Mounting A Staghorn Fern - Project with Kids - February 2022

Yesterday I posted a couple of photos of our second Staghorn Fern - a tiny one that we bought with the intention of trying to mount it to a board - as is typical for these kind of ferns.  Having poked around the Web and watched dozens of YouTube videos of how-to's, I settled on this process:

1.  Find board, cut to size.
2.  Seal said board.  I used a can of clear coat spray that I had on hand.  Don't think this is necessary, but since you dunk the board AND fern in water to keep it hydrated, I figured this little extra step couldn't hurt.
3.  Draw a circle on the board, a little bigger than the container it arrived in.
4.  Drill a couple of short screws in the back that I can run picture-hanging wire from.  I did these first, because I figured that once the fern was mounted, I wasn't going to be able to flip it over and apply pressure with an impact driver to get these screws in.
5.  Flipped it back over and laid down a temporary piece of wood that it rested on top of while I was able to work.  This allowed the 2 screws that I put in on the back (in step 4 above) to stay off of the work surface and keep the mounting board flat so I could apply screws to the front.
6.  I popped in like 8 screws around that circle that I drew.  Left them proud by about a half-inch.
7.  Now...this is really where my kids started to help me. Using the spare Sphagnum Moss that I had from my Mickey Topiary project, we laid down a flat bed of moss covering the circle.
8.  We then pulled the Staghorn Fern from the nursery pot.  And began to separate the roots from the soil.  It came apart pretty easy.  The bottom 2/3rds of soil were left behind.  What we had were the roots and some soil.
9.  We laid this on top of the bed of moss.  With the Shield Frond facing UP.
10.  From there, the kids packed even more Sphagnum Moss all around the roots and made a little volcano-shape with the fern sticking out of the top.
11.  Using the same fishing wire from the topiary project, I tied one end to one of the screws.  Then the kids went back and forth, up and down, across and back a BUNCH of time to secure the moss and fern to the board.  Once we were satisfied, I cut the end of the line and tied it to one of the other screws to keep everything neat and tight.  
12.  We stuffed a little more moss here and there that wasn't pulled in with the line.  
13.  Then...the moment of truth:  the kids picked it up and held it vertically.  Would it hold?
14.  Sure enough, it worked.  Not much of the Sphagnum moss fell from the mount.  
15.  Off to the sink to get it properly soaked.  I stood it up on its end to let it drain and dry out a little bit.

I've said this before, but this project reinforces this for me:  I think Staghorn Ferns are my new love language.  I've always been drawn to ferns in my garden.  But, thinking about the notion of living taxidermy with a Staghorn is hitting me quite right.

In the list of steps, I mentioned this was a 'we' project.  I was able to recruit a pair of volunteers who helped me.  It was a fun project to do together. 

Here, below, is an in-process shot showing the moss stacked up on top of the root ball, but prior to wiring it on the mount. 

And what does the final outcome look like?  Here, below, is our very young Staghorn Fern mounted upright on a board.   

Both the kids and I are already planning on doing more.  Look out, screened and front porch.  You're going to have a couple of mounted Staghorn Ferns hanging on you this Spring and Summer.


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