This is a fun project from Sophie Lee’s new book, Living with Plants, A Guide to Indoor Gardening.
The Platycerium is a type of plant commonly known as the staghorn fern because of its striking leaf formations that resemble antlers. Staghorn ferns are also epiphytes, which means they grow by attaching to other plants – usually trees – and get their nutrients from the air, water and collected debris.
This is a fun, plant version of a mounted stag’s head; I have used a mount that is usually used in taxidermy for mounting real stag’s heads, but you can use a piece of recycled wood if you prefer. Hang the staghorn fern plaque somewhere prominent in your house, for example, above a fireplace, as a taxidermy stag’s head would be mounted.
To care for your staghorn fern spray it with water every 3–4 days, ensuring that the moss is kept damp. If you notice that the fern’s leaves start to go floppy then it needs more water.
You will need
Platycerium (staghorn fern)
water mister (optional)
1. Remove the staghorn fern from its pot and gently start to brush off the majority of the old soil from its roots using your fingers. It is a good idea to do this over a large bowl, other wise the soil will get everywhere! Also, be wary of damaging the fern’s nucleus, which is the main frilly bit of the plant, as it is very fragile.
2. Lay out the sheet of moss and, if it is quite dry, spray it with a little water to make it easier to manipulate.
3. Decide which side of the staghorn fern you would like to show off. Then, with the best side facing you, lay the roots flat onto the mounting wooden plaque.
4. Wrap the moss all around the staghorn fern’s roots and around the edges of the plaque. This can be a little fiddly, so take your time.
5. Once the plant and moss are in the desired position on the plaque, hold the moss down with one hand and gently hammer the moss onto the plaque using the moss pins. Ensure that you do not put the pins directly through the fern’s roots and that they are protected by moss. Also, be aware that the moss pins are sharp! They are sometimes hard to get in, but have patience and persevere.
6. Hold up the plaque and check if the fern needs to be secured further, and add more pins as appropriate. You can also add more moss if you would like; spray it with some water first and make sure it is securely held with moss pins.
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This is an edited extract from Living With Plants by Sophie Lee published by Hardie Grant Books $29.99 and is available in stores nationally. Photography (c) Leonie Freeman.