Mounting a Staghorn Fern





Introduction: Mounting a Staghorn Fern

At a garden club raffle, I won a staghorn fern that had lost its mounting board. Really nice plant but definitely bare root. I put it in a pot, but it looked ridiculous.  A couple months ago I drew up some plans for a super sturdy mounting board which my SO kindly built, and he even helped me to string the fishing line by holding the fern in place as I wrapped and stapled and stuffed. Now it's looking awesome!  It's amazing how dramatic mounted staghorn ferns look, and I was kinda impressed at how quick it was to create the board and mount the fern.

To figure out the design, I measured the base of the fern and added some room to grow which gave me the required surface area. Then I measured the width of the cedar boards we bought and gave 1/2" between the boards. At this point, you might be getting a bit confused, so check out the illustration.

I needed a surface area that was approximately 12" by 17" originally, but when I laid out the design, it was much simpler to make it a little larger so that the numbers were nice and even rather than odd portions of an inch. By increasing the width to 17.5", I could use 9 boards cut to 12" long and spaced 0.5" apart. The runner boards then became 17.5" and run along the back.

Each board got 4 nails into the runner boards (2 at the top and 2 at the bottom), and hangers were screwed into the back and attached to a short length of chain with a couple carabiners.  The chain is a bit overkill right now, but these plants get big and heavy.

Then to "attach" the staghorn fern, I stuffed some moistened moss into the gaps between the boards, mounded up some more moss and orchid bark, and laid the fern onto of the heap and continued to stuff around it until it looked smooth and even. Then my SO held it in place as I maneuvered fishing line around the bulk and stapled the line to the board. Once secure, we held it up, and I stuffed some more moss where a few gaps had appeared.  Eventually the sterile fronds (the pancake ones at the base) will cover the line, and no one will know it's there except those acquainted with mounted staghorn ferns. Through this process I actually uncovered the original fishing line which was kinda cool.

So if you're ever thinking about buying a mounted staghorn fern (~$45), save yourself some money by buying a potted one (~$8) and mount it to a board that's sure to last a VERY long time!

For those not acquainted with staghorn ferns, they are very easy to care for and put on lots of growth during the warm months.  They need minimal fertilizing and can take a good amount of drought - mostly they need humidity.  They are also epiphytic and are accustomed to growing on the sides of trees.  Some people around here have monster baskets of staghorn weighing 400-600 lbs and are too large to remove from trees, so they get covered hanging in the tree for the winter.  My ferns go in the garage and get watered once a month or so.  This mounted one will probably hang on my fireplace like a trophy.



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    25 Discussions

    Great idea, here's a pic of the fern I mounted using your instructable. I made a small burlap sack and filled it with peat moss. Then added some Spanish moss.

    4 replies

    so, how is your fern doing in it's burlap sack? i was considering doing the same thing. i didn't figure it'd be a permanent solution, but it's cute in the meantime.

    Sadly, my fern is no longer with us. I plan to re-invest in another and give it another try though. Thanks for asking.

    Looks cute! The only issue is the burlap which will degrade before the fern needs a new mount and a lot of peat moss will leak through the fabric after watering. If you're having a hard time finding sphagnum moss, look for orchid moss such as on this website.  The site also sells long coconut fibers which I've not used before but suspect might be a good alternative to the sphagnum.

    Or if you don't want to go through all the effort, you can put it in a coconut lined wire hanging pot.  Eventually, the fern will grow through the coconut and completely encase the pot which looks really amazing, so you should select a hanging pot size that's as big as you want the fern to become.  Of course, that will take a very long time.  I've had one in a wire hanging pot for a few years, and there are pups coming out the bottom and spilling over the top.  :)


    3 years ago

    love those fern!!!

    Thanks for this Instructable!  I got my first staghorn in 1972 and have kept pups going since then.  Now I put them in round hanging baskets. I mount four of them with sphagnum moss around the edge and potting soil in the middle. After a couple years with plenty of moisture, I had a big one (30 inch diameter hanger and 5-foot diameter plant) sold for $500.

    Mounted in round hangers, they will make 15-30 new pups that can be divided off, mounted, and given away as gifts. 

    2 replies

    I do have pictures of that fern but they are from the 90s - not digital. In fact I would never be able to find those pictures. Sorry. Since then I have two children who take up most of my former gardening time.

    Yes, I can see that. I remember not long ago chrys had an instructables about ferns that was interesting. I have no luck growing indoor plants. I have not tried ferns. I like them a lot though.

    I have a very hard time with houseplants.  I just try to get my plants through the winter alive if only marginally.

    Right now I don't have an indoor plant. Lots of outdoor plants that my hubby keeps going. I help weed and stuff. I did grow an avacodo plant to 6 feet tall in Washington state which amazed me. It finally died, but it was fun to see it grow. It took 2 years for it to begin sprouting though. I finally put it in dirt and it took off.

    I used to take mine and just stuff the back with some spagum moss and tie them to the fences, tree branches, anything that was not moving. In a few months I would find them so happy and growing and I could take the string, or whatever I had used to attach them, away. They LOVE banana peels, just toss them on top of the base. Lots of nurseries here in South Florida use - are you ready for this? - a hot glue gun to attach staghorns and orchids to trees. I don't want to put your SO out of a job but... there are options.

    3 replies

    If you live in a climate where they're hardy, getting them on a tree is best, but they aren't hardy here and generally have to be brought inside.  The people with the giants use literally a dozen blankets and tarps to cover their ferns, and I'm sure they stress when we get our cold nights.  I only know of a couple gardeners around here with that sort of problem, and their ferns are decades old.

    I wish I could take credit for the fern, but it was pretty big when I got it.  I only cut it back a bit in hopes of getting some offsets.  But thanks!  I hope it'll turn into a monster and win me an awesome prize.

    Good job, Angry!...but, epiphytic???? that word is bigger than the fern! lol...I haven't seen these around here, although they must exist. Very attractive arrangement, but how long can it live there? If it puts on weight, how much can your mount hold?