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Platycerium superbum (photo courtesy of Thomas J. Story)
Platycerium superbum (photo courtesy of Thomas J. Story)

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Zones 23, 24, H2
Partial Sun
Regular Water

Platycerium superbum

Giant Staghorn Fern


Native to tropical regions, where they grow on trees. In gardens, these grow best mounted on slabs of bark or tree fern stem, in hanging baskets, or attached to trees. To thrive, they need regular water, very well-drained soil, and strong indirect light. Plants have two kinds of fronds. Sterile fronds are flat, pale green, aging to tan and brown; they support the plant and accumulate organic matter to provide nutrients. Fertile fronds are forked, resembling deer antlers (hence the common name). Difficult to grow under normal houseplant conditions, but possible in a garden room, sun porch, or an attached greenhouse where direct sun can be filtered by a sheer window covering. Water thoroughly but not often. Check moisture levels by pressing on the sterile brown frond base; water only when dry. Apply balanced liquid fertilizer monthly during growing season.

Platycerium superbum

From Australia. Grows to 6 ft. tall, with a 5-ft. spread. Broad, gray-green fertile fronds are spreading or pendent; often forked several times, resembling moose antlers. Sterile fronds are deeply lobed. Protect from frosts.

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