Staghorn Fern Houseplant Growing and Care Guide

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Hello, plant lovers! Ready for a new indoor gardening adventure? Let me introduce you to the Staghorn Fern, a houseplant that’s not just a plant—it’s a conversation starter! With fronds that look like a stag’s antlers, this tropical beauty is nothing short of unique.

Imagine having a houseplant that’s as fascinating as it is beautiful! Meet the Staghorn Fern. Picture the antlers of a stag, and that’s exactly how the large fronds of this plant look, thus its name. But what makes the Staghorn Fern houseplant even more special is that it doesn’t need soil to grow. It’s an “epiphyte,” a plant that grows on other plants or objects. This fern is native to the warm and humid areas of our planet.


Staghorn Fern
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Mokkie, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons


Now, here’s the fun part. These ferns can be mounted on a wall, just like a piece of art! If you’re looking to add a pop of green to your space, they’re a perfect choice. But remember, the Staghorn Fern is not like your typical houseplant. Its care routine is a tad different, including what it grows in and how it drinks water.


Don’t worry, though! This article will guide you through everything you need to know about caring for a Staghorn Fern houseplant. So, stay tuned if you’re ready to invite this unique green companion into your home! Enjoy reading!

What Makes the Staghorn Fern Unique

Have you ever thought about welcoming an exotic guest into your home? Well, Staghorn ferns, belonging to the Platycerium species, are just that! Imagine a plant that’s shaped like the antlers of a stag or an elk, and you’ve got a Staghorn Fern. These unique houseplants are here to add a dash of the extraordinary to your indoor space.


What’s more exciting about Staghorn Ferns is their growth pattern. These plants are epiphytes, which means they’re not your usual soil-dwelling plants. In the wild, you’d find them making their homes on trees, rocks, or even telephone poles. Talk about being adaptable!


When you look closely, you’ll find two types of fronds on a Staghorn Fern houseplant. These are the basal and the foliar fronds. The basal fronds are small and flat leaves that protect the roots. Meanwhile, the foliar fronds are the ones that stand tall and boast the signature ‘stag horn’ shape. Some of these can grow to an impressive 4 feet in length!

Where Do Staghorn Ferns Come From?

The story of the Staghorn Fern starts in the tropical and subtropical parts of our world. Imagine the warm, humid jungles and forests. That’s where these unique beauties come from. Staghorn ferns are from the dense rainforests of Australia, Africa, and South America to the shady areas of Southeast Asia. They have spread their fronds far and wide.

Staghorn Fern
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Think about what it might be like living in a tropical forest. It’s a bit like being in a big, green, crowded city! There’s not a lot of space on the ground, so plants have to find other places to live. And that’s just what the Staghorn Fern did.

Creating the Perfect Home for Your Staghorn Fern

Your Staghorn Fern houseplant is a true tropical native. So, making it feel at home means creating an environment that matches its natural habitat. In this section, we’ll talk about how to do that. Let’s discuss the light, temperature, and humidity needs for your Staghorn Fern.


  • Lighting Up Their Life

Staghorn Ferns love light, but not just any kind. They prefer bright, indirect light. So, pick a spot near a window that gets lots of natural light. But be careful; direct sunlight could be a bit too much, causing the fronds to burn. On the other hand, not enough light could make your fern weak and leggy.


  • Just the Right Temperature

Staghorn Ferns enjoy warmth. Try to keep the temperature between 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. They’re not fans of sudden temperature changes. So avoid drafty spots or places near air conditioning vents. And remember, if the temperature dips below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, your fern could get hurt.


  • Humidity Makes Them Happy

As natives of tropical rainforests, Staghorn Ferns adore humidity. Ideally, the humidity level should be between 60% and 80%. If your home’s air is on the drier side, don’t worry. You can up the humidity by misting the fronds with water or setting a tray of water near the plant. You might even consider using a humidifier to keep the humidity consistent.

Planting Your Staghorn Fern

When it comes to planting your Staghorn Fern, there are a few things to keep in mind. In this section, we’ll go over some tips for choosing the right soil and potting techniques.


  • Choosing the Right Soil

Staghorn ferns are epiphytes. This means that they grow on other plants rather than in soil. However, when it comes to potting your Staghorn Fern, you’ll still need to choose the suitable soil. This will provide it with the nutrients it needs.


When selecting soil, it’s important to choose a well-draining mix. It shouldn’t hold too much moisture. An ideal choice is a mix of peat moss, perlite, and orchid bark. This will provide the plant with the right moisture and nutrients without causing root rot.


  • Potting Techniques

When it comes to potting your Staghorn Fern, you can use a few techniques to help it thrive. One popular method is to mount the fern on a piece of wood. To do this, you’ll need to attach the fern to the wood using wire or fishing line.


Another option is to use a wire basket lined with sphagnum moss. This will provide the fern with the right amount of moisture and allow it to grow in a more natural way.


No matter which potting technique you choose, remember this. Staghorn Ferns prefer to be in a location that boasts consistent, shaded light. Avoid allowing direct rays to hit the fragile fronds, as they can burn easily.

Caring for Staghorn Ferns

Staghorn ferns are beautiful and unique houseplants that require specific care to thrive. In this section, we will cover the essential aspects of caring for your Staghorn Fern.


Staghorn Fern
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Philipp Michel Reichold, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons


Watering Schedule

Staghorn ferns require frequent watering to stay healthy, but overwatering can be detrimental. Water your Staghorn Fern once a week, but allow the plant medium to dry out slightly between watering. The frequency of watering may depend on the humidity level and temperature of your home.


To water your Staghorn Fern, soak the plant in a basin of water for 10-15 minutes. Then, let it drain before returning it to its hanging spot. Avoid getting water on the basal fronds, as this can cause them to rot.


Fertilization Guide

Fertilizing your Staghorn Fern is essential to ensure its growth and health. Fertilize your plant once a month. Use a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer diluted to half-strength. A 1:1:1 ratio fertilizer is ideal for Staghorn Ferns.


Apply the fertilizer to the basal fronds and the plant medium, taking care not to get any on the shield fronds. Over-fertilization can damage the plant. So, be sure to follow the instructions on the fertilizer package.


Pruning Tips

Pruning your Staghorn Fern is necessary to maintain its health and appearance. Remove any dead or damaged fronds as soon as you notice them. Use clean, sharp scissors or pruning shears to make a clean cut at the base of the frond.


You can also prune your Staghorn Fern to control its size or shape. To do this, remove the entire plant from its mount and trim the basal fronds to your desired shape. Don’t forget your gloves and eye protection when pruning, as the basal fronds can be sharp.

Common Issues and Solutions

Staghorn ferns are relatively low-maintenance plants. But they can still experience issues from time to time. Here are some common problems you may encounter and how to solve them.


Pest Problems

Staghorn ferns are susceptible to a few common pests. These include mealybugs and scale insects. These pests can cause damage to the fronds and weaken the plant over time. If you notice any pests, it’s essential to act quickly to prevent them from spreading.


To get rid of pests, you can use water and dish soap to wash the fronds gently. You can also use neem oil or insecticidal soap to kill pests. Be sure to follow the instructions on the product carefully and avoid using too much. This can damage the plant.


Disease Prevention

Staghorn ferns are generally resistant to disease. But they can develop issues if they are not cared for properly. One of the most common issues is root rot. This can occur if the plant is overwatered or if it is planted in a poorly-draining soil mix.


To prevent root rot, be sure to allow the soil to dry out between waterings. You should also make sure to plant it in a well-draining soil mix, such as a mixture of peat moss, perlite, and orchid bark. Avoid using heavy soils or soils that retain too much moisture.


Overwatering Issues

Overwatering is one of the most common issues that Staghorn Ferns experience. If you overwater, it can develop yellow patches on the fronds and may eventually develop root rot.


To prevent overwatering, allow the soil to dry out between waterings. You can also use a moisture meter to monitor the soil’s moisture level before watering. If the soil is still moist, wait a few more days before watering again.


It may be a sign of overwatering if you notice that it has developed yellow patches on the fronds. To fix the issue, you should reduce the frequency of watering. Plus, allow the soil to dry out more between waterings. You may also need to repot the plant in a well-draining soil mix to prevent root rot.

Video Credit: @Leafing Around

Propagation of Staghorn Fern Houseplant

Staghorn ferns can be propagated through two methods: division and spore propagation. The division method is the most common and easiest way to propagate staghorn ferns. Meanwhile, spore propagation is more time-consuming and less commonly used.


Division Method

Division is a simple and effective way to propagate staghorn ferns. This method involves removing the fern from its pot and dividing it into smaller sections, each with its own fronds and root system. Here are the steps to follow:


  • Remove the fern from its pot and gently shake off any excess soil.
  • Carefully separate the fronds into individual sections. This makes sure each section has its own root system.
  • Plant each section in a new pot with fresh potting soil. This makes sure the roots are covered, but the fronds are exposed.
  • Water the newly potted ferns thoroughly and place them in a bright, indirect light.


Spore Propagation

Spore propagation is a more time-consuming method of propagating staghorn ferns. But it can be a rewarding process. Here are the steps to follow:


  • Collect mature spores from the underside of the fern’s fronds. The spores will be dark brown in color.
  • Mix the spores with a sterile medium, such as peat moss or sand.
  • Place the spore mixture in a warm, humid location and mist it regularly to keep it moist.
  • After several weeks, the spores will begin to germinate and grow into small ferns.
  • Once the ferns have grown large enough, they can be transplanted into their own pots with fresh potting soil.

Wrapping It Up

So there you have it, the fascinating Staghorn Fern houseplant! These unique, antler-like beauties really can make a statement in your home. And while they might sound a bit exotic and challenging, they’re quite simple to care for once you get the hang of it.


Remember, Staghorn Ferns love bright, indirect light, warm and cozy temperatures. They feel like they’re back in the tropics with high humidity. Also, they prefer to be on the drier side than to be overwatered. And keep a close eye out for uninvited guests like pests, treating them quickly if they show up.


All in all, with a bit of attention to their needs, your Staghorn Fern can flourish. It can become a long-lasting, vibrant part of your indoor garden. So why not give it a try? The adventure of growing a Staghorn Fern houseplant awaits!


Happy planting!


How do I care for a staghorn fern?

Staghorn ferns are easy peasy to care for. They love bright, indirect light and should be watered once a week. Let the soil dry out slightly between waterings. Staghorn ferns also benefit from occasional misting to increase humidity levels. They can be fertilized monthly during the growing season with a balanced fertilizer.

What are some common problems with staghorn ferns?

Overwatering is the most common problem with staghorn ferns. This can result in root rot and other issues. Additionally, staghorn ferns can be susceptible to pests. These can be spider mites and mealybugs. You should examine your plant regularly for signs of infestation and treat it accordingly.

How do I save a dying staghorn fern?

If your staghorn fern is dying, the first step is to identify the problem. Meanwhile, if the issue is overwatering, allow the soil to dry out and adjust your watering schedule. For pests, treat the plant with an appropriate insecticide. If the issue is root rot, you may need it to be planted in fresh soil.

What is a staghorn fern pup, and how do I care for it?

A staghorn fern pup is a small offshoot that grows from the base of the plant. You can remove these and plant them as their own separate plant. To care for a staghorn fern pup, plant it in a good soil mix and water it. It will require the same care as a mature staghorn fern.

Can staghorn ferns be grown indoors?

Yes, staghorn ferns can be grown indoors. This is possible if they receive bright, indirect light, and you will keep them in a humid environment. You can also hang them on a wall or place them in a decorative container.

How much light condition does a staghorn fern need?

Staghorn ferns prefer bright, indirect light. You can place them near a window that receives bright, indirect light for several hours a day. Direct sunlight can damage the leaves, so it is important to protect the plant from harsh sunlight.


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