How To Plant Staghorn Fern [ Full Guide ]

Staghorn ferns, known for their striking, antler-like fronds, are fascinating and unique plants that can add a touch of tropical elegance to any indoor or outdoor space. Their distinctly different appearance and epiphytic nature make them a popular choice for plant enthusiasts looking to add character and charm to their gardens or interiors. Properly planting a staghorn fern is essential for its health and long-term growth. This comprehensive guide will provide detailed insights into every aspect of planting a staghorn fern, from choosing the right location to acquiring a healthy plant and nurturing its growth.

Quick Answer: How To Plant Staghorn Fern

Planting a staghorn fern involves several key steps, including choosing the right location, selecting the proper container, preparing the mounting material, and acquiring a healthy staghorn fern. Following these steps will ensure the successful establishment and growth of this unique plant. Below, we will delve into each of these steps in detail.

Staghorn ferns, scientifically classified as Platycerium, are epiphytic plants that are native to tropical regions across the globe, including Africa, Southeast Asia, Australia, and the Americas. In their natural habitat, they typically grow on tree trunks or rocks, utilizing their specialized fronds to gather moisture and nutrients from the air. When grown as ornamental plants, staghorn ferns are often mounted on wooden boards or placed in containers, allowing them to thrive in various environments.

Choosing The Right Location

Before planting a staghorn fern, it’s crucial to select the right location that mimics their natural habitat. Staghorn ferns thrive in bright, indirect light, making them excellent choices as indoor or outdoor ornamental plants. When grown indoors, they should be placed near a window with filtered sunlight or in a well-lit room with ample natural light. In contrast, outdoor locations should provide gentle shade and protection from harsh midday sun.

The selected location should also offer adequate space for the staghorn fern to grow and spread its unique fronds. Consider areas with enough room for the fern’s mature size, as they can develop into substantial plants over time. Additionally, the chosen location should allow for proper air circulation, as staghorn ferns benefit from fresh, circulating air to prevent the buildup of excess moisture around their fronds.

Selecting The Proper Container

When planting a staghorn fern, the choice of container is crucial for its growth and development. While staghorn ferns can be potted in traditional containers, many enthusiasts prefer mounting them on wooden boards or other suitable materials to showcase their distinctive fronds. If mounting the fern, choosing a board made of rot-resistant wood, such as cedar or redwood, is essential to ensure longevity and stability.

The container or mounting material should also provide ample space for the staghorn fern to grow and expand. Ensure that the chosen container or mounting board is large enough to accommodate the fern’s root system and allow for future growth without overcrowding. Additionally, the container or mounting material should enable proper drainage to prevent waterlogging, as excessive moisture can be detrimental to the health of staghorn ferns.

Preparing The Mounting Material

Before planting the staghorn fern, it’s necessary to prepare the mounting material to create a suitable growing environment for the plant. Start by selecting the appropriate mounting board, ensuring that it is clean, dry, and free from any harmful substances or contaminants that could affect the fern’s health.

Next, you will need to create a suitable growing medium for the staghorn fern. A popular method involves using a mixture of peat moss and coconut coir, which provides a well-draining and moisture-retentive substrate for the plant to establish itself. To prepare the growing medium, combine equal parts of peat moss and coconut coir in a large container, thoroughly mixing them to achieve a uniform blend.

Once the growing medium is ready, spread it evenly across the surface of the mounting board, forming a layer that is approximately 1 to 2 inches thick. Ensure that the growing medium covers the entire surface of the board, providing a stable and nutrient-rich foundation for the staghorn fern to attach and grow.

Acquiring A Healthy Staghorn Fern

When acquiring a staghorn fern for planting, it’s essential to select a healthy specimen that is well-suited for transplantation and growth. Look for staghorn ferns with vibrant, green fronds and no signs of discoloration, wilting, or pest infestation. The root system of the fern should also be inspected to ensure that it is firm, well-developed, and free from any signs of rot or decay.

If purchasing a staghorn fern from a nursery or garden center, inquire about the plant’s care history, including its watering schedule, light exposure, and any potential adjustments required to acclimate it to its new environment. Additionally, if sourcing a staghorn fern from a private seller or collector, ask for guidance on its care and any specific requirements for its successful transplantation and growth.

Upon acquiring a healthy staghorn fern, it’s crucial to handle it with care to avoid damaging its fronds or root system. Transport the fern securely, ensuring that it remains stable and protected throughout the journey to its new growing location. Once the staghorn fern is ready for planting, proceed with care and attention to ensure a successful transition to its new environment.

Planting a staghorn fern is a rewarding experience that allows for the appreciation of its unique beauty and intriguing growth habits. By selecting the right location, choosing the proper container or mounting material, preparing the appropriate growing medium, and acquiring a healthy staghorn fern, enthusiasts can establish a thriving and visually captivating plant in their indoor or outdoor spaces.

Understanding the specific requirements of staghorn ferns and providing them with the ideal growing conditions is essential for their long-term health and vitality. With careful attention to detail and proper planting techniques, staghorn ferns can flourish and become stunning focal points in gardens, living spaces, or botanical collections, attracting admiration and admiration for their captivating, antler-like fronds.

Preparing The Fern For Planting

The staghorn fern (Platycerium) is a unique and stunning plant that is native to tropical regions. It gets its name from the antler-like fronds that resemble the horns of a stag. With its dramatic appearance and ability to grow indoors or outdoors, the staghorn fern has become a popular choice among plant enthusiasts.

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Planting a staghorn fern requires some special considerations due to its epiphytic nature. Unlike most plants, it does not require soil to grow. Instead, it attaches itself to trees or other surfaces and absorbs nutrients and moisture from the air and rain. To successfully plant a staghorn fern, it is important to follow certain steps and provide the right environment for it to thrive.

Before planting a staghorn fern, it is essential to prepare the plant and gather the necessary materials. Here are the steps to take:

1. Choosing A Healthy Plant

When selecting a staghorn fern, look for a specimen with healthy fronds and no signs of disease or pests. The fronds should be evenly green and free from brown spots or wilting. Inspect the plant closely for any signs of insects, such as aphids or scale. It is advisable to purchase staghorn ferns from reputable nurseries or online sellers.

2. Soaking The Plant

Staghorn ferns are often sold mounted on wooden plaques or boards. To prepare the fern for planting, you need to soak it in water to rehydrate the root ball and remove any debris or moss that may be attached to it. Fill a bucket or basin with room temperature water and submerge the root ball for about 30 minutes. Gently swish the fern around to dislodge any dirt or moss.

3. Inspecting The Roots

After soaking, carefully inspect the roots of the staghorn fern. Trim away any dead or rotting roots using clean and sharp gardening shears. This step helps promote healthy growth and prevents potential issues down the line.

4. Preparing Mounting Material

Staghorn ferns can be mounted on various materials such as plaques, boards, or baskets. Consider the size and weight of the fern when choosing the appropriate mounting material. Ensure that the material is sturdy enough to support the plant’s weight and provide ample space for the roots to attach and grow.

If you decide to use a wooden plaque or board, select rot-resistant wood, such as cedar or redwood, to prevent decay. Soak the mounting material in water overnight to ensure it retains moisture and supports the growth of the staghorn fern.

Mounting The Staghorn Fern

Once you’ve prepared the staghorn fern and the mounting material, it’s time to mount the plant. Follow these steps:

1. Positioning The Fern

Decide how you want to display the staghorn fern. It can be mounted vertically or horizontally, depending on your preference or available space. Consider the growth pattern of the plant and choose a position that allows for the fronds to spread naturally.

2. Attaching The Fern

Lay the mounting material flat on a surface and place the staghorn fern on top of it. Position the fern so that the lower half of the root ball rests on the mounting material. Rotate the plant slightly to create an aesthetically pleasing arrangement of the fronds.

Next, use natural twine or fishing line to secure the staghorn fern to the mounting material. Start by wrapping the twine around the base of the fern’s fronds, just above the root ball, making sure it is tight enough to hold the plant in place. Continue wrapping the twine around the mounting material, crisscrossing it to create a secure hold.

Alternatively, you can use stainless steel nails or staples to secure the fern to the mounting material. Insert the nails or staples into the mounting material, ensuring they pass through the root ball without damaging the fronds. Space them out evenly to provide stability.

3. Adding A Moisture Layer

Staghorn ferns thrive in moist environments, so adding a moisture-retaining layer to the mounting material is crucial. Sphagnum moss is a popular choice for this purpose. Soak a handful of moss in water until it becomes saturated, then squeeze out the excess moisture.

Gently layer the damp moss on top of the mounting material, surrounding the base and bottom half of the staghorn fern. The moss acts as a natural sponge, absorbing moisture and increasing humidity around the plant.

4. Wrapping The Fern

To further secure the staghorn fern and promote root growth, wrap the root ball with a layer of natural fiber, such as burlap or hessian. This protective covering mimics the natural habitat of the fern and aids in moisture retention. Attach the fiber tightly around the root ball using twine or a biodegradable plant tie.

Caring For The Fern After Planting

Once the staghorn fern is mounted, it requires proper care to ensure its growth and longevity. Here are some essential tips for caring for the fern after planting:

1. Light And Temperature

Staghorn ferns thrive in bright, indirect light. Place the mounted fern in a location that receives filtered sunlight or partial shade. Direct sunlight can scorch the fronds and cause damage.

Additionally, the temperature for staghorn ferns should ideally be between 60-75°F (15-24°C). Avoid exposing the plant to extreme temperatures or drafts, as they can negatively impact its growth and health.

2. Humidity

As epiphytic plants, staghorn ferns rely on high humidity levels to thrive. To create a suitable environment, mist the fronds with water daily or every other day, especially in dry climates or heated indoor spaces. This helps to mimic the humid conditions of their natural habitat.

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Another effective way to increase humidity is by placing a tray of water near the fern’s mounting material. As the water evaporates, it creates a humid microclimate around the plant. Ensure that the tray is not directly touching the plant to prevent root rot.

3. Fertilization

Staghorn ferns benefit from regular fertilization to provide essential nutrients for growth. Apply a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer specifically formulated for ferns every two weeks during the growing season (spring and summer). Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for dilution and application rates to avoid over-fertilization, which can harm the plant.

4. Pruning

Pruning is an important aspect of staghorn fern care. Periodically remove any dead or dying fronds to maintain the plant’s health and appearance. Trim away brown or yellowed fronds at the base, using clean and sterilized pruning shears. Be careful not to cut the green fronds, as they are the source of photosynthesis and energy for the fern.

5. Protection From Pests

While staghorn ferns are generally resistant to pests, they can occasionally attract mealybugs, scale, or aphids. Regularly inspect the plant for any signs of infestation, such as the presence of tiny insects or sticky residue on the fronds.

If you notice pests, manually remove them using a soft brush or spray the plant with a gentle insecticidal soap solution. Avoid using harsh chemical pesticides, as they can harm the fern and disrupt its delicate balance.

Proper Watering Techniques

Watering is a critical aspect of staghorn fern care, as they have unique water requirements due to their epiphytic nature. Here are some guidelines for proper watering:

1. Watering Frequency

Staghorn ferns prefer regular, consistent moisture, but they are susceptible to root rot if overwatered. Watering frequency depends on various factors such as humidity, temperature, and mounting material. As a general rule, provide water when the top half-inch of the mounting material feels dry to the touch.

2. Watering Method

To water the staghorn fern, thoroughly soak the mounting material and root ball. Pour water slowly and evenly, allowing it to saturate the moss and reach the roots. Avoid pouring water directly onto the fronds, as this can damage and discolor them.

3. Drainage

After watering, ensure that excess water drains away effectively to prevent waterlogging. Tip the mounted fern to the side to allow any excess water to drain out. This helps to prevent root rot and maintain the health of the plant.

4. Rainwater Or Filtered Water

Staghorn ferns are sensitive to chemicals and minerals found in tap water. Whenever possible, use rainwater or filtered water to avoid potential damage to the plant. If tap water is your only option, let it sit uncovered for 24 hours to allow chlorine and other chemicals to dissipate.

Planting and caring for a staghorn fern can be a rewarding experience, allowing you to enjoy the unique beauty of this fascinating plant. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can provide the optimal environment for the fern to thrive. Remember to choose a healthy plant, prepare it properly for planting, mount it securely on suitable material, and provide the right care in terms of light, humidity, and watering. With a little patience and attention, you can create a stunning display of staghorn ferns in your home or garden.

Providing Adequate Lighting

Staghorn ferns, also known as Platycerium, are captivatingly unique plants with their distinctive antler-shaped fronds. These tropical epiphytes are often mounted on wooden boards or hung in baskets, adding a touch of exotic beauty to any space.

Staghorn ferns require specific lighting conditions to flourish. While they can tolerate some indirect sunlight, too much direct exposure can scorch their delicate fronds. Here is how you can provide the perfect lighting environment for your staghorn fern:

1. Indirect Sunlight

Place your fern in an area that receives bright, indirect sunlight. This can be near a north or east-facing window. Filter the light with a sheer curtain or by placing the fern a few feet away from the window to prevent the direct rays from damaging the fronds.

2. Outdoor Placement

If you prefer to grow your staghorn fern outdoors, choose a spot that offers dappled or filtered sunlight. Trees with overhead foliage or a shaded patio are excellent locations. Avoid placing the fern in direct sunlight, especially during the hot afternoon hours when the rays are the strongest.

3. Indoor Lighting Options

If you cannot provide adequate natural light indoors, you can use fluorescent lights or grow lights for your staghorn fern. Hang the lights a few feet above the plant to simulate natural lighting conditions. Keep the lights on for approximately 10-12 hours a day to imitate a day-night cycle.

Maintaining Humidity Levels

Staghorn ferns are native to humid tropical regions and thrive in environments that mimic their natural habitat. Assisting them in maintaining adequate humidity levels is crucial for their growth and health. Here are some methods to keep the humidity levels ideal for your staghorn fern:

1. Choose The Right Location

Place your fern in a room with naturally higher humidity levels, such as a bathroom or a kitchen, where moisture tends to accumulate. The humidity in these areas can provide an excellent environment for the staghorn fern to thrive.

2. Mist The Fronds

Regularly misting the fronds helps mimic the humid conditions of their natural habitat. Fill a spray bottle with distilled or filtered water and mist the fronds thoroughly. Aim to mist the fern at least once a day, especially during dry seasons or if the indoor humidity is low.

3. Pebble Tray

Creating a pebble tray is an effective way to increase humidity around your staghorn fern. Place a layer of small pebbles in a tray or saucer, and fill it halfway with water. Place the fern on top of the pebbles, ensuring that the water does not touch the bottom of the pot. As the water evaporates, it creates a humid microclimate around the plant.

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4. Humidifier

Using a humidifier is another efficient method to maintain humidity levels for your staghorn fern. Place a small humidifier in the room and set it to the appropriate humidity level, typically between 50-60%. This will help create the ideal environment for your fern to thrive.

Fertilizing The Staghorn Fern

To ensure your staghorn fern receives the nutrients it needs for healthy growth, regular fertilization is essential. Here is how you can properly fertilize your fern to enhance its vitality:

1. Choosing The Right Fertilizer

Use a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer specifically formulated for epiphytic plants. Look for a fertilizer with a balanced NPK ratio (Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium) such as 10-10-10 or 12-12-12. These ratios provide a good mix of essential nutrients for the staghorn fern.

2. Fertilizing Schedule

During the fern’s active growing season, which typically occurs from spring to early fall, fertilize it every two to three weeks. Dilute the fertilizer according to the manufacturer’s instructions to avoid overfeeding the plant. Reduce the frequency to once a month or stop fertilizing during the winter months when the fern enters its dormant period.

3. Fertilizer Application

Apply the diluted fertilizer to the staghorn fern’s planting medium or onto the base of the fronds using a watering can or spray bottle. Take care not to touch the fronds with the fertilizer solution, as this can cause damage. Fertilize after thoroughly watering the plant to prevent fertilizer burn.

4. Organic Fertilizer Alternatives

If you prefer to use organic fertilizers, you can feed your staghorn fern with solutions such as compost or worm castings tea. Dilute these organic fertilizers in water and apply them following the same frequency and application methods as synthetic fertilizers.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

Despite your best efforts, staghorn ferns may face some common issues that can hinder their growth or damage their appearance. Here are a few problems you may encounter and how to resolve them:

1. Brown Or Dying Fronds

If you notice brown or dying fronds on your staghorn fern, it may indicate underwatering, inadequate lighting, or low humidity levels. Adjust your watering routine to ensure the fern receives sufficient moisture, relocate it to an area with better lighting conditions, and increase humidity through misting or using a humidifier.

2. Pest Infestations

Staghorn ferns can be susceptible to pests such as scale insects, mealybugs, and spider mites. To remedy these infestations, gently wash the affected fronds with a mixture of mild soap and water or use a horticultural oil spray. Ensure you treat both the tops and undersides of the fronds to eliminate any hidden pests.

3. Root Rot

Overwatering or poor drainage can lead to root rot in staghorn ferns. If you notice wilting fronds and a foul odor coming from the planting medium, it may be an indication of root rot. Act promptly by removing the fern from its pot, trimming away any rotted or damaged roots, and repotting it in fresh, well-draining medium.

4. Nutrient Deficiency

Yellowing fronds with green veins may be a sign of nutrient deficiency, particularly a lack of nitrogen. To address this issue, apply a balanced fertilizer according to the recommended dosage. Be cautious not to over-fertilize, as this can also cause damage.


Planting and caring for a staghorn fern can be a rewarding experience. By providing adequate lighting, maintaining humidity levels, and fertilizing appropriately, you can help your fern thrive. Remember to troubleshoot common issues promptly to ensure the health and beauty of your staghorn fern. With the right care and attention, these striking ferns will continue to captivate and enhance your living space for years to come.


What Is The Best Time Of Year To Plant A Staghorn Fern?

The best time of year to plant a staghorn fern is in the spring or fall when the weather is mild and the plant can adjust to its new environment more easily.

What Type Of Potting Medium Should I Use For My Staghorn Fern?

Staghorn ferns do not require traditional potting soil. Instead, use a well-draining, organic medium such as sphagnum moss, coconut coir, or a mixture of bark and perlite. This will mimic the fern’s natural growing conditions.

How Often Should I Water My Staghorn Fern?

Staghorn ferns prefer to be watered once a week. It is important not to overwater, as their root systems are sensitive to sitting in soggy soil. You can test if the plant needs water by gently pressing your finger into the medium. If it feels dry, it’s time to water.

What Is The Best Location For A Staghorn Fern?

Staghorn ferns prefer bright, indirect sunlight. They can tolerate some direct sunlight in the morning or evening, but too much direct sunlight can scorch their leaves. They also prefer a humid environment, so placing the plant in a bathroom or near a humidifier can be beneficial.

How Do I Mount A Staghorn Fern On A Wall Or Tree?

Mounting a staghorn fern is a great way to display its unique shape and growth habits. To do so, wrap the plant’s root ball in sphagnum moss and secure it to a wooden board or tree with wire or fishing line. Make sure the plant is placed in a location where it can continue to receive adequate light, water, and nutrients.