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Staghorn Ferns

Typical Florida stag horn fern hanging from an oak tree - Source: Photographer: Jerilee WeiOne of the most coveted and dramatic ferns to own is the staghorn fern (aka elkhorn fern).  It also can be one of the most expensive of plants to own, if you should need instant gratification and decide to purchase one.  Large ones are commonly sold for more than $300 each.  Their scientific name is Platycerium and there are about eighteen varieties depending upon which expert source you consult.

Obviously, they are tropical ferns so they aren’t commonly known here in the United States unless you live in a very warm state, such as Florida, Georgia, South Carolina.   However, they native to the Philippines, other parts of Asia, Australia, and parts of Africa. They were not originally native to America.

However, where staghorn ferns are native, they can be found in odd places, such as growing on tree trunks, branches, or even among rocks. They among the true epiphytes, like our native Spanish moss found here in Florida.    

As you can see from the pictures, this fern can be a showy and dramatic statement once it has achieved a good size.  If you are not too impatient, they are relative easy to grow - their pups are sold at most big box stores such as Lowes, Walmart, or Home Depot in the garden department for less than ten dollars.

In terms of establishing them, you only need about a half bag of spaghum moss, the staghorn pup, aa wire fern pot (optional) and fishing line.  

Instructions for planting staghorn ferns: 

  • First soak the spaghum moss overnight before planting.
  • Surround your staghorn fern with about half of the spaghum moss.
  • Attach to anything that strikes your fancy; such as:
  1.  A tree
  2. A piece of driftwood
  3. A fence
  4. Lattice
  5. Or as in the one depicted in a wire fern pot

Wrap them in fishing line to attach them to the first four items and stuff the rest of the spaghum moss around them.  

If you are planting your fern in a wire pot just use all the moss. Eventually, the fern will attach itself and create its own brown leaf pot that will harden. Be aware if you opt for pot growing that eventually you’ll need a very strong chain to hang your staghorn fern upon, as it will weigh a tremendous amount.