One method of propagating staghorn fern is cutting and separating. Staghorn fern propagation is one way to get more staghorn ferns, other than buying more. Staghorn ferns will take off if they are placed in the right location. I have seen massive staghorn ferns around and always love them. I know that it takes a long time for the staghorn ferns to get that big, so I am always knowing this when I see them.
I am going to walk through propagating my staghorn fern by cutting a section out. I will then mount my staghorn fern cutting onto a board. Mounting staghorn fern cuttings are not too difficult and can be accomplished several ways. 3 ways of mounting staghorn ferns are by attaching to a board, attaching to a tree or pole, placing in a hanging basket. This post will focus on propagating staghorn fern by cutting and then mounting staghorn fern on a board.
The first thing to do is identify where on your staghorn fern are you going to cut. Find a section of staghorn “leaves” that you can single out without damaging another shoot of leaves. Then if the flat leaf that creates the “ball” is small and lively green color, it is a good choice. I believe finding that type of situation on your staghorn fern will help your new cutting grow better.
Once you have identified your cutting area, take a sharp knife or utility knife and cut out the template. I stayed about 2 or 3 inches outside of the shoot of leaves on my staghorn fern. I didn’t want to damage the shoots next to my cutting area. Then take a longer knife and keep “slicing” and “sawing” until you know you are 2 or 3 inches in. Sometimes angling your cut inward will help to get it out easier. If you angle your cut inward, then make sure you are out far enough to “miss” the roots. You want to make sure and capture the roots with the least amount or no damage to them.
Now that you have your staghorn fern section cut out, it is time to extract this from the main staghorn fern. The staghorn fern is really a big ball of layers of old leaves that are now providing moisture and decay that the ferns love to grow in. So it really should “peel” away. Sometimes it will come out easy, but most of the time it won’t. The knife doesn’t really have any strength for prying, so a flat bar or some kind of pry bar will help. Just be careful not to damage other staghorn fern shoots while prying the new cutting out. Once it gives then you should be able to take it out by hand. You will know you went deep enough when the new staghorn fern cutting pulls away and is mostly flat on the bottom. This is the hardest part of propagating staghorn fern. The rest is downhill.
In staghorn fern mounting, you need to decide if you know the right place to put it. If you don’t, you may want to stick with board mounting, or hanging basket. This way, you can move the staghorn fern if you feel it is not doing well.
Staghorn Fern Mounting to a Board
I used a piece of Cedar fascia that I had laying around. It is aged and somewhat weathered. This is what I will use in mounting my staghorn fern cutting. I would not use PT lumber to mount your staghorn fern cutting. Cypress is another good one. I am not sure about pine, might not want to use Pine. Aged and dry wood should be good. I usually put a one or two fasteners where I want the staghorn fern cutting to sit. This will help hold the staghorn fern cutting up and keep it in one place. After I install the fasteners to be left about an inch or so up, I put some organic material under the staghorn fern cutting. This organic material will help hold moisture. I used some “monkey hair” from a cabbage palm. Sphagnum moss is a good organic material to use, and you can buy it online, or at a home store. Then I “push” the staghorn fern cutting onto the screws. I also make sure that my fasteners are just outside of the staghorn fern cutting’s roots. Then I take a piece of copper wire and wrap it around the board. You can also use fishing line. This may eventually get cut off. It just depends on how fast the staghorn fern cutting covers it up.
If you want to hide your staghorn fern mounting method better, you can drill holes in the board. Then run the wire or fishing line through the holes and then around the staghorn fern cutting.
Using a board to mount the staghorn fern will allow you to move it around if needed. Also, the board can be fastened to something else without disturbing the staghorn fern cutting.
Someone once told me “Staghorn ferns like the north sun!” I believe this to mean, place your staghorn ferns on the north side of trees or buildings. This is definitely true in South Florida, but I am not sure about North Florida.