Staghorn fern is a rare and exotic plant in my garden. One thing I love about this plant is its unique shape. As the name implies they look like the horns of a stag. You can place this plant on your wall and it really looks like a horn. Although I really love this plant I always had problems with staghorn fern watering. When it’s time to water it bothers me how much should I water? I am happy to say after some research I found an answer to my problem and I am going to share it with you.
First I searched about their natural environment. As I found staghorn ferns are naturally found in tropical rain forests and they grow as epiphytes which literally means they would grow either on trees or on rocks. They contain some specialized roots which would attach to the host and absorb the water from the humid tropical rain forests. In tropical forests, they would get high humidity levels and constant rainfalls.
I understand, to grow them best I should mimic the same conditions they get in their natural habitats. So from this article, I am going to give you in-depth knowledge on how to Staghorn fern water without harming them.
Staghorn fern water requirement
Staghorn fern plants contain large flat basal fronds and they grow like shields. They form over the plant’s roots. Once these plants grow widely in tropical areas or in rock ledges, those basal fronds would collect water as well as the fallen plant debris from the tropical rains. Once the plant’s debris breaks down. It would contain the moisture around the plants and release the nutrients.
Furthermore, Staghorn fern fronds can absorb water and nutrients from the humid air. Besides, there could be some Staghorn fern where they come up with fronds and they would tend to take an upright shape. Unlike plant leaves the main purpose of these fronds is to get involved in reproduction. When you plant Staghorn fern in the home garden, keep in mind that they would have higher requirements in water particularly when it is drought time.
Usually, they are mounted either with sphagnum moss or with any other organic material when you plant them. This would play a major role in retaining moisture. So, when you water a Staghorn fern you need to directly apply water to the Sphagnum moss in a gradual manner. You may make use of a long narrow tipped watering can for this. it would help to make the moss or the other organic material to be fully saturated.
How and When to Water a Staghorn Fern In young staghorn ferns
You need to water them when upright plant parts become wilted. You should ideally mist the basal fronds of the Staghorn fern plants once a week. If you have small-sized Staghorn fern plants, you could use spray bottles to water them. However, if your Staghorn fern is somewhat large best would be to use a gentle misting hose head. However, if you spot any brown wilted basal frond, you don’t need to worry as it could be a part of their normal growth pattern. But keep in mind the basal fronds would be green generally.
As above mentioned, you need to water Staghorn fern plants when their upright plant parts look wilted. It is quite normal to spot dry tissues on the Staghorn fern basal fronds. However, if you spot any black or gray spots, it literally means something wrong with the plants. In fact, it means the Staghorn fern is overwatered.
If you keep watering them too often, it is very likely that Staghorn fern may suffer from fungal infections. Besides, it would disrupt the spore production of the Staghorn fern plants. That being said if you spot any browning in the tips of the upright fronds you don’t need to worry about that as they are ferns spores.
How often do you need to water the Staghorn fern?
Watering frequency may depend on the size of the Staghorn fern plants, the location where you have planted and the lighting exposure to them as well. in addition to that humidity level in the surrounding also affects watering frequency. If you have mounted the Staghorn fern on a board, you can simply mist them so that it can maintain the roots moistly. Alternatively, you may soak the root ball for about 10-20 minutes. If you potted them you may use a watering can and then water. Alternatively, you can soak the pot in water for about 10-20 minutes too.
If I explain this further, you can water Staghorn fern plants once a week. However, it may vary depending on environmental factors. If the surroundings around the Staghorn fern plants are too high, plants would thrive well with minimum water. So ideally you can water the plants once a week from spring to fall. From fall to spring you could water them once every two weeks. Having said that, you need to keep the plants always in a well-draining pot.
It is very likely that you will end up either under-watering or over-watering the Staghorn fern plants especially if you are a fresher in gardening. In fact, lapses in watering are commonly caused reasons for the failure of these plants. So, always you need to determine the watering frequency for these plants depending on the light, humidity and on surrounding heat. These are the factors that would impact the watering frequency for Staghorn fern plants.
Staghorn fern plants use their both roots and fronds to absorb water. This literally means misting would be beneficial for them. Always keep in mind that if the humidity is high, you need to cut back on watering. So for example, if you had placed them in a highly humid place like a bathroom you need to minimize watering them or misting them.
On the other hand, if the lighting and the heat are high, you need to water them more. That said there could be certain species of Staghorn fern plants that can withstand some drought conditions also. In fact, they can stay longer without water. However, they cannot tolerate drought conditions for a long time. So, always check the moss at the plant’s base and see whether it is dry or moist.
In addition, if the lighting or the heat is less you need to water them less. Always bear in mind that Staghorn fern plants don’t withstand over-watering. So, I suggest you avoid watering the Staghorn fern plants during winter. Apart from these facts, if your Staghorn fern plants are right beneath a heating duct or closer to a fireplace, the plant withers faster.
If you come across any browning or blackening at the base of these plants, you need to suspend watering them until they revive, On the other hand, if you can come across any brown tips or wilting in the antler fronds, it literally means you need to commence watering the plants.
Can staghorn fern get too much water?
Staghorn fern plants are sensitive to overwatering. They in fact grow as epiphytes and if you end up over watering it would lead to root rot. Ultimately it would harm your plants. So, if you come across any overwatering situation you need to act fast to rectify it.
Misting Staghorn Ferns
I suggest misting the Staghorn fern plants regularly so that it would enhance the humidity around the plants. This method would work well with small Staghorn fern plants too.
Conclusion on Staghorn Fern Watering
So this is how I overcome my staghorn from overwatering. So you need to understand these facts very carefully. When you plant Staghorn fern plants it is essential that you water them properly. You need to water them frequently, yet you need to allow the plant base to dry between two watering sessions. And you need to water them once a week during hot conditions and once every two weeks when the conditions are cold.
So, I hope now you are well aware of how to water the Staghorn fern plants properly. I also trust now you have a better idea of how to identify if your Staghorn fern plants are over-watered or under-watered. So, I hope this article was helpful for you and now that you are excited to try these tactics when you water them.