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How To Save A Dying Staghorn Fern By Following 15 Easy Care Tips

Being Epiphytic, Staghorn Ferns grow on top of objects. These plants are native to Australia and Asia, and they adhere to treetops with no soil.

They’re unique and easy to spot at local florists, nurseries, grocery stores and sometimes even office building lobbies. You must understand how this fern differs from the majority of other plants.

For starters, they are quite picky and will easily respond to adversity. To cultivate a staghorn fern, make sure the environment is ideal and that any problems are addressed as soon as possible.

Second, the leaves are not true leaves but rather fronds. This article will discuss how to save a dying Staghorn Fern.

Other than maintaining the plant, these plants don’t rely on their roots for much else. You can easily overwater the plant if you are unaware that the antler fronds are the major working components in sustaining the plant’s health.

If you see your plant is progressively collapsing, you might like to reduce the amount of water you give it to avoid root rot. If you find any brown or black stains on the base of the antler fronds, the same rule applies.

These plants rely only on their roots for support. They need air circulation to stay disease-free and healthy, even if they should never be left to dry out completely.

For the greatest results, these should be placed horizontally in fine, non-traditional, and loose potting media. You may wonder how this plant eats and drinks when the roots are only an anchor.

Your fern’s shield fronds absorb the nutrients and moisture it requires to stay alive. Staghorn Ferns thrive when the fronds are treated like traditional houseplant roots.

How To Save A Dying Staghorn Fern
How To Save A Dying Staghorn Fern? via Reddit

A Guide on How To Save A Dying Staghorn Fern

The excellent thing is that the plant will not appear healthy one day and then die the very next; it will show signs of distress, giving you time to try and revive it.

  1. Identify the fern’s antler fronds and shield fronds, and remove any dead or dying leaves from one of these two types of foliage.
  2. Inspect the base of each antler and shield frond for signs that it has rotted or become diseased (black and brown stains). Remove any fronds that appear to be diseased or rotting. Remove any discolored, dry leaves at the base of the fern; these leaves will not bounce back when you gently tug on them.
  3. Look for signs of water damage to Staghorn Fern’s antler fronds and shield fronds. The shields between each “antler” are called pinnae. Look for brown or black stains on these shields, indicating that the plant is receiving too much water. If this is the case, reduce the frequency of your watering schedule.
  4. Check to see if the fern’s shield fronds are touching any of its antler fronds, which may indicate that the plant is not receiving adequate air circulation. If shield fronds are touching antler fronds, gently move those shield fronds away from the baby antler branches.
  5. Place the Staghorn Fern in a location that provides bright, indirect light and ample airflow to prevent fungal growth. Avoid direct sunlight as this may overheat your fern. This will also cause the pinnae on the shield fronds to dry out and turn brown or black from sunburn.
  6. Mist the Staghorn Fern with a mister once every three days, keeping the soil barely moist at all times. Misting keeps both types of foliage hydrated and maintains a high humidity level around the plant.
  7. Place a small amount of water in the crown area of the Staghorn Fern. The crown acts as a reservoir for moisture and nutrients so that the fern can absorb these items even when it is not being watered.
  8. Keep the Staghorn Fern’s antler fronds dry when watering. The shield fronds are the working roots of the fern, so they do not absorb moisture or nutrients, unlike traditional plant roots.
  9. Feed the Staghorn Fern every two months with a liquid houseplant fertilizer mixed at half-strength. Avoid fertilizing in high concentrations or more often than this recommendation because it may cause root rot.
  10. Repot the Staghorn Fern in spring only when the roots fill up its container. Use a pot that provides ample drainage, and replant in fresh non-traditional potting media consisting mainly of charcoal, perlite and sphagnum moss.
  11. Mist both types of fronds with a mister to replace lost moisture after repotting. Mist at least once per day for the best results.
  12. Grow the Staghorn Fern in a humid environment to replicate its natural habitat if it begins to dry out and turn brown or black from sunburn. You can achieve this by placing a humidity tray underneath your plant filled with small pebbles and water or misting the fronds daily.
  13. Place the Staghorn Fern in a shady location outdoors if you live in an area with high humidity levels during the summer months or year-round, such as Florida or Hawaii. Place it back indoors before the temperature drops below 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
  14. Shield fronds die off frequently and should be cut off to prevent the disease from spreading to the fern’s root system. If a large portion of the shield fronds has died, then it’s safe to assume that the Staghorn fern is past its prime and it’s time to get a new one.
  15. Pests aren’t a problem for staghorn ferns. They are prone to a disorder called Rhizoctonia sp. if they are kept too damp. This fungus causes black spots on the basal fronds, quickly spreading, infiltrating the growth point, and killing the plant. Withhold water and minimize humidity if symptoms occur to slow the progression.

Final Remarks

Watering practices are frequently linked to the death of a Staghorn fern. A fungal infection caused by too much water will eventually generate black spots on the shield fronds.

Lower your water consumption and apply a natural fungicide to the affected region. The Staghorn Fern is definitely “dead-dead” if the entire base becomes black. A lack of water causes crusty, dry roots and even plant death.

Have you seen a lot of antler fronds turning dry and brown? You’re dealing with a dehydrated plant. You can rehydrate the roots of the Staghorn Fern by submerging them in water for 5-10 minutes.

The shield fronds of a Staghorn fern turn black from sunburn. Too much sunlight causes the green pigment in the leaves to fade.

If your fern is in direct sunlight, move it to an area with ample shade. This is only a problem if they’re constantly exposed to direct sunlight.

If you’re trying to fertilize Staghorn Fern and it begins to rot, then you’re doing something wrong. For your plant to absorb nutrients, it needs a loose media that allows the roots to grow freely.

Ensure you’re using the right type of soil and water it properly. Now that you know about the care tips on how to save a dying staghorn fern, you can easily maintain this beautiful plant and add to the aesthetic value of your garden.