How to Save An Overwatered Staghorn Fern

Staghorn Ferns ( Platycerium bifurcatum) are a stunning feature in any landscape due to their stunning beauty as well as the way they are planted.

If you provide them lots of humidity and regularly water them They’re easy to keep.

But, it is one of the methods to kill tropical epiphytes.

The excessive watering of staghorn ferns causes the basal fronds to turn and turn brown, or black with black spots. This can eventually lead to root rot that can cause death to the fern. Cut off the affected fronds and root structures, spray fungicide, and then repot or remount them in a new medium. Change the schedule of watering according to the needs.

Signs of an Overwatered Staghorn Fern

Staghorn Ferns are truly unique species. They’re unique in that they have roots as well as shield fronds on the bottom to soak up the water and nutrients.

It is a good thing, as it makes spotting evidence of excessive watering beyond the line of soil of these epiphytes much easier.

The effects of overwatering are extensive to the rootball, thereby connecting the plant to support structures like walls, rocks, or Trellis.

Staghorn fern leaf close up

But, watch out for these signs of a staghorn fern that has been overwatered:

– Staghorn Fern Turning Yellow

As with many tropical plants Staghorn Ferns utilize chlorophyll in the leaves of their plants to transform sunlight into energy usable.

Unfortunately the damage to leaves and edema result from too much water, which degrades chlorophyll.

The excessive moisture in the soil also causes rot to the roots, which prevents the plant from taking in essential nutrients.

In the end, leaf yellowing is among the first indications of excessive watering. Additionally, a brownish yellow stain may be seen on the underside of the leaves.

– Browning or Blackening of Basal Fronds

If you are prone to overwatering your staghorn plant, the bottom of the fronds can be one of the first areas to be affected.

The image above shows the root plates. The stag horn ferns are basically three kinds of fronds.

Fertile (the ones hanging down) Infertile( those that hang up) and brown ones are fronds which evolved to function as anchors to anchor their position to the top of something.

When the antler’s fronds start to turn brown or black near the bottom, it is probably excessively watered the fern.

If your staghorn fern has a thirst and the tips of the basal fronds will turn become brown.

– Black Spots on the Basal Fronds

The conditions that are overly moist are perfect habitats for the growth of a broad variety of fungi.

This is particularly true when your plant that is overwatered is located in an area with high temperatures which encourages the growth of fungi that are opportunistic.

Rhizoctonia is one of the most prevalent fungal infection that affects the staghorn fern that is overwatered.

It’s a gruesome fungal fungus that thrives in soils and can cause issues like damping-off, the leaf, rot and root decay.

It is common for Rhizoctonia fungal infection to target the fronds’ base that touch soil or the ground.

Because of this disease, the basal fronds of the plant are covered in black or brown spots.

If you do not treat these fungal illnesses eventually, they’ll end up killing your fern due to the fact that they target the points that are growing.

If you notice the first signs of it popping up, stop watering and reduce the humidity. There are fungicides that you can employ to tackle the issue.

– Staghorn Fern Wilting

The need for water is essential to the plant’s stunning shape and appearance. The staghorn fern’s fronds tend to dispersed when placed on walls.

But, overwatering for too long will make your plant appear weak and the fronds will begin to die.

Oxygen is emitted from soil in air pockets that are formed when there’s excessive water.

In the end, the roots of your plant will no longer breathe, and they die because of the absence of oxygen.

The sloppy environment also promotes fungal growth, leading to root decay.

The foliage and the rest of the plant don’t get enough water absorption and flow.

The absence of water and nutrients reduces the pressure of turgor and the fronds appear like they’re deflated, rather than being firm or juicy.

In the present the staghorn fern could appear more of an eye-sore rather than a work of art that draws attention to your decoration.

– Small Dark Spots on Fronds

The overwatering can cause small dark spots to appear on the undersides of the fronds. These tiny lesions or dark spots will cause a deterioration in the plant’s natural greenery.

Lack of moisture within your plant or the rhizomes could cause an unbalanced distribution of nutrients. Due to nutrient imbalances the spots and patches develop.

– Rotting Core

An extreme case of excessive watering is almost always the cause of root disease. This is due to the fact that the decay can affect both the roots or rhizomes as well as the fronds.

A rotting core is usually caused by the collapse or drop of antler fronds. As time passes, they are likely to produce an unpleasant smell.

In addition to overwatering The following are a few of the most frequent causes of the staghorn fern’s base becoming rotten:

  • The incorrect soil medium is used
  • Conditions of soil that are waterlogged
  • The absence of drainage holes
  • Insufficient light
  • Do you mist your plant too often?

If the central part inside your Staghorn Fern begins to rot the plant is likely to end up dying. The reason for this is that the plant’s primary structure is situated in between its root and the shield fronts. This is why the core that is rotting kills the plant from within.

– Staghorn Fern Soft Leaves

Leaf tissue is severely affected by excessive watering, particularly in the beginning stages of growth where too much water gets to the plant.

Leaf edema can cause significant damage to cells and tissues and can result in decrease in overall turgor and the firmness.

The leaves are not receiving enough nutrients and water if root structures are damaged. The result is soft and mushy, rather than hard and perky.

– Root Rot

If the central part inside your Staghorn Fern begins to rot it’s likely to end up dying. The main structure of the plant is located between the roots ball and shield fronts. This is why the core that is rotting kills the plant from within.

The signs of root rot aren’t pretty They include:

  • The fronds are dull and yellow
  • The smell is a sour one emitted by the roots
  • Decayed roots that appear like black or brown
  • Roots that are soft or mushy
  • Black or dark brown patches on the fronds

The root rot can be the last result of watering your plant too much. It is imperative to act swiftly in this case because of the short amount of time you have available.

When repotting or remounting your plant, take out any dying, diseased, or dead fronds and roots out of the pot.

How to Save an Overwatered Staghorn Fern

After reviewing all the signs of your staghorn fern, it’s concluded that the overwatering is the reason.

Then, you must fix the issue and create the perfect conditions for your plant to recuperate.

I hope that you recognized the issue before the roots and fronds became badly damaged.

If your plant is suffering from root rot, you’ll have to go to extreme measures to prevent the plant from dying.

Follow these easy steps to make sure your water-logged staghorn fern happy and healthy once more.

(1) Switch to a fast-draining soil after Drying out the plant

Concentrating on the soil medium is the quickest and most efficient method to revive the staghorn fern which has been a little overwatered.

However, a moist soil medium could lead to root rot on this epiphytic plant’s rootssince they have smaller and less root systems.

Additionally when you allow the medium to run for a long period before remounting it, the soil or moss may become too moist and harm the roots of the plant.

Instead of digging up and re-potting your soil better to start with a brand new pot and soil that is well-drained.

However, first you’ll have to allow your plant to dry, so that it won’t be damaged or begin to rot.

I typically adhere to these steps in order to save my staghorn fern if it is flooded (aka that it hasn’t been affected by the widespread disease of rot).

  • Unmount or remove the pot from your Staghorn Fern.
  • Begin drying the soil medium as well as the plant by using clean and sterilized kitchen towels or newspapers.
  • Increase the temperature and the amount of light reaching your plant. The higher temperatures will accelerate evaporation and help dry out the medium more quickly.
  • Alternately, you can make use of a hair dryer (set the device on cool) and then dry the soil in the vicinity of your root ball. Be sure that the blow is soft to avoid damaging the roots which are fragile.
  • Replant your staghorn fern into the new soil medium. The container should be filled with a dry, fast-draining soil medium , then remount the plant.
  • If you’re planting in soil, make sure the pot is properly drained and has appropriate drainage holes that let the excess liquid seep out.

After a couple of days or weeks the staghorn fern will start to recover. Fronds are able to recuperate their vibrant green and solid structure.

(2) Prune Dead and Diseased Roots & Fronds

The overwatering of plants creates the perfect conditions for the development of rot-related diseases. When your plants continue to be overwatered, it could shed more roots and fronds.

Make use of a sterilized pair of pruners or scissors to get rid of dead or decaying root fronds or fronds.

After cleaning up ensure that the sole root and fronds that remain are firm, healthy, and springy.

If you don’t remove the decayed parts they’ll carry the rot and spread it to other parts of the plant.

(3) Treatment of the root by using the help of a Fungicide

To stop the spread of the disease and to limit the possibility of reinfections All roots should be treated with a suitable fungicide.

Incorporating hydrogen peroxide into the new mix of potting soil or applying it to the root system are both effective techniques.

I would prefer to use an fungicide drench to treat Phytophthora as well as Pythium roots rot.

In the event that root decay isn’t enough, you could make use of activated charcoal, cinnamon, and chamomile to treat your fungus naturally.

If the water overflow has already resulted in fungal leaf spot disease such as Rhizoctonia I suggest applying a fungicide containing Copper.

To treat fungal illnesses. These are the fungalicides that I suggest:

To treat fungal illnesses. These are the fungalicides that I suggest:

(4) Select the Right Pot

The container you have now may be contaminated with pathogens. Make sure you choose a pot that has drainage holes. Staghorn ferns that are mature are my preferred choice to put in.

If you decide to plant your staghorn fern inside an iron basket, make sure that it’s 2 inches larger than the pot you have.

(5) Repot the Staghorn Fern

  • Select a high-quality batch of well-drained, porous potting medium that contains shredded pine bark or sphagnum peat moss.
  • The pot should be filled with one quarter inch of peat sphagnum moss and then pack it tightly.
  • Half of the pot should be filled with potting media and some pine barks that have been shredded.
  • Plant your staghorn fern , leaving the leaves open.
  • Put your plant in the ground and distribute the soil medium evenly over the pot.

(6) Adjust the Watering Schedule

Staghorn ferns need regular watering however the base must dry out between irrigations.

Therefore it is recommended to wait until the plant is beginning to wilt before watering it again, usually once each week throughout your growing period.

Before watering again, allow that the upper third dry completely.

How Often Do You Need to Water A Staghorn Fern?

In the dry, hot spring and summer months, you might require watering the staghorn fern at least once a week.

But, you should not use it more than at least once every two or three weeks in the winter seasons of autumn and winter.



Went from a bad gardener to a half-decent one over 10+ years. Super happy to share my tips and tricks with you :)