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Elk horn

From dining room window south facing.

There is another long row of windows running the length of the dining room (an orientation shot taken in Autumn when we were installing the water tank is below). This room was part of the southside verandah built-in back in the 1920s. It's pretty dumb putting a verandah on the south side anyway.

There is just one window in the row that fits my criteria ... something that opens to the world... so you are not going to see a lot of shots from this side. Through the window you can see "azalea walk" and more importantly the big elk horn. I thought it was an stag horn but now I understand it to be an elk horn because the web tells me only elk horns make 'pups' and this one has sure made a lot of them.

I am a little distressed with the state of this wonderful plant, it burnt off badly in the summer. Fortunately most of the brown bits have fallen off but you can see there is plenty of potential for improvement in the spring.

The tank is hiding the elk horn.

Psalm 42 (King James Version)
As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, O God.


  1. Firstly, the tank coming up through the autumn colour puts me to mind John Cleese and his band-of-men. I digress ...

    The elk-horn is magnificent! I did not know they were called "pups" but my imagination can understand that. To me they resemble piglets ... all wanting their turn at the teet ... stomping all over each other.

    I will look this up, but I think they need to be sectioned which could look a smidge ugly initially. If you don't lessen the snouts in the trough (to continue the analogy) you might lose the sow.

  2. Here is what Gardening Australia reckons:

    "These ferns produce two types of fronds, sterile and fertile. The fertile fronds have brown, rusty tips underneath, which is where they produce their spores. It's the sign of a healthy adult plant. The old, dead fronds are persistent, and serve to fix the plant to its support and gather any fallen leaves. They create their own compost for roots, moisture and nutrients. It’s a clever trick.

    Keep these ferns slightly dry in cold winter weather. Both grow well outdoors as far south as Melbourne, but regular frosts will kill them. Established ferns tolerate periods of drought, but in dry weather a once weekly soaking will help, especially when establishing young plants or plants moved to a new location.

    Feed these ferns with seaweed fertiliser, but only use at half the recommended strength because they don't like too much food and artificial fertilisers can burn the fronds.@

    Nowt yet about splitting them ...

  3. Try this message board conversation on Gardening Australia:

  4. Hah ... try this ...

    about 2/3 way down ... the green leaves are fertile; the brown leaves sterile. DO NOT remove the brown leaves as they are the pantry.

  5. Here's how to propagate the spores:
    "Division and spores in the spring. After dividing plant, pot in the plant's regular potting mix. Take spores from ripe spore cases on the undersides of the fronds. Put the spores in an envelope and allow to dry. Place a brick in a plastic box or pan and put 2 inches (5cm) of distilled water in it and cover the brick with a quarter inch of moist peat. Sprinkle spores on the peat and cover the container with a piece of glass or plastic. Be sure to maintain the water level. Place in low light, after a few months a green moss like growth should cover the peat. Eventually leaves will appear, divide and transplant after they are 2 inches (5cm) tall. " mmm... may not be your thing1

    However, this says AFTER DIVIDING ... so they can be divided ... off I go again ...

  6. Here is another message board but it is not very intelligible, except for the gardener's prayer: "grow you bugger, grow".

  7. You are a veritable source of information tonight. You are right ... raising plants from spores is NOT my idea of fun. As for pulling off the brown leaves, I didn't the wind did. And my guess was right, the poor thing was dying of thirst but now is not the time to feed and water ... wait for spring. It is getting rained on tonight anyway, quite heavy rain.

    I am sure they can be divided by chopping them apart. I just can't imagine doing that ... it's huge. I will feed and water in the springtime which isn't tooo far away ... daffodils beginning to peep through in the garden but you'll have to wait until I reach that window :-)

  8. So, to summarise:

    The brown bits on your plant are the leaves that catch the food in the forest to feed the fertile fronds. The brown is good.

    What you have in the photo is about 50 elkhorn plants living in a colony. You could start by carving off some on the outside of the colony. Use a Stanley knife and slice through the brown in a roughly circular way. You can see where one plant stops and another starts. I would start down the bottom underneath and carve those off.

    Assuming you want to grow these ... get an old piece of log ... or a house brick ... place somewhere moist or where you can keep moist ... put a wodge of spagnum moss on the log/brick and lash the carved elkhorn onto its host using twine ... not super tightly but sufficient to hold in place when eventually located upright. The sterile leaf (the eventually brown bit) will grow over the twine. Don't use plastic wire or string as they will cut into the growing sterile leaf whereas twine is much softer and loosely woven ... keep moist and cool until the backing leaf is self-supporting on the host-medium.

    With your original plant, the one in the photo, you need to keep more water up to it and water from above ... might have to use a ladder or water from a hose in an arc ... the water needs to get into the base of the plant not onto the green elks ... but behind the brown sterile bit ... to where the elkhorn attaches itself to the host ... that is the growth point ...

  9. Joan Elizabeth, you are living in a jungle????


    What is so dumb about building a verandah to the south side?

  10. In the southern hemisphere south is the equivalent to north in your part of the world. So would you build a verandah on the cold dark side of the house? The idea of a nice verandah to me is to shade the hot sun in the summer and a sheltered spot to catch the warm low sun in the winter ... that happens from the north.

    Many of our older homes are oriented as if they were in the northern hemisphere. The new arrivals to this country simply could not get it into their head that things are flipped over down under.

  11. *I shall not ask dumb questions*
    *I shall not ask dumb questions*
    *I shall not ask dumb questions*
    *I shall not ask dumb questions*
    *I shall not ask dumb questions*

  12. * grin*

    Though Martina it wasn't dumb. There are thousands of houses in Australia built the wrong way round and those people were living here and still didn't figure it out.

    I'm sure, but for this, I would not have been terribly aware that this was a difference in the hemispheres.


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