Overwintering Staghorn Ferns: Growing Staghorn Ferns In Winter

staghorn plant
staghorn plant
(Image credit: hereswendy)

Staghorn ferns are beautiful specimen plants that can be great conversation pieces. They are not at all frost hardy, however, so special care needs to be taken by most gardeners to ensure that they survive the winter and get a chance to reach that imposing size they can be known to attain. For the most part, they don’t even like cool temperatures and often have to be overwintered indoors. Keep reading to learn more about staghorn fern winter protection and how to treat a staghorn fern over winter.

How to Treat a Staghorn Fern Over Winter

As a rule, staghorn ferns are not at all tolerant of cold temperatures. There are a couple of exceptions, such as the bifurcatum variety that can survive temperatures as low as 30 F. (1 C.). Most staghorn ferns thrive in warm to hot temperatures and will start to fail at about 55 F. (13 C.). They will die at or above freezing temperatures if they don’t have adequate protection. Gardeners in zone 10, for instance, may be able to keep their plants outdoors all winter long if they are in a protected area such as under the roof of a porch or the canopy of a tree. If temperatures are likely to fall near freezing, however, overwintering staghorn ferns means bringing them indoors.

Growing Staghorn Ferns in Winter

Staghorn fern winter care is relatively simple. The plants go dormant in the winter, which means growing slows, a frond or two might drop off and, in the case of some varieties, the basal fronds turn brown. This is normal and the sign of a perfectly healthy plant. Keep the plant in a spot that receives bright but indirect light, and water less frequently than you did during the growing season, only once every few weeks.

Liz Baessler
Senior Editor

The only child of a horticulturist and an English teacher, Liz Baessler was destined to become a gardening editor. She has been with Gardening Know how since 2015, and a Senior Editor since 2020. She holds a BA in English from Brandeis University and an MA in English from the University of Geneva, Switzerland. After years of gardening in containers and community garden plots, she finally has a backyard of her own, which she is systematically filling with vegetables and flowers.