Close up photo of platycerium in greenhouse/ elkhorn fern, palms

If you’re interested in unique houseplants as living decor for your walls, a staghorn fern might be just what you’re looking for. These epiphytic plants originally came from Australia, but are quickly becoming a hot trend here in the US.

First, to grasp the potential uses of staghorn ferns, you should understand what “epiphytic” means. These are plants that grow rooted not in soil, but upon other plants! Staghorn ferns are often found clinging to the crooks of trees, where their roots serve to hold them in place. The large, lush fronds do the work of absorbing nutrients. For this reason, staghorn ferns make excellent decor for your walls. With a bit of attention to mounting them correctly, staghorn ferns will feel right at home on your living room wall.

We grow indoor plants for a variety of reasons: They clean our air, they can be calming, and they simply look pretty. Like air plants, staghorn ferns can make a terrific addition to your indoor garden, as long as you pay attention to their basic needs and understand how they differ from other plants.

Where to place staghorn ferns. Staghorn ferns need a lot of indirect or diffused sunlight, but not direct light. Therefore, you should display them in an area of your home that receives plenty of natural light, but not directly in glaring sun. A room with Southern or Eastern exposure is best.

How to display staghorn ferns. Unlike other ferns, you don’t want to use a bit pot full of soil. Staghorn ferns are often sold with their root balls wrapped in burlap, and then mounted to a board. You can hang them on your wall this way, or purchase young staghorn ferns and make your own mounting board.

How to water staghorn ferns. About once per week during hot, dry weather, mist your fern thoroughly with a spray bottle. During cooler months you can stretch that to every two or three weeks. Alternately, you can soak your fern by running it under water, and then allowing it to dry before re-hanging it.

Fertilizing your staghorn fern. Monthly during growing season, you can dissolve some water soluble fertilizer in your spray bottle. Use a fertilizer with a 1:1:1 ratio. During dormant periods, you can reduce fertilizing to every other month. A mature staghorn fern only needs fertilizer about twice per year.

What temperature do staghorn ferns prefer? These plants are fairly hardy. Just don’t let the temperature drop below 50 degrees, or go above 100. That’s pretty simple to accomplish if you’re keeping your ferns indoors.

What else should you know about staghorn ferns? With proper care, staghorn ferns have been known to live 25 years or longer. During this time you might need to occasionally separate the fern, so that it doesn’t become too crowded on the mounting board.

If you see a few fronds turn brown and curl around the root ball, this is fine! Don’t remove them; the point is to protect the base of the plant. And if you see brown fuzz on the underside of fronds, leave it alone. Those are just the plant’s reproductive spores.

If you have any other questions, feel free to call us! We’re always here to answer your plant or lawn care questions.

Discover more from McCabe's Landscape

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading