The Q&A Archives: How to plant and care for a staghorn fern

Question: I was given a staghorn fern that is planted only in dried spanish moss. It is dying. How do I replant and in what conditions should it be kept?

Answer: 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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