wrapping the root ball in a combination of sphagnum moss and peat moss. Then, tie the wrapped root ball to a piece of bark – feel free to find something with character and style – to imitate the way Staghorn ferns grow in the wild.
Hang your fern from the wall or ceiling where it gets plenty of air and plenty of light. The best kind of natural light for a Staghorn will come from a south or east facing window. If you decide to hang it in a window, however, make sure you cover the pane with some translucent fabric so you don’t overwhelm the plant.
Dip the bark and root ball in some water to hydrate your Staghorn fern. Water sparingly; maybe once a season or if your fern’s leaves have wilted and the bark and root ball are totally dry. If your fern grows past your original piece of bark, carefully nail or tie another one to the first. Soon the fern will grow onto the new bark as well.
Staghorns grow best in temperatures higher than 65 degrees Fahrenheit with weekly mistings to keep fronds clean and humid. Don’t let your fern get colder than 55 degrees, and when you clean its fronds, make sure to be gentle and not wipe off any of the soft fibers.
Spores appear from the tips of the Staghorn’s antlers; they look like odd brownish masses. If harvested and cultivated on moist peat moss, these spores will grow new plants. It’s much easer, however, to take a baby cutting from one of the hanging fronds and grow a new fern that way.
Follow these easy guidelines and you’ll soon be the proud parent of a thriving Staghorn fern. These exotic plants and the bark they grow on add an artistic element to any home they decorate. Visit your local nursery to pick one up today!