Elk Horn Ferns & Staghorn Ferns
Staghorn & Elkhorn Ferns
Staghorn & Elkhorn ferns look very much like deer or elk antlers, hence their unusual name. Native to Asia and Australia, the plants are part of the Polypodiaceae family—they grow slowly, but end up being quite large and impressive once mature.
These ferns are epiphytic, which means they grow mounted on plaques or other substrates. They have two distinct leaf forms—small, flat leaves (known as shield fronds) that cover the root ball structure and take up water and nutrients; and green, pronged antler fronds that emerge from this base and can reach up to three feet in length indoors (and larger in the wild).
These ferns prefer to be kept in a location that boasts consistent, shaded light. That being said, they can handle more sunlight if given enough water, warmth, and humidity. Just be cautious about allowing any direct rays to hit the fragile fronds, as they can burn easily.
Though young ferns may be started in a moist traditional potting mixture, Staghorn & Elkhorn ferns should be mounted once they progress towards maturity.
Staghorn & Elkhorn ferns are epiphytes, growing on the sides of trees or other plants in the wild, and will therefore thrive in similar conditions in your home. To mount, you'll need a starting lump of peat, compost, moss, or other organic matter to act as the base, but beyond that should not need additional soil.
Proper watering is an essential component of Staghorn & Elkhorn fern's success. They'll need frequent watering, but the base should be allowed to dry out in between—about once a week in warmer climates or during the summer months, and once every two to three weeks in cooler months. For easy watering, remove your fern and its mounting from the wall (or wherever it's hung) and soak in a sink filled with water for 10–20 minutes, or until the roots are fully saturated. Allow to drip dry before rehanging.