How to Secure Staghorn Fern on a tree?

carver(z9FL)March 23, 2010

Generally instructions for hanging a staghorn fern in a tree say, "Wrap the fern to the tree using fishing line." Sooner or later the fishing line must rot away. So does that suggest the fishing line is just to hold the fern in place while the fern slowly attaches itself to the tree?

Our large staghorn fell to the ground this winter when the chains holding its basket rusted away. We cut that large fern into three pieces and want to mount one of those pieces on a tree to learn if that will eliminate the problems that come with the staghorn out-growing its basket? Tree mounting advice is needed.

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trini1trini

Hi have used an old extension cord to attach a large staghorn and also the rubber spline used in porch screening. That way, it stretchs as the tree grows. When the staghorn has completely attached, I remove the ties. Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2010 at 9:43PM
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carver(z9FL)

Trini1,

Thanks for your suggestions. They are helpful.

I have not been sure whether the staghorn will actually attach itself to the tree enough that it would need no further support. I have read that it does not do this. That is why we have used large hanging baskets in the past. But you seem to be saying that it will eventually attach itself enough that no additional support is needed.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2010 at 10:14AM
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bunnyhouse

We have several large(4 to 5 ft in diameter)staghorn ferns
Have had some for 25 years or more. Finally figured out how to hang them. Take a length of pipe, 2 or 3 inches in diameter and pound it down into the fern body top to bottom.
While the pipe is still in the fern, drop a length of galvanized heavy duty chain down into the pipe til it comes out the bottom. Take two small lengths of pipe and make a cross in the bottom of the chain by slipping the pipe through the links of the chain. Pull the pipe that is down into the fern out, the chain with the cross at the bottom with stay. The crossed pipe keeps the chain from pulling through the fern body and the weight of the fern holds the pipes in place. These will soon be covered over by the brown male bracs and you can't see them. Hang this whole contraption from a very sturdy limb and you won't have any problems for many years. Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2010 at 12:03PM
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carver(z9FL)

Bunnyhouse,

Thank you for that detailed description of your unique method of hanging a staghorn. (Could you possibly post a picture or sketch of what you do with the small lengths of pipe and the chain? I am obviously a slow learner.)

At first reading of your response, you got my attention -- driving a 2 or 3 inch pipe into a staghorn sounded like an error -- but it seems to make sense, if the tender plant survives that step. I am ready to try that, but unfortunately our remaining piece of staghorn is not very large because I had planned to fasten it directly on a tree. I'll take a new look at it with the pipe in mind.

By the way, since my original post above I have been warned that fastening the fern directly to a tree makes it more difficult to protect from the cold because the tree itself would be too cold for the fern.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2010 at 3:35PM
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hester_2009

When we moved to this house 6 years ago, I brought lots of small staghorns. In a hurry, I just nailed them (with the smallest nail possible) to the oak trees. Now, all this time later and after hard freezes, they are huge, healthy and firmly affixed to the trees. I was hoping to move some as I sold my house and move in two weeks, but they are so attached that I can't move them. So I took a saw and cut off some pieces.
ps I've always been told not to nail into trees, but these oaks are very, very large and I've nailed all sorts of things into them. They are healthy! so staghorns
seem to be hardy and able to handle abuse but then again, it may have been this particular plant. It had been growing on my old oaks for years and I just cut it up and brought it here.
So I think you can do just about anything with them.
Good luck

    Bookmark   March 24, 2010 at 5:08PM
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carver(z9FL)

Hester,

Thank you for that information. I am wondering about your weather, what general area do you live in? How did you cover your staghorns during freezing weather?

I hate to hear about nailing into those beautiful oak trees. That cannot be good for them even when the effect are not immediately evident, but I am glad that your staghorns did so well on them.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2010 at 5:51PM
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tomncath(St Pete Z10a Heat 10)

What I've always done is get three pieces of stainless steel chain cut the same length, usually either 12' or 15' depending on the diameter of the fern and the height you want to hang it from, if they are really small ferns then probably 6-8' would be sufficient. Then take a stainless steel bolt and bolt the last link of all three chains together. Lay the chains out on the ground at 120 degree angles (triangle) with the bolt head down. Put the fern over the center of the chains and pull the chains up, attaching a swivel hook to the top links of the chains. Put a hook or eye hook into a sufficiently large limb to hang the fern from and attach the swivel hook to it...if you use an eye hook you'll also need an "S" hook to link the two together.

Tom

    Bookmark   March 24, 2010 at 5:54PM
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regine_Z 10 Fl gw

The same thing happened to me. Our orginal plant was in a wire basket hanging in the tree by an electrical cord. After 20 years, the basket rusted away and half of the fern fell on the ground, but the other part is still attached to the tree and I did nothing to secure it. It just sent out pups and attached itself to the tree. I have done nothing to protect it from freezing temperatures and have been very lucky.In the photo, the left side is what fell off and the right side is still firmly attached to the tree. We even had a possum living in it for awhile.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2010 at 9:42PM
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carver(z9FL)

Regine,

That is a beautiful staghorn and you have been very lucky with it. I doubt that you could allow it go unprotected from the cold weather anywhere north of Zone 10. But your experience confirms that the new pups do attach themselves firmly to the tree.

It is interesting about your possum. We had a squirrel living in ours for quite a while. It hollowed out enough of the inside that we were surprised that the plant continued to grow, but it did.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2010 at 6:40AM
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leahrenee1(z9FL)

Thanks for the info with the pipes, I might give that a try for mine. I am in zone 9, Orlando and to be honest with you I totally forgot to take in / cover my staghorn this year at all and it is fine, I lost a ton of stuff but my staghorn wasn't phased at all.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2010 at 10:44AM
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hester_2009

Carver - I live east sarasota and didn't cover any of my staghorns. they were all fine - i was surprised.
I should tell you that my oak trunks are at least 12-20 feet in diameter so a few small nails don't bother them!
and like others have said, little critters like to nest in them! I will miss them when I move.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2010 at 1:21PM
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carver(z9FL)

Hester,

It is easy to see why you will miss your beautiful staghorns. I hope that you are not moving very far north from your present location in Zone 10 because I do not think you will be as lucky with unprotected staghorns in the cold weather north of you even though leahrenee1 was that lucky in the Orlando area this year.

I'll bet you will miss those gigantic oak trees too. We have some large oaks that I love, but nothing approaching 20' in diameter. I have difficulty imaging what could compel me to leave such a beautiful setting.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2010 at 3:33PM
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tomncath(St Pete Z10a Heat 10)

These two made the trip from Lecanto, were not doing so good up there. I never cover them here in St. Pete but I'm right off Tampa Bay and never had frost here until this year.

Tom

The view just to the right of my computer :-)

    Bookmark   March 25, 2010 at 5:51PM
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carver(z9FL)

Tomncath,

Thanks for posting that photo. Those are nice, healthy-looking staghorns. They must like being there more than in Lecanto. How long have they been there? The photo suggests that they might be getting a lot of full sun in that location.

Good luck with your occasional frosts.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2010 at 7:46PM
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tomncath(St Pete Z10a Heat 10)

They've been there since 1997. That picture faces due south, they get morning sun until about 10:00. Note that the Elkhorn (on the left) has jumped over to the Staghorn (on the right) and is slowly overtaking it :-(

I don't feed them but once or twice a year because I really don't want them getting any bigger.

Tom

    Bookmark   March 26, 2010 at 8:34AM
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natives_and_veggies(10b)

I have heard that they are hardier if they're growing on a tree than if they're growing in a hanging basket. I know that won't help some folks who live north of me and need to bring them in during the cold. But at least here in zone 10b, everyone I've talked to says stick 'em on a tree and keep bracing them until they attach securely all by themselves.

I've got one on the trunk of a sapodilla (very similar bark to an oak) and I think this is the summer it will finally attach enough to free it of its panty-hose bonds. It's grown so much, from a mere pup a couple years ago, that I think this is the year.

And, I don't know why this would be true, but my grandmother always said, and my neighbor agrees - stick banana peels in them. I think they need the potasium, or somthing like that. My neighbor says mine is as happy as it is - with pure neglect from me - because it's under a tree that drops its leaves into the fern's cavities - giving it some nutrients.

who knows. I'm good at neglect and happy to find a place for banana peels.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2010 at 11:00PM
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carver(z9FL)

natives_and_veggies,

I agree that staghorns do better living on a tree. We lived in Miami years ago and saw some really good ones on trees there. Here in Zone 9 I have come to the conclusion that I will use a basket or just chains so we can cover ours in cold weather.

I feed ours banana peels regularly and they love them.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2010 at 12:01AM
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johnjsr(9A DeLand)

Staghorns will take more cold than you might think. Mine have never been covered and they are still going even after the coldest winter in over 50 years. As far as attaching them to a tree, they will take care of that if you will hang them so they a laying against the trunk or a limb. It will take a few years.

john

    Bookmark   March 27, 2010 at 1:38AM
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lloyd1223

I am in Tampa, FL. My large staghorn fell from its hanging location last night. It appears to have been supported by an aluminum rod, which it slipped off. I would now like to replace this poor hanging system with a 3-4 chain hanging system (to keep it semi-portable). My conrcern is that its weight (3' in diameter) will allow the chain to cut into the bottom and sides of the fern. Should I use something to distribute the weight? What would you suggest?
Thnaks for any advise you can lend.
Mark

    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 10:23AM
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tomncath(St Pete Z10a Heat 10)

My conrcern is that its weight (3' in diameter) will allow the chain to cut into the bottom and sides of the fern. Should I use something to distribute the weight? What would you suggest?

The plant will grow into and around the chain links, and sooner or later a link will break. I never try to remove them, I just take bolt cutters and remove the visable links, then upgrade to a heavier chain.

Tom

    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 12:53PM
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carver(z9FL)

I would just add to what tomcath said, Be sure to use Stainless Steel chain. SS chain is not indestructible, but will last much, must longer than galvanized chain.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 1:37PM
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tomncath(St Pete Z10a Heat 10)

Be sure to use Stainless Steel chain. SS chain is not indestructible, but will last much, must longer than galvanized chain.

Amen

    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 6:42PM
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imatallun

My neighbor's staghorn grew incredibly quickly in less than two years. When I questioned him about it, he laughed and told me he placed expired multivitamins in his fern.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 10:51PM
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lloyd1223

Thanks for your advice, particularly regarding the SS chain. I am not worried once the stag begins to overgrow the chain, but I am concerned with any damage that may occur due to pressure of chain cutting into the stag when it is first raised. But it doesn't sound like any of you have experienced problems with this, so I will give it a try this weekend. Thanks.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2010 at 9:27AM
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tomncath(St Pete Z10a Heat 10)

...but I am concerned with any damage that may occur due to pressure of chain cutting into the stag when it is first raised. But it doesn't sound like any of you have experienced problems with this

You are correct, I have never had this happen....

    Bookmark   April 2, 2010 at 11:46AM
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carver(z9FL)

lloyd1223,

As far as I know you are correct, you really do not have to worry about the chain as long as it is strong enough for the load. I would suspect that the reason no one affirmed that might be because there are probably a dozen things you could do to damage your staghorn while trying to hang it, but if you are careful when you hang it on a healthy tree, all will go welll. Good luck!

    Bookmark   April 2, 2010 at 11:49AM
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ltakachuch

Will mounting the staghorn directly to the tree trunk or in a crotch between two branches cause any problems with the tree bark it is attached to? I would like to mount my staghorn directly onto my oak but am worried it may rot the oak tree.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2011 at 12:21AM
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babalu_aye(zone 9b - St Pete FL)

Carver, I'm in zone 9b (St Pete, about 2 miles away from the bay here). We got frost at least 3 nights earlier this Winter that defoliated my bougainvilleas and firebush. I did not cover my staghorn and it came through unharmed due to being under the canopy of the avocado tree it hangs in. In fact I have never covered the staghorn in the 10 years I've been here and it has never had a problem with the occasional frosts we get.

John

    Bookmark   February 21, 2011 at 8:56PM
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deannac(9b/S26/H10/Oviedo)

I know that this is late, but I made a way to lower mine into a wheelbarrow (actually it's more ON the wheelbarrow as it won't fit into it) for hurricanes.

I almost lost my big staghorn to Charlie...It got nearly beaten to death and all new growth stopped for almost 2 years.

I use the same chain method (no pipe through, just criss crossed stainless 2" links) but at the top, I have a tow strap that I threw over a MUCH higher branch and tied off on a lower one. It takes my husband to pull and me to get under the thing and push to take it higher into the tree, or him holding and me getting smushed under it to lower it.

On the other hand, it hasn't gotten beaten up by any more high winds!

    Bookmark   March 1, 2011 at 12:32PM
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