Staghorn Fern Care: A Guide to Better Staghorn Fern Health - Absolute Gardener

Staghorn Fern Care: A Guide to Better Staghorn Fern Health

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Staghorn Fern Care

Staghorn ferns are one of the most popular staghorns in cultivation. Unlike other staghorns, staghorn ferns have a more delicate and refined look which makes them perfect for any indoor space or setting. Growing staghorn fern care is not difficult, but there are several things to keep in mind if you want your staghorn fern happy and healthy!

What is a Staghorn Fern

Staghorns (Platycerium bifurcatum) are an exotic houseplant loved by many people as well as wildlife who use them to shelter from predators and stay cool. The staghorn plant can be found in tropical rain forests where they grow on trees high up off the ground or on rocks near streams and marshlands below the canopy level. Stag horns have two types of leaves: flat leaves that look like staghorn ferns and round leaves that sit on trunk-like stalks.

Staghorns produce spores (spore capsules) which are filled with wriggling microscopic staghorn babies or asexual spores. The spore capsule is created every time one of the plant’s flat leaves dies, splits open and releases its staghorn spores.

Staghorns are slow growing, but they can produce one leaf every year or two if conditions are right. The staghorn ferns found in cultivation grow leaves on scaly stalks that may be upright or hanging from a tree branch and look like deer antlers (hence the staghorn name). The staghorns found in cultivation are usually grown from spores that were collected.

Origins of Staghorn Fern

Staghorn ferns come from the prehistoric staghorns that grew in dense forests of Tasmania. They were first discovered by Europeans in 1797 when they collected some staghorns for their collectors’ cabinets and sent them to Great Britain.

It wasn’t until 1874 that staghorn ferns were sent to botanical gardens in the United States, and they quickly became popular.

The staghorns are a plant that goes by many names: scouring-rush staghorn, tree staghorn or simply staghorn. They can be found throughout most of North America as well as Australia and New Zealand.

The staghorn’s name comes from the evolution of their shape and what it resembles: a staghorn deer antler that is curved with points, like an open umbrella. The staghorns are now used as decoration in houses or offices rather than just for botanical gardens because they’re so easy to grow indoors.

Staghorn ferns have a long and storied lineage. They’ve been around for at least 200 million years, since the Jurassic era. And they’re still going strong today!

Staghorn Fern Care

Staghorn Fern Care Guide

Staghorn ferns are one of the most popular types of plants on the planet. And it’s no surprise why staghorns have been so successful over time – with their lush, green leaves providing a fresh burst of color to any interior space in need for some life.

Unfortunately, staghorn care requires a good bit of attention to detail. Fortunately we have some staghorn fern plancare guides for you!


Staghorn ferns are also called elkhorns because of the shape and to some staghorn fern care seems too complicated. However, staghorn fern care is actually fairly simple as long as you make sure your staghorn fern has a nice moist soil that drains well. The best way to avoid stagnant staghorn fern care soil is to have a staghorn fern with good drainage. The staghorn needs air circulating through the roots and water draining out of them without being completely dry or sitting in stagnant water for too long.

One way to create a natural staghorn fern soil that drains well is by adding coarse sand, organic material and peat moss to your staghorn fern pot. You can also use a staghorn fern soil mix that is already formulated for good drainage.


A staghorn fern may need a little more light than the average houseplant, but it doesn’t need direct sunlight. For staghorn fern care, you should place your plant near a window that receives indirect sunlight during the day (morning or early evening is best). You can also purchase artificial lights for staghorn fern care.


The staghorns do not need to be watered very often. When you are able, make sure that the staghorn is in a cool and damp area of your home with plenty of light but indirect sunlight. If it’s raining outside then they will get enough water through their leaves.

If it’s not raining, and the staghorn is in a dry spot, then you should consider watering them. The staghorn will need to be watered about once or twice a week with water that has been sitting out for at least an hour so as to avoid shocking the plant. Place one hand on either side of staghorn and water lightly from the bottom up.

Staghorns love to be misted with a spray bottle every day or two, but this is not necessary if you are providing enough light for them. In fact staghorns can even tolerate being underwater so long as they get some exposure to air during their time in the wet environment.

The staghorn does not like to be watered with cold water, so it is best if the temperature of the water you are using is lukewarm.


Staghorn ferns can survive in a wide range of temperatures, but they will grow better at higher ranges. The staghorns should be kept between 60 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit during the day time hours or when it is light outside. At night bring them down to 55-60 degrees with some humidity for optimal growth.


Staghorn ferns grow in moist soil or on damp rock surfaces, where there is plenty of moisture from seepage (or rainfall). Staghorns require a humid environment and will not survive well when exposed to too much sunlight for extended periods. If staghorns are exposed to direct sunlight or a dry environment, they will eventually die.

Humidity is important for staghorn ferns because it helps them maintain their moisture content and keeps the plant from drying out too quickly. Ideally staghorns should be misted every day with rain water or distilled water (use cold tap water if you do not have distilled water on hand).


Fertiliser is one of the most important aspects to staghorn ferns. The staghorns require a moist environment which means that they need a lot more water than other plants and trees do, but care should be taken not to over-water them because this could lead to root rot or fungus on the staghorns’ leaves. Fertiliser should be placed in the staghorn fern’s potting soil and watered into it each time before water is added, but not near the staghorns themselves as this could damage their sensitive roots.

The staghorns require a mixture of fertilisers including:

  • An all purpose houseplant food
  • An acidic houseplant food
  • A staghorn fertiliser
  • Tree and Shrub fertilizer

The staghorns should be fed twice a year in the Spring and Fall, but yearly fertilisation is recommended if there are staghorns growing under trees or other plants that might not provide enough of the right type of nutrition.

Staghorn Fern Care


A staghorn fern is toxic to pets and humans. It contains calcium oxalate crystals that are released if the staghorn fern is damaged, resulting in eye injury or a rash on skin contact. Be sure not to use staghorns near anything your pet might chew on it or rub up against it – this will release staghorn fern’s toxic crystals. Do not feed staghorn plants to your pet as this is a choking hazard due the plant’s sharp leaves that can tear through esophagus tissue.


Staghorns are usually pruned to keep the stalks short and healthy. They grow best in bright, indirect light with moist soil that is rich but not too wet. It’s important to remove any dead stalks or those that have died back naturally so they don’t spread disease. If your staghorn fern stalks become too tall, cut them back to about five inches and remove the excess foliage.

Propagation and Growth

Staghorn ferns are easy to propagate. To start a staghorn fern from scratch, ensure the staghorn is not too wet or dry by checking the surface of potting soil with your finger and feeling for moisture without leaving a hole in it.

Before you plant your staghorn fern, soak the staghorn in water to saturate the root ball. Put your staghorn fern into a 13-inch pot, or transplant it if you have been growing it for some time and want to start fresh. Fill the pot with moist but not wet soil until two inches from the top of the container, then plant staghorn fern into the soil.

Water staghorn ferns thoroughly and allow it to drain before watering again, but do not overwater your staghorn or keep them constantly wet as this can lead to root rot. Keep staghorn well-lit in a warm environment with around 60% humidity for best results.


Growing staghorn fern in a pot that’s too small, may need to be repotted. This should only happen every three or four years depending on the size of the staghorn and how much it has grown each year. It is not necessary for an excessively large staghorn plant to be repotted.

A staghorn is ready for a change of potting medium when it has completely outgrown its original container and the roots have started to grow through the drainage holes. The top soil, or “crown,” needs space to spread so that enough moisture can reach all sides of the staghorn’s fronds without being restricted by a pot’s walls.

As staghorn fern care, it is important to repot staghorns in spring or early summer when the temperature and humidity levels are high so that new roots can take hold quickly before winter sets in.

  • Repotting staghorn ferns every few years should be done in the spring
  • Repot staghorns when they outgrow their original container and have started to grow through drainage holes
  • It is important as staghorn fern care, that repotting staghorns be done before winter sets in.

After repotting staghorn ferns, it is important to water and fertilize them so that they establish well in their new pot. Do not leave staghorns unattended for extended periods of time after being replanted as this can lead to rot and disease on the roots which will eventually kill the plant.

Plant Disease

One of the most common diseases that can affect staghorn fern care is staghorn plant disease. It’s caused by the fungus called “Botrytis cinerea” that usually enters staghorns through wounds on their leaves and stems, or from spores in dust blown in from outside.

Staghorn Fern Plant Variegated

The staghorn fern Variegated is a staghorn fern that provides a spectacular look to home and garden. The staghorn fern Variegated is also known as the staghorn fern. This staghorn fern can grow up to 6 feet in height. This staghorn fern has an upright habit, which means it has arching branches with plenty of room for its leaflets.

Common Issues with Staghorn Fern Care

The staghorn fern is a beautiful plant that can grow up to six feet in height. However, many homeowners experience some common problems with staghorn care when they bring this staghorn into their home.

One of the most common issues you may encounter are brown leaves and dying fronds on your staghorns. If staghorn ferns are not grown in a well lit area, they may begin to show signs of wilting or stretching.

Bugs can also become an issue for staghorns as it will start to display drooping, brown and yellow leaves. The most common bug that attacks staghorns is the staghorn fern scale.

The staghorns can also become infested with mites, which will start to show signs of webbing and fine dusty webs on the underside of your plant’s leaves.

If not cared for properly staghorns can begin to develop brown leaf edges or a “melted” appearance.

Staghorn Fern Care

Tips for Keeping Staghorn Fern Happy

The staghorn fern can be a fun and interesting addition to your home décor, but it does require some maintenance for staghorn fern care. Follow these staghorn fern care tips for best results:

  • Move the plant away from drafty areas or cold windowsills where it might get too cold.
  • Purchase staghorn fern care fertilizer for staghorn fern care and follow the package instructions.
  • Water your staghorn fern sparingly, making sure you water it from the bottom every time to avoid root rot. Allow soil to dry between watering cycles if possible. This plant can survive for weeks without staghorn fern care water.
  • Prune staghorns at the base of a fiddlehead and discard in order to promote growth from staghorn plant’s stalks. Cut off dead foliage or those with brown edges for best results.
  • Do not overwater your staghorn, it prefers dry staghorn care soil.
  • Avoid staghorns near stoves, heaters or other sources of intense staghorn ferns.

Staghorn Fern Frequently Asked Questions

How much sun does a staghorn fern need?

Staghorn ferns need more light than most houseplants. The staghorn fern should be placed near a window that gets full sun, or in front of the picture window facing west to east for maximum exposure.

Should you mist a staghorn fern?

A staghorn fern’s leaves are delicate and should not be sprayed with water. The staghorn fern will likely wilt if you mist the plant or soak it in a shower of water.

Instead, gently spray your staghorn fern with lukewarm to cool water from the kitchen sink using a spray bottle.

How often should I mist my staghorn fern?

It’s best to mist staghorn ferns about once a week, though every few days is also a good idea.

Can staghorn ferns grow in pots?

Staghorn ferns can be grown in pots or urns. In staghorn fern care, staghorns should have a pot that is at least six inches deep and twelve inches wide to accommodate the rhizome’s root system without having it grow out of the drainage hole on top of the pot.


Staghorn ferns are very easy to take care of. If you’re stumped on what staghorn fern care tips might work best for your plant, then we hope this guide has given you plenty of helpful information that will help keep your staghorn fern happy and thriving!

And don’t forget the staghorn fern care tips we’ve given you in this article, they’re key to staghorn happiness.

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