Staghorn Fern Care and Growing Guide | The root plant out of its natural habitat.

Fern’s have become a staple of the modern garden in the last few years. They are beautiful, green, and endlessly useful. You can find them in gardens, hanging pots, and above ground in ornamental ponds. People love the look of a small plant with lots of leaves hovering over them and frequently buy these plants to give away as gifts.

Staghorn Fern Care and Growing Guide

What is the Staghorn Fern?

The Staghorn Fern is one of the most common naturalized ferns in the United States. It is found in moist areas from Canada to Mexico and on to Florida, and in most areas of the southern United States. Like many of its family members, it is difficult to kill or transplant, but not impossible. The fronds will usually grow back.

They were introduced to the United States, where they have flourished and spread. They are very common to see in hanging baskets or as ground cover in southern homes. They are a very popular ornamental plant, sold everywhere from small gardening shops to department stores like Kmart and WalMart.

This fern has a widespread of habitat ranging from the northeastern United States down south into Florida. It is a fern characteristic of moist areas in the United States. In the wild, they thrive in areas with a moderate amount of sunlight and moisture, such as deep shade to partial shade. They do not like extreme heat or cold and will not survive in dry areas.

Caring for the Staghorn Fern – How to keep it healthy

Caring for the Staghorn Fern is not hard, but you have to pay attention to the details.


To keep the Staghorn Fern healthy and growing, it needs direct sunlight. This does not mean an hour of direct sunlight in the middle of the day during peak summer heat. It means that you need to put it in a place where it will receive full sunlight for around 5-6 hours daily. Temperatures are also important. If the temperature is above 75°F, you should place it in the shade. If the temperature drops below 55°F, move it to a warmer area.

A place with good sun exposure but a little bit of protection from excessive wind and cold is ideal. It is also important to make sure that surrounding trees do not shade it out. You will have better luck if you choose a location that gets a little bit of protection from colder winds and full sunlight for most of the day.


A Staghorn Fern likes to have a good amount of water, but not too much. It is best to give it a good watering once a week or less. The soil should be moist but not soaking wet. If it will take place in your region, you can use rainwater to save money on water bills and for the environment.

It is important that you do not let the soil dry completely between watering as it can kill the plant. If the soil dries out too much, it will start to die. In this case, you will have to cut the fronds off about two inches from the crown and let the roots dry out for a month or two.


You do not need to fertilize this plant very often. In fact, it is important that you do not use any chemical fertilizers or any kind of fertilizer for that matter. If you do use chemical fertilizers, it will be detrimental to your plant. The only time when you need to fertilize is during the winter and spring when the plant has been in a dormant condition for too long.

When you start fertilizing, the roots will grow more firmly and it will not be as easy for them to get out of their habitat. Make sure that once you have applied fertilizer that the soil is completely moist before the roots come out. You need to give them enough room so that they can fully develop and thrive.

Humidity requirements

The Staghorn Fern does not have any high humidity requirements and is grown successfully in the southern parts of the United States. The ideal humidity required by this plant is around 40-50 % but it can survive within a wide range of 20 to 60%. Too much or too little humidity can be detrimental to its health.

Extreme dryness will shrivel the plant and cause it to die eventually while excessive moisture will cause root rot, leading to eventual death as well. This fern does not have any special needs in terms of humidity but it should be kept out of drafty areas that would dry it out. It should be insulated against heat and cold.


The Staghorn Fern can tolerate hard frosts to heat up to the high 70s, but it will not survive temperatures above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure that you check the temperatures in the area where you want to place your fern. The ideal temperature for this plant is between 55-75 degrees Fahrenheit. Avoid putting it close to a draft or fireplaces as these will dry it out.

Plant soil requirements and growing medium

There are different types of Staghorn Ferns that grow in different places so their soil requirements will be slightly different. If you choose to plant the one you buy at the store, make sure that it is a good quality potting mix and very well-drained soil. You should look for a mix that has a fine texture and enough nutrients for the plant to thrive.

Potting soil will give you the ideal results. Make sure that the soil has been well-drained so that it does not get waterlogged once the plant starts growing. Be careful to avoid using sterilized or infertile soil as it will stunt the growth of the plant.

How to prune

The Staghorn Fern is a really hardy plant that does not require much pruning. You will have to cut the fronds 2-3 inches from the base and let them dry out for a long time, around a month or so. This will allow the roots to dry out and come out if they are buried too deeply in the pot.

The fronds will start to wither away on their own after about two months of pruning, at which point you can completely remove them. Once the roots have dried out, you can plant the fronds in a pot of soil with holes in it so that the roots are able to grow.

Pest and insect control for a Staghorn Fern

The most common types of Staghorn Ferns are not very prone to pests or diseases. If you do not overwater the soil or give it too much fertilizer, you will not have any problems. Make sure that the potting mix is well-drained so that the roots do not get waterlogged. Do not dip the fronds in any kind of chemical fertilizer as it will cause them to die.

How to repot a Staghorn Fern

The Staghorn Fern can be repotted as often as you like. If you use an existing pot it may be necessary to cut the roots off at the sides and then transplant them to a new pot. This will give the fern a new home and it will thrive even more in this environment. You will want to remove soil from the spot where you are moving it as much as possible so that new roots have a clean start.

Once the roots have grown into the soil, you can plant the Staghorn Fern in its new home. The hole in the pot should be around two to three inches wide by one inch deep. Fill the pot with very good quality soil. Make sure that there are no air pockets that would prevent water from seeping down into it from above.

Make sure that there is a good balance of air and water in the pot so that the roots can get oxygen while the water from watering the fern can seep through. The ideal pot for a Staghorn Fern would be an 8-inch pot or bigger, preferably with holes in it. Make sure that you have filled it up to about two-thirds of its capacity so that the roots have enough room to grow.

Propagation of the Staghorn Fern

Propagating this plant is easy and can be done with one or two divisions. It is not hard to keep it going from one fern to an entire group of these plants. In fact, you will want to divide your plant every few years as they have a tendency to grow out of control if you do not divide them.

You should keep the divisions in the same kind of setting as the original so that they develop into mature stems. You can use potting soil to root the divisions in, but if you want to keep the original plant going, use soil that drains very well.

Staghorn fern propagation is done with the rhizome or frond in a fully grown fern. These can be replanted into any type of soil as long as it is well-drained and well-matted. Just take the rhizome and plant it into the soil with holes in it.

It will take about a month or so to develop roots that are sturdy enough to hold on to. Once rooted, you have to stake it in a place where it gets some sun and water while the roots can develop fully but do not get too close to the ground. It is better if you put supports around the stem and keep a check on it every once in a while as you wait for the roots to grow.

Types of Staghorn Fern

There are several types of Staghorn Ferns that may have different requirements, sizes, and habits. Here are the different types that you will find in most stores today:

American Staghorn Fern

This one is a popular American Staghorn Fern that will grow well even in hard climates. It is ideal for indoors and mild climates because it grows slowly and does not need much water or humidity. The leaves are about 2-3 inches long and pointed at the end.

It is known to be easy to live with, thriving even in dry soil and not requiring high humidity or constant water. It can only survive in areas where it gets no frost, mostly southern states. It will not be able to survive in places where the temperature goes below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

This plant has become naturalized in some areas in the east coast and can survive on its own without a lot of care. This is because it is a robust fern that can grow just about anywhere and is not picky about soil conditions. It does need a lot of shade, but will also thrive with just an average amount of light.

Stiff Staghorn

This is a type of Staghorn Fern that is not as soft or as thick as the one above, but it is still classified under the same species. It has an average height of 1-2 feet and is about 2 inches wide with very large leaves. The leaves are a little bit curly and will catch on anything that brushes against it.

This plant does well in hard climates that have high humidity because the fronds grow very large and can get damaged easily. It grows in most tropical areas and does well indoors as long as it is placed in the shade. If you leave it exposed to sunlight, the leaves will burn or go black.

Japanese Staghorn

This fern is a very popular indoor plant that can be placed right next to your windows or water feature without needing much sunlight. It prefers a lot of light and should not be placed too close to any drafts or heat sources because it will die very slowly if exposed to these issues for too long.

The Japanese Staghorn is a medium-sized plant that can reach up to 3-5 feet high and 2 feet wide. It does not require much water or sunlight and will thrive in areas with lots of suns when watered according to the soil requirements described above.

It also prefers a more humid environment and will die quickly if there is not enough humidity in the air. This type of plant is also known for growing very fast, so it should be pruned every once in a while to maintain its shape.

Elephant Ear Staghorn Fern

The Elephant Ear Staghorn Fern is a pretty plant that has large fronds that grow up to 4-6 feet and about 2 feet wide. It is hardy and can live in many different kinds of climate and soil conditions. It prefers an environment with lots of light but does fine in dim or low light as well.

This type of Staghorn Fern will not require any pruning because it grows very slowly and will not need it every year or two, unlike the other types mentioned above.

Moosehorn Fern

This is a type of Staghorn that grows in the northern states and is not commonly found in the south. The Moosehorn Fern starts off small and can grow into a large, mature plant in just one year. This fern prefers low temperatures and does well in areas that are cool but not frozen all the time.

The Moosehorn Fern will die very quickly if exposed to prolonged cold temperatures because it will turn brown or even yellow or black and die after just a few minutes. It is important to transplant the plant when it has a rhizome in order for it to survive the cold winters.

Ridley’s Staghorn

‘Ridley’s Staghorn’ is a fantastic plant that grows to about 3-5 feet high and 2-3 feet wide. It does very well in many different types of soil, but well-drained soil that is made up of peat moss is ideal for this plant. If you choose to use this type of soil, you will need to add some type of fertilizer as it has no nutrients in it.

Staghorn Frequently Asked Questions

Are staghorn ferns expensive?

Staghorn ferns are often expensive and not in demand, but they can grow into beautiful plants that can be planted in a variety of areas. It is not a plant that will grow fast and does not require as much light as most other indoor plants. This means it will take a lot longer for the plant to grow compared to others, but wait it out because it is well worth the wait.

However, you will need to be sure you do not buy one of the types that are poorly packaged. Most of the plants you will find in nurseries, online stores, and stores are well packaged and shipped out to you so they can survive the journey.

Can I use my staghorn fern as a houseplant?

Yes, you can of course do this. All kinds of staghorn ferns work well as houseplants, but some will grow incredibly faster than others. Make sure you have enough space in your house or apartment so it can breathe and grow to its full potential.

You will also need to make sure that you are watering it enough because it will not thrive if the soil is too dry. Read the instructions that come with the package because not all ferns are created equal and some require different conditions in order to thrive.

How fast do staghorn ferns grow?

Staghorn ferns grow at a very slow rate and do not require much light or soil. This means you will not be able to look at it every day for signs of growth and will have to wait weeks, if not months before you see any changes. This plant is known to take about 2-3 years to mature, but this time can vary depending on the plant that is purchased.

Do staghorn ferns require much sunlight?

Staghorn ferns do not need a lot of sunlight, but they will also thrive if it gets enough. It is best to place the plant where it gets the minimum amount of direct sunlight and locate it in an area where there is shade during the day. This will help prevent burns or sunburn on the leaves.

The plant can tolerate a lot of shade, but it will not grow as fast and will not be as healthy if the plant is not getting enough sunlight. It is important to maintain the soil in your pot and make sure it has good drainage so water can drip out of the pot without having to sit in it all day.

How do I mount a staghorn fern?

It is very simple to mount a staghorn fern, but you will need to have a few different pieces of equipment. Some of the items you will need are wire, wire clippers, and an electric drill. The first thing you will want to do is cut out a piece of wire and bend it so it can be attached to the inside of the pot in order to secure it in place. Do not use anything that is sharp so it can damage your plant or leave marks on it.

The wire should also be long enough so you can hang it up. The next step is to drill a hole in the top of the pot and thread the wire through it. Finally, you can clip the ends of the wire back and attach a hook or small nail so you can hang your plant easily on a wall or on your ceiling if you choose to do this. If any part of the process seems complicated, just go to YouTube.

What’s the best way to hang a staghorn fern?

It is very simple to hang a staghorn fern and it will take you less than a minute to do it. You will need some wire, some hooks, and a drill. All you need to do is follow the steps listed above, but you will need to use longer wires as the plant needs room to grow. It is important that the bottom of the pot stays up while you drill holes in the top of the pot so water can drain out quickly.

How to divide staghorn fern?

The best time to divide your staghorn fern is at the beginning of spring when you have not received any cold weather yet. You will need a sharp knife, some gardening gloves, a pot, potting soil, an old or new pot, and some water.

You can do this procedure safely inside or outside if you want and all you need to do is follow the steps below:

First, cut through the rhizome into pieces that contain 2-3 leaves. Once you have cut all of the rhizomes into pieces, carefully remove most of the soil from the pot. Throw away any part that is damaged or dead. Decide which piece you want to keep and take it outside. Next, trim off all of the leaves at the bottom of any leaves that are large and healthy, but leave some small ones on them for support.

If you notice any dead spots in your staghorn fern, place a small amount of soil back on those spots without putting too much. Place the new rhizome in the soil and water it a little bit. Do this for all of your staghorn ferns, but do not put too much in the bottom. Place the pot inside a small box or on a saucer so it can avoid getting any water on its leaves.

Staghorn Fern Care Guide Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed learning about staghorn ferns and how to care for them. Another thing I would like to point out is that many people want to know if staghorn ferns are poisonous. Yes, they are poisonous, but not in high doses. This means you will not get sick from inhaling the spores or eating the plants.

It is best to keep them high away from children and pets because the spores can spread and get into their lungs causing them to be very sick or even die. Don’t worry because this plant is not toxic enough to kill humans, but you can still avoid this by keeping it up high out of reach of anyone that might eat it.

If you have any questions about staghorn fern care or want to share your experiences with others, please leave me a comment down below.