Divide and mount an elkhorn

Divide and mount an elkhorn

The elkhorn fern is an epiphyte that grows naturally on tree trunks and branches. Over time, it forms a mass of overlapping plantlets that can be divided to create new plants. In the home, an elkhorn can be mounted on a board and displayed, creating an eye-catching feature. Here’s how to do it.

You will need

  • an established elkhorn fern with multiple plantlets
  • sphagnum moss or coir peat
  • an untreated hardwood timber board for mounting
  • soft garden ties or stockings


1. REMOVE a plantlet from the main plant, using a sharp knife if required. Each plantlet consists of a light green ‘nest leaf’ (which turns papery brown when aged) and a single ‘eye’ that fronds grow from.

2. PRUNE off dead or diseased fronds, taking care not to damage the nest leaf.

3. MOISTEN some sphagnum moss or coir peat.

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4. PLACE a pile of the moistened sphagnum moss onto your mounting board and arrange your plantlet on top of it. You could make a mounting board from the trunk of a tree fern, but any untreated hardwood is fine.

5. SECURE the plantlet to the board with a soft garden tie or piece of stocking. Over time, roots will grow into the mounting board and the ties can be removed.

6. DISPLAY your new feature plant out of direct sun, and keep it moist.

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You’ll find plenty more tips and hands-on gardening advice in the June 2022 issue of ABC Gardening Australia magazine, out now.