Staghorn ferns (Platycerium spp.) are epiphytes that naturally cling to tree branches and dangle downward in the canopy's shade. Over a period of 10 to 20 years, these bushy evergreens can grow up to 4 feet tall and broad. Although staghorn ferns are native to tropical Asia, they have been introduced to other parts of the world where they have become naturalized.
In the wild, staghorn ferns are dependent upon water from rainfall or streams for survival. In order to grow, they require warm temperatures and high humidity. They are able to withstand freezing temperatures but will die if the water they are growing in turns back to ice.
If you want to grow a staghorn fern at home, you should look for a suitable container. The plant needs plenty of space to spread its roots so make sure you provide this when buying your pot. Also, make sure that the container is large enough as well as deep enough for the plant to grow in. It should be filled with soil, not sand, and placed in a location where it will receive ample sunlight but not direct heat from the sun. Staghorn ferns do not like their leaves to get wet regularly so make sure that the container you select has good drainage.
After you have chosen your container, you need to prepare the soil inside it.
As reproductive organs, staghorn ferns generate spores, which are carried on the margins of the lobed, antler-like fronds. They do not produce blooms and are not often rooted in soil.
Staghorn ferns are unique among ferns in that they produce spore casings or "fruiting bodies" that break off from the main body of the plant. These fruiting bodies contain about 100 microscopic spores and eventually disintegrate, spreading the seeds far and wide. Although the term "staghorn" suggests these plants grow in clusters, they are actually solitary creatures that spread their seed by creeping along on thin rhizomes. They can be hard to find since they tend to live in high rainfall areas near streams where they can obtain moisture from the fog that rolls through the valleys.
Some people may think that because staghorn ferns don't have flowers that they cannot reproduce but this is not true at all! The plants use spores to reproduce so there is no way that they could disappear forever will all the flowering plants did. Spores are also very efficient at reproduction compared to plants using roots because it doesn't waste energy growing back up if something tries to eat it.
Staghorn ferns are epiphytes, meaning they live in the air. They thrive on a wall mount that allows air to circulate around them. They require enough lighting, including direct sunshine. In between waterings, they require some drying of the soil or medium. This will allow for normal transpiration and avoid damage from moisture accumulation.
Staghorn ferns were originally found in tropical regions of the world where it receives full sun for most of the day. However, today's cultivators grow these plants in various types of indoor light environments. Some growers keep their staghorns in darkness with only the lights above them shining light onto the plants. Others provide more light by using fluorescent bulbs instead. Still other growers supplement regular daylight with electric lights during the night-time hours.
Regardless of how it is treated by growers, staghorn fern requires sunlight to survive. It is recommended that you expose the leaves to at least 15 minutes of direct sunlight each day. If you don't have this much time, use an ultraviolet (UV) lamp to kill harmful bacteria and fungi without damaging the ferns.
Some varieties of staghorn fern come with red or yellow flowers that develop into berries before falling off. These colorful variants add interest to rock gardens and take up less space than typical staghorn ferns.