Houseplant Spotlight: Staghorn Fern

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The Staghorn Fern, otherwise known as the Elkhorn Fern or Platycerium, is one of nineteen species in the polypod family. It is a tropical fern, native to South America, Southeast Asia, and Australia (to name a few). It is called Staghorn or Elkhorn due to the unique shape of its fronds.

Staghorn ferns, like orchids and anthurium, are epiphytic, meaning they often are found growing out of the “armpits” of tree branches. Unlike parasitic plants, epiphytic plants do not take any resources or nourishment from the tree, but simply use it as a place to anchor themselves while they grow independently. Because their roots are used to growing in small, cramped spaces, it’s possible to mount them to a branch or piece of wood that can be displayed on the wall!

Staghorn ferns make unique additions to any brightly-lit room. They prefer bright, indirect light; though, as a fern, they can survive in dappled sunlight like they would receive from under a tree branch. If your staghorn is mounted, you’ll want to mist it regularly. To water a mounted staghorn, either pull it down from the wall and run it under the faucet, or place a few ice cubes on top of the plant and let them melt and trickle down to the roots. If you’re lucky enough to live in a warm place where you can plant your fern outdoors, simply run the hose over it for a few minutes when you notice the fronds begin to wilt.

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