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Mounting a Staghorn Fern

by Lily

Staghorn fern in a wire basket
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This is how to mount a Staghorn Fern



Staghorn ferns are uniquelly shaped ferns that grow in bright light (not direct sun) and create their own "container".  I was confused on the method of hanging this particular plant, as the rounded sterile leaves cup around it's support and eventually create it's own container.  Additionally, most of the ferns I see in landscapes are hung sideways verses the typical upright manner of hanging a container plant. Here, I've explained the process so a staghorn fern beginner, such as I, can easily mount and enjoy this lovely tropical beauty!



Gather your materials: Sphagnum moss, bowl of water, scissors, fishing line and board (you might also use a wire or wood basket instead of a board, and panty hose instead of fishing line - see the photos)

Step 1. Soak the moss in a bowl of water for a few minutes to become moist.

Step 2. While holding the staghorn fern in one hand, place a handful or two of wet moss onto the bottom of fern, underneath the sterile dish-shaped leaves. Secure the moss to the fern by winding fishing line around and around, similar to winding a ball of yarn. Cut the fishing line and tie it off.

Step 3. Place the moss/fern onto the board and secure with fishing line by wrapping around and around until secure.  Cut the line and tie it off.

Step 4. Hang the fern in a brightly lit area, but not in direct sun. Water whenever the moss feels dry, but not dried out.



You can use just about any type of material to mount.  I've seen ferns attached directly to a tree or rock without a starting container or board.  One of my friends used an old palm frond instead of a board, and I've also seen drift wood used.  The ideas are endless. In the end, the "container" or mount will be covered anyway. Enjoy!



Staghorn Fern, how to, Tropical plant


We have a 20 year old staghorn that is now too large for its mounting. We were thinking about taking it apart and mounting the separate plants. Do you have any ideas regarding taking these wonderful plants apart? Thank you, <br/>
Naked Lady commented on 07/09/10
Palos Verdes. Lovely. So cool, so moist. I am in coastal South Florida. So hot, so moist. Perhaps the desire to get out of the heat quickly produces the brutal, but effective, method that I suggest here. Is this a wall hanging? Or a suspended basket? Or growing around something like a tree limb? Let's assume it's a suspended basket. I looked at my huge, lush oldies with your question in mind. The following is from imagination, I've never done it. This mehod would produce some mangled-looking smaller hanging staghorns, but new growth should cover the scars in a season. First, gently peel off the many small (25 cent to 3" diameter) pups that must cover your big plant. Reserve them to cover the bare spots on the divided, re-planted staghorn. Have ready a pail of half strength liquid fertilizer suitable for orchids. Then take courage and attack the dense mass of old staghorn with a Sawzall or small chain saw or manual pruning saw. (Hope a heavy wire basket is not buried deep inside!) You might need a helper to hold the staghorn steady. Start with some cleavages that might give you leverage points to pry the segments apart. If prying doesn't work, just continue to cut through with the saw. I'd break mine into four or eight segments. Briefly soak each segment in the liquid fertilizer. Position each segment in a wood lattice basket. I would put the leafy side up, the cut faces down. Soak palm fiber (I get this useful gardening product free from my coconut palms) or moss or other bulky fiberous planting medium in the liquid fertilizer. Pack the basket corners and voids solid with moist medium. Don't expect the flimsy corner wire hangers to support the staghorn in later years. Eventually the wood basket will be enveloped and rotten. You know how big and heavy staghorns grow; now is the time to provide a beefy permanent hanger wrapped under or pierced through the mass of the staghorn itself. Secure the staghorn to the basket by wrapping with panty hose, rag strips, or (my favorite) stretchy transparent grafting tape. Don't worry about appearance, you'll take the wrapping off once the plant is re-established, in my climate about guess is 2 to 3 months. Finish by mounting the reserved pups to the bare areas and surfaces of the basket. Hang baskets in bright filtered shade. Frugalista that I am, I would strain the liquid fertilizer that remains after this operation, dilute it some more and spray every day or two until plants take on a look of vigor.
Egghead replied: on 08/01/10
Thank you for your response. We will try this mext month and I will get back to you, with pictures, regarding the sucess of our project.
Naked Lady replied: on 08/12/10
My 25 year old staghorn was started with a few buds taped onto a coconut that was run through with a long galvanized steel eye bolt, using predrilled holes at top and bottom of the coconut. At the time it seemed like overkill, but now the staghorn weighs 80 pounds or more, and the hefty bolt allows a strong hook and multiple rubber bungee cords to support the massive plant from a big oak tree. <br/> <br/>Stretchy grafting tape is a great material for binding buds of staghorns and orchids to whatever they are to be mounted on. Unlike monofilament fishing line, it does not cut the leaves or roots, and can squeeze snugly without crushing the plants. Versatile stuff!
Egghead commented on 07/07/10
Egghead, this is great feedback! I like your idea of using stretchy grafting tape in lieu of the fishing line. The fishing line does cut the leaves. My little ferns are doing well but nowhere near the 80 lb giant you have! I'm looking forward to such a beauty, although none of my trees are large enough yet to support a mature staghorn. They'll grow together! :-)
Lily replied: on 07/07/10
Thanks for the instructions, Lily! I&#x27;m going to hang one of these (minus the board) on my magnolia right after winter is over...don&#x27;t want to risk cold damage before.
Daylilyjoy commented on 11/04/09