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How to Hang a Heavy Staghorn Fern

stags horn fern (platycerium surperbum) image by Shirley Hirst from

If you're looking for a plant so unusual that it's bound to command attention, yet isn't difficult to grow, the staghorn fern may be just the ticket. The staghorn fern (Platycerium bifurcatum), is an epiphytic plant that in nature, survives by attaching itself high up in tall trees. Staghorn ferns can grow to be large and heavy, so if you want to grow a staghorn fern at home, the fern must be mounted on a sturdy surface.

Select a large, hardwood board such as oak or mahogany to mount the staghorn fern. Paint or stain the mounting board if desired, but let the fumes dissipate before you mount the staghorn fern.

Soak a large handful of sphagnum moss in a bowl of water. Leave the sphagnum moss in the water for a few hours, so that it's saturated.

Attach a hanger such as a hook, steel chain or sturdy wire to the back of the mounting board. Be sure the hanger is sturdy enough to support the staghorn fern as it grows. Attach the hanger to the mounting board with strong screws. Nails will pull out of the mounting board when the staghorn fern gets heavy.

Attach some small nails to the center front of the mounting board in a pattern that will be slightly larger than the base of your staghorn fern. Squeeze the excess water out of a large handful of sphagnum moss, and put the damp moss in the center of the nails. Put the staghorn fern on top of the damp sphagnum moss, with the "antlers" facing up.

Cut a pair of panty hose into long strips. Tie one end of a strip to one of the nails, then cross it over the fern and wrap it around a nail on the other side. Continue crossing the strip of panty hose over the staghorn fern until the fern is firmly attached to the board. By the time the panty hose strips deteriorate, the staghorn fern will be attached to the mounting surface. Fishing line or plastic strapping will also work, and will be hidden by the fern as it grows.

Attach the staghorn fern to a a tree or sturdy fence, where the fern will be in partial shade. Water the staghorn fern once a week by soaking the sphagnum moss.

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