Platycerium bifurcatum

Family: Polypodiaceae

Countries: Australia, Java, Papua New Guinea

Platycerium bifurcatum is also know as the Staghorn Fern; this is a stunning evergreen fern that naturally grows as an epiphyte – establishing itself on the trunks and branches of trees in its native environment in the treetops and rainforests of Java, Polynesia, Australia, and Asia.  This is a slow-growing, long-lived fern that will enhance your home when grown as a houseplant.  Platycerium bifurcatum require a warm and very humid environment, where the minimum temperature will never fall below 13C (55F).

Platycerium bifurcatum can eventually form magnificent specimens that extend up to around 1m (3.2ft) in size.  However, young plants can be grown successfully inside a terrarium, providing the enclosure will provide Platycerium bifurcatum with soft, but bright, indirect light.  When placing your Platycerium bifurcatum fern, avoid shaded areas and stay clear of harsh, direct sunlight, but ensure your Staghorn fern will flourish by growing this epiphytic fern in a very humid environment with plenty of bright but diffused light.  When choosing where to place your Platycerium bifurcatum, don’t be tempted to hang your fern anywhere near a radiator; these plants will decline when placed near radiators, stoves, open fires, or any feature that will dry the air around them.

They are often sold as container plants growing in pots, but Platycerium bifurcatum can be mounted and grown as epiphytes, which is when I think Platycerium bifurcatum appear at their most beautiful and impressive.  Mounting these ferns on a large piece of cork or board really shows off the fact that Platycerium bifurcatum fronds resemble stag or elk horns, but if you prefer Platycerium bifurcatum can also be potted into small containers filled with cork fragments or a very free-draining, peat-free substrate.

Mist your Platycerium bifurcatum ferns regularly, as they will thrive in a very humid environment.  A diluted, liquid fertiliser can be given during spring and summertime when the plants are in active growth.  Mounted Platycerium bifurcatum plants can be submerged in water for ten minutes, once a week and allowed to drain, before being returned to their usual station.  Continue with regular light misting, but water Platycerium bifurcatum ferns less often in autumn and wintertime.  To be on the safe side, ensure temperatures never drop below 13C (55F).

Please don’t be tempted to cut off any of the brown fronds that belong to your Platycerium bifurcatum fern, as this fern needs to be grown as a whole and not sawn in half!  The hand-shaped or shell-shaped leaves that shield the base of Platycerium bifurcatum (covering its epiphytic roots) will naturally turn brown as they age, but this is not a signal to you to cut or rip them out – all parts of this fern should be retained for optimum plant health and appearance.

Pictured is a young Platycerium bifurcatum fern that’s growing happily inside one of my terrariums.

To see my Planting List for Terrariums and Bottle Gardens, please click here.

To read articles I’ve written about my terrariums and bottle gardens, please click here.

To see more houseplant pages with pictures and information on growing a wide range of indoor plants, please click here.

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For photos and information on growing ferns, please click here.

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