The Q&A Archives: Staghorn Ferns

Question: I have a large basket with Staghorn Ferns about 3 feet in diameter. How do I take off one of the pads and start another plant? Also, how often do I water and what should it be fed (besides bananas)?

Answer: If the Staghorn is growing well, you must be doing everything right. Staghorn ferns (Platycerium bifurcatum) can grow sterile fronds that are three feet long and up to a foot across. The fertile fronds are even larger. The fronds accumulate organic matter which feeds the plant. By giving your plant banana, you're providing the organic matter it needs to thrive. Most Staghorns are grown on slabs of bark or in hanging baskets.

Staghorn Fern can be propagated by carefully cutting apart any plantlets produced at the base of the plant. These may be established on a slab of redwood or cork.

First, wrap the roots in damp sphagnum moss and then tie the root ball tightly. Some people use cotton string and others use a small piece of chicken wire. Eventually the roots and round basal fronds will grip the bark and support the plant.

An alternative technique that I have used with good success is to place the plantlets on the exterior of a hanging basket lined with a coconut coir liner (or sphagnum moss) and filled with a sphagnum or potting soil mix. In time, you will have one big, beautiful staghorn as a hanging (rather than wall mounted plant! Just resist the urge to overwater. Keep the plant moderately moist. Little fertilizer is needed. An occasional dose of fish emulsion or seaweed extract is fine.

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