How to Grow Staghorn Fern

Staghorn ferns are a unique and fascinating plant that makes a great addition to any indoor or outdoor space. With their distinctively shaped foliage, these ferns will surely be a conversation starter in your home or garden.

How to Grow Staghorn Fern
Growing Staghorn Fern

To successfully grow a staghorn fern, it's essential to provide them with plenty of dappled sunlight and moisture, as they naturally grow on the bark of trees beneath a canopy of leaves.

By mimicking their natural environment and following proper care tips, you can enjoy the beauty of these intriguing plants for years to come.

About Staghorn Fern

Staghorn ferns, belonging to the genus Platycerium, are unique and captivating houseplants known for their distinct antler-like fronds.

As epiphytes, they naturally grow on tree trunks or branches, deriving moisture and nutrients from the surrounding air and organic matter.

Platycerium bifurcatum, commonly called elkhorn fern, is a popular staghorn fern easily grown as a mounted houseplant.

By attaching the fern to a mount, such as a piece of wood or moss-covered panel, you can mimic its natural habitat and create an eye-catching display in your home.

Growing Staghorn Fern

When planting a staghorn fern, you have multiple options, such as mounting it on wood or using pots.

To mount on a wooden board, start by soaking the sphagnum moss in water, creating a layer on the wood, then placing the fern and covering its roots with additional moist moss.

Secure the fern with pantyhose or plant strips, ensuring that it's firmly attached to the surface.

Choose a wire basket and line it with moistened sphagnum moss if you prefer to grow your staghorn fern in a pot.

Fill the basket with equal parts bark chips, sphagnum moss, and regular potting mix, which provides excellent drainage.

Now, you can transplant the fern into this prepared pot, making sure to water regularly and mist the leaves to maintain a humid environment.

Caring for Staghorn Fern
Caring for Staghorn Fern

Caring for Staghorn Fern

Sun and Temperature

Staghorn ferns thrive in bright, indirect sunlight.

Choose a location near a south-facing window for exposure to dappled sunlight, as these plants naturally grow on tree bark beneath a canopy of leaves.

Maintain temperatures between 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit to keep your fern healthy.

Water and Humidity

Frequent watering is crucial for staghorn fern care, but ensure the plant medium dries out between watering sessions.

High humidity is essential for this plant, so maintain around 70% relative humidity by using a humidifier, placing a tray filled with pebbles and water beneath the pot, or misting the plant with filtered or rainwater.

Soil and Fertilizer

These ferns require a well-draining organic medium, similar to the bark they naturally grow on. Apply a balanced 1:1:1 ratio fertilizer diluted in water once per month to support optimal growth.


As your staghorn fern grows, you may need to repot it into larger pots or mounts. Carefully transplant the fern into an appropriate container with fresh, well-draining organic medium without damaging its roots or fronds.

Pruning and Propagation

Regularly prune dead or damaged fronds to maintain a tidy appearance. To propagate a staghorn fern, remove pups (small, offshoot plants) or collect spores from the underside of a mature leaf

To avoid spreading disease, sterilize your tools before pruning or gathering spores.

Troubleshooting Plant Problems

Growing Problems

One common issue with staghorn ferns is overwatering, which can lead to root rot and fungal diseases.

To avoid this, water your fern once or twice a week during warm weather and decrease watering in cooler weather.

Direct sunlight can also cause problems; if your plant receives too much bright direct sunlight daily, you may notice yellow patches forming on the leaves.

Provide your fern with dappled sunlight, as they naturally grow on tree bark beneath a canopy of leaves.

Pests and Diseases

Staghorn ferns can be susceptible to pests such as scale insects, mealybugs, and snails. These can be controlled by keeping the plant elevated off the ground and treating it with a general-use fungicide if necessary.

Additionally, be aware of fungal diseases like black spots, which can be caused by excessive moisture and heat.

Keeping the plant's environment clean and well-ventilated, as well as monitoring humidity and watering, will help in preventing these issues.


Growing a staghorn fern is an excellent choice for those who want to add a unique and exotic touch to their indoor plant collection.

These epiphytic plants, native to the rainforests of Australia and Southeast Asia, thrive in dappled sunlight and high moisture environments, such as on the bark of trees beneath a canopy of leaves.

To ensure a healthy staghorn fern, water it approximately twice a week.

Remember that this frequency may vary depending on temperature, humidity, and growing medium. Monitoring the moisture level and observing your plant will help you determine the best watering schedule.

You'll enjoy your staghorn fern's stunning, out-of-this-world appearance in your indoor space by providing an ideal environment and proper care.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best environment for staghorn fern growth?

Staghorn ferns thrive in bright, indirect sunlight with temperatures between 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit and 70 percent relative humidity. Ensure they are placed in an area with good air circulation to promote optimal growth.

How often should staghorn ferns be watered?

Water your staghorn ferns frequently, allowing the plant medium to dry between waterings. This helps prevent overwatering and promotes healthy growth.

What kind of fertilizer is best for staghorn ferns?

Use a general-purpose liquid fertilizer with a 1:1:1 ratio, diluted in water. Apply this fertilizer once per month for proper staghorn fern nutrition.

How can I revive a dying staghorn fern?

First, assess the issue causing your fern's decline, such as inadequate light, water, or nutrients. Then, adjust the care accordingly, like improving light conditions, adjusting watering frequency, or applying appropriate fertilizer.

What is the proper mounting technique for a staghorn fern?

Mount your staghorn fern on a wooden or cork board with moss between the fern and board to provide adequate humidity and support. Secure the fern with wire or fishing line, ensuring it's firmly attached yet not damaging its roots.