Just as sportsmen display deer antlers on wood plaque mounts, garden hobbyists can grow staghorn ferns ((Platycerium bifurcatum) on a wall-mount plaque hung inside or outside the home. Grown in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 9 through 12, staghorn ferns naturally grow high up in trees, so a wood plaque mimics the natural environment. You can take a cutting from an existing staghorn fern plant or purchase a new, young plant. The ferns must be tied in place, but the roots eventually take hold of the wood without requiring support.
1 Cut a staghorn fern pup away from the mother plant, using a pruning saw to cut through the layer of brown, sterile leaves at the base of the fronds. Staghorn ferns grow in large clumps with several smaller frond clumps. Cut through the brown leaf layer on the back of the cutting to make it perfectly flat so it fits snugly against the wood plaque. Skip this step if you have a small staghorn fern plant to mount to the wood.
2 Clean a wooden plank or plaque, using mild dish detergent. Do not use treated wood. Use a large piece of wood such as a 2-by-2-foot square so you don't have to mount the fern on a larger plaque later.The plaque size is really up to you, but try to make it at least twice the size of the staghorn fern frond.
3 Mount picture-hanging wire or sawtooth hanging hooks on the back of the wood so you can hang the fern. Saw-tooth hooks come with small screws for installation. To use picture hanging wire, attach two small screws to the back of the wood and wrap the ends of the wire around the screws. Fold a length of wire in half and twist the two halves together to make the wire extra strong.
4 Cut a piece of chicken wire or plastic mesh a few inches larger than the wood plank. Cut out a circle in the center of the mesh about 4 to 6 inches wider than the base of the fronds. Gather the fronds in your hand and slide the mesh piece over the fronds; insert the fronds through the cut hole in the mesh.
5 Soak sphagnum peat moss in a bucket of water so the absorbent moss soaks up the water. Wring out the excess water so the moss is moist, but not dripping wet. Use sphagnum peat moss with chunky pieces instead of finely ground peat moss.
6 Mound a large clump of sphagnum peat moss onto the wood plaque.
7 Place the staghorn fern pup along with the mesh piece on top of the sphagnum peat mound. The leaves on the pup should droop down.
8 Push the moss away from the edges of the plaque and staple the bottom and sides of the mesh to the wood mounting plaque, using a staple gun and wood staples.
9 Stand the plaque up on end and pack additional moss between the cutting and the wood plaque. Add the moss through the opening in the mesh at the top of the plaque. Pack as much mulch as possible onto the plaque.
10 Water the moss and fern well until excess moisture drains from the bottom. Leave the plaque standing upright until excess water stops draining.
11 Hang the plaque in a location that receives filtered sunlight. Staghorn ferns love humidity, so they do especially well in bathrooms. Fill a spray bottle with water and mist the plants a few times a week if you choose to display the fern in a location with low humidity.
12 Allow the moss to dry out before removing the plaque from the wall and watering. Depending on the volume of moss, you might only need to water once every two weeks. You can also add fish emulsion to feed the plant once monthly.
Items you will need
- Pruning saw
- Wooden plaque
- Mild dish detergent
- Picture-hanging wire or sawtooth hanger
- Chicken wire or plastic mesh
- Tin snips or sharp scissors
- Sphagnum peat moss
- Staple gun
- Wood staples
- Spray bottle
- As an alternative to mesh, you can wrap monofilament fishing line around the fern and moss clump to hold it in place.
- If you purchase a small staghorn fern rather than cutting a pup from a large plant, the plant will likely have a small clump of roots without the brown layer of paper leaves. In this case, simply pack the sphagnum peat around the roots rather than pushing it behind the thick plate of leaves.
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Platycerium Bifurcatum
- Apartment Therapy: How to Mount a Staghorn Fern
- University of Florida IFAS Extension: Staghorn Ferns at a Glance
- Texas A&M University East Texas Gardening: Staghorn Fern
- Union County College Biology Department: Staghorn Ferns
- University of Florida IFAS Extension: Staghorn Ferns Are Highly Valued Specimens
- Iowa State University Extension: Staghorn Ferns
- Far Out Flora: How to Mount a Staghorn Fern