Joanna Gaines Has a New Favorite Plant, and It's Selling Out Everywhere

Photo credit: Joanna Gaines/Instagram
Photo credit: Joanna Gaines/Instagram

Joanna Gaines created a frenzy when she introduced her fans to Earle, a 26-year-old staghorn fern that made the trip from Florida to Waco and now resides in Magnolia Market. She shared a video of her new addition on Instagram, and plant parents wanted to add one to their collection. If you've recently purchased this plant, here's what you need to know.

Staghorn ferns, known by the botanical name Platycerium bifucatum, are unique plants that look like no other common houseplant. Their fronds consist of basal fronds, which are small, flat leaves that cover the roots, and foliar fronds, which are the more upright foliage which has a shape that resembles the horns of an elk or stag. These fronds also are gray-green and covered with a whitish gray felt.

Staghorn ferns are an amazing addition to any houseplant collection because of their sculptural form. Fairly slow-growing, they can be displayed in pots in a bark-like potting medium, mounted on wood, or in hanging baskets. Native to Australia, these plants grow as epiphytes on trees, gathering nutrients and moisture from the air. Debbie Neese, horticulture expert with Lively Root, offers these tips to keep your fern happy and healthy:

Staghorn ferns need bright, indirect light.

Give your staghorn fern bright light but not direct sunlight, which will scorch the foliage. It typically does well near east-, west-, or south-facing windows (north-facing typically are too dark most of the year). If you choose to display it outdoors in summer, make sure it’s placed in shade or that it receives only filtered early morning sun, says Neese.

How do I water my staghorn fern?

During its growing season, keep the soil consistently moist but not soggy, says Neese. Like most houseplants, it doesn’t like to be too wet, and that’s one of the surest ways to kill your staghorn fern. In the winter, you can let it dry out between drinks. Use filtered water, rainwater, or tap water that’s been sitting out for a day to help the chlorine evaporate.

If your fern is in a pot, bottom water by pouring water in a bowl, placing the pot in the bowl, and letting the plant soak up moisture for about 15 to 30 minutes. If it’s mounted on wood or a piece of bark, you can soak the entire thing in a large basin or bathtub for 10 to 15 minutes, then let drip dry before hanging it back up.

These plants like high moisture levels, so place it on pebbles in a shallow tray which you keep filled with water, or run a humidifier near it. Another option is to group all your plants together because plants transpire, or emit moisture, so it’s mutually beneficial for them to be around each other.


Should I fertilize my staghorn fern?

Feed your plant about once a month during the growing season; add a water-soluble fertilizer to the water while it soaks. From fall to winter, when the plant is dormant, it’s not necessary to fertilize.

What are those brown things on the fronds of my staghorn fern?

If you see brownish felt on the underside of foliar fronds, these are the reproductive structures, called sporangia. It’s totally normal!

You Might Also Like