Mounting a staghorn fern is fun and a great way to display the most prized specimens in your collection. In this post, I’ll show you step by step exactly how to do it, and give you my best tips for success.
I remember the first time I saw a mounted staghorn fern. I thought it was the coolest thing I had ever seen, and I so-very-badly wanted to try doing it myself.
But it looked so exotic and delicate, and frankly I was extremely intimidated. So much so that it took me years to finally get up the nerve to try it myself.
Well guess what, mounting a staghorn fern is actually pretty easy, and doesn’t take much time at all. You only need a few supplies, and below I will show you how to do it step by step.
Benefits Of Mounting A Staghorn Fern
Staghorn ferns (Platycerium bifurcatum, aka Elkhorn Fern) are epiphytes. That means that they attach themselves to trees and other things in their native habitat.
So mounting them on a log, a tree, or a board rather than putting them in a pot is the most natural way to grow them. It’s also a really fun way to display them, and you can hang them just about anywhere.
What Do You Mount A Staghorn Fern On?
You can mount a Platycerium to just about any type of support. The most popular choices are on a plaque or board, on a log or driftwood, in a hanging basket, or even on a tree if you live in a place where they are hardy.
Just be sure to choose something that is sturdy, proportionate to the size of the plant, and won’t break down quickly in a wet, humid environment.
They are very slow growers, and can stay on the same support for many years. Once they outgrow it, you can just move them to a larger one.
How To Mount A Staghorn Fern
It doesn’t matter if your staghorn fern is currently in a pot, or you have a division from an established plant (with or without roots), you can mount it. The steps are pretty much the same for both, with a couple of minor differences.
Before getting started, you should first gather your tools and supplies. You won’t need many things for this project, and you might already have everything you need on hand.
- Potted stag or bare root fronds
- 30 lb Fishing line
- Mounting board (or whatever material you want to use)
- Premoistened sphagnum moss or decorative sheet moss
- 6 – 1 ¼” finishing nails
Steps For Mounting An Elkhorn Fern
Now that you’ve gathered all of the things you need, let’s get started. I’m going to use a board for my project, but you can modify the steps to use any type of support you want.
Also, this can get a little messy, so I recommend either doing it outside or using a table top potting tray.
Step 1: Figure out the placement – Choose a spot on the board where you want to mount your staghorn fern, then draw a circle in that location.
Your circle doesn’t have to be perfect, but it should be about twice as large as the diameter of the rootball or frond (shield/pad) division.
Step 2: Pound in the nails – Lay the board on a sturdy, flat surface. Then, starting at the top, tack the 6 finishing nails evenly around the diameter of the circle.
Only pound the nails in about half way, leaving plenty of height to tie and wrap several layers of fishing line. They should be firmly in place so they don’t move when you gently try to wiggle them.
Step 3: Open up the rootball – If you have a bare root division rather than a potted plant, then skip to step 5. To mount a potted staghorn fern, remove it from the container, flip it upside down, and peel open the bottom of the rootball to flatten it out.
Step 4: Place the rootball on top of the board – Flip the plant back upright, and splay the opened part of rootball flat against the top of the board, centering it inside of your circle.
Step 5: Cover the roots with moss – Pack the premoistened sphagnum or sheet moss over the top of the rootball all around the base of the plant to completely cover the dirt and roots. Take care not to bury the finishing nails, or any of the fronds or leaves.
For a bare root plant, fill the center of your circle with the premoisted moss first, and then place the pad/shield on top of it. Do not bury any part of the frond, just lay it on top of the moss.
The moss can be a bit messy to work with. So alternatively you could cover it with burlap if you like the look of that better. Either way, leave a flat, small shelf or cavity on the top of the medium so that it can capture water and soak in.
Step 6: Attach the fishing line – First, tie the fishing line in a knot around one of the nails (I started with the bottom one, but it doesn’t really matter), and secure it tightly.
Then run the fishing line over the top of the moss and through the center of the leaves, and wrap it around a nail on the opposite side.
Step 7: Secure everything to the board – Weave the fishing line around the moss, through the plant, and over the basal fronds, wrapping it around one of the opposite nails each time.
Continue weaving from nail to nail until your elkhorn fern is completely secured to the mounting support.
The goal here is to wrap it until everything is tight to the board, and won’t move when you hold it up and gently shake it. Test it every so often, and if there’s any movement, then keep wrapping.
Step 8: Tie off and clip the end of the line – Once it’s completely secure, tie the fishing line tightly to one of the nails. I like to use the bottom nail because it’s easier to hide the spot where I tied it off. Then simply clip off the excess line with a scissors.
How To Hang A Mounted Staghorn Fern
If you want to hang your staghorn fern after mounting it, then you’ll need something to hang it with. I used thick twine for mine because it’s more decorative, but you could use wire or chain instead.
I stapled the twine to the back of my board. But if it’s easier for you, simply drill a few holes in the board, run the twine through, and secure it on the back.
Small, lightweight stags can be hung from a nail or screw on a wall or fence (just like a picture frame). But larger specimens can get very heavy. So make sure to choose a spot that you can safely hang it where it will be able to handle the weight.
Mounted Staghorn Fern Care Tips
Below I’ll give you some quick tips for caring for your mounted staghorn fern. You can learn all about how to grow them in detail here.
Unless you live in the ideal climate, the biggest struggle you’ll have is giving your mounted Platycerium enough humidity and moisture. So be sure to place it in a very humid area where it will get rained on outdoors.
Indoors you can put it in a bathroom or kitchen, or run a humidifier nearby. Regular misting also helps raise the moisture level in the air.
Indirect Bright Light
Outside, keep it out of the direct sun for best results, especially if you live somewhere hot. But make sure it gets plenty of bright, indirect/filtered light indoors, or it could struggle and even start to get leggy.
How To Water A Mounted Staghorn Fern
Watering a mounted staghorn fern can be a challenge, especially if it’s hanging somewhere up high, or you have it inside.
Outdoors is easy. You can just give it a gentle spray from the hose if it hasn’t rained in while. Focus the spray on top of the shelf you created when you mounted it.
Indoors you can take it to the sink or shower weekly, or dunk it in a bucket of water to give it a good soaking if the rootball has completely dried out.
Below I’ll answer some of the most frequently asked questions about mounting a staghorn fern. If you can’t find yours below, please ask it in the comments.
Do staghorn ferns need to be mounted?
No, staghorn ferns do not need to be mounted. But it is a more natural way to grow them, and a really cool way to display them.
What is the best way to hang a mounted staghorn fern?
The best way to hang a mounted staghorn fern depends on how large it is. Smaller specimens can be hung on a nail using twine, rope, or strong string. But larger ones are much heavier, and should be hung on a sturdy support using a chain or other strong material.
Where is the best place to hang a staghorn fern?
The best place to hang a staghorn fern is in a spot where they will get plenty of bright light, humidity, and moisture, but are protected from the hot afternoon sun.
Mounting your staghorn fern is fun and easy, and an impressive way to show off your favorites. Simply follow these detailed step by step instructions, and you’ll be hanging it up in no time.
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Share your tips for mounting a staghorn fern in the comments section below.