Platycerium elephantotis

elephant ear staghorn fern
Unusual for a platycerium, this plants leaves don’t fork, giving it a broad elephant ear appearance. One of the largest staghorns, growing up to four feet wide! Epiphyte loves mounting.
height 2–6ft
width 2–4ft
tolerates Heat, Pots
When soil surface is damp.
Most staghorns appreciate mostly drying out between waterings, but not this one! It likes to be evenly moist so water it when the growth medium doesn’t feel squishy wet, but you still some moisture in the surface layer. If you let this plant go mostly dry, or worse totally dry, it doesn’t bounce back quickly as many others do.
exposure Moderate Indirect – Partial Direct
drainage Orchid Bark
origin Tropical Africa

Sunset Zones Map

Indoor Exposure Guide


Direct Sun
Beams of light hitting the plant near a window four or more hours a day. The most intense light. If you're in a direct sun spot, you can feel the warmth of the sun on your skin.

Partial Direct
Occurs when you have a plant that is in less intense direct sunlight. This happens when a plant is in a few hours of direct morning sun, or an hour or less of direct afternoon sun. It also happens when a plant is in direct sun, but more than six feet from a window, where the light is diffused.

Bright Indirect
This is just beyond the direct beam of light (or through cracked blinds or a sheer curtain filtering direct sun). Bright indirect areas are characterized by a place where you can sit and read a novel comfortably without artificial light.

Moderate Indirect
Beyond the bright indirect light. In these areas you wouldn't turn on a light walking through the room, but if you were hanging out there you would probably have the lights on, even during the day.

Low Light
Dim spots, usually the backs of rooms or hallways where you would always turn lights on, even if just walking in to grab something.


Growing Notes

This stag horn is epiphytic meaning that it grow on trees not in the soil. Grow them mounted over sphagnum moss or orchid bark. In pots give them fast draining cactus mix. They should not be planted in the ground.
There are two leaf forms, the ‘ears’ which grow the reproduction spores (though in this selection they are sterile) and the ‘feet’ or ‘shield’ that anchor the plant and collect detritus to feed the plant. By tucking banana peals or other organic matter (compost) under the ‘feet’ you can easily feed the plant. You can also give a mild acid fertilizer, that simulates the acidifying nature of the decomposing leaf matter this fern lives on in nature. There are also reports that a light all purpose fertilizer works fine as well.
The elephant ear staghorn does better in lower light levels than the typical Platycerium bifurcatum.