The Q&A Archives: stag horn fern transplanting

Question: currently, it's setting in an orchid box which
hangs on a large sand lot oak limb in our back yard. I'd like to transplant it onto a board
(which kind of board) and how do I do that, what food should I give it, etc. The reason for the
board vs putting it in/on the crook of the tree limb is that I'll need to take it to the garage during storms/hurricane winds. Thanks in advance for your kindness. Peggy

Answer: Sounds like a good plan. You can use virtually any type of wood, from driftwood to plywood to a pine or cedar branch for mounting. To attach a stag to a board, prepare some sphagnum moss by soaking the moss in water (rain water is best) for several hours to hydrate the material. The mounting board you select should be a hard wood, like oak or mahogany, and as large and thick as you like. You could also use pecky cypress or redwood. Your stag will grow sideways so the larger the board you start with, the longer your stag can remain growing undisturbed. If you use a small board, you will very likely have to re-mount your stag on a larger board in the future. On the back of your board, attach a very strong hook or wire loop or steel chain to support your stag when hanging. This must be very strong because your stag will get very heavy in the future, especially after soaked with rain. Use strong screws versus nails. Get heavy duty hardware for this job. On the front (mounting) side of your board, tack in small nails in a pattern an inch or two larger than your stag. Now place some of your soaked sphagnum moss in the center of the nails (the center of your board). Lay your stag down onto the moss with the fertile frond tips up...the same direction as your mounting hook. Get some light see-through fishing line, say 5-pound test line. Tie one end of the fishing line to one of your nails. Cross over the stag to the opposite nail. Keep crossing your stag with fishing line and attaching to your nails until your stag is firmly mounted. NOTE: As your stag grows, it will grow over the mounting fishing line and therefore disappear from view. If you have a small stag, you could use strips of panty hose instead of the fishing line. The advantage of the panty hose is they will disintegrate in about a year. At that point your stag should be nicely attached to your board. You now must select a location to hang your stag. Outdoors is best, of course. Bright light but no direct sun is ideal. Your stag can handle some sun, but early morning sun only. In the wild, they always have a leaf canopy over them producing broken approximate this condition as best as possible. Do not allow windy conditions either. Feed you stag with organic food such as fish emulsion fertilizer. Another good trick is to place a banana peel (peel only) behind the stag, between the stag and the board. They like the potassium. Most people over water their stags. Water about once a week and soak the moss to do so. The water will pour through quickly so youll have to apply a lot of water to get a little wetness in the moss...if you have let it dry out too much. If you keep the moss moderately moist, this will not be a problem. Outdoors, leaves and other airborne materials will fall onto the moss backing your staghorn. As these materials decay, they provide added food for your stag. Most staghorn varieties are very easy to grow. Hope this answers all your questions about growing a staghorn fern!

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