Recently, my aunt gave me four Staghorn Ferns that were the trimmings off of a larger plant. She didn’t want to worry about re-potting them herself, she just wanted to be sure they didn’t die on her watch. Since Staghorns are prolific growers, and conducive to splitting and sharing with friends, I wanted to show you the process I used to mount them on boards. Staghorn ferns can be expensive if you buy them from your local nursery, so knowing how to care for a Staghorn cutting (ahem, usually free!) can be valuable information.
First, I cut the fence boards into even thirds on my husband’s radial saw (you can use a hand saw if you don’t have power tool access.) I set three planks together to form a 16×16-inch backboard. My fern trimmings were on the medium-large size, and I didn’t want to worry about re-mounting them anytime soon, so I made my backboard large enough to accommodate a few years worth of growth.
Next, I cut the 1×2 strips into 16-inch pieces. I placed two of the strips under the fence planks (perpendicular to the planks), and secured the wood pieces together with 1 1/2-inch screws.
Then, I flipped the backboard over and drilled two more screws into the center of a supporting strip. I wrapped 12-gauge wire around both of the screws, leaving a little slack in the wire. This would allow me to hang the plant on a nail or hook. I snipped the excess wire, and then used my cordless drill to tighten the screws down.
Now that my backboard was complete, I was ready to mount my Staghorn Fern!
For this I used:
Copper Wire or Heavy Fishing Line
Scissors or Wire Snips & Pliers
Mesh Bag (like the kind you can buy citrus in at the market)
I filled the mesh bag with the Sphagnum moss, and placed it in the center of the backboard. I like to add a handful of extra moss on top of the mesh bag to help the fern’s root-ball anchor more quickly.
After creating my nest of moss, I set the fern on top of it, pressed it down with an open palm, and wrapped my copper wire around the plant and the backboard. I wrapped the wire around itself on the back side of the backboard, and tightened with a pair of pliers. Repeat this step until the fern is secure against the backboard. Eventually, the fern will grow over the wire or fishing line so that it will not be visible.
Once the fern is secured on the lovely cedar backing, you can hang it wherever you like! Staghorn ferns like bright, indirect sunlight to partial shade. I have never had luck growing them indoors (which looks extremely posh, but is exceedingly impractical) or in direct sunlight. The moss will keep moist for a good while. I usually water my Staghorns two or three times a month during the cooler seasons and increase my watering to about once a week in the summer.
Note, the first time I trimmed a Staghorn fern, I was sick for days afterwards. Ferns have millions of spores that can cause violent allergic reactions (Surprise, Megan! You’re allergic to ferns!). If you are not sure whether you are allergic to ferns, you may consider wearing a mask while working with them.