How To Save A Dying Staghorn Fern?

Any plant that is not looking its best is a sad sight, and a poorly staghorn fern is not what you want. If you need to know how to save a dying staghorn fern, then read on! We’ve got some great ideas for reviving your favorite fern.

How Do I Know If My Staghorn Fern Is Dying?

How Do I Know If My Staghorn Fern Is Dying

These plants, like most others, will send you SOS signals to let you know that they are not happy, or worse, about to depart from this mortal coil!

Signs and symptoms such as wilting, drooping, shedding leaves left right and center, and discolored patches are all signs that staghorn ferns aren’t too happy.

Root rot

Root rot is a very dangerous problem for most plants; they cannot cope with sitting in puddles!

Overwatering your staghorn fern will cause it lots of problems, so hold off on the excessive watering can action.


Underwatering can cause just as many problems; your plant cannot survive without some drinking water once in a while.

If your staghorn is looking dry and crisp, it is definitely time to give it some water, so that it will survive.

Excessive light

Excessive light will not do your staghorn any good at all – they like diffused light, and too much bright sunlight will cause them problems.

Keep them out of harsh, direct sunlight – they still need light, but just not the direct kind which can scorch their leaves.


Rhizoctonia is a disease that can cause big problems to staghorn ferns. It is caused be excessive moisture, and can be identified by the stem turning black.

Move your staghorn to a place where it receives some good air flow and a reduction is humidity and watering; this should hopefully solve the problem.

This article gives you a lot of information on staghorn ferns, and what you can do to keep them as healthy as possible.

How To Save A Dying Staghorn Fern?

The good news is that if you spot signs of distress in your staghorn fern, you can almost always save it.

  1. Check your watering regime. These plants only need to be watered once a week in the growing season, and every 2-3 weeks in dormancy. Over watering will cause it lots of problems!
  2. Make sure it gets a drink. Although it won’t cope with excessive watering, your staghorn still needs to be watered in order to survive!
  3. Give it a boost of nutrients. If your staghorn is struggling, it may need the addition of a little fertilizer once in a while.
  4. Reduce direct light. If your staghorn is in direct sunlight it is going to really struggle. Move it to a place where it receives indirect but bright sunlight instead.
  5. Check for pests. These plants can sometimes play host to aphids and mealy bugs, which will affect the plant’s health. Look it over and remove any pests you can see, and consider using a natural, organic pesticide.
  6. Cut back wilted or dying leaves. Removing old, dead growth from your staghorn will help to encourage it to produce new healthy growth.
  7. Make its environment humid. These plants like tropical conditions, so having moisture in the air is essential. Try misting, or using a humidifier.
  8. Don’t give up hope! These plants are resilient, and will generally bounce back pretty quickly, so don’t give up even if your staghorn looks really sick.

This is an informative video, showing you how to identify and treat problems with your staghorn fern:

Why Is My Staghorn Dying?

These plants will tolerate most things and manage to grow pretty well, but you do need to watch out for a few things:

  • Too much water. This can cause the roots to rot, and kill the plant pretty quickly.
  • Pest infestation. Aphids and mealy bugs are attracted to this fern, so you will need to keep an eye out for them.
  • Direct sunlight. Indirect light is what this plant likes best; too much bright light will surely kill it.

Staghorns are fairly easygoing, so as long as you have it in a bright place with no direct sunlight, minimize watering, and keep those bugs away, you should have a happy plant!

Should You Remove Dead Leaves From Staghorn?

Many plants benefit from a good trim now and then, and most flowering plants need to be deadheaded for the health of the plant.

But what about those really slow growing plants, like staghorn ferns? And, should you prune a plant that never flowers?

The answer is a yes AND a no. You don’t need to routinely prune your staghorn fern, but there are times when it might enjoy a bit of a haircut.

  1. First, check the plant over to determine which fronds are which. The fertile fronds are the ones which look like reindeer horns and trail down, while the basal fronds are rounded and grow near the bottom of the plant.
  2. If you notice any of the fertile fronds which are dead or damaged, you will need to snip them off with a clean, sharp pair of shears. Cut back to the nearest healthy part to allow for new growth.
  3. Basal fronds, when dead or dying, should be left to decompose on the plant. These will help to provide nutrients to the staghorn as they die off – the plant will use all of the nutrients to fuel new growth.
  4. Although these are not dead leaves, you should remove any new plants (known as offsets) from the base of your staghorn fern. This will encourage the plant to produce new growth (and give you great gifts to give to fellow gardeners!)
  5. Staghorn ferns are slow growing plants, and they produce no flowers. This means that any dead leaves are a bit of a cause for concern and you should look into why they are dying.
  6. As well as investigating the health of the plant, remove dead or diseased leaves as soon as you spot them, to prevent any infection from spreading.

Final Words

A staghorn fern is a relatively easygoing plant to keep alive – but like all of them, it is vulnerable to stress and disease and death if it is not in the right conditions.

Once you figure out how to save a dying staghorn fern, you can revive even the most limp and sorry looking specimens!

6 thoughts on “How To Save A Dying Staghorn Fern?”

    • Although most houseplants can withstand an invasion of creepy crawlies, a sick or weak plant can suffer greatly with an insect invasion. Staghorn Ferns are susceptible to aphids and mealybugs, so you will need to keep an eye on your plant for unwanted guests. Remove them with a damp cloth, and look into using a gentle organic pesticide.

  1. My very large staghorn went through Hurricane Ian on the west coast of
    Florida. All leaves were brown and fell off. Can I tie on a new staghorn
    Plant? Or should I get ride of it. It’s about 3ft by 2ft.

    • Sorry to hear about this – it sounds like your staghorn suffered badly during the hurricane. Your best bet is to attach another staghorn and hope for the best – the original is probably done for, but hopefully a new one will fill its shoes.

    • You will need to repot your fern as soon as you possibly can, and remove any roots that are damaged. Shake off as much soil as you can, and repot into clean soil and in a clean pot.


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