Moose ear plants, also known as Platycerium bifurcatum or staghorn ferns, are exotic ferns that grow on tree trunks in the tropical and subtropical rainforests of Australia, Africa and South America. Moose ear plants are epiphytic plants, meaning they use their roots to attach to trees and other surfaces, but they draw their nutrients and water from the air. In the United States, moose ear plants are commonly grown indoors to make it easier to simulate the conditions of their native environment.
Things You'll Need
- 4-inch moose ear plant
- 1-inch by 8-inch wood slab
- Long-fiber sphagnum peat moss
- Softened water or collected rainwater
- Clear nylon fishing line
- Cool mist humidifier
- Watering can
- Houseplant fertilizer
Purchase a healthy-looking, 4-inch moose ear plant from your local garden center or nursery. Consult a reputable catalog or online garden center if you are unable to locate a moose ear plant in your area. Note that moose ear plants may also be sold under the name "staghorn fern."
Choose a suitable mount for your exotic moose ear plant. Purchase a 1-inch by 8-inch slab of a moisture-resistant wood like cedar or redwood. Use only natural wood that has not been chemically treated to mount your moose ear plant.
Soak two handfuls of long-fiber sphagnum peat moss in room-temperature softened water or collected rainwater. Remove the sphagnum peat moss after 30 minutes and wring out any excess water. Lay the wood slab flat on your work surface and arrange the moistened sphagnum peat moss in a 6-inch diameter in the center of the wood slab.
Remove your moose ear plant from its nursery container and center it on the wood slab, on top of the moistened sphagnum peat moss. Use clear nylon fishing line to tie the moose ear plant securely to the wood slab.
Position your mounted moose ear plant 4 feet to 8 feet from a window where it can receive a minimum of six hours of bright but indirect sunlight each day. Avoid situating your mounted moose ear plant within 6 feet of drying heaters, air conditioners or drafts. Place a cool mist humidifier in the same room as your mounted moose ear plant to provide your plant with much needed humidity.
Water your newly mounted moose ear plant daily until new growth is observed. Continue to water your moose ear plant every three to four days. Dunk the entire moose ear plant, wood slab and all, in a solution of softened water and fertilizer once a week. Add only half the amount of fertilizer recommended on the fertilizer label.
Tips & Warnings
- Reduce the frequency of watering in winter, while your moose ear plant is in its dormant period. Water your moose ear plant at least once a week in winter to prevent its fronds from wilting.
- Keep an eye out for common insect pests like scale. Treat scale-infected moose ear plants with a houseplant insecticide product to restore its health. Use the houseplant insecticide according to package directions.
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