All About the Staghorn Fern
This fern is remarkable in that it has two distinct types of leaves per plant. The topmost fronds of the plant, known as “shields” or basal fronds, trap leaves, bugs, and other materials that are broken down and used as nutrients while protecting the roots from too much water.
The leaves at the bottom of the plant create spores that allow most species of staghorn ferns to reproduce. Staghorn ferns can sprout offspring, that in due time can spread around the area on which it resides. These plants are frequently seen in botanical gardens and are also a common choice for people to hang in their homes.
Staghorn ferns, sometimes referred to as crown staghorn, elkhorn fern, or disc stag’s horn fern, are tropical plants that come from South America, Africa, Southeast Asia, Australia, and New Guinea and have an epiphytic nature. In the woods, you will find a tree trunk with a staghorn fern thriving on it.
Types of Staghorn Fern
Gardeners typically cultivate eighteen types of staghorn ferns for their gardening needs. This is a compilation of a few of the most well-liked kinds.
The Staghorn Fern – also known as Platycerium coronarium, Crown Staghorn, Elkhorn Fern, and Disc Stag’s Horn Fern – is a type of fern.
This staghorn fern variety produces two types of leaves. The first kind of leaf has a tall stature, with a broad base, while the second type has a dangling shape with a forked end that is used for reproduction. The longer leaves on the plant disperse the spores that are used to reproduce. Platycerium coronarium comes from southeastern Asia and is a sort of plant that grows in a non-soil environment, sometimes referred to as an “air plant”.
There are two kinds of leaves often seen on platycerium alcicorne staghorn ferns: a broad, protective shield and a long, thin frond with pointed edges. It is assumed that the shield leaf provides a safe environment for the roots so that they don’t get too wet in rainforest areas. The subspecies Platycerium alcicorne var. originated in the tropical climates of Madagascar and eastern Africa. Vassei.
Platycerium andinum, ‘American Staghorn Fern’
The only staghorn fern that can be found in the Americas is the Platycerium andinum which is native to the region around the Andes mountains of South America. This species has outgrowths that are similar to antlers on both the spore leaves and the upper shields. Spore-producing leaves are narrower and longer than upper leaves. The plant creates offspring that form a ring around the tree it is growing on.
This Elkhorn Fern is extremely popular, as it has heart-shaped sterile fronds that can grow as long as 18 inches and long, arched fertile fronds of up to 36 inches. It is possible to grow this species outdoors in areas that are well-covered, yet it is usually kept as an indoor plant. Its origins are in southeastern Australia and New Guinea. Like most other elkhorn ferns, this species is epiphytic.
Platycerium hillii, ‘Stiff Staghorn’, ‘Green Staghorn’
The leaves of this staghorn fern are rounded or have a shape similar to a kidney and have rather shallow indentations. The fronds of the rigidly erect staghorn are narrower than the shields, but wider than other plants in the Platycerium genus which feature shallower lobes. This plant is sometimes termed the “Australian clumping staghorn” and is indigenous to Australia and New Guinea.
Platycerium elephantotis, ‘Elephant Ear Staghorn Fern’
This staghorn fern has been given the moniker of “elephant ear” due to its distinct qualities that set it apart from other types of staghorn ferns. This plant has rounded productive fronds instead of being forked, as well as tall and curved infertile fronds. This species of platycerium does not like its roots to have dry soil; it likes them to be kept wet. It originates in Africa.
An Australian native plant, the Platycerium superbum, produces a sizable frond that serves as a nest, trapping insects or leaves that fall down to be used as fertilizer. As the nest matures, bigger antler-like fronds grow, which are used to disperse spores for reproduction. In certain areas, these staghorn ferns have become very popular as they are easy to cultivate as epiphytes.
Platycerium grande, ‘Regal Elkhorn Fern’, ‘Moosehorn Fern’
Platycerium grande is a species that has its origin in the Philippines, and its fronds that hang down are thin. When these staghorn ferns reach maturity, they form a beautiful screen of cascading, thin fronds that make any wall or hanging container look beautiful. The environments in which they usually live are frequently deforested, making it difficult to acquire them.
Platycerium ridleyi, ‘Ridley’s Staghorn’
A stalk that holds fronds shaped like antlers arises from the middle of the broad, bumpy basal fronds. This fern, known as the Platycerium ridleyi, is popular in Thailand. This particular rainforest plant is now almost extinct, although it can still be sourced by collectors in Thailand every now and again. Its natural habitats have long since been lost. It can be difficult to cultivate these plants in one’s residence, yet plenty of collectors still desire to obtain them.
Platycerium stemaria, ‘Triangle Staghorn Fern’
Originating from Africa, this type of staghorn fern distinctly branches out into two separate leaves resembling inverted Y’s, which come together to form lengthy triangular shapes. The fronds at the base of the top are curvy at the ends, and they are tall and broad. Spore patches form a V-shaped arrangement at the intersection of sporing leaves. Many varieties of plants are a deep green color, but the majority are a moderately colored green.
Platycerium veitchii, ‘Silver Elkhorn’, ‘French Elkhorn Fern’
This Australian staghorn fern has a coating of soft white fibers, producing a shiny blue-green hue on its fronds. The upper parts of the leaves of its shield form tall and slim fingers. Meanwhile, the green leaves are standing higher than other kinds, with a spreading habit before they start to bend downward. Silver elkhorn thrives in its natural habitat, which is usually composed of exposed rocks in direct sunlight. When kept in darker areas, the silver look of the substance becomes less prominent and its outward growth becomes less visible. For light staghorn ferns, go for this one!
Caring for Your Staghorn Fern
Staghorn Ferns are not planted in earth, but rather employ their roots to secure themselves to host trees – this is because epiphytes are the species of plants that they belong to. Staghorn Ferns do not have a parasitic relationship with trees, as they only cling to them rather than obtaining nutrients or harming them in any manner. Staghorn Ferns do not have to have soil to grow, and can cultivate in a diversity of different mediums in a house setting.
Lots of individuals opt to attach their Staghorn Fern onto a hardwood panel or suspend it from a big basket. In these cases, sphagnum moss usually flourishes the best. Attach your plant on top of the board or basket with wires, making sure they are firmly secured. The Staghorn Fern has a very minimal root system which is not used for moisture and nutrition uptake, but it is necessary for the root ball to be touching the sphagnum moss.
It is also achievable to place a Staghorn Fern in a container in the classic method, but it is vital that you do not use the regular potting mix since this will be too constrictive for the roots of the plant. A Staghorn Fern needs an environment with a lot of air exposure, so it needs a soil that permits that. Using a blend of orchid bark and cactus soil should be adequate.
In order to comprehend what moisture and nourishment the Staghorn Fern needs, it is essential to have some knowledge of the scientific aspects of its growth. The Fern has two different kinds of leaves: ones that are fertile and others that are sterile. It is simple to identify the two parts of a mature Staghorn Fern; the healthy, green, antler-shaped leaves constituting the fertile part, and the brown, dried-looking leaves located at the base of the plant that are the sterile component.
Young plants begin with light green sterile leaves, but eventually, it is typical for them to darken and appear almost lifeless. It is critical to leave the brown leaves alone since they fulfill a very key role in the plant’s life. The primary function of the fertile leaves is reproduction. Staghorn Ferns generate spores which can be used to cultivate new specimens. The barren foliage is how the flora receives nutrition and safeguards itself. In its native environment, the brown leaves would accumulate falling material and vegetation from other plants, which slowly break down over time and give off nutrients that the plant would then absorb.
The barren leaves of the plant are adept at taking in humidity, making it the chief source of water in the sodden environment of the rainforest. The leaves without any pollen or seed are commonly called shield leaves since they appear on the root system, shielding it.
The method of watering the Staghorn Fern when grown as either an indoor plant or in an outdoor garden will depend on the kind of growing material that was employed. In many cases, the plant can be found developing on sphagnum moss. You should gently pour a thin stream of water from a watering can with a small spout onto the sphagnum moss until it is thoroughly moistened. The Staghorn Fern’s roots will take in water from the sphagnum moss.
The Staghorn Fern should not be given too much water too often. When it rains in the rainforest, the Staghorn Fern’s roots absorb the water; however, due to the fact that the ferns grow on tree trunks, the water will eventually slide off of the plant and onto the ground beneath. This would stop the roots from becoming overly saturated with water.
Staghorn Ferns living in the humid and mild climates of the tropics are not confront the elements of cold in their natural environment. It’s important to try to imitate the same environment if you plan to keep this as an indoor or outdoor plant. This plant needs to be in an environment where the average temperature during the day is approximately 80° F, and the temperature in the evening should stay around 60° F.
There are 18 kinds of Staghorn Ferns, and the majority of them have little tolerance for colder temperatures, with a few exceptions. The Platycerium alcicorne and Platycerium hillii can withstand temperatures that go as low as 40°F periodically, but the Platycerium veitchi can endure temperatures that dip to 30°F. If you anticipate your garden experiencing cold temperatures at times, these are the best types of Staghorn Ferns to have. Keep in mind, however, that these will not Survive for a long span at these low temperatures and should be moved indoors during the winter for protection.
Staghorn Ferns are able to thrive in their native home of the rainforest, thanks to the protective shade they get from the taller trees, as well as occasional bursts of sunlight which penetrate the leaves of the trees above. This is why partial shade and bright, indirect light work best for Staghorn Ferns. Keep plants in an area that does not receive direct sunlight when placed in the home or outdoors in the garden in order to prevent damage. It would be great to have a combination of bright filtered light and shade, although either alone is acceptable.
The air in which the Staghorn Fern resides is usually very moist– usually around 70 to 80 percent humidity. It is highly improbable that the moisture level in a residence would ever be that great, so you will have to act to raise humidity close to the plant in order to aid it to grow. The leaves of the Staghorn Fern, which are brown and not capable of producing energy, take in moisture from the atmosphere to feed itself, thus making it impossible for atmospheres that are extremely dry to promote the growth of the fern. A straightforward way of increasing the moisture in the air in your residence is to employ an electric humidifier, which emits small droplets of water into the air. It would be especially helpful if you have various houseplants that need high humidity.
The preferred method to up the level of humidity for Staghorn Ferns is not frequent misting, as it is with other houseplants. Leaving stagnant water on the nutrient-rich foliage can clog up the openings and cause harm to the plant. Spray a light amount of water onto the dry, brown leaves; they will take it in. Make sure that you are cautious not to wet the fresh, green leaves above them.
Fertilizer is an essential part of Staghorn Fern care. When attached to its natural environment, such as a tree or a rock, the Staghorn Fern takes advantage of the fallen leaves of other plants and trees by collecting them. The leaves then break down and, in so doing, provide the fern with vital nutrients. When grown outside its normal environment, this plant will not be able to obtain nutrients in its usual manner and so an alternate method must be used to supply them. To do this, give your plant regular fertilizer feeding. Mix a solution that is half water, half liquid feed and apply it to the plant once a month.
Pruning Staghorn Ferns
Staghorn ferns do not necessitate much trimming, but when there is a requirement to do so, only the fruit-bearing fronds need to be cut back. If the fronds are damaged and not in good condition, you should use a sharp pair of scissors or pruning shears to trim away the frond. If the entire frond is exhibiting signs of destruction, cut it off at the stem. Otherwise, only remove the damaged portion.
It’s advisable to keep the shield fronds or productive fronds on the plant, regardless of if they are harmed. The nutrients from these items begin to break down near the plant and supply it with its necessary nourishment. Furthermore, they safeguard the plant against harm and offer additional assistance!
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is my staghorn fern turning brown?
Browned tips on the leaves of a staghorn fern are generally an indication that it is not getting enough water. If the fronds of the fern have become browned, that’s a sign that it needs to be watered more. If the bases of the antler-like foliage start to turn dark, you are giving it too much water. Some pests can cause leaf browning too. Remember not to cut off a brown shield frond.
Do staghorn ferns like shade or sun?
Some plants can tolerate full sunlight, yet many prefer a steady glow of indirect light.
What is special about staghorn fern?
This epiphytic fern is distinguished by its two types of foliage (shield frond and basal frond).