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Why are the Leaves on my Staghorn Fern Limp and Drooping?

Are you worried about your droopy Staghorn Ferns? If yes, let’s discuss Limp and Drooping leaves of your Staghorn Fern.

Having staghorn fern in your home is a very beautiful part. Staghorn Fern adds beauty and charm to the house environment.

But you may find your Staghorn leaves dizzy with limp and drooping leaves often. You need to know why it happens and how to avoid or control it if you need to keep its beauty alive.

Staghorn’s leaves are generally found limp and drooping due to inappropriate moisture and humidity. Moreover, inappropriate temperature, improper light, nutrition, and pests/diseases can also be the reasons.


Let us learn more about the problems and their solutions/preventions if you are looking forward to saving your ferns!

Is it Normal for Staghorn Fern Leaves to Limp and Droop?

Normally, your Staghorn Fern leaves may get limp and droopy. Though, you need to confirm its condition. Limp and drooping leaves may revive, but not always as well.

Yes! You heard it right!! You can revive your Staghorn Fern. But not in all cases.

For the brown and dried leaves, you can even call them dead. But if the leaves are still green but wilting, it can be the initial stage where your actions will work out.

A drooping fern does not always mean a dying fern. We can revive it back to normal depending upon its status.

This limping and drooping problem in your plant may occur as a result of many negligences, such as excessive water or too little water.

When you water less, your Staghorn Ferns stay dehydrated, and also the soil gets dry. Similarly, excessive water can cause poor aeration when you water more than necessary.

Your Fern roots might feel difficulty in absorbing moisture and delivering it to its body system. In these cases, you may also be suffocating the plant!

Staghorn Fern in its Natural Habitat
Staghorn Fern in its Natural Habitat

The next reason can be the humidity. Low humidity increases transpiration rates in plants.

And we know the higher goes transpiration rate, the more would be the watering needs for the plant to maintain optimum water amount in its body. Excess humidity can as well be a problem.

You cannot neglect diseases and pests when your adorable Staghorn comes to drooping condition. But moisture and humidity are the core reason for drooping leaves.

Why are the Leaves on my Staghorn Fern Limp and Drooping?

The common causes of limp and drooping leaves in Staghorn Fern leaves with basic solution are mentioned in the table below:

UnderwateringFor spring and summer season, a week interval is enough for irrigating.
For fall and for winter, water every few weeks.
Low HumidityMisting
Using humidifier
OverwateringManage proper drainage
Reduce the watering frequency.
Allow your fern soil to dry and recover.
Nutrient deficiencyFertilize at least twice per year
(Example: Rhizoctonia)
Use fungicides to avoid rhizoctonia and other rots
(Example: Mealybugs and Scales)
Use of insecticidal soaps to avoid pests

1. Underwatering Staghorn Fern

Underwatering is the most common cause of this problem. When your Fern gets underwatered, it is sure to be dehydrated.

Your Staghorn is a moisture-loving fern that can have limp, drooping, and wilting symptoms when you miss watering the plants.

Water the plant when required.
Water the plant when required (Source: Tenor)

Underwatering leads to wilting, which later can create brown appearances. You can also see brown spots at the tips of fronds.


  • Increase water supply by more frequent watering
  • You can increase humidity by spraying water on the leaves.
  • Misting is essential in many underwatered plants.

Also, you can soak your fern in a water basin for around 15 minutes (be sure the roots are fully saturated) and rehang them after drip drying.

Preventive Measures

  • Regular watering to avoid dry soil is a must.
  • To avoid the quick drying of soil, we can add pebbles above the topsoil to avoid the escape of moisture from soil through evaporation.

2. Overwatering Staghorn Fern

You must never forget that your Staghorn Fern is a moisture lover, but it can never tolerate overwatering. Never forget that you need to water the plant less in colder environments or seasons.

Besides limping and drooping leaves, overwatering can also lead to browning or blackening at the base.

Overwatering the Plant
Overwatering the Plant (Source: Tenor)

Also, it can invite fungal diseases and pests.

Thus it is an emergency to reduce the watering amount or frequencies in case of overwatering.


  • You can stop watering your plants temporarily.
  • Also, check out for root rots and treat them if seen.
  • In case of severity, prune away the infected root and propagate the remaining part.

A  smart investment in a soil moisture meter would solve both of your under and overwatering problems.

Preventive Measures

  • Proper drainage is a preventive measure to overcome overwatering.
  • Use a well-draining soil mixture.
  • Furthermore, you can increase ventilation light and lower the humidity to victory over overwatering effects.
  • Also, maintain proper water schedules- where I focus you to not water more than required.

Did you overwater your Staghorn Fern? Don’t worry, we are here to help you. Read this “How to Fix an Overwatered Staghorn Fern?

3. Low Humidity and Temperature Imbalance

Staghorn Fern leaves are good absorbents that take up water through the mist as well.

In case of low humidity, the plant loses excess water from the body through transpiration and respiration processes. This is why your Fern droops.

Thus, maintaining proper humidity (50% at least) and temperature is a must.

Solutions and Preventive Measures

  • Raise the humidity level up to 70 to 80 %. To meet this, we can use mistifier/humidifier.
  • Maintain the balance between temperature and humidity. The temperature must be around 60–80°F.
  • You can place a bowl of water around your plants. Doing this can help you maintain humidity.
  • Sphagnum moss or the use of coco-pit helps to maintain moisture and, indirectly, humidity.
  • You can use DIY methods like pebble trays to overcome low humidity.
  • Occasional water Spray will also help your plant.

4. Improper Lighting

As we know that improper lightening triggers different processes in a plant’s metabolism, growth, and behavior, it is essential to provide proper lightening.

The Staghorn Fern requires moderate indirect light, so direct sunlight or dim conditions may suffer them.

Your plant’s location matters a lot. Place it to fetch up proper sunlight and maintain temperature and humidity. But don’t place in scorching heat, which may add more problems.

Therefore, you need to choose an intermediate source of lighting location like window light or diffused light.

Full Spectrum for Indoor Plants
Full Spectrum for Indoor Plants (Source: Amazon)

Too much darkness can make your Staghorn leaves limp and drooping.

Pro-tip: The direct diffused sunlight is much more benefecial rather than the artificial one.

As I mentioned earlier, excess light is also not beneficial for your Fern health. It is because it can invite dehydration and even can cause sunburn in the leaves.

Solutions and Preventive Measures

  • Instead of letting your Staghorn be at a dark corner of your house, relocate them to a brighter place gradually with proper lighting.
  • Do not give them a place in too bright and scorchy light areas. Give them a place in a bright area with diffused light availability.
  • The south or east-facing window would provide the needed light exposure
  • Rotate your plant for overall equal growth.
  • Artificial grow light can come in handy in sunlight-deprived cases.

Be Careful!! Do not overdo the lightning requirements while taking care of the limping leaves.

5. Nutrient Imbalance

Another reason for limp and drooping leaves is a nutrient imbalance. However, it is not commonly reported as compared to hydration and humidity issues.

The nutritional factor is equally important. Your Fern demands fertilizer supplies only twice a year, which is cost-friendly to you- a bonus!

When you do not feed them well, it is likely to get weak and droop eventually.

Solutions and Preventive Measures

  • Balance ratio of fertilizers in the ratio of 10:10:10 should be made available.
  • Sprinkle the fertilizer in sphagnum moss and apply it to the growth medium. This allows the slow and long-lasting release of fertilizers into the soil.
  • Staghorn prefers acidic soil, so the water-soluble fern-specific fertilizer might help them retain their natural habitat.
  • Dilute the fertilizer as instructed in the packaging before applying.

Did you know? Banana peels are excellent sources of phosphorous and potassium. They can be placed under the plants to decompose and supply good organic matters.

6. Pests and Diseases

The attack of insects and the appearance of pests and diseases is awful. Nobody wants the plant to get ill and droop.

(fungal disease)
Black spots on the basal fronds that spread to, possibly whole plant, soon
Mealy bugs
White fuzzy and waxy shield-like insects are attached to plant that suck up the sap.
Tufty scales are attached to plants that also suck saps.

Solutions and Preventive Measures

  • Timely isolation of the infested plant should be the first step.
  • Prune away the infected parts if possible.
  • Use a general fungicide.
  • Do not overwater. Avoid excess humidity and moisture.
  • Insecticides, soap water solution works best along with regular monitoring.
  • Use neem oil both as treatment and preventive measures.

Want some more on these diseases and pests? Watch and Learn.

Tips to Take Care of Staghorn Fern

Your Staghorn Fern leaves are a positive aura around you. So, if it strikes your mind, here is what can you do to make them happy.

  • Water once a week in spring and summer and water 2-3 times a month in fall or winter.
  • Your plant will require more water as the humidity declines. The same is the case with light and temperature.
  • The blackening or browning at the base of fronds means you are overwatering. Your Staghorn needs less frequent water.
  • Browning at tips or wilting means you are under-watering. So, increase watering to your ferns.
  • You can prepare a pebble tray and keep it near the plant to maintain humidity.

Mounting Staghorn Fern can be tedious. We have made that easy for you. Read “How to Mount a Staghorn Fern?

To Sum Up,

Preventing limp and droopy leaves requires balance in different factors such as light, temperature, humidity, location of your Fern, fertilizers provided, aeration condition besides watering.

The primary focus goes on watering, as mentioned throughout. Underwatering and low humidity are commonly observed problems.

Mounted Staghorn Fern
Mounted Staghorn Fern

For this, you can use bottle sprays if you have limited numbers of ferns at your home. All you need to know is watering at the proper time, amount, and way are essential.

Staghorn Ferns are beautiful epiphytes- you cannot deny their beauty.

But we need to care for them to avoid limp and droopy leaves through proper maintenance of moisture and humidity.

Good luck with your plant!

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