How to Care for a Staghorn Fern

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If Harry Potter was a plant, this fern would be his patronus. The unique Staghorn Fern is indeed a fern that reproduces by spores and has leaves called fronds -- and this particular variety is named for its fronds that look like a stag’s antlers.

How much light does a Staghorn Fern need?

The Staghorn definitely needs bright light, unlike its forest-dwelling cousins that thrive in the woodlands. Staghorn Ferns are epiphytic and tropical, thus requiring more light. Keep a Staghorn fern in bright, indirect light as direct sun is too harsh for the plant and can cause burns. The Staghorn needs natural sunlight, so it is not ideal for a small apartment or home without access to windows.

How much water does a Staghorn Fern need?

Temperature, humidity, and light all play a part in how much watering care your Staghorn Fern will need. Water your Staghorn Fern so the top inch of soil is kept moist (on average, this means water weekly in the spring and summer and every few weeks in the fall and winter). Do not overwater, as the Staghorn’s epiphytic nature means it has a small root system designed to grow on trees, not to be soaked in the soil.

The Staghorn Fern absorbs water through both its roots (like any other plant) and its fronds, so they will appreciate ambient humidity via misting or running a humidifier in the room, especially during dry winters.

Does a Staghorn Fern need fertilizer?

Our plants are all grown to thrive and transition from greenhouse to home comfortably. We don’t expect that you’ll need to fertilize your Staghorn Fern in the first six to twelve months you have it at home, but you can choose to fertilize and promote additional growth in the future.

Once you master the Staghorn Fern’s basic care, you can choose to fertilize it with a water-soluble fertilizer monthly during spring and summer, and about half as often in fall and winter. Mature Staghorn Ferns only need to be fertilized up to twice per year.

What’s the best temperature for a Staghorn Fern?

Staghorn Ferns do well in average room temperatures and should not be kept below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. They can even go outside if the temperature is between 50-100 degrees as long as they are kept shaded from direct sunlight and watered appropriately.

Common Staghorn Fern problems

Staghorn Ferns may be prone to a few issues common to many ferns and indoor foliage plants. 

Overwatering

Since the Staghorn Fern is an epiphyte that naturally grows along tree trunks in the tropics, its roots are smaller than you might expect and are easily overwatered. This can lead to root rot and harm your plant. Keep an eye out for brown or black spots at the base of the antler fronds, which indicate overwatering. If you catch signs of overwatering, reduce the frequency of watering and allow the soil to dry while you watch for recovery and improved health.

Overwatering can also lead to fungal infections that appear as black spots on your Staghorn’s fronds. Remove affected leaves and allow your Staghorn Fern’s soil to dry before rewatering.

Underwatering

In warmer or sunnier environments, Staghorn Ferns typically need a little more water, and underwatering is a risk. Watch for brown spots at the tips of your fronds or wilting leaves, both of which indicate that your Staghorn is not receiving enough water. Increase humidity by misting and running a humidifier, and water more frequently to compensate.

Overhandling

While the Staghorn Fern is safe and non-toxic people and animals, the fuzzy leaf coating can be damaged by too much handling. Snuggling the Staghorn is discouraged.

Expecto Pa-Grow-Num

Good luck caring for your Staghorn Fern! If you need more advice on this magical plant, please contact us and we’ll be happy to troubleshoot.  

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