How to Propagate Staghorn Fern: A Step-by-Step Guide

Welcome to our comprehensive guide on staghorn fern propagation! If you’re looking to expand your indoor garden and add the beauty of staghorn ferns to your collection, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we will walk you through the step-by-step process of propagating these unique epiphytic plants, ensuring successful staghorn fern propagation.

Staghorn ferns can be propagated through division or spore propagation, and we will cover both methods in detail. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced gardener, this guide will provide you with all the information you need to propagate staghorn ferns successfully.

So, let’s dive in and learn how to propagate staghorn ferns, step-by-step!

Understanding Staghorn Ferns

Staghorn ferns, belonging to the Polypodiaceae family, are fascinating epiphytic plants native to Asia and Australia. They boast a unique anatomy that sets them apart from other ferns. Shield fronds serve as the main support structure for the plant, providing anchorage and stability. These fronds grow horizontally and encircle the root ball, resembling the shape of a shield. On the other hand, antler fronds are responsible for photosynthesis and are characterized by their elongated, branching appearance.

The shield fronds of staghorn ferns are adept at collecting and storing moisture and nutrients, making them well-suited for their natural epiphytic habitat. These fronds can absorb water and nutrients from the environment, as well as from the potting medium or substrate they are mounted on. Additionally, the shield fronds play a crucial role in protecting the vulnerable antler fronds from damage.

The antler fronds of staghorn ferns are slender and elongated, resembling the antlers of a deer, hence the name. These fronds have a higher surface area, allowing for efficient photosynthesis. They are covered in small hairs called trichomes, which help in moisture absorption and provide protection against excessive sunlight. The antler fronds also produce spores, which are essential for the fern’s reproductive process.

Staghorn Fern Anatomy:

Frond Type Description
Shield Fronds Provide support and anchorage; collect and store moisture and nutrients.
Antler Fronds Responsible for photosynthesis; produce spores for reproduction.

By understanding the anatomy of staghorn ferns, you can better appreciate their unique growth patterns and tailor your propagation methods accordingly. Whether you choose to propagate through division or spore propagation, taking into account the distinct characteristics of shield fronds and antler fronds will contribute to successful and healthy propagation.

Propagation Methods for Staghorn Ferns

When it comes to propagating staghorn ferns, there are two main methods that you can choose from: division and spore propagation. Each method has its own unique steps and requirements, so let’s dive into the details of each one.


Division involves separating the offshoots or pups from the main plant and replanting them to grow new ferns. To successfully propagate staghorn ferns through division, you’ll need a healthy parent plant with mature offshoots. Here are the step-by-step instructions:

  1. Carefully remove the parent plant from its pot or mounting board.
  2. Identify the offshoots or pups that are large enough to be divided.
  3. Gently separate the offshoots from the parent plant, ensuring that each one has its own root system.
  4. Prepare a suitable mounting medium, such as a wooden board or a wire basket lined with sphagnum moss.
  5. Mount the separated offshoots onto the chosen medium, making sure that their roots are securely attached.
  6. Place the newly mounted offshoots in a warm, humid environment with bright, indirect light.
  7. Regularly mist the offshoots to keep them moist, but avoid overwatering.
  8. Monitor the growth of the offshoots and gradually increase their exposure to sunlight.

Spore Propagation

If you’re up for a more advanced propagation method, spore propagation is the way to go. This method involves collecting and sowing the spores produced by mature staghorn ferns. Here’s how to propagate staghorn ferns through spore propagation:

  1. Wait for the shield fronds of the parent plant to produce spores. These spores will appear as brown, powdery patches on the undersides of the fronds.
  2. Carefully cut off a frond with ripe spores and place it in a paper bag or envelope.
  3. Allow the frond to dry for a few days until the spores are fully released.
  4. Prepare a growing medium by mixing peat moss, perlite, and vermiculite.
  5. Sow the spores evenly on the surface of the growing medium.
  6. Cover the container with a clear plastic lid or wrap it in plastic wrap to create a greenhouse-like environment.
  7. Place the container in a warm spot with indirect light.
  8. Keep the growing medium moist by misting it regularly.
  9. Once the spores start to germinate and form tiny ferns, remove the plastic cover and gradually expose them to more light.

Both division and spore propagation can be successful methods for propagating staghorn ferns. Choose the method that suits your skills and preferences, and enjoy the process of watching new ferns grow and thrive!

staghorn fern spore propagation

How to Propagate Staghorn Fern Through Division

Propagating staghorn ferns through division is a straightforward and effective method that allows you to create new plants from offshoots or pups. Follow this step-by-step guide to successfully propagate staghorn ferns through division and expand your collection.

Step 1: Choose a Healthy Plant

Start by selecting a mature staghorn fern that is healthy and well-established. Look for a plant with multiple offshoots or pups, as these are the parts you will separate and propagate. Make sure the plant is free from pests or diseases, as this can affect the success of propagation.

Step 2: Separating the Offshoots or Pups

Gently remove the staghorn fern from its mounting surface, taking care not to damage the shield or antler fronds. Identify the offshoots or pups that you want to propagate and carefully separate them from the main plant. Use a sharp, sterile knife or pruning shears to make clean cuts. Each offshoot or pup should have its own shield and antler fronds.

Step 3: Mounting Staghorn Ferns

Once you have separated the offshoots or pups, prepare a suitable mounting surface for each new plant. This can be a piece of wood, cork, or a wire basket lined with sphagnum moss. Place the offshoot or pup onto the mounting surface, positioning it so that the shield fronds are in contact with the surface. Use wire or twine to secure the plant in place, ensuring it has stability and won’t fall off.

Now you have successfully propagated staghorn ferns through division. Remember to provide the new plants with the appropriate care, including regular misting, indirect light, and a suitable growing medium. With time and proper care, your propagated staghorn ferns will grow and thrive, adding beauty to your indoor garden.

mounting staghorn ferns

How to Propagate Staghorn Fern Through Spore Propagation

Spore propagation is an advanced method of propagating staghorn ferns that requires careful attention to detail. By collecting and sowing spores, you can grow new ferns and expand your collection. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to propagate staghorn ferns through spore propagation:

Gather Ripe Spores

To begin the spore propagation process, you need to collect ripe spores from mature fronds of your staghorn fern. Look for spore patches on the undersides of the fronds, which appear as brown or rusty-colored spots. Gently remove a few fronds and shake them over a clean paper or container to collect the spores.

Prepare a Suitable Growing Medium

The next step is to prepare a suitable growing medium for the spores. Staghorn fern spores prefer a combination of peat moss and sphagnum moss, which provides the necessary moisture and nutrients for germination. Fill a small container or pot with this mixture, ensuring it is moist but not waterlogged.

Nurture the Spores

Now it’s time to sow the spores onto the prepared growing medium. Sprinkle the collected spores evenly over the surface of the moss mixture, making sure not to overcrowd them. Cover the container with a clear plastic bag or place it in a humidity dome to create a moist environment for the spores to germinate.

Keep the container in a warm and bright location, but avoid direct sunlight. Mist the growing medium regularly to maintain moisture levels. Over time, you will see tiny green gametophytes emerge from the spores. These gametophytes will develop into new staghorn fern plants.

It is important to note that spore propagation can be a slow process, and it may take several months for the ferns to reach a size suitable for transplanting. Patience and consistent care are key to successful spore propagation.

Quick Tips for Spore Propagation
Collect spores from mature fronds with visible spore patches.
Use a mixture of peat moss and sphagnum moss as the growing medium.
Keep the growing medium moist and provide a humid environment for germination.
Be patient, as spore propagation can take several months to produce mature ferns.

“Spore propagation is an advanced technique that allows you to create new staghorn ferns from collected spores. It requires close attention to the needs of the spores and a dedicated nurturing process. With patience and proper care, you can enjoy the satisfaction of propagating your own ferns through this fascinating method.” – Staghorn Fern Enthusiast


Propagating staghorn ferns can be a fun and rewarding experience for any plant enthusiast. By following the step-by-step guide provided in this article, you can successfully propagate these stunning plants and add a touch of natural beauty to your indoor space.

Remember, patience is key when propagating staghorn ferns. These plants take time to establish and thrive, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t see immediate results. Be sure to provide the necessary care, including proper watering, adequate light, and a suitable growing medium, to give your propagated ferns the best chance of success.

Here are a few tips for successful staghorn fern propagation:

1. Choose healthy plants:

When selecting plants for propagation, choose those that are healthy and free from any signs of disease or pests. Healthy plants will have a better chance of producing strong and vibrant offshoots or spores for propagation.

2. Follow the recommended propagation method:

Whether you choose division or spore propagation, carefully follow the step-by-step instructions outlined in this guide. Each method requires specific techniques and conditions to ensure successful propagation.

3. Monitor and adjust care as needed:

Regularly monitor your propagated staghorn ferns and make adjustments to their care as needed. This may include adjusting watering frequency, providing additional support as they grow, or adjusting light exposure to ensure optimal growth.

By following these tips and taking the time to nurture and care for your propagated staghorn ferns, you can create a beautiful and thriving indoor garden. Enjoy the process and the beauty of these unique plants!


What is the best method to propagate staghorn ferns?

Staghorn ferns can be propagated through division or spore propagation.

What are the unique traits of staghorn ferns?

Staghorn ferns have shield fronds for support and anchorage, and antler fronds for photosynthesis.

How do you propagate staghorn ferns through division?

To propagate through division, you need to choose a healthy plant, separate the offshoots or pups, and mount them on a suitable medium.

What is spore propagation for staghorn ferns?

Spore propagation is a more advanced method that involves collecting and sowing spores to grow new plants.

How do you collect and sow spores for staghorn fern propagation?

Collect ripe spores, prepare a suitable growing medium, and nurture the spores until they mature into new ferns.

Any tips for successful staghorn fern propagation?

Be patient, provide the necessary care, and enjoy the beauty of your propagated staghorn ferns.