Staghorn Ferns 101
Staghorn ferns are called Platyceriums. They are Old World tropics native to Africa, northern Australia, and Southeast Asia.
Platycerium Andinum: This large gorgeous fern looks great in a hanging basket but can also be hung against a wall because all the leaves are on one side.
Platycerium Elephantotis: The fronds look like elephant ears.
Platycerium Coronarium: This crown-like fern sits on top of a slatted square mount and drapes over.
Platycerium Bifurcatum: From the mother specimen, a pup can be cut off and used in a wall mount. This mother plant is huge, but is still a hanging specimen.
Platycerium Vassei: This is a wall-mounted, unusual staghorn fern because the back frond is green and not brown.
Platycerium Limoneii: This French staghorn fern has long graceful fronds and is in a small sphagnum moss basket. This can be hung against a wall or as a hanging basket.
Growing Staghorn Ferns
Staghorn ferns are epiphytes, which means they are air plants. They gladly grow on a wall mount, which lets air circulate around them. They need good-quality light, even some direct sunlight. They need some drying of the soil or medium in between watering. The back plates and medium need to be thoroughly soaked. They prefer more moisture when growing in the summer. If grown in cold weather, then less moisture is needed.
They get their name because their fronds look like the antlers of a staghorn deer. The plant bears two types of fronds: The sterile fronds are flat, round, and located at the base of the fern, and the fertile fronds are irregular, lobed, and usually ascending from the plant. Spores appear as brownish masses on the tips of the antler-like fertile fronds. These spores will produce new plants when sown on moist, sterile peat moss. However, this is a slow method of reproduction, and most new plants are obtained from suckers (pups), which develop from the mother plants.
Staghorn Fern Hanging Board How-To
1. Staghorn plants arrive in a ponga pot. Pull plant out of pot and shake off all excess matter. If Staghorn is from a mother specimen, reach behind the plate, which is the sterile frond shield, and remove with some roots on the frond.
2. Take sphagnum moss and put a handful onto the mounting board, a wooden frame.
3. Bury the fern roots into the moss.
4. Put pressure on the plate so that the plate and moss are making contact.
5. Secure the fern by tying monofilament fishing line.
6. Staple the fishing line to the end of the plaque and wrap the fishing line around the plaque and tightly over the fern shield (plate), allowing the fronds to stick up. Repeat this 3 to 5 times.
7. Once secured, staple the line to the end of the board and cut off excess string.
8. You will see the line, but as the shields grow out they will hide the line. Properly cared for they can live longer than most people.
Both the moss and mounting board can be purchased at your local gardening store.
Special thanks to Byron Martin, owner of Logee's Greenhouses in Danielson, Connecticut, for sharing information about staghorn ferns and making a hanging wall. Learn more about flower arranging, and get some great ideas from our beautiful