If you’ve gone to a trendy restaurant or the home of a person who’s embraced the whole “go green” movement, you’ll notice more and more people growing plants…on walls. I love the look of it (when done well), and I think the more green you have around, the cleaner the air, and the more you feel like you’re outside.
For my birthday this year, I got a really cool plant from the gift shop at the Franklin Park Conservatory, (which is a great place to warm up in the winter, by the way). It’s called a Staghorn Fern.
Why On Earth Would You Want One?
1) Because they’re so cool to look at! My inner plant geek is coming out, but I can’t help but love looking at it and having something living on my wall. 2) You should also get one because they’re so easy to take care of and grow. 3) It’s definitely a conversation piece that can transform a room or a cozy nook. Pictures and paintings can be redundant, so it’s fun to mix it up with something dimensional.
About the Staghorn Fern
Since they grow on trees in tropical atmospheres, a Staghorn Fern won’t survive outdoors in the United States (maybe in Florida, if you’re lucky), so it has become a popular mounted house plant. They like humidity but are actually considered air plants (classically known as epiphytes, for all you nerds out there). They like growing on a wall mount like this one pictured, where air can actually circulate all around it. You can see that the plant gets its name from a stag, since the leaves can look peculiarly like antlers. In nature, the leaves that stick up are responsible for collecting water and debris that the plant uses for food. Often the other leaves will wrap themselves around the surface they’re growing on as added support check here. Sometimes these plants are called elephant ears, for obvious reasons.
Taking Care of a Staghorn Fern
Staghorn Ferns prefer drying out in between waterings. Overwatering is the worst thing you can do. You can tell it needs watered when the moss at the base of the plant gets really dry or when you see some droopy leaves. A friend of mine has successfully kept her Staghorn Fern alive by soaking it (by “it”, I mean the plant and the plank, face-down) in water every week, for about half an hour. Some people prefer spraying it thoroughly with water on a regular basis, in which case you’d need to give it a generous soaking. Just be sure to pay attention to the plant. You’ll be able to read it the more you have it.
It needs indirect, bright sunlight so as not to burn the leaves, and you’ll want to keep it in a place where the temperature never drops below 55 degrees.
To fertilize, use a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer (1:1:1 ratio) once a month in the spring and summer and once every other month in the fall and winter.
While small brown bumps indicate a healthy fern (they get these bumps in the wild, too), the one thing to look out for is a fungus known as Rhizoctonia, which produces black spots on the basal fronds. This is usually from overwatering, which is why it’s important to let the plant dry out.
Let me know what you think in the comments below!