How to Care for a Staghorn Fern

Overview

The odd-looking staghorn fern is very different in appearance from the lacy, elegant ferns we may be accustomed to. In nature the staghorn fern (Platycerium bifercatum) lives up in tall trees, where it draws sustenance from the host tree without harming it. Staghorn ferns can be mounted to a board and hung on a sturdy surface, where they are bound to attract attention. Caring for staghorn ferns is not difficult once the fern is established.

Step 1

Mount your staghorn fern on a sturdy board such as oak or mahogany with damp sphagnum moss placed directly under the fern. Use fishing line or strips of nylon stockings to secure the fern to the board. Attach a sturdy wire hanger to the back, using strong wood screws that won't pull out as the staghorn grows.

Step 2

In nature the staghorn fern receives broken sunlight through the tops of tall trees. Try to replicate this natural environment as closely as possible by hanging the fern where it will have filtered or dappled light.

Step 3

Water the staghorn fern once a week by wetting the sphagnum moss at the base of the fern. Use rainwater if possible. Pour the water slowly into the sphagnum moss until saturated. Watering the fern will be easier if you don't allow the moss to dry out.

Step 4

Feed the staghorn moss occasionally by tucking a banana peel into the base of the fern. You can fertilize the staghorn fern by giving it 2 tsp. of a balanced liquid fertilizer mixed into the water every three or four months. Be careful not to get fertilizer on the fronds.

Things You'll Need

  • Sturdy mounting board
  • Sphagnum moss
  • Fishing line or strips of nylon stockings
  • Sturdy wire hanger
  • Strong wood screws
  • Banana peels
  • Balanced liquid fertilizer

References

  • University of Saskatchewan: The Staghorn Fern: A Rarity Worth Growing
  • Botanical Journeys: Staghorn Fern, Platycerium bifercatum
  • Burke's Backyard: Dividing an Elkhorn
Keywords: staghorn fern, caring for a staghorn fern, mount staghorn fern

About this Author

M.H. Dyer is a long-time writer, editor and proofreader. She has been a contributor to the East-Oregonian Newspaper and See Jane Run magazine, and is author of a memoir, “The Tumbleweed Chronicles, a Sideways Look at Life." She holds an Master of Fine Arts from National University, San Diego.