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How to Pot Staghorn Ferns

By D.C. Winston ; Updated September 21, 2017
Very large, mature staghorn ferns mounted on a porch wall.

Staghorn ferns are tropical epiphytic plants that grow in the wild on trees and other forest structures and not in the ground soil. Staghorn ferns are potted and grown in open easy draining containers and mesh mountings with rich organic material to simulate the conditions of their native environment. The plants readily propagate themselves vegetatively, producing small baby plants called pups that can easily be snapped off and potted or mounted as new plants, according to the University of Florida.

Select a wire mesh pot, hanging basket or wood board that is roughly one-and-a-half to two times the size of your staghorn fern root mass.

Line the pot, basket or board with a few inches thick blanket of moist sphagnum peat moss.

Create a small pile of good quality potting soil or compost over the peat moss using an amount of soil or compost that is roughly the size of the fern root mass.

Lay the staghorn fern down onto the soil so the flat basal fronds on the lower underside of the plant are flat against and touching the soil . Add a bit more peat moss to cover any exposed loose soil around the perimeter of the fern base.

Secure the fern, soil and moss to the pot, basket or board with metal wire, other than copper, or plastic coated wire that is green or clear and will disappear under the fern foliage as it grows. Wrap the wire around enough times to secure the plant, soil, moss, board or pot together as a single, snug unit. The fern will grow to be top heavy and can be hung sideways so a stable base is important.

Water the fern carefully to moisten the soil and moss but do not soak or drench it entirely. Water each week when there has been no rain.

Pot up staghorn fern pups for transportation, sale or storage into small nursery pots with multiple drainage holes. Fill the pots with easy draining potting mix, peat, compost or a combination thereof. Keep the soil moist but not sopping wet. Store the pups this way until they can be potted or mounted into a permanent location.

Generally, water once a week during dry, hot times of the year, and less during winter and rainy seasons. Older plants, those with spongy layers of old shield fronds, tolerate drought better than less mature plants.


Things You Will Need

  • Wire mesh pot or basket
  • Wooden board
  • Metal or plastic coated wire (green or clear)
  • Sphagnum peat moss
  • Potting mix
  • Compost
  • Water
  • Small nursery pots