Staghorn Fern Mounting Tutorial

Staghorn ferns (Platycerium spp.) are tropical plants that, despite their exotic appearance, shouldn’t be too intimidating to casual gardeners since they are easy to grow and require little care.

This fascinating plant thrives in Florida’s heat and humidity. It grows quite well in South Florida and can be grown in North and Central Florida if protected from frosts and freezes. Staghorn ferns are epiphytes, meaning they get moisture and nutrients from the air.

Staghorn fern produces two distinctly different fronds, basal or foliar. Basal fronds are also called shields; they are small, flat leaves that cover the roots and help the plants attach to the structure they are growing on. These fronds are sterile and function to collect water and fallen plant debris. Foliar fronds, also called fertile fronds, are the more eye-catching upright fronds produced by the plant. The underside of foliar fronds is where you’ll find brownish reproductive structures called sporangia. Gardeners may be concerned by their appearance, but they’re normal.


Large, mature staghorn ferns can be divided into separate plants. For this project you’ll need sphagnum moss and a surface to mount the plant on. We used both an old piece of untreated wood and a hanging basket. You’ll also need some old stockings or tights. First soak the sphagnum moss for a couple of hours. We carefully cut the two mature plants apart, taking care to separate different basal fronds.

Plant with roots and soil attached on a concrete table, with a hand and saw preparing to cut down the middle of the plant
Cutting a mature staghorn away from its original mount and into two “new” plants. UF/IFAS, some rights reserved
Staghorn with roots and soil, seen in cross section
A cross-section view of the staghorn after being separated.
UF/IFAS, some rights reserved

Mounting to a Board

We then cut away some of the old roots and plant matter to be able to get it to fit on our mounting board. Place a handful or two of sphagnum moss on the board and then place your plant on top. Tie your plant on with pantyhose. Pantyhose are better than microfilament or wire because it will eventually rot away and not end up cutting into the plant.

Hands shown tying fern to a piece of wood using pantyhose
Securing the staghorn fern to a wooden mount with pantyhose.
UF/IFAS, some rights reserved

Hanging in a Wire Basket

Cut down the liner in your basket enough that it will allow your plant to stick through the wire side. Add enough sphagnum moss so that your staghorn will sit near the top of the basket.

A wire basket partially lined with coir and with a couple handfuls of sphagnum moss
Cutting away part of the coir liner allows the staghorn to grow through freely.

Place your plant in the basket and gently bring the leaves of your plant through the edges of the basket. This allows the plant to grow out the side of the basket.

Placing the staghorn fern upright in the basket with fronds coming out the side of the basket.
Carefully pull some of the fronds through so the staghorn fern can grow in its natural upright position.

Add more sphagnum moss on top of the roots. For a little extra beauty add bromeliad or orchid plants on top of your basket.

The basket with staghorn fern now hanging from a pole.
The finished product.

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