I was so excited to have found a Platycerium Bifurcatum, otherwise known as a Staghorn Fern! I picked it up knowing that I wanted it to be mounted but I had no idea on how to actually do that (it’s easy) and I had no idea what I was to mount it to either. I plunked it on the corner of my bathtub and set about formulating a plan.
Staghorn ferns appreciate humidity so I knew I wanted it to live in the bathroom. I also knew that mounting it on wood could be problematic if the wood decided to break down with moisture and rot. I had some cedar boards that are rot resistant but wanted something a little more decorative than cedar. To the thrift shop I went and when my eyes landed on a teak cheeseboard I knew it was the one. Teak is also rot resistant, it was a cute shape and it had little rubber feet on the back which is ideal to keep it off the wall in case any moisture found it’s way to the underside. The first thing I did was add a picture hanger on the back.
The next thing was to install 4 wood screws onto the front of the surface. The screws act as anchors to wrap wire or fishing line around. Ultimately it will be the screws that keep your fern in place. I recommend drilling pilot holes so your board doesn’t split.
Next, place some sphagnum moss in the center. Remove the fern from it’s pot and knock as much potting soil as you can gently from the root ball. If I were to do this again, I might be a little more aggressive in removing soil. I left most of mine in place and I don’t think it’s necessary and it makes the profile a little deeper than I would like.
Position the fern with it’s shield frond (the brown crispy looking one – do not remove it!) pointed to the top and the other fronds pointing to the bottom. Once you have your fern in place, cover the root ball with more sphagnam. Then, attach floral wire or fishing line to one of the screws and begin wrapping it back and forwards, around and around until the fern becomes secured to the board. Use the screws to anchor it down. Take care not to wrap over the fronds. You can pull it pretty tight without damaging the roots. You don’t want it to be floppy.
Once you feel it’s secure, give it a good soaking, let it drip dry then hang it up!
General Platycerium Bifurcatum – Staghorn Fern Care
Why mount a staghorn fern anyway? It’s not just because of it’s beautiful draping form that we mount these ferns. Platycerium Bifurcatums are epiphytic and that means, like orchids or airplants, these typically are not found growing in soil, but instead grow attached to a tree or in crevices where other debris has collected. Instead of gaining all of it’s requirements from soil, it can absorb moisture and nutrients through it’s leaves, or fronds. So we mount these ferns because it mimics how they are found in nature – and it’s beautiful to boot!
Light: Staghorns like quite a lot of indirect light. They can take a little direct light but you don’t want sunbeams directly on the plant for too long. Mine is in a west facing window with the blinds partially closed to shield it from the afternoon sun.
Water: Your fern will absorb some moisture from the air through the fronds but that won’t be enough to sustain the plant. Remove the fern from the wall and sit it in a sink or tub to soak the roots through thoroughly once a week. Let drip dry and re-hang. I soak mine with the hand held shower head, making sure the water gets through the moss and soaks the root ball. I also rinse the fronds during this time. They love to be misted too! I use tap water for my fern and it seems quite happy. Adjust as necessary depending on weather and humidity in your area and take care not to over water. It’s better to underwater to the point of drooping than to over water as the fronds can rot at the base.
Humidity: If you live in a dry area like I do, you’ll want to keep your staghorn fern in a location that gets some humidity like a bathroom.
Fertilizer: I have read that Platycerium Bifurcatum can be fed with bananas! As I’ve had mine for only a few months, and it’s still early spring, I haven’t yet fertilized it. I will update this information after I have fertilized and liked the results.
Platycerium Bifurcatum Resources:
Not sure which species you have or want to know more about growing Staghorns outdoors? You’ll find that info here.
How big do they get? HUGE! See a 40 year old fern remounted and divided.
What is an Epiphyte?