The genus Platycerium belongs to the Centipede family. In nature, these ferns are found in the tropical rainforests of Australia, Africa, and South India. The genus name comes from the Greek words platus (“flat”) and keras (“horn”) and is due to the fact that the leaves are shaped like horns. Platiceriums are epiphytic plants that live on others but do not parasitize them. Platycerium ferns grow on trees, stumps, snags. Large showy leaves are divided into lobes. The main characteristic feature of a plant is the presence of two different types of leaves that perform different functions in the life of the plant.
The photo of the platicerium shows that its leaves form like pockets. These pockets serve to collect water and nutrients, and also provide support for the plant. They are sterile, that is, they do not form spores for reproduction. After some time, they decompose and turn into humus that feeds the plant.
The truly beautiful spore-bearing (fertile) leaves (fronds) of the platicerium flower are large unfolded fans of various shapes, depending on the type of plant, growing in length over 1 m.
Types of platicerium
Hill’s Platycerium (Platycerium hillii) differs from the previous species in numerous compact, shallowly dissected straight fronds. Individual segments are shorter and more pointed.
Large Platycerium (Platycerium grande) has the most decorative sterile leaves – pale green, raised, forked-dissected, 45-60 cm wide, not drying out for a long time. Fertile leaves 1.3-2 m long, broadly wedge-shaped, forked-dissected from the middle of the leaf into belt-like lobes.
Platycerium bifurcatum , synonymous with elk platycerium (Platycerium alcicorne), is relatively easy to grow indoors. Sterile fronds are rounded, 12-20 cm in diameter, convex, lobed along the edges.
Spore-bearing fronds reach a length of 50-90 cm, wedge-shaped narrowed at the base, expanded in the upper part like a fan, dissected into hanging lobes 3-4 cm wide. Sporangia throughout the upper part of the lobes are yellow-brown.
Caring for platycerium at home
Platiceriums are grown on pieces of bark, stumps, in wooden or plastic baskets, and sometimes in pots. Shredded bark, sphagnum moss are used as a substrate, fern roots are added.
The plant is placed in a bright or semi-shaded place, protected from direct sunlight. Contain at a temperature of 20-24°C. In winter, it can be reduced, but not below 14 ° C.
Watered with moderately settled water at room temperature. When caring for a platicerium at home, the clod of earth should not be allowed to dry out, especially in winter. Watering the plant is quite difficult, it is preferable to immerse it in a container of water for 30-40 minutes. Never remove dead anchor leaves.
In warm and dry rooms, plants are often sprayed, but in no case wiped, since the leaves of this fern are covered with tiny velvet hairs that trap moisture from the air.
The platicerium flower is propagated by spores and offspring. Spores are formed on the underside of the spore-bearing frond, resembling horns. However, growing a plant from spores is a painstaking and lengthy process.
Sometimes offspring appear at the platicerium, growing between leaves overlapping each other. They are carefully separated from the main plant and planted in moist soil.
The platycerium fern is harmed by scale insects that inhabit the underside of the leaf. It can also be affected by thrips and spider mites.