Houseplant Care Tips

Various Houseplant Care Tips Including Watering and Lighting Requirements.

Houseplant Care Tips

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Staghorn Fern Care

Common Name: Staghorn Fern, Elkhorn Fern
Scientific Name: Platycerium bifurcatum
Lighting: Moderate
Watering: Moderate to Heavy

The Staghorn Fern is characterized by large glossy green leaves somewhat resembling the antlers of a deer. I really don't see the antler resemblance, but that's just my opinion. Overall this fern is a slow grower so don't expect dramatic growth.

The Staghorn Fern in its native surroundings doesn't grow in dirt. Instead it grows on rock, cliffs or sides of trees. This plant is commonly grown in warmer climates outdoors on a piece or wood, more characterizing its native habitat. As a houseplant it should be planted in a course soil mixture such as a sphagnum moss mix.

The Staghorn Fern prefers bright light so keep it within 5 feet of a window that receives sunlight. However try to limit the amount of direct sunlight it receives. The bright light should be filtered or non-direct to prevent burning the plant.

Staghorn Ferns prefer frequent watering, however you want to be sure not to over water the plant. You should water the plant in the center of it. To check if the plant is in need of water check the center of the plant. If it is moist then it's time to water again. Typically Staghorn Ferns need to be watered one to two times a week.

These houseplants also prefer higher humidity levels, so if the air is dry in your home, give the plant a nice misting every other day or so to help fulfill its humidity needs. However, mist the air around the plant and not directly on the foliage. If you spray directly on the plant, the foliage will get spots unless you wipe the foliage right away.

You should also try and keep your plant in temperatures above 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Typically they do poorly when dropping below 65.


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Blogger BONA said...


I have an elkhorn fern who has developed brown irregular spots on its leaves.

I'm being careful not to water it too much, just soaking it once a week.

It is currently winter, and it is positioned so it gets all day sun, but the sun is not too much.

I can feel from the base of the basket that the bottom of the basket is damp, so I think it's holding the water well enough.

When I water it, the spores on the back of the leaves have washed off in parts. Where the spots are now appearing is most commonly on the opposite side of where the spores have been washed off, but it may be a coincidence.

Any advice to help my plant to become better would be appreciated as it is a gift from a good friend.


7:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have an elkhorn fern as well and it was doing poor for a while - due to it was a sibling off a tree in Florida and now is in Michigan.
What I did was put it on top of a shell in a clear container that had lettuce in - and cut a old in one end of the top of the container - so the plant could be inside - then I put wet paper towel on the top to keep in moist at all times. Now it is doing fine and i just put in on a peice of wood - with moss and peat moss in the same container - still with the paper towel on top and it is doing fine.....

7:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My elkhorn fern is an outdoor plant, we live in Florida. The fern has developed irregular brown spots, but the spots are inside the leaf, not on the leaf. Could this be due to temperatures under 50 degrees or is something else going on?

9:07 AM  
Blogger wally said...

There are many, many different varieties of "Staghorn" or "Platycerium" (Botanical name). Most should do well, even below 50 degrees F, however there are some that are more fussy. The fussy ones are usually the more unusual 'collector' types and usually more costly than the more common varieties. If you are growing it indoors be sure it gets a good amount of bright light, at least 6 hours, more if you can. Don't keep them soggy wet, this is just as bad as too dry. The moss or planting mix should be moist, but not soggy all of the time. Like most other plants, they need plant food to look and grow their best. Most general purpose fertilizers should work fine, just don't use too much, you can seriously burn them, a little is better than a lot - to be safe. Any "house plant food" should be fine, follow label directions.
Good air movement is a plus, perhaps place a small fan nearby on a 'low' setting. They are generally considered tough plants, they should not be much more difficult to grow than most other 'houseplants'. If you live in milder southern area many will do just fine outdoors. If you live where winter temps dip low keep them indoors in winter, then move to a shaded porch or under a tree when it is warmer. If you have the plant growing in a pot, as many smaller plants are, consider mounting your plant on a board with sphagnum moss behind and around it, so it is growing In a more 'natural' position.

9:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i was told that stag horns love potassium. and was advised to throw bananna pleelings in the center. it seems to work. and can be looking sickly throw in some peelings and 2 or 3 days shes perky

mine is a big ball grown on to a peice of chain link fence. its been in our family for about 18 years. from person to person. shes doing well. i mist it with water like 3 times a week.

11:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just started a new fern is it ok to mix potting soil with peat to get it started?

1:12 PM  
Blogger Charles Cleland said...

I have a huge staghorn that has grown to consume two hanging basket frames, now all i have are chains emerging from the center of the plant, they also love bananna peels and have done great in the shade with temps around 50. I need to cut this plant into many but i do not know how to do this or if it is possible! it has plenty of new growth pods. Anyone know if you can do this and what to use as a surrogate to grow in?

12:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have just mounted my stag horn fern to a piece of drift wood and have placed in on my wall. I live in Ohio and its cloudy most of the days. So its not getting that much sun. I was thinking of buying a grow light but was wondering if anyone had recommendations for what light they have used or works best. Any experience?

10:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi there, just got a magnificent looking staghorn fern for our new place, and accidently/stupidly ended up ‘cleaning’ what I thought was dust/dandruffy stuff from the leaves, which I now realize must have been the waxy coating that allows them to retain water… Have I doomed my plant?!?

12:04 PM  

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