Posts Tagged ‘ staghorn fern ’

Staghorn Ferns – A Desired Exotic Beauty

Posted on: August 27th, 2020 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments

Hooray, spring has arrived! Allow yourself to be swept up in all the blossoming joy and bliss coming to life in your garden. Heritage Day falls on 24 September and doubles up as National Braai Day. A family braai is a fitting celebration of our culture and heritage, especially when surrounded by your own gorgeous garden. Another excuse to plan a braai or even a picnic in the garden would be on Sunday 11 October – Garden Day. So garden-lovers, have loads of gardening fun and get your greens garden day ready.

Staghorn ferns (Platycerium bifurcatum) are one of those plants that most plant-lovers either have in their garden/home or wish they did. They have been described as the funkiest of ferns with an out-of-this-world appearance due to the drooping leaves, which resemble the horns of a stag. Although they look very majestic and regal when mature, they do look very funky as baby plants.

Did you know?

Staghorns love growing both outdoors and indoors in coastal and frost-free regions. Although considered indoor plants in the Highveld, they will grow in positions protected from the frost and cold winds outdoors, such as in evergreen trees or on sheltered patios and courtyards.

If the staghorn is already mounted on a log or piece of driftwood, you can place it on a table or hang it on the wall. You can also grow the young plant in its original pot, however, it will later tend to become heavy on the side that the plant hangs over and unless secured will want to topple over. A fun project would be to make your own mounting board. To do this, take a piece of wooden board, about 15cm x 15cm and:

  • Remove the staghorn from its pot and add the sphagnum moss behind the basal leaves and over the roots.
  • Make a pouch with some hessian cloth to cover the roots and basal leaves so that the plant is held in place by the pouch. The roots will grasp onto the wood surface in time.
  • Use tacks, small nails or a staple gun to secure the hessian firmly to the wood.
  • Make a hole in the top of the wood to hang it on the wall or use some rope attached behind the wood.
Tip: If you don’t like the look of the hessian or the raw wood, use decoupage or some other creative way of disguising it until the basal leaves cover it over time.

Caring for your staghorn is easy once you know the plant’s needs:

  • Light: Outdoors in the shade, especially in hot, dry climates and in semi-shade in humid areas. They prefer high light areas in the home or on the patio but not direct sunlight unless it is early or late in the day.
  • Humidity: Bathrooms and atriums provide good humidity in regions with dry air.
Tip: If the ends of the anther-looking leaves begin to brown, you are probably underwatering, and you will need to increase the misting. If the bases of the same leaves are turning back, you are probably overwatering.


  • Watering: Mist the plants weekly on the leaves and little on and behind the brown basal leaves. In the winter you can reduce watering to every 3 weeks. Some gardeners like to remove the plant from the wall, take it to the sink and let room temperature water flow over the leaves and basal leaves for about a minute. Allow it to drip dry and put it back in its place. If using this method, be sure to allow the roots to dry out between one watering and the next to avoid rotting the roots.
  • Feeding: These ferns are epiphytes and naturally cling to trees. Their roots serve an anchoring purpose with water and nutrients mostly being absorbed through the leaves. Add a balanced liquid foliar fertiliser to the water in your spray mister bottle. Do this once a month during the warmer months and once in two months over winter. Your local GCA Garden Centre can advise you on a good foliar feed.

Life is a Garden, so enjoy your funky fern and be prepared to pass it down from one generation to the next.

Make your own reindeer staghorn this holiday season DIY Activity - Decorating a staghorn fern

Posted on: November 19th, 2019 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments

December holidays are great for getting creative with your kids. Here are 7 easy steps to make your own staghorn mount reindeer decoration.

Like orchids, the staghorn fern (Platycerium) is an epiphyte, which means they do not require soil to grow but attach to and gain nutrients from other plants, while not harming the host plant. They have two sets of leaves that grow, sterile and fertile. The sterile leaves usually form a flat shield that covers the roots and helps it attach to a support. While they might look like they are dead — they aren’t. Do not pick these leaves off! The fertile leaves emerge from the centre of the shield-like leaves and form the staghorn ‘antlers’ that gives this fern its name.

After just a short trip to your local GCA Garden Centre, you can make this gorgeous mounted reindeer staghorn fern to add some holiday cheer to your home this Christmas. Why not make more than one? They are stunning as gifts.

All you will need is the following:

  • Staghorn fern
  • Mounting board – We used a split log, but you could use any flat piece of wood
  • A bag of green moss
  • Some small nails
  • Wall mounting device of your choice – this may depend on the surface you decide to mount on
  • Twine, fishing line or wire
  • Hammer and possibly a screw driver
  • Red Christmas ball ornament
  • A reindeer face cut out and /or winking eyes
  • Coloured markers, crayons, pencils or paint to decorate your reindeer face
  • Glue, pins, double sided tape

Mounting A Staghorn Fern

Step one

First things first, you will want to set the hook that will attach to the wall. Whatever you decide to use is up to you and the mounting piece you decide on, but begin with placing that before anything else. We used two nails and a piece of twine, but you may prefer a picture frame hook.

Step two

Next, grab your nails and hammer in 4 to 6 small nails in a square or circular shape where you will be mounting the staghorn onto your chosen piece of wood. This will secure the plant on the mount.

Step three

Before you place the plant, it is important to loosen and prune the roots some. This helps better absorb moisture in its new environment as well as adapt to the new surface it will call home. After pruning make sure to water the plant.

Step four

Once you have pruned the plant, place the fern in the middle of the circle of nails. We also took into account the direction of leaves. By considering these details it will make the final presentation feel right. There is no wrong way, but sometimes one side of the plant will look better than another.

Now, grab the moss and pull apart a chunk, soak it slightly and make sure to squeeze out any drippy moisture. Wrap the moss around the base of the plant to contain the dirt and roots of the fern.

Step five

Once fully wrapped, cut a long piece of twine and tie a knot on a nail. Criss-cross the twine over the base of the plant and wrap it around the tops of the nails with each cross. This will be the only security the plant and moss have so make sure to hit every nail and wrap around the heads well. You could also use fishing line or wire. Choose whatever fits you and your style.  You may need to secure some of the leaves together at the base and angle them in the correct position to look most like reindeer antlers

Step six

Once the plant is well secured it will almost be ready to hang…. but first you need to add the reindeers face. Colour, decorate and assemble your chosen reindeer face, and/or eyes and nose. Now secure the face in the best location on your staghorn mount board so that the leaves of the fern resemble the reindeer’s antlers.  We used pins and double-sided tape to secure our reindeer face and/or eyes and ball ornament nose.

Step seven

Hang your reindeer staghorn mount in a prime position in your home to add holiday cheer.

To keep your plant healthy, check the moss every so often to make sure the moss is moist. The dryer your home, the more often you will need to water it. Make sure to also place it in a brighter room to allow enough sunlight, however it should not have direct sunlight. When you do water, spray them to give them a rain-like experience (be careful not to spray your reindeer face).

You can purchase your kids experiment items as well as get helpful advice from your local GCA Garden Centre. Stay up to date with all your garden care and inspiration. Join the conversation on our Facebook page: