Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Staghorn Fern
Platycerium superbum

Family: Polypodiaceae
Genus: Platycerium (plat-ee-SIR-ee-um) (Info)
Species: superbum (soo-PER-bum) (Info)

Synonym:Alcicornium superbum

14 members have or want this plant for trade.

Tropicals and Tender Perennials

6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)

8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Light Shade
Partial to Full Shade
Full Shade


Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:

Grown for foliage

Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
Provides winter interest

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:
Unknown - Tell us

Propagation Methods:
By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)
From spores

Seed Collecting:
N/A: plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed

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There are a total of 25 photos.
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5 positives
2 neutrals
1 negative

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive BayAreaTropics On Sep 10, 2013, BayAreaTropics from Hayward, CA wrote:

I bought mine in early June and now in September its showing signs of growth. It's not falling over itself to flush,no fast grower. Considering the ultimate huge size of this fern it has to require a large root system or numerous brown shield fronds before it gets some size.
Its a new plant to me and I haven't even dosed it with fertilizer. I think I will wait until next spring- late spring when its warm again. And move it into even more light then now. I used this summer to allow it to adapt to the outdoors.
I do live in fear that a single snail will find it and have been baiting like mad the perimeter around it. Losing it to my error I cant afford!
Look for updates over time. A magnificent jungle fern in the making here in the San Francisco Bay Area..

Positive delbertyoung56m On Jun 30, 2011, delbertyoung56m from Medina, NY wrote:

Bought this staghorn fern from the Erie County Botanical Garden in Buffalo, NY about 3 years ago and hang it from the railing outside in the shade from Spring through Fall and keep it inside for the Winter. Last year I left it outside until Thanksgiving, with some some on it, and it still survived, in spite of my neglect. I do enjoy the plant but must soon put it onto a larger board - it seems to be outgrowing the original pot.

Positive blhickson On Jun 27, 2011, blhickson from Savannah, GA wrote:

I love my staghorn fern, but it has not grown much since I got it about 7 yrs ago. It was about 5" square on an lattice board about 12 in. square when purchased. Now, it is about 8 in. sq. on the same board. How can I encourage it to grow? She lives in my bathroom on a north facing wall above the shower. Appears very healthy, leaves fairly light green, and produces a new frond about every 2-3 months. Any help is welcome - I love this plant. Guests ask if its real!! She has been living inside in Savh, GA but is moving to Lake Murray (Cola.), SC soon.

Neutral mochimo On May 2, 2008, mochimo from MIddle Blue
Indonesia wrote:

I often saw this plant in my region ^^ People here rarely took and place them on their backyard. But I think its unique

Positive zone10 On Apr 30, 2008, zone10 from San Diego, CA (Zone 10b) wrote:

This p. superbum plant is the prize of my garden, yet I hate to admit it endured such abuse for the first 15 years of it's life. My fern was part of my transient decor as I carted it from apartment to apartment for many years. Glad to say, I seem to have redeemed myself by giving it an ideal place to grow old. Three years ago, I remounted this onto a 9 sq. ft. foot wooden board and it is almost ready for another move up. Oh my gosh, a 16 sq. ft. board!! I placed the mounted fern against a west-facing wall, under a dragon tree. I rarely water it, except during the hot summer months, and whatever falls out of the dragon tree, is its food. This is one of the easiest care plants I have in my frost-free garden in San Diego. If you have a bit of patience, buy a small one and find an ideal spot for it (or a less than ideal spot and wait a long time).

Negative Ompus On Mar 13, 2005, Ompus from Miami, FL wrote:

A magnificent plant. Still, I've succeeded in killing two young ones already- the first to rot, the second from dryness. I'll keep trying, but this isn't an easy fern.

Neutral smiln32 On Aug 29, 2004, smiln32 from Oklahoma City, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

Platycerium is a genus of about 18 species of ferns. Two, the elkhorn (Platycerium bifurcatum) and the staghorn (P.superbum) are well-known in cultivation.

A fully grown staghorn fern can make an outstanding specimen. Staghorns are generally epiphytic (growing on trees), or occasionally lithophytic (growing on rocks). These ferns have broad nest fronds which grow and embrace the host and from a humus-collecting bowl, which can reach impressive dimensions.

In nature, these ferns often grow high up in trees, where they receive much light filtering through the canopy.

Positive palmbob On Aug 2, 2003, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

This staghorn fern is a little tougher to grow outdoors than the common P bifurcatum. But if you succeed, you end up with a marvelous plant that is truly a specimen. It can become huge, though, easily weighing over 100lbs... so careful onto which tree you afix it to, or leave it on a board, which many growers do. It does not like a lot of high, dry heat, but if kept wet, can handle a lot of heat. As for cold, it doesn't like frost. However mine has seen frost every year, down to about 28F and not had a problem. This is an Australian fern, from the rainforests.

Excellent, but massive hanging fern, for larger trees/walls. This is one of the favorites of fern growers and collectors due to its massive size and beauty. It is a little more fastidious than P bifurcatum, but it probably still one of the easier to grow in Southern California (many are NOT easy as they require too much moisture or can't tolerate cold). This one gets pretty big, so be sure you have room for it. Best to get a larger specimen as small ones are the finicky ones. Cost can be substantial, though. Recommend keep the base moist through summer, and stop watering when gets cold. Can tolerate a good deal of dessication, though, once large. Not as easy to hack off suckers as P bifurcatum, but pretty forgiving compared to some. Very tasty to snails, which can decimate fern in no time if allowed.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Encinitas, California
Encino, California
Hayward, California
Livermore, California
Mission Viejo, California
San Clemente, California
San Diego, California
San Jose, California
San Leandro, California
Thousand Oaks, California
Babson Park, Florida
Brandon, Florida
Dade City, Florida
Fernandina Beach, Florida
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Frostproof, Florida
Grant, Florida
Hollywood, Florida
Jacksonville, Florida
Lakeland, Florida
Melbourne Beach, Florida
Miami, Florida
Palm Harbor, Florida
Panama City, Florida
Port Richey, Florida
Port Saint Lucie, Florida
Punta Gorda, Florida
Tampa, Florida
Valrico, Florida
Honomu, Hawaii
Gonzales, Louisiana
Medina, New York
Grove City, Pennsylvania
Gallatin, Tennessee
Dallas, Texas
Mc Kinney, Texas

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