The common term ‘mounted staghorn fern’ comes from the fact that domestic staghorn ferns are usually mounted on a board, wrapped in burlap, and hung on a wall. Why?
Well, it’s true that you can find young staghorn ferns sold in pots; however, the mature ones have to be mounted on a board or hung in a basket.
This is because they’re epiphytic plants, i.e. they grow on other plants or trees in their natural surroundings. In the tropics, they can reach massive proportions and come out dramatically out of the crooks of trees.
They absorb nutrients and water through their fronds.
Both the fertile and the non-fertile fronds are wide and branching and as they grow, they resemble the horns of an elk or a stag, thus, the inspiration for the common name.
Platycerium superbum or staghorn fern is a Platycerium species of fern which originates from the tropical north east of Australia.
However, it can also be found in Malaysia and Indonesia. There are 18 different species of this plant and they’re increasingly popular ornamental choice in homes and offices.
Even though it looks dramatic and it requires a bit of work to get it mounted, growing a mounted staghorn fern isn’t very complicated-they need low to medium light and moderate moisture to thrive.
The plant is non-toxic to dogs and cats, so no worries on that side.
It will also help you clean the air indoor as it’s an air purifier plant- it absorbs harmful gases through the leaves and their roots.
How to Care for a Mounted Staghorn Fern
This fern, which is native to the tropics, loves bright, indirect or diffused light. But, direct sun exposure can damage it.
The best place for this plant is the brightest area in your home, but one that’s not exposed to direct sun for long hours.
A room on the south or east will do best, even though a north window is also okay. Avoid the western light as afternoon sun can be too hot for them.
Never place it in an area without any natural sun.
A staghorn fern will enjoy a growing environment that mimics its native environment. This means a warm and humid location.
The plant doesn’t do well in cold temperatures, even though some varieties are able to tolerate short period of temperatures around 30 degrees F.
The ideal range for them is 60 degrees F to 80 degrees F.
Water & Humidity
A staghorn fern should be soaked and misted to ensure it gets the humidity it wants.
To soak it, dunk it in a basin or a sink with water for a minute to saturate the roots or place it in sink and run room-temperature water through the root and then allow it to drip out before you hang it back.
For optimal humidity, mist the whole plant and choose a bottle with a fine mist.
Even though there are no strict rules as to how often this plant should be watered, a good option is to water it once a week when it’s dry and hot and once every 2 to 3 weeks in the colder months.
The small fibrous roots will do well in an equal mixture of sphagnum moss, bark, and peat moss. Since they’re usually mounted on a board, you wrap their root system in this blend.
Feeding this stunner will ensure healthy growth, especially in the younger plants.
It’s best to do it monthly when it’s actively growing with a water-soluble, balanced fertilizer in a 1:1:1 ratio.
In the fall and winter, lower it to every other month.
The mature ones can do well with fertilization twice per year.
A staghorn fern is a slow grower so repotting isn’t required too often.
The best time to do it is early spring. If you notice roots circling around the bottom, it’s time for transplantation.
You can divide the plant through its pups. Pups are small plantlets which grow at its base.
Cut it loose from the mother when it’s 4 inches across. Plant the pups in sphagnum moss wired to the proper wood piece or a hanging basis.
Wrap the soil around it and wire it up to the support system.
Another option is germination or root division. Do it in early spring or during dormancy-remove it from its support and check out the rhizomes and make a careful cut between them.
Each of them should have at least 2 to 3 leaves.
Best Staghorn Fern Species
This species is native to Southeast Asia and the East Indies.
It has beautiful wide sterile fronds and forked fertile and narrow fronds which can grow up to 15 feet in length.
This species is native to Australia and it’s known for its nest of wide and upright sterile fronds which traps leaves to develop humus and provide nutrients.
Interestingly, its broad and branching fronds can dangle 2 to 3 feet below its body.
This is the only staghorn fern that’s native to the New World.
This species from the forest of the Andes of Peru features overlapping sterile fronds that form a crown-like shield and have long and veined fertile fronds.
They hang like green straps to 5 or more feet.
Staghorn ferns are best mounted on a rot-resistant wood, for example, cedar.
Since they’re watered ‘aggressively’ and are closely connected to this wood, you need to choose the type of wood carefully.
Pruning isn’t really necessary with this plant.
At the plant’s base, you’ll often see shield fronds that can turn brown with age. Don’t remove them-they’re an essential part of the plant!
Trouble Shooting- Common Issues
Problem: pale leaves or scorched
Cause: Too much direct sun.
Solution: Move it in a more suitable area-enough light, but not direct sunlight.
Problem: fronds have brown edges
Cause: There are several, but the most common is air dryness in case it’s close to a heating source or an air conditioner or irregular watering.
Solution: Increase the humidity or water it on a more regular schedule.
Problem: leaves have brown or lighter-color patches
Cause: If they’re brown and soft, overwatering; lighter in color may signal cold water shock.
Solution: Reduce the watering and always use room temperature water-never water straight from the tap.
I hope you enjoyed reading this article about mounted staghorn fern care.
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