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GWAA

The Garden Writers Association

 

Last Update 06/03/08
Plant of the Month

 Platycerium Bifurcatum  

 Staghorn or Stag's Horn Fern

Staghorn Ferns

Platycerium Bifurcatum, Staghorn fern growing on Orchid Tree (Bauhinia)

Platycerium Bifurcatum, Staghorn fern ball. Click to enlarge.

Platycerium Bifurcatum, Staghorn fern ball hung from tree. Click to enlarge.

An extraordinary fern in both size and shape the Staghorn Ferns are an absolute must for Florida gardens that have a large tree for these wonderful plants to grow on or hang from.  Of the family Polypodiaceae it is well known as Staghorn Fern for the fertile fronds that resemble antlers when maturing.  It is fairly easy to grow in partial shade and mostly undemanding.  Staghorn Ferns are native to the Philippines, Malaysia, Australia, Africa and South America.

Plant Facts:

Common Name:  Staghorn or Stag's Horn Fern

Botanical Name:  Platycerium Bifurcatum

Family:  Polypodiaceae

Plant Type:  Epiphytic Fern

Origin: Philippines, Malaysia, Australia, Africa and South America

Zones: 9 - 11 -- hardy to Orlando and Tampa Area

Height:  4"

Rate of Growth: Slow to Medium

Salt Tolerance: Not Salt Tolerant

Soil Requirements:  None, epiphytic fern which may be attached to a pad of moss or similar substrate and tied onto a tree or board.  If a large tree is not available a large wire basket may be used.

Water Requirements: Water freely when in growth (mist daily), sparingly in winter

Nutritional Requirements: Balanced liquid fertilizer monthly

Light Requirements: Partial Shade

Form:  Mounding fern

Leaves:  Deep gray-green colored, lightly hairy heart or kidney shaped sterile fronds 5-18" in diameter becoming papery and brown with age.  Fertile fronds 5" to 6' long, deep gray-green resembling antlers.  Spores are produced in cinnamon-colored patches on underside tips of the fronds.  As the fronds age they fall off and are replaced by new ones.

Flowers:  None

Fruits: None, produce spores year round

Pests:  Sometimes affected by Scale Insects

Uses:  Show piece

Bad Habits: Become extremely large with maturity, must have strong support, may colonize entire tree.   Provides cover for tree frogs, lizards, snakes, palmetto bugs, etc. 

Cost:  $$ - $$$ -- reasonable to expensive

Propagation:   Spores or detach and replant plantlets from parents when pups form mounds 4" across.

Sources:   A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants, The Subtropical Garden, Tropical Gardening

 

 
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