Common Name: Staghorn Fern
Botanical Name: Platycerium bifurcatum
Platycerium bifurcatum, more informally known as the Staghorn Fern, has deeply lobed fronds reminiscent of deer antlers that grow in haphazard directions. Staghorn Ferns are best mounted to wood, hung from the wall, or placed in decorative containers and displayed on tabletops. This indoor plant requires more humidity and water than other less sensitive houseplants, but it is well worth the extra time and devotion. It is best to soak these ferns once a week and mist them daily.
Most people assume ferns thrive in the shadows, but these houseplants need some light, so don't hide them in dark corners. Medium, indirect dappled light will bring out the best in them (picture them under a thick canopy of trees on a sunny day). Avoid direct sunlight, especially in the summer when the sun's rays are intense! The less light your ferns receive, the slower they will grow, and they may become leggy and thin. If you see this happening, immediately relocate your fern to a brighter spot! Learn more about what light is right for your indoor plants!
Ferns need constant moisture, but don't let them sit in standing water. Only certain types of wetland ferns can live in that environment. More importantly, do not neglect to water your fern. When that happens, you will find a dying fern surrounded by a ring of brown, crunchy leaves. Try this little trick if you are unsure how often to water your ferns. Water frequently, but lightly. Instead of soaking your ferns once a week or whenever you water your plants. Give them a little bit every few days, or just enough to keep the soil moist but not soggy.
If the watering riddle still has you scratching your head, consider planting your ferns into self-watering planters, and don't forget to fill the planters when they dry out!
The soil composition is critical when it comes to growing ferns! Fern Staghorns need a soil medium that can retain moisture but drain excess water to avoid the root rot. Most pre-mixed soils will suffice. Make sure that there is plenty of organic matter, like coco-coir, peat moss, or shredded leaves, and avoid soils that contain moisture retaining crystals. If your soil drains too quickly, we recommend re-potting your fern into a compost-rich soil mixture.
Staghorn Ferns adapt quickly to most household temperatures. They prefer to live in cooler temps but can withstand temperatures into the 90s. They'll need more water and shade during a heatwave. When the temperatures are hot and stagnant, we recommend using a fan to provide good air circulation! Moving air helps keep pests and diseases, and fungus away!
Humidity is a must to keep your ferns strong and vigorous! If you think about the tropical rainforests where they naturally grow, it's easy to see why. A humidifier will be the best solution to raise the humidity in your home during the cold months when the forced-air heat is cranking and dries out the air. We recommend misting your Staghorn Ferns as they heavily rely on moisture in the air. If you mist your plants, you should mist them at least three times a day for your fern to benefit. A stylish and practical way to increase the humidity in a small area is to place the ferns on a tray filled with pebbles and water so the evaporating moisture can reach the foliage. Learn how to increase humidity around your indoor plants!
Feed your ferns with a ¼-diluted complete liquid fertilizer twice a month during the growing season. You can add organic compost, worm castings, or a slow-release fertilizer. Keep in mind that ferns are sensitive to being over-fertilized, so always dilute concentrated fertilizer before applying it! Do not feed during the winter or in the colder months.
Staghorn Ferns are slow growers and usually take 10 to 20 years to reach maturity. The plant usually grows up to 4" tall and wide.
Pet Friend or Foe
Staghorn Ferns are non-toxic. So yes, it is a pet friend.
- Only fertilize your indoor plants after you've saturated the soil with water; this avoids burning the roots and foliage.
- Group ferns to make caring for them easier as they benefit from the shared moisture they release.
- Leave your ferns in the grow pots or plant in nonporous pots as this helps keep their soil moist.
- Indoor ferns can become root-bound which leads to stunted growth. Re-pot your ferns into a container 2" wider in diameter, using organic-rich soil when re-potting them!
- A great time to divide your ferns is when you are re-potting them; take a sharp sterilized knife, carefully slice the rootball in half, and plant each division into its new pots!
- Try placing a fern potted in a terra-cotta pot into a larger ceramic pot. Place moistened moss between the inner terra-cotta pot and the outer ceramic pot. The moistened moss will help slow down the terra-cotta pot from wicking away the moisture from the fern's soil
- Find out the do’s and don’ts for your new indoor plants!