How To Save A Dying Staghorn Fern: Easy Revival Tips

Staghorn ferns are beautiful epiphytes that are often mounted on wood or hung in baskets. As they are so unique, a lot of plant owners struggle with caring for them, making it crucial to learn how to save a dying staghorn fern.

In order to care for a struggling staghorn fern, it’s essential to understand the plant’s basic needs and identify the symptoms of distress. Factors such as watering frequency, humidity levels, and proper mounting medium can greatly impact the health of these ferns.

By paying close attention to these details and applying appropriate care techniques, it is possible to revive a dying staghorn fern and help it thrive once again.

Signs of a Dying Staghorn Fern

Before we get into the specific care for a dying Staghorn Fern, it’s important to know what the signs of dying actually are.

Wilting/Drooping Fronds

One of the first signs that your Staghorn Fern may be in trouble is wilting or dropping leaves (fronds).

This is usually a result of inconsistent watering or insufficient humidity, but it can also be related to several other things.

Yellowing/Browning Fronds

If you notice your Staghorn Fern’s fronds starting to turn yellow or brown, this may indicate a problem.

Potential causes can include overwatering, under-watering, or a lack of nutrients.

Spots Or Patches On Shield Fronds

Staghorn Ferns have unique, circular “shield” fronds that protect the roots.

If irregular spots or patches appear on these shield fronds, it may be a sign of overwatering and potentially root rot as well.

It can also be a sign of diseases like leaf spot and powdery mildew or even pests like aphids and scale.

Insect Infestations

There are several types of insects that can infest Staghorn Ferns, including mealybugs and scale.

These sap-sucking insects can cause damage to the fern’s fronds and eventually lead to its death if not addressed.

Keep an eye out for any signs of insect activity, such as sticky residue or small bugs on the fronds, and treat as needed with appropriate insecticides.

Diseases or Fungal Infections

Staghorn Ferns are generally resistant to diseases, but they can still develop fungal infections, especially in a greenhouse or humid environment.

If you observe any unusual spots or discolorations on the fern’s fronds, it may indicate a potential disease or fungal infection.

Proper air circulation, sanitation, and fungicides can help prevent and treat these issues.

By keeping an eye out for these signs and addressing issues quickly, you can help ensure your Staghorn Fern remains healthy and thriving in your care.

Meet The Care Requirements

In the majority of dying Staghorn Fern cases, the reason is related to the care you’re providing.

Here’s an overview of the most important care requirements and how to make sure you are meeting them.

Light Requirements And Adjusting Sunlight Exposure

Staghorn ferns require diffused light for optimal growth as they are used to growing underneath the jungle canopy – too much direct sunlight may lead to dehydration and frond scorching.

On the other hand, insufficient light may result in slow or stagnant growth.

To provide the right amount of light, place the fern in a spot with bright, indirect sunlight or dappled shade.

If the fern is an indoor plant, it can be placed near a window with a sheer curtain to filter sunlight.

Optimal Temperature and Humidity Levels

These ferns thrive in temperatures between 60-80°F (16-27°C) and high humidity levels. Maintaining a humidity level of at least 50% around the fern will help prevent frond loss and promote healthier growth.

Misting is an option, but this is only recommended if you have good air circulation around your fern; otherwise, it can attract pests or cause fungus to grow.

Alternatively, placing a humidifier nearby or placing the fern in a bathroom with natural light can also help maintain the desired humidity.

Repot If Necessary

An ideal potting mix for a staghorn fern should provide good drainage whilst holding on to some moisture, preventing issues like root rot due to overwatering.

A mixture of sphagnum peat moss or homemade compost, along with bark or orchid mix, will create an appropriate growing medium.

If the soil for your Staghorn Fern is saturated with water, it’s a good idea to repot using a well-draining soil mix.

This will also give you an opportunity to inspect the roots for signs of root rot.

If the roots are rotten, trim them with a pair of sterilised scissors and treat the rest of the healthy roots with a fungicide.

Proper Watering Techniques

Watering is a big issue for Staghorn Ferns as they require moist soil but not overwatered soil.

This is a hard balance to get right and one of the most common reasons for a dying Staghorn Fern.

Watering Frequency and Schedule

One key factor to save a dying staghorn fern is to ensure proper watering techniques.

It is crucial to find the right balance between overwatering and underwatering, as both can lead to a dying staghorn fern.

Generally, staghorn ferns should be watered when the upright plants look slightly wilted, but it is important to avoid providing too much water, as it can cause root rot.

Creating a consistent watering schedule can help avoid underwatering or overwatering your staghorn fern.

A good rule of thumb is to water your fern once a week, but this can vary depending on the climate and humidity levels in your area.

It is essential to monitor the moisture levels of the roots and adjust the watering schedule accordingly to ensure a healthy staghorn fern.


Soaking is another technique that can help provide the hydration required by your staghorn fern.

If your fern is mounted on a board or a piece of bark, you can soak the entire mount in water for about 15 to 30 minutes.

This will allow the roots to soak up the necessary moisture while preventing overwatering.

In Summary

If your Staghorn Fern is dying, there’s a good chance that you’ll be able to bring it back to health by adjusting the care you are providing.

In the case of pests or disease you will need to get rid of the problem completely which requires using an insecticide or fungicide.

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About Me

Hi, I'm Joe! I'm the head of SEO and content management at Bloom and Bumble. I'm a huge plant lover and over the years my home has become more like an indoor rainforest. It has taken a lot of trial and error to keep my plants healthy and so I'm here to share my knowledge to the rest of the world.

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