Common Staghorn Fern, Elkhorn Fern, Antelope Ears

Platycerium bifurcatum

Family: Polypodiaceae
Genus: Platycerium (plat-ee-SIR-ee-um) (Info)
Species: bifurcatum (by-fur-KAY-tum) (Info)
Synonym:Alcicornium bifurcatum



Foliage Color:


Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Where to Grow:

This plant is suitable for growing indoors


18-24 in. (45-60 cm)


24-36 in. (60-90 cm)


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:

Sun to Partial Shade



Bloom Color:


Bloom Time:



Grown for foliage


Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

Unknown - Tell us

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)

From herbaceous stem cuttings

Seed Collecting:

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


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


Florala, Alabama

Headland, Alabama

Ozark, Alabama

Camarillo, California

Citrus Heights, California

Clayton, California

Encinitas, California

Fairfield, California

Goleta, California

Hayward, California

Manhattan Beach, California

Merced, California

Mission Viejo, California

Newport Beach, California

Oakland, California

San Francisco, California

Spring Valley, California

Stockton, California (2 reports)

Susanville, California

Thousand Oaks, California

Valley Center, California

Bartow, Florida

Big Pine Key, Florida

Boca Raton, Florida

Brandon, Florida

Brooksville, Florida (2 reports)

Cocoa, Florida

Deland, Florida

Fort Lauderdale, Florida (3 reports)

Fort Mc Coy, Florida

Fort Myers, Florida

Fort Pierce, Florida

Fruitland Park, Florida

Grant, Florida

Hollywood, Florida

Interlachen, Florida

Jacksonville, Florida (4 reports)

Lake City, Florida

Lakeland, Florida

Loxahatchee, Florida

Lutz, Florida

Melbourne, Florida

Melbourne Beach, Florida

Merritt Island, Florida

Miami, Florida

Miami Beach, Florida

New Port Richey, Florida (2 reports)

North Fort Myers, Florida (2 reports)

North Palm Beach, Florida

Ocklawaha, Florida

Ocoee, Florida

Oldsmar, Florida

Orange Park, Florida

Orlando, Florida

Palm Harbor, Florida

Rockledge, Florida

Rotonda West, Florida

Saint Cloud, Florida

Saint Petersburg, Florida

Sarasota, Florida

Tampa, Florida

Umatilla, Florida

Valrico, Florida

Venice, Florida

Wellborn, Florida

West Palm Beach, Florida (2 reports)

Winter Haven, Florida

Winter Springs, Florida

Athens, Georgia

Collins, Georgia

Hull, Georgia

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Covington, Louisiana

Gonzales, Louisiana

Lafayette, Louisiana

New Orleans, Louisiana

Saint Joseph, Louisiana

Pontotoc, Mississippi

Cincinnati, Ohio

Portland, Oregon

Vieques, Puerto Rico

Goose Creek, South Carolina

Pocahontas, Tennessee

Corpus Christi, Texas

Dallas, Texas

Fort Worth, Texas

Houston, Texas (2 reports)

La Porte, Texas

Manor, Texas

Mc Kinney, Texas

San Antonio, Texas (2 reports)

Spring, Texas

Thorndale, Texas

Wimberley, Texas

Newport News, Virginia

Puyallup, Washington

Coon Valley, Wisconsin

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Jun 14, 2012, LovingMyGarden from Goose Creek, SC wrote:

I have a Staghorn fern and it lives outside from Spring until late Fall. It lives under an oak tree all summer. I rarely fertilize it but when I do I use Peter's Professional. When the temps drop I bring it onto my screen porch and cover it every night with a blanket. It always survives the winter. I did not know about fertilizing it with banana peels. I'm going to try them. I bought it at a Home Depot in Virginia. I am in Charleston (Goose Creek), SC, Zone 8A I think, or maybe zone 8B.


On Mar 24, 2011, wanderingmantis from Brunswick, GA wrote:

I found my new little buddy on a clearance rack at a local garden center barely hanging on for life. So for .50, I decided I'd give it a chance. I brought it home and gave it a good soak. Then left it alone. Some leaves started to die but i waited. Eventually sensing it wanted more light. I put it on the window seal and surprise surprise, new fronds began to grow after about a week. I am very happy to have a new friend to add to my small collection of Ferns!


On Dec 5, 2010, Alexwtf_93 from Susanville, CA wrote:

a small plant was given to me a few years ago, it has grown very well, every year it has to come indoors for winter but continues to grow, i water it once in a while by soaking it in the sink and feed it miracle-gro, superthrive, shultz, or whatever i have at the time, so far, no problems at all with this plant


On Sep 11, 2010, jskyieeyes3 from Saint Cloud, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

i currently have 3 staghorn ferns. i love them! 2 of them are small pups that i am starting out in wire hanging baskets. i placed the pups in the baskets with organic manure that you can purchase from either walmart or home depot (it's really cheap, like $2 a bag). both pups are doing really well; growing new fronds and basal fronds. =) my big stag i actually found on the side of the road next to a dumpster! it was wet, and rotting, so my husband and i make a makeshift "basket" for it out of the stand of a metal patio table, and hung it from one of the oak trees in our front yard. it has recovered quickly, is growing new basals around the rotted bottom, and is much happier now i think. =) i fertilize it once a month with fish emulsion, and once every 3 months with milorganite. we toss some... read more


On Aug 30, 2010, yogafiable from Camarillo, CA wrote:

We have several huge hanging ferns, all stemming from a hanging basket planted 35 years ago. Now the largest is beginning to fail, although in the same place for the last 12 years. Since it takes up the whole side of the patio, I am considering transplanting the viable plants onto a wall unit on the house in a shady, protected area. Does anyone have any experience in these things? It is definitely one of the family by now, and needs care.


On Mar 21, 2010, OldGator from Saint Cloud, FL wrote:

I started with Staghorns in 1990 with a purchase of a 20 year old fern from a nursery that had it fall during a hurricane. I paid $250 and smile everytime I look at it. It's now 40 years old and is about 5'x6' (not counting the fronds), just the ball. I have 8 Staghorns at the present, that range from 2' to the big boy, and there are 6 different types.
I feed them Peters 20-20-20 once a month, except for Jan/Feb/Mar and water them completely when they become light enough to be moved by a light wind. All were started with Spag. Moss and NO dirt and all hang in trees. They like partly sunny spots but love mostly shady ones.Over watering is about the only problem they encounter. They will turn black on the pups all over...But, I've only had this happen once and that was an El Nino rai... read more


On Jan 30, 2010, lovesflowers70 from Lakeland, FL wrote:

I have had my staghorn fern for over 27 years a gift from my dad.It was just a small singular plant on a wire basket it is huge now -- have never measured it so so now curious on its actual size -- but it does take me putting a chain on the ball of my truck to lower it from the 2x6 post it hangs on whenever I move it. I live in Lakeland, Fl. -- this year due to the cold weather even tho I had it covered all the stag fronds are brown but the pups attached to the plant are all green.I feed it old banana's/peels and also oxicote that I buy by 50lb bag -- the fronds are so green they are nearly black -- it is beautiful and magnificent.


On Jan 7, 2010, cactushugger from Grant, FL wrote:

Not a comment but a question: So far in reading your comments, the largest Staghorn Fern mentioned is 6X6. Does anyone have one larger and, if so, what dimensions and approximate weight? Any response greatly appreciated.
Cactushugger in Grant, Florida 32949


On Nov 6, 2008, mjsponies from DeLand/Deleon Springs, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

I LOVE my Staghorn. I bought in 1978 and I don't remember where from. It was in a little 2 in. pot. I immediately put into a little bigger basket, and kept putting in larger ones until eventually we just put a metal dow rod threw the middle with a screw eye and hung in under an oak tree. I cover it in the winter when there is a threat of hard frost or freeze here in Central Florida. I used to put it in the back of the pick up truck and haul it into the barn, but no's just too big. I throw bannana peels in it, and once in a while share some of the diluted orchid fertilzer with it. I water if we are in one of our dry spells. The black snakes love to hang out in it.
It is one of the easiest plants I've ever grown. (other than it's HUGH) but that just means giving it lots of... read more


On Sep 29, 2008, chuck7701 from McKinney, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

Mine is about 6 ft x 6 ft and needs to be divided so I can bring it for the winter. They are easy to grow, started with two small 4' inch pots from a retail store, and in four years, it's huge. Just hose them down, when it was smaller I used to submerse the base in a pot or the bathtub, occasionally some fertilizer or liquid seaweed. It doesn't mind neglect, but will burn even in a light frost or strong sun.

If anyone has good information or a resource on how to divide them, please let me know. I'll even send you a pup or two.



On Jul 28, 2008, beachy from Newport Beach, CA wrote:

This fern started in a small hanging basket 30 years ago. Now after moving from larger basket to larger basket, it was finally so heavy the chains snapped and it took 2 or 3 people to try and lift. So we cut the wire basket in half, along with the fern mass, and placed each half in a wooden half Wine-Barrel. Now they are out-growing that.
They are pretty much neglected, sprinklers hit them a bit, I hit with hose when in that area and an occasional banana peel tossed on top.
Originally in partial shade, now mostly in shade.
When I first started asking about cuttings I was told not to try, it wouldn't work. Then I met a man at a plant fair who told me go ahead and just stay 3" from the center sprout. I did half a dozen onto wood planks with moss and fishing line. ... read more


On Oct 24, 2007, BayAreaTropics from Hayward, CA wrote:

One plant i have(about 5'x6') is 29 years old. Totally defoliated in 1990's low 20's freeze, it has not lost a frond since. They are no doubt zone 9b plants-even lower with some effort to protect them outdoors.Bay Area care is to hose them down everyday, feed in summer lightly and allow some sun.They are high light level ferns. When they attach to trees makes for fascinating viewing on how the sheilds wrap around the tree trunk..they become "one" with their host tree.


On Oct 22, 2006, dlowrey from Pontotoc, MS wrote:

My plant is in a hanging wire basket filled with spaghnum moss and it is thriving quite well in this climate in Mississippi. About every two weeks I water it thoroughly and let it dry out by the water dripping out of the basket. I have only had it through spring and summer here and I don't know what to do with it this winter. I am thinking of putting it in a protected area of my porch and covering it with a cloth when freezing temperatures arrive. I hope it survives.


On Mar 18, 2006, Larry1940 from Portland, OR (Zone 8a) wrote:

I purchased a small fern a few years ago at a local garden store, over the years I'd been unsucessful keeping one alive. They definately didn't thrive indoors. The one I have now is quite large, its potted and judging by its size quite happy. I bring it outside in the early Spring and do not bring it in until late Fall. Though it looses a few fronds in the Winter, it immediately recovers outdoors.


On May 24, 2005, JaxFlaGardener from Jacksonville, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

I left my staghorn fern out last winter, unprotected except for some hay stuffed around the base, and it survived temperatures as low as 28 F on a few nights. It did suffer some leaf burn from frost and freezes. It is still small enough that I can move it easily into my greenhouse and I plan to do that in future freezing weather.

I bought my Staghorn about 2 years ago as a single plant in a 4" pot from Home Depot. I potted it up into a wire basket filled with soil, dried leaves, and peat. I didn't think my plant was growing much -- it seemed to remain just one plant with a few leaves. But this Spring, when I was checking the plant for winter damage, I found numerous new growths on the BOTTOM side of the wire basket. It seemed to be growing best in the area that was not... read more


On Sep 28, 2004, pinwheel from Tucson, AZ wrote:

This fern does not grow in my area which is in the desert. I live in Tucson (right in the middle of the desert) and I am always trying my hands at different types of tropicals. My parents live in Port St Lucie, Florida and they have quite a large one that they attached to a Live Oak tree in their backyard. I doubt that they water it at all, it is ignored and it is beautiful.


On Jun 8, 2004, desewannsew from Citrus Heights, CA wrote:

Our three foot by four foot stag lives on our patio with a south exposure in the filtered light during the summer (Sacramento) and in our potting shed Dec through March due to frosty temperatures. It is board mounted and grows vigorously. I shower it thoroughly once a week, and if it is very hot here, I mist it daily. You need to watch for scale and mealy bugs infestation; other than that, it has been trouble free.


On May 13, 2004, desertboot from Bangalore,
India (Zone 10a) wrote:

My staghorn is some 15-18 years old . It came to us as a single emerald frond wrapped in sphagnum and popped into an empty coconut-husk "shell". Exotic! The shields thereafter just kept wrapping themselves around the coconut-husk core. The whole arrangement has always hung from the same branch of the same tree, and the mass of overlapping shields just keeps growing in girth. Gorgeous long fronds all year round. It's hosed with water everyday (except when the rain does the needful), and the excess simply trickles off. For a plant that looks so weightless - in a strange way - it weighs a tonne; we've occasionally had to replace the chain that keeps it suspended from its tree.


On May 12, 2004, Habakkuk from Orlando, FL wrote:

I just fed my two staghorns a bananna and gave them a good misting. I have never checked to see if there was information on them on the web. They basically thrive on neglect. I give them the occasional spritz of water when I'm in the yard and feed them a bananna or diluted Peter's plant food when it's around. Most of the time they live off the leaf litter that showers down from the sweet gum tree they hang from.

My one stag is too large to move for frost/freezes any more. It had come to the point of a neighbor and I moving it suspended by a chain on a pole and the two of us carrying it like natives. Now I improvise a "tent" around the plant with a canvas drop cloth and put a lightbulb inside the tent and hope for the best.

I have found that they don't gr... read more


On Feb 17, 2004, Monocromatico from Rio de Janeiro,
Brazil (Zone 11) wrote:

My grandma has this plant for many years, but now that she cant see very well, the parasites are taking over it. It seems to be pretty vulnerable to aphids and fungi. I tried to grow it once, and failed miserably.


On Feb 17, 2004, wnstarr from Puyallup, WA (Zone 5a) wrote:

Edgewood, Washington
The Staghorn Fern is such a wonderful fascinating plant. I have tried them several times and usually lose them to my own neglect. I first saw them growing high in the trees in Southeast Asia (Vietnam) while laying low on my belly. Often thought if only I could get some down and send them home. Good luck and wish I was where I could have one outside.


On Jan 9, 2004, MNEVEN from New Port Richey, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

I just bought a staghorn and it's beautiful. It has about 8 fronds on it. I live in New Port Richey, FL but I decided not to take any chances and brought it inside. Tonight it will be about 39 degrees. No pictures yet. I can't wait until it gets warmer outside. I have a wonderful spot for it.


On Jul 24, 2003, broozersnooze from Jacksonville, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

I am a fern fan & have several. I live in Jacksonville, Florida & have found them to be quite hardy even in the cold, although my neighborhood has large oak trees & I'm sure that helps. This past winter we had 19 degree weather. My neighbor has a huge one & kept hers under a sheet with a light. I only draped a piece of fabric over mine & mine fared the cold as well as hers did - they all did beautifully.


On Jul 21, 2003, gal102751 from Pensacola, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

I have 2 staghorn ferns in Pensacola FL. and both have a white waxy substance on the leaves.


On Jul 5, 2003, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

Here in So Cal there are many species of Platycerium, the most common which is P bifurcatum. It can become a huge plant. I find it best to 'mount' this plant either onto a redwood board, or just find a sturdy, shady tree and support it in a 'Y' shape branching until it roots into the tree and is supported on its own. To mount onto wood, just take the base of the plant (the 'shield) and get some moistened sphagnum moss, put it on a flat piece of wood, set your fern onto the moss, and then secure it to the wood. Most secure by wrapping fishing line around the front of the shield and around the wood multiple times. You can also put some nails or tacks into the front of the wood near the edges as anchors and wrap the line through them and back and forth until your fern feels secure. The ... read more


On Jul 5, 2003, ranch45 from Interlachen, FL wrote:

My husband loves this plant and we have one but it is very difficult to deal with. I have it in a wire pot with dirt and it seems like it is taking forever to grow.


On Aug 31, 2002, ADKSpirit from Lake Placid, NY (Zone 4a) wrote:

Just to add; here in Florida most people grow their Staghorns outside year round. This is fine as long as there isn't any frost, as they are very "frost tender". Even here in St. Augustine whenever there is a frost/freeze warning everyone wraps their Staghorns in blankets or brings them inside. They can grow to be quite large, and in the central and southern parts of the state they are a common sight hanging from tree branches. I think for them to get that large in the northern part of the country they would have to be grown in a greenhouse situation.


On May 24, 2002, otpphoto from Englewood, CO wrote:

The staghorn fern is a very intersting plant. In the wild it usually will be found attached to a tree, not a parasitic plant but a self sustaining epiphyte. Propagation is the same as with most ferns either from spores or removal of pups growing from the base of the parent plant. Most staghorns purchased will be growing in a pot this is fine yet overwatering is a problem, but for a more dramatic and healthier plant it should be mounted on a piece of wood such as cedar,redwood, etc. Direct sun is not beneficial to staghorns and will burn them, filtered sun light to shade is best. Allow the soil to dry in between waterings to avoid rot of sterile fronds and mount.