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Staghorn Ferns with Francisca

Martha Stewart Living Television

The staghorn fern, or Platycerium, is a mysterious, prehistoric-looking plant that sends out fronds shaped like actual staghorns. They grow without soil in tropical rainforests, but you can grow these beauties in your own home, either hanging in a wire basket or just on a piece of board. Today, Francisca Coelho, who manages the conservatory at the New York Botanical Gardens, shows Martha how to get them started.

If staghorns receive too much direct sunlight, they will burn. They grow toward the top of the canopy in the rainforest, receiving bright, filtered light and lots of humidity, so try to reproduce those conditions in your home. Mist them daily, and water them once a week under a faucet. Francisca recommends fertilizing your staghorns once a month with a 20-20-20 blend, or slow-release tablets.

For the first few months, it may not look like much is happening, but after a year or so, you'll have magnificent, exotic-looking ferns.

Staghorn Fern Basket
Tools and Materials 

  • 4 small staghorn ferns
  • 1 12-inch wire basket with hanger
  • 1 box sphagnum moss, dampened with a spray of water 

Staghorn Fern Basket How-To
1. Remove starter ferns from their pots, and loosen the roots gently with your fingers.

2. Place each fern on its side in wire basket, with root ends touching one another, so that the fronds are sticking out between wires.

3. Fill in basket to the top with sphagnum moss. Hang basket.

Staghorn Fern Board
Tools and Materials

  • 1 small staghorn fern
  • 1 fern board
  • Florists' pins
  • Fishing line, or other transparent filament
  • Ready-made wire hook for hanging
  • Pliers

Staghorn Fern Board How-To
1. Remove fern from pot, and place on board. Attach root end to board with as many florists' pins as needed. Wrap fishing line around root and board, to further secure fern to board.

2. Poke wire hook through board, and bend it into shape with pliers. Hang on wall as desired.

Comments (1)

  • tropicalferns 21 Jul, 2010

    If anyone is looking to buy this species I have all 18 species of Platycerium ferns. (staghorn fern) My sight is www.tropicalferns.com