The Q&A Archives: staghorn ferns

Question: I buy 10 staghorn ferns. I love it, But I really dont know how to take care of it, how can I propagate this plant, does it need sun or not.

Answer: Platycerium, Staghorn Ferns, are native to tropical regions and grow best on a slab of bark or in a basket of moss. The only real problems they can encounter are from overwatering or overfeeding. Water only when the slab or moss which the plant is attached to is actually dry to the touch. Staghorns produce two kinds of fronds; sterile ones are flat, pale green, aging to tan and brown; they support the plant and accumulate organic mater to help feed it. The fertile fronds are forked and resemble deer antlers. Give your Staghorn Fern partial shade, protect from frosts and keep it on the dry side.

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.

Enjoy your new plants!

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