Sunday, January 12, 2014

How To Mount A Really Big Staghorn Fern

My wife loves her staghorn ferns. I love her. When one of our prize staghorns snapped through its restraining fishing line and pitched, face-first onto the concrete, the Catican Compound Staghorn Mounting Team swung into immediate action*.

When you google "mount staghorn fern," you get lots and lots of lessons on how to mount the babies. Oooh! Cute little pieces of wood! Strands of fishing wire! Lovely little Hello Kitty stickers plastered all over the baby staghorn's nursery**! What's missing are lessons on how to re-mount the titans of the staghorn world, the ones that weigh in excess of 100 pounds. When our big brute of a staghorn ripped through its fishing line like Hercules breaking his chains to maul the Philistines (or was that the Nazis?), we knew it was time for serious action.

Our monster staghorn, properly mounted.
Putting away our extensive collection of Hello Kitty paraphernalia, we used a sheet of contoured plywood as a base and backed it with framing 2x4s. If you don't run the 2x4s across the top and bottom horizontally, the plywood will bow out as the staghorn's weight and moisture warps the wood.

Horizontal braces to keep the mount straight over time, vertical ones as backing for the upcoming wire mesh.
Instead of fishing line, we used coarse wire mesh, the type you might use for fencing, chicken wire or laying cement. The coarse wire is strong, but it doesn't aesthetically dominate the fern. We used perforated metal strips, threaded through the wire mesh, to mount the wire. We attached one side of the mesh first, using the first vertical 2x4 as backing and then gradually wrapped it around the fern, cutting out holes for the leaves as we went. When we got the mesh all the way around, we fastened it to the board where the other vertical 2x4 was there as backing.

The perforated metal strip, threaded through the mesh.

The wire mesh clipped to allow the staghorn's leaves through.
Staghorns are effectively 1/4 oval solids. That meant that at the bottom, once you trimmed off the side parts of the mesh, you wrapped the mesh around the bottom of the fern and affixed it like you had the side, as shown above.

The end result is a happy, undamaged staghorn, ready to grow even larger and achieve its life goals of enlightenment and spiritual purity.

Or whatever it is huge staghorns do all day.

* - OK, it wasn't immediate. We did manage to watch several English Premier League games, cook some southern food and agonize over the Saints loss to the Seahawks while working on the project, but, really, we swung into action with the greatest alacrity one could expect during this busy sports season.

** - Work with me here, people. I'm on a roll.


Ilíon said...

Staghorns *are* cool.

I've never seen one like that; I'm way impressed.

K T Cat said...

Thanks! We have one more large one that I think is a little bit bigger. My wife has been growing these guys for a long, long time.

Ilíon said...

I'll bet she's been growing them for a long, long time. I had some for many years ('til they died), and they were never much bigger than when I get them.