Overwatered Staghorn fern would be the one that looks dull and even faded; however, usually, they are highly rated for their striking appearance with green foliage and shape like a deer horn.

Overwatered Staghorn Fern

You can grow it in a small pot and hang it on the wall as it is a type of indoor plant that needs the least maintenance. However, overwatered staghorn fern is one of the major causes of its death and fern turning yellow or brown.

Read this article to find out how you can identify overwatered staghorn fern and ways to fix the issue. If you have specifically a Blue Star Fern, check our detailed guide.

What Are the Problems of Overwatered Staghorn Fern?

The problems that the overwatered staghorn fern would cause would be changing of its color, the basal fronds would start turning black, and black spots would develop. Furthermore, the roots will start to rot, and the leaves will soften. In addition, the core of the fern will be damaged when overwatered.

– Color Changing

When you overwater the staghorn, its leaves will turn yellow soon and then on the long run it will start turning brown. The chlorophyll in its leaves will get damaged due to overwatering. In addition, when you overwater the fern, it creates leaf edema. It ultimately breaks down the chlorophyll of the leaves.

As a result, the leaves become yellowish in their color. If you continue pouring too much water into the fern, its leaves will become yellow. It happens as the soil becomes dumped and holds moisture. The fern’s root then absorbs the excess moisture that damages the chlorophyll. Note that chlorophyll is needed for the greenish look, the fern turns yellow without it.

– Basal Fronds Turning Black

Overwatering staghorn fern problems start first at its basal fronds. The staghorn has three types of basal fronds. It includes the fertile basal frond is the one that hangs down, or the infertile basal frond that sticks up. In addition, the antler fronds provide security to the other two basal fronds by acting as an anchor.

The antler fronds will turn black soon if you overwater the plant, and this is because it will not be able to bear all the water. You will see it has started blackening or turning brown at the bottom. Hence, staghorn fern leaves turning brown almost immediately suggests that you must stop watering the plant and seek ways to save it from dying.

On the other hand, you must know that the basal frond turns brown when it is thirsty. In this case, the leaves will wilt, as a sign of being over-exposed to water.

– Appearance of Black Spots

The basal fronds will also have black spots due to overwatering. As you overwater the fern, the soil becomes moist. As a result, it becomes a preferable breeding ground for fungus. Therefore, you will see Rhizoctonia fungi growth on the basal fronds of the fern.

It happens due to the moisture in the soil and around the fern. The pesky fungus looks black, so the fern will have black spots. On top of it, it causes root and stem rotting problems. In addition, it also causes leaf blight and dampening issues.

The Rhizoctonia fungi with moist surroundings will attack the basal frond first. The latter would be the reason why it will have black or brown spots. As the fungus spreads with excess moisture, you will also see black spots spreading on the other parts of the plant.

– Root Rot

The root of all plants will become damaged due to overwatering issues. The staghorn fern isn’t any exception to this rule. Since overwatering causes the soil to get dampened, it affects the rhizomes of the fern heavily as they are delicate.

As the root starts rotting, the antler frond will drop too. Ultimately, the entire root stems will get rotten, which would lead to killing the fern. There will also be a foul odor coming from the rotten root. Also, note that fern root rot happens due to over-fertilization and inappropriate soil.

Causes of Overwatered Staghorn Fern

When this is happening, you will feel it as it develops a rotten, foul odor, and see patches of brow and black spots on the fern leaves.

In addition, you would see the color of the leaves fading into lighter green and almost a shade of yellow. These are all due to the damaged roots, because not enough water and nutrients will be able to reach the leaf endings through the vessels of the plant.

– Softening Leaves

When ferns grow in optimal condition, their leaves will be bright, green, and hard. So, when you feel the leaves are softening, you must investigate why. Unfortunately, the soft leaves of staghorn fern always suggest that you have overwatered the plant.

As the soil becomes moist, the root and stem absorb more water. It will ultimately reach the leaf of the fern. Finally, the leaves accumulate too much water, damaging the leaf cells. In no time, the cells of the leaves will start breaking apart in the mushy texture that they have developed and then the leaves will soften as a result.

This problem of leaf tissue and cell damage due to overwatering is known as leaf edema. The leaves lose their firmness for the edema process. It also happens because of the rotten roots, as a result. The leaves fail to absorb the nutrients for the fern grow with the damaged roots.

The ultimate result is soft and damaged leaves. Also, the leaves will turn yellow due to the lack of essential nutrients.

– Damaged Core Of The Fern

Finally, the core of the staghorn fern, aka Platycerium bifurcatum, will start drying due to overwatering issues if not sorted timely. When the fern starts dying, its core will get damaged soon. You will see a lousy odor spreading around the fern.

There will be black or brown patches on the stems and core of the fern. You must act fast to help the fern from dying during this time. To save the overwatered staghorn from dying, you must follow our fern care guide in the next section.

How To Save An Overwatered Staghorn?

To save your overwatered staghorn fern, you can start by pruning the damages, and transferring to a better soil where water will drain. You can even add fungicide on the damaged roots to protect it, and you can even repot it and have a watering schedule.

– Pruning The Damages

Overwater mainly damages the fern’s root, stem, and shield fronds. Which means that, you must remove the damaged parts of the fern to minimize the effect of overwatering the fern. First, check the damaged root and fronds. Then, take a sharp pruner and cut off the rotten root carefully.

To prune the root, you must remove the plant from its pot and soil. Also, cut off the black, yellow, and brown leaves. Lastly, wipe off any fungus from the pant, make sure you toss it out so that it won’t contaminate any other plant. As you prune the diseased root and leaves, it protects the other fresh leaves and fern stem from damage. 

Solutions of Overwatered Staghorn Fern

It is an important note to make sure that your pruning kit is sterilized properly, because you don’t wish to contaminate any of the tool with the fungus that it may have developed. 

– Transfer It To Fast-draining Soil

Even after pruning the fern, there will be moisture inside its fresh leaves and root. Thus, you must find a way to soak the excess moisture from the fern. The best way is to plant the fern in fast-draining soil to remove the excessive water. You must transfer it and soak the water from its core.

Fast-draining soils will have perlite to soak the water from the root and stem. For this, you may have to first remove the fern from the old pot and use a sterilized towel to remove the water.

You should increase the temperature around the fern. Thus, you can choose the staghorn fern light-increasing system. Putting it under an incandescent bulb will help evaporate the additional water from its soil and root.

In addition, you may even use a hairdryer in a cool setting to blow the fern, of course on low speed. It will also remove the water from the soil and roots.

Alternatively, coffee grounds or banana peels work fine too. Putting the coffee grounds on wet soil will soak the water from the soil. Also, its anti-bacterial feature will kill the fungus.

After that, the fern is ready for repotting. Also, you should look for the staghorn fern white fuzz to remove it before repotting. Using coffee grounds will be a great solution to this staghorn fern problem.

– Applying Fungicide On The Damaged Roots

Not all the roots will be so damaged that you must prune them. Some parts of the roots will have low to medium damage, and you can save them. You must apply a fungicide on these parts of the fern root.

As you transfer the fern to a hanging basket to report it, you should apply fungicide on the new soil. You may spray hydrogen peroxide on the root or treat the soil with it. If the root and leaves have too much damage, you must treat it with a fungicide containing copper.

For minor damages, you may choose natural fungicide. It includes cinnamon, chamomile, and activated charcoal. You need to apply these natural fungicides in optimal amounts to treat the staghorn fern white fizz and other fungi. In addition, activated charcoal will soak the additional moisture from the soil and root faster.

In order to give the staghorn fern care in a very precise way, you must apply two to three tablespoons of the fungicide in one-gallon water. Then, you may spray it over the fern’s black, yellow, and brown spots.

– Watering Schedule

You can develop a water schedule so that you wouldn’t over water it and cause so much stress for yourself and for your plant. When you have a watering schedule, and you follow it, it will save you so much. 

What you must do is that during summer, you need to water the fern once a week. On the other hand, during winter times, watering the fern once every two weeks will be adequate for it.

– Repotting

Finally, you have to repot the fern in a new one. For this, you must choose suitable soil and pot. The soil should have proper draining with a perlite mixture. Also, the pot should be able to drain the excess water with tiny holes underneath or around it.

Transferring the fern to the new pot is crucial because the older one may contain a pathogen. You must first and foremost select a pot with good, porous soil. The medium should have sphagnum peat moss. Or, you may decide shredded pink bark.

Remember that you should use your selected medium to fill one-inch inside the pot. After which, carefully fill half the new pot with the potting medium. And then, simply, press the fern root inside the potting medium.

Save Overwatered Staghorn FernSave Overwatered Staghorn Fern

Overall, after you have placed your fern in a very adaptable and healthier environment where it will revive, you can start properly giving care and it will grow happily without any stress.

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