Design Tips

How To Mount a Staghorn Fern or Other Epiphyte

Learn how to mount a Staghorn Fern, Bird’s Nest Fern, or your favorite epiphytic houseplant with this step-by-step guide.

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The term epiphyte is translated from the Greek epi-, meaning upon, and -phyte, meaning plant (from phytón). Epiphytes or ‘air plants’ are plants that grow on top of other plants, typically trees, co-existing in the most harmonious, harmless way. They derive their nutrients and other vitals from the air, water, dust, and debris around them. To acquire nutrients without soil is a tough struggle for epiphytes, but because they do not interact with soil, many epiphytes have different adaptations for surviving their nutrient-poor conditions.

Mounting them to wood boards or cork bark is a great way to add biophilic design to your space, and honor how these incredible plants grow in the wild.

What popular houseplants are epiphytic?

Bromeliads
Many tropical aroids
Staghorn Ferns
Bird’s Nest Ferns
Schlumbergera Cacti (Thanksgiving Cactus, Christmas Cactus)
Rhipsalis Cacti (Mistletoe Cactus)
Most Orchids (Phalaenopsis)

Materials you’ll need to mount your epiphyte:

Your epiphytic plant of choice
Wood board or cork bark
�-1 inch sized nails
Live sheet moss
Fishing wire
Small tooth hanging bracket

DIY step-by-step instructions:
  1. To best help with positioning, use the grow pot the epiphyte is in to outline and create a circle in the center of your wood board.
  2. Create a ring of nails along the perimeter of the drawn circle.
  3. Tie one end of your fishing wire to the head of a nail. You can choose whichever side you feel comfortable starting with.
  4. Take your epiphytic plant out of its grow pot and loosen up the root ball. Trim any roots if needed.
  5. Wrap the plant’s root ball with the sheet moss to completely cover the roots and soil.
  6. Use fishing wire to secure the moss to the plant before prepping for mount. Think of a Kokedama.
  7. Place the plant and its now moss-covered root ball in the center of the circle you drew.
  8. Wrap the fishing wire you tied to the head of a nail in a criss cross manner over the moss, winding it around opposing screw heads to secure it.
  9. Once the plant feels securely mounted, tie off the wire and snip it.
  10. Trim away any moss to make it look more clean and aesthetically pleasing (optional).
  11. Nail hanging bracket to back of the mount.
  12. Hang and enjoy!
How to care for your mounted epiphyte:

To water your new mounted plant, place it in a kitchen sink or tub and thoroughly soak the moss ball. Afterwards, let it drain out for 10-15 minutes (or more) before hanging back up.

Place your mounted plant in an area where it will receive the light it requires, depending on the plant type.

Most epiphytes prefer higher humidity levels so be sure to find a nice humid space in the home, or place a humidifier close by.


Words By The Sill

Empowering all people to be plant people—a collection of articles from The Sill’s team of plant experts across a variety of plant care topics to inspire confidence in the next generation of plant parents. Welcome to Plant Parenthood™.

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