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Ferns/new Elkhart Fern / Las Vegas


Elkhorn fern #1/Deb
Elkhorn fern #1/Deb  

Elkhorn fern #2/Deb
Elkhorn fern #2/Deb  
Please take a look at the fern I purchased "elk horn". I bought it in a pot at the nursery and transferred it into a basket with the kind of moss for orchids. Had to get rid of knats when it was in the pot by misting with dish soap/water ,then took plant out of pot, shook off the roots soil and put into the basket with moss where it has been in our bathroom where it gets humidity from the shower and filtered light from the window above.  No harsh sunlight.

After reading your info on stag horns and pest problems, I noticed a white film on the main leaf and wiped off with dish soap / water front and back. There has been a brown rotting at the base and the the 2nd leaf from the first time I misted with water when it was in the soil pot. It will need to be indoors most of the year because we are in Las Vegas. The Spring is moderate temps in the 60-70's.  Your advice is most appreciated to help this little fern live!  Deb

Deb hi;

Indeed, you have a nice little Platycerium.  It is usually known as a staghorn, but elkhorn is a commonly used name, as well.

I like the transplant to the orchid moss.  That should allow your staghorn to root and develop nicely.

At this point, I would suggest placing you plant under shade, outside (maybe a dense tree or porch overhang?).  It is very tolerant of temperatures 30F - 90F.  Even at higher and lower extremes, under shade, it should be OK.  Indoors, the plant does not have enough airflow to really take off and grow.

I would not be concerned about the white 'film' on the frond (leaf). Usually, this fuzz is a normal part of the plant.  The blackening of the base 'shield' is expected over time, but its nature and dark color suggest to me that the plant needs to be more active (better airflow) and hence my suggestion to place outside.  Once you find a spot, check weekly for water and irrigate only if it starts feeling light to the touch.

Keep in mind that staghorns are very slow growers so do not expect immediate results.  As long as the plant is nice and green and turgid (upright), you should expect to see slow and steady development over time.  Do not apply any fertilizers for the first three months, and then very lightly twice a year.  In Florida, we rarely water our staghorns when they are outside, but under your desert climate, I would suggest being a bit more generous with water (again, checking once a week is a good idea).

Best of luck, and fell free to follow up as needed!



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Dan Carmi


I can answer all types of questions regarding ferns: their physiology, life cycle, taxonomy, culture (for both the professional and hobbyist), home and garden application and care, site suitability, and more. I can also answer questions in the fields of greenhouse production, foliage plants, and houseplant care, along with questions in the general field of ornamental horticulture. I may be able to identify fern and foliage plants by photo, but I am unlikely to be able to do it by description (though I will never turn down a challenge). I am not an expert in crop, field, and agronomic production. I am not an expert on annuals, perennials, tree & shrub crops.


I am a horticulturist with a formal education and twelve years experience in commercial fern and tropical foliage production. I also served as Adjunct Professor of Horticulture at Florida Southern College.

Florida's Nursery Growers and Landscape Association: current member and Action Chapter Board Member 2006-2008.

I have a BSc in Environmental Horticulture / Business from Florida Southern College, specializing in Greenhouse Management and Production.

Awards and Honors
FNGLA Action Chapter President's Award 2006-2007, numerous academic awards 2001-2005.

Past/Present Clients
Through my place of employment, I serve hundreds of commercial growers across the country and beyond.

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