A couple of years ago, a friend was downsizing their garden and offered me a couple of staghorn ferns, Platycerium. I declined the offer because I wasn’t really fond of them. Now I realise the reason I didn’t appreciate this type of fern was due to most gardeners use of them. I’ve usually seen them tacked on to eucalypt trees in the middle of someone’s lawn. Yuk!
These plants are best suited to rainforest environments. Staghorns are epiphytes, meaning they prefer to grow above the ground attached to tree trunks or rocky outcrops where they can siphon water run-off from their host material. This run-off contains many nutrients that sustain the staghorn’s growth. The amazing thing about these ferns is that they also feed of their own composted frond material.
There are a couple of ways of growing these ferns. For small specimens they may be grown in pots until they begin to outgrow these but he most popular way of growing them is attached to a board and hung in a shaded area.
Staghorn Fern Care
To mount a staghorn fern, place the fern on a hardwood board that is wider than the basal fronds. Place a pile of sphagnum moss just below center and and sit the fern on top, allowing the basal fronds to come in contact with the medium while the bud sits just above. Attach the fern securely with wire to the board and then hang in a suitable position.
Does A Staghorn Fern Require Extra Watering?
Most staghorn’s fail due to overwatering. To ensure that fern has enough water check the sphagnum moss in the center of the plant. If it is still moist and spongy, leave it for a day or two. If it is drying out then it is time to water again.
Does My Staghorn Require Fertiliser?
Yes. Many gardeners use a dry fertiliser when mounting or remounting ferns and the supplement this with a liquid fertiliser. Liquified worm castings or seaweed extract would be appropriate during the growing season.
How Do I Take Care of my Fern?
If the staghorn becomes too large for the mounting board then it may be time to remount it. Repeat the process that you performed when mounting the fern but increase the dimensions of the board to accommodate extra growth.
Staghorns have very few pests but the ones that do like these types of ferns are mealy bugs and scale. You may want to steer away from oil-based solutions as these can blemish the fronds.
Grow your staghorn in filtered light where it won’t come into contact with direct sunlight at any time during the day.
Photo source: Oggie Dog