Staghorn Fern (Platycerium spp.) Species Profile & Care Guide

The Staghorn Fern is a unique and eye-catching plant known for its antler-like fronds. It belongs to the genus Platycerium, thriving usually on tree trunks in its natural habitat.

Caring for these ferns involves simulating their native tropical environment to some degree.

Staghorn Fern

What is the Species Profile of Staghorn Fern?

A species profile gives important details about a certain kind of plant or animal. For the Staghorn Fern, the profile includes:

  • Common Name: Staghorn Fern
  • Scientific Name: Platycerium spp.
  • Family: Polypodiaceae
  • Origin/Native Region: Australia, Africa, Southeast Asia, and South America
  • Growth Habit: Epiphytic (grows on other plants without harming them)

What are the Ideal Growing Conditions of Staghorn Fern?

The ideal growing conditions for Staghorn Ferns help them thrive. These conditions include the right amount of light, the best range of temperatures, plenty of humidity, and suitable soil.

Staghorn Ferns need bright, indirect light to grow well. They prefer temperatures between 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. A humid environment is important for these plants, as it mimics their natural rainforest habitat.

The soil for potting should be loose and well-draining. By providing these conditions, you can create a perfect environment for Staghorn Ferns to flourish.

Light Requirements

Staghorn ferns need plenty of light, but not direct sunlight. They thrive in bright, indirect light, much like the dappled shade they’d get under trees in their natural habitat. Place them near a window that doesn’t get harsh sun.

If the light is too strong, the leaves can get burnt. In low light, the ferns will grow slowly and may not develop their unique antler-like fronds. Therefore, finding that perfect spot with the right amount of light is key to their health and growth.

Temperature Preferences

Staghorn ferns like it warm but not too hot. They thrive best in temperatures that mimic their natural tropical habitat. You should aim to keep your staghorn fern in an environment where the temperature hovers between 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

During the day, they can handle it a little warmer, but at night, they prefer it cooler. It’s important to avoid places that get sudden temperature changes, like close to air conditioners or heaters, because these ferns can get stressed by quick shifts.

Instead, find a spot for your fern that stays pretty steady in temperature, just like the forest areas where they grow in the wild.

Humidity Needs

Staghorn ferns thrive in moist air. They need high humidity, like the kind found in their natural rainforest home. To keep your fern happy, aim for a humidity level of 50-60%.

You can increase humidity by misting the plant or placing it in a bathroom where showers create steam. You can also use a humidifier or make a pebble tray. To make a pebble tray, fill a shallow dish with stones and water and place the plant on top.

The water evaporates, adding moisture to the air around your fern. Remember, good humidity keeps your Staghorn fern healthy.

Soil and Potting

Staghorn ferns need a special kind of soil to grow well. They prefer not to live in regular potting soil but instead like a mix that can hold onto water without staying too wet. It should also let air pass through it to keep the roots healthy.

Since Staghorn ferns often grow on other plants in nature, they do well when mounted on wood or placed in a basket with materials like sphagnum moss and bark.

This way, they can get the air and water they need without rotting. When you pot a Staghorn fern, remember it’s different from other houseplants, and its roots need to breathe.

What are the Watering Needs of Staghorn Fern?

Staghorn Ferns prefer to stay moist but not wet. You should water them when the soil feels dry to the touch. Dip your finger about an inch into the soil to check. If it’s dry, it’s time to water. Water the plant deeply until water runs out of the pot’s bottom, but do not let it sit in water.

Do this once a week, but adjust based on how quickly the soil dries out. In the winter, when the plant grows less, you can water it less often. Remember, the goal is to mimic the damp, but well-draining conditions of its natural habitat.

What are the Fertilization Requirements of Staghorn Fern?

Staghorn ferns need nutrients to grow, just like all plants do. These ferns get fed through a process called fertilization. You should use a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer. This means the fertilizer has equal parts of the main nutrients plants need.

Only fertilize your staghorn fern about once a month during the growing season, which is spring and summer. Do not fertilize in fall and winter when the plant is not growing much.

Use the fertilizer at half the strength the instructions on the package say. This helps avoid giving the plant too much, which could hurt it. Remember, treating your staghorn fern gently with the right amount of food will keep it healthy and happy.

What is the Growth Habit of Staghorn Fern?

The Staghorn Fern grows in a unique way. It has two types of leaves: one that looks like a deer’s antlers and another that wraps around its growing space. These ferns don’t grow in the dirt like many plants. Instead, they attach to trees or hang in the air, grabbing water and food from around them.

They can get quite big over time, and with the right care, they become a stunning piece of natural art.

What are the Benefits of Pruning Staghorn Fern?

Pruning helps the Staghorn fern stay healthy and look good. When you cut off dead or yellowing leaves, the fern can focus on growing new, green ones. This process also helps prevent diseases, because dead material can attract pests.

By pruning, you make room for air to flow around the plant, which reduces the risk of mold and mildew. Additionally, a neatly trimmed fern can make your space look more tidy and cared for. Therefore, regular pruning benefits both the Staghorn fern and your home environment.

How do You Propagate Staghorn Fern?

Propagating a Staghorn Fern means making more plants from the one you already have. To do this, you follow a few steps:

  1. Find a mature fern: Look for a Staghorn Fern with large, healthy shields and pups (small ferns growing from the base).
  2. Gently separate pups: Carefully pull or cut the pups from the parent plant. Make sure each pup has some roots.
  3. Prepare the base: Get a piece of wood or a basket ready. Use sphagnum moss as a base where the pup will grow.
  4. Attach the pup: Secure the pup to the base with fishing line or nylon stockings.
  5. Place in ideal conditions: Hang or mount your new fern in a spot that has indirect light and good air circulation.
  6. Water regularly: Keep the moss moist to help the roots grow.

Soon, the pup will establish itself and start growing into a new Staghorn Fern.

What are the Common Pests and Diseases of Staghorn Fern?

The Staghorn Fern can face attacks from various pests and diseases. These problems can harm the plant if you don’t deal with them quickly. For example, scale insects might stick to the leaves, sucking out the plant’s sap. Mealybugs can also be an issue, leaving a white, cottony substance on the fern. Both these pests make the plant weak.

Diseases like root rot occur when the fern’s roots sit in too much water. Therefore, it’s essential to keep an eye on your Staghorn Fern for these common issues, so your plant stays healthy.

Pests (types and symptoms)

Staghorn ferns may attract certain pests that can harm their growth. Here are two pests and how they affect your fern:

  • Scale insects: These are tiny bugs that stick to the leaves. They look like small bumps and can cause yellow spots.
  • Mealybugs: These white, fluffy pests gather in groups and can turn leaves yellow and weak.

If you see these pests, they are usually clumped together on the leaves or stems. The leaves might begin to discolor, indicating that the fern is not healthy. By checking your staghorn fern regularly for these pests, you can keep your plant healthy.

Diseases (types and symptoms)

Staghorn ferns can get sick from various diseases. These problems often show signs like spots on leaves or a moldy film:

  • Fungal diseases may cause black or brown patches. If a fern has these, it’s often because it’s too wet.
  • Rhizoctonia aerial blight creates a web-like material on fronds.
  • Root rot happens when the roots stay too soggy and start to decay.

To keep your staghorn healthy, make sure it’s not too wet and has good air flow. If you see disease signs, treat your fern with an appropriate fungicide and adjust your care routine.

What to Know about the Toxicity of Staghorn Fern?

Staghorn Ferns are safe plants. They do not have toxins that harm people or pets. You can hang these ferns in your home without worrying they might make someone sick. However, even though they are not poisonous, it is still best not to eat them. They are not meant for human or animal consumption.

If you ever feel unsure or if an accident happens, always ask a doctor or vet for help. Remember, Staghorn Ferns are for looking, not for eating.

What to Know about the Air Purification Capabilities of Staghorn Fern?

Staghorn Ferns clean the air you breathe. Like other plants, they take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen. However, they also grab other pollutants from the air. These ferns act like natural air purifiers in your home. They don’t need soil and absorb water and nutrients from the air. This means they can also pull in small amounts of harmful chemicals.

By doing so, Staghorn Ferns improve the quality of the air indoors. Remember, they can’t replace a regular air purifier, but they help in their own small way.

What are the Decorative Uses of Staghorn Fern?

Staghorn Ferns hang on walls like pieces of natural art. You can mount them on wooden plaques or place them in hanging baskets. These ferns enjoy spaces with bright, indirect light, so near a window is perfect.

They also add a tropical feel to a room. When you display them, make sure there’s enough air circulation. This helps the ferns stay healthy and look their best. By choosing the right spot, Staghorn Ferns not only decorate your space but also grow well.

Ferns   Updated: November 25, 2023
avatar Hi, I'm Amy, a devoted horticulturist and the creator of, where I use my expertise to help beginners foster their green thumbs. My blog is a vibrant community where I unravel the complexities of gardening and share my profound love for nature.
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