Houseplants forum→Staghorn fern leaf discoloration

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May 18, 2020 6:44 AM CST
Anyone have any insight into why these leaves are discolored and wilting?

These are two board mounted ferns, and the discoloration happened in a day. One leaf, which you can see in the picture, is already pretty wilted. The issue is only affecting some of the leaves -- last night I thought it was only affecting old leaves, but this morning, it actually seems like newer leaves were hit as well.

Thumb of 2020-05-18/threefirsts/ae8bdb
Thumb of 2020-05-18/threefirsts/7e9120
Thumb of 2020-05-18/threefirsts/ce9cbb

These are indoor ferns watered weekly by dunking face-down in the sink. After watering on Sunday, I propped them outside by a NW-facing window to drain and dry.

It was my first time moving them outside to dry this year, as the weather had finally warmed up. Last year through the spring-summer, I routinely hung them outside on watering days to dry, and the plants were fine.

I've never really had a problem with either of these ferns and til now, they seemed to be doing well, with lots of new growth this year. I've been fertilizing with a diluted 10-10-10 monthly.

It was a partially-cloudy day, around 60 degrees, in the northeast United States, so I don't think the sunlight was too harsh.

On the other hand, that was the only new factor I introduced to the watering routine this week, so maybe the leaves really did get scorched?

[Last edited by threefirsts - May 18, 2020 6:53 AM (+)]
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Name: Lin Vosbury
Sebastian, Florida (Zone 10a)

Region: United States of America Deer Region: Florida Charter ATP Member Million Pollinator Garden Challenge I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Procrastinator Birds Butterflies Bee Lover Hummingbirder Container Gardener
May 18, 2020 7:17 AM CST
Hi threefirsts, Welcome!

The overall color of your Common Staghorn Fern (Platycerium bifurcatum) appears quite pale to me and I wonder if that's how they've always looked, or is it possibly lighting from the camera that's making them seem a pale green?

I have many staghorn ferns but I live in Florida and mine stay outside year round, one is mounted on a platform and hanging from a tree and others are growing on trees, all in bright shade. At first I thought the issue with your plants might have something to do with chemicals in the tap water or possibly a sudden change to a higher light situation when you moved them outside but I'm not really sure. Hopefully other members will recognize the problem and be able to offer advice and suggestions.
~ I'm an old gal who still loves playing in the dirt!
~ Playing in the dirt is my therapy ... and I'm in therapy a lot!

May 18, 2020 7:51 AM CST
Thanks for responding, Lin. The discoloration is definitely new and some of the leaves that are most affected feel thin and wilted. Usually, the leaves fatten after a watering and they're a uniform green.

I was wondering if there was some chemical in the water when I soaked it yesterday, though I'm usually pretty good at rinsing out the sink before a watering. But maybe I missed something...
Name: Will Creed
Prof. plant consultant & educator
May 18, 2020 8:08 AM CST
The discoloration occurred shortly after you moved them outside. Outside sun, even light shade, is much more intense than indoor sun, which is what your Fern is adapted to.

You can trim off the discolored portions but keep them inside from now on. Otherwise, your care routine seems fine.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
Contact me directly at [email protected]
I now have a book available on indoor plant care

May 18, 2020 8:40 AM CST
Appreciate it, Will.

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