Platycerium leaf
Platycerium (Staghorn fern) - Expert tips

How to Care for Platycerium (Staghorn Fern) - Expert Tips for Thriving Plants

Have you ever heard of the Staghorn Fern? Or the Elkhorn Fern? These are nicknames for the beautiful plants under the Platycerium family, a genus boasting 18 stunning fern species. If you take good care of them, they can stick around as houseplants for a very long time. Even though they grow slowly, don't be surprised if they eventually get over a meter long!

They grow from a small part called a rhizome and have two types of leaves. The first kind helps protect the roots and, in some species, even catches water. The second kind of leaf helps the plant make more ferns. Some types of these ferns only have one rhizome - they're the solo artists of the family!

These fascinating plants hail from tropical and temperate parts of Africa, South America, New Guinea, and Australia. But the most interesting and fun thing about this genus is that they are epiphytic, which means they grow on other plants without being a parasite. How cool is that!

Platycerium plant

Staghorn Fern Care: 10 expert tips for growing it successfully

  1. Find a spot away from any direct sunlight. A place with plenty of indirect natural light is ideal for your Elkhorn Fern. Its delicate fronds can be damaged by harsh, direct sunlight.
  2. They're susceptible to overwatering, so be careful. It prefers to dry out a bit between watering, so wait until at least half of the soil is dry before watering again.
  3. Avoid pouring water directly on the leaves, especially those with soft white layers. This protective coating, once lost, does not regenerate and leaves the plant more susceptible to issues.
  4. High humidity is key to its heart. Keep humidity high, and Staghorn Ferns happy with an air humidifier or water tray with pebbles.
  5. Fertilise occasionally, but don't overdo it. They do not need a lot of fertiliser. Light feeding in the spring and summer is usually enough to keep this plant healthy.
  6. Platycerium is an epiphytic plant that enjoys a chunky potting mix. Due to its chunky composition, the PLNTS epiphytes potting mix kit is an excellent choice.
  7. Avoid disturbing the shield fronds. It might appear that they are dying, but it is a normal process of the plant's growth and protects the roots. At all costs, don't remove them!
  8. You can mount your Platycerium for a more natural growth pattern. Imitate their native tree trunk habitat with a piece of wood. Cover the roots with sphagnum moss and attach them to the wood piece.
  9. Keep an eye out for any problems. Platycerium plants are generally pest-free but occasionally attract scale insects and mealybugs. Be alert for any changes in leaves that may indicate a problem.
  10. Make sure it has enough space. Platycerium doesn't like to be crowded by other plants. Keeping it slightly separate from other houseplants can prevent pest spread and ensure it gets the light and air it needs.

Platycerium care tips

Light requirements

Since most of these beautiful fern ladies come from tropical to temperate zones, they like bright but indirect sunlight. Make sure you find the lightest spot in your house for your Staghorn Fern, and it will thank you with beautiful light green foliage!

If the room has sufficient light but isn't directly hitting the plant, you can place it almost anywhere – on a table, a shelf, or hanging from the ceiling. Just remember to keep it out of direct sunlight.


As mentioned, your Staghorn Fern is a strong green beauty. Due to the large shield leaves that protect the root, we recommend that you water her from below. Leave her in the water for 10 to 15 minutes and make sure she drains well. It's easy for those shield leaves to rot.

Expert tip! If your Platycerium fronds start to brown, it's probably overwatering. Just examine the soil and adjust your watering routine a little.

Do not overwater, and always check the soil before you water it again. You can use a water meter or touch the soil through draining holes with your finger. The soil needs to be watered again if it has dried out. It's pointless to feel the soil from the top if you're watering it from the bottom because the soil at the top is constantly drier then. Remember that your Staghorn Fern needs less water during winter since it's resting.


Staghorn Fern is not a heavy feeder; in fact, it is pretty sensitive to over-fertilising. A liquid fertiliser like our organic PLNTS Nutrition can be used once a month during the growing season to help her thrive more and encourage its unique foliage to shine in your house.

Platycerium plant

Temperature & humidity

Keep the temperature around 18-27°C and humidity levels around 40-70%, and your Elkhorn Fern will be one happy houseplant. It can tolerate short periods of colder temperatures (minimum 10°C). If your home air is too dry, read how to increase humidity for houseplants.

Expert tip! Bathrooms and kitchens (with windows!) are like paradise for these plants because they really enjoy places with lots of moisture in the air.

Repotting & Soil

Staghorn Ferns or Platycerium plants are epiphytes, meaning they naturally grow on other plants or trees rather than in soil. These plants do not need to be traditionally repotted and may benefit from it. Alternatively, they can be mounted on wooden boards or wood pieces with sphagnum moss to provide a medium for growing roots.

If you choose to pot your Staghorn Fern, use the PLNTS Epiphytes mix kit that is airy and has big chunks, which is ideal for your plant. Consider repotting it if roots start to come out of drainage holes.

Platycerium propagation

Do you like your Staghorn Fern so much that you want another version of it? With the right equipment, you can have it done in no time!

There are two ways to propagate your Platycerium. To avoid shocking your plant, you can propagate her through spores, but this is a slow process, and we know that PLNTSlovers are impatient when it comes to plants! The other way is by dividing the plant. You'll need a small pair of scissors or a sharp knife to carefully cut off the young offshoots or 'pups'. Make sure you pick pups that have both types of leaves - the spore-producing ones and the round, flat ones. After the cuttings, keep your new baby fern in a warm and humid place until it starts growing on its own.

Platycerium leaves

Most common pests on Platycerium

Staghorn Ferns are really strong and not often infected by pests. But if you don’t pamper them correctly or when they lack humidity, pesky insects can appear to take advantage of your Platycerium weakness. Soft scales are the most common, but sometimes mealybugs can infect your plant too. If you find something suspicious on your plant, feel free to check our PLNTSdoctor page to recognise and eliminate your plant pests!

Are Platycerium poisonous for your pets or children?

Besides being gorgeous, strong and cute, the Platycerium Family contains only safe plants for children and pets in the genus! So don’t be afraid to let your furry friends approach your green lady, and maybe they will become best friends?!

Buy your new Platycerium online at

At, we have the gorgeous Baby Platycerium Bifurcatum and her cute little green leaves. If you want to see your fern lady grow into a mature and incredible Fern, this is the best option! Otherwise, we can show you our beautiful and grown Platycerium Bifurcatum. Shop Platycerium online at

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Hi, I'm Emma, your guide!

Hi, I’m Emma, your guide!