Rhombophyllum nelii, or Elks Horns, is a small clustering succulent native to the Cape Province of South Africa. The pale bluish-green leaves reach up to 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) long by 0.5 inches (1.3 cm) wide. There are 2 lobes at the tips of leaves. Our plant is a little over 4 inches (10.6 cm) tall. I believe that they may reach less than 1 foot tall (30 cm) in nature. They are attractive little plants and very easy to grow.
Blooming: In the greenhouse, the plants bloom in mid to late summer with yellow daisy-like flowers. Individual flowers may reach up to 2 inches (5.1 cm) across. They are quite showy when in flower.
Culture: Rhombophyllum nelii needs full sun to light shade with a slightly acidic, well-drained soil mix. In the greenhouse, we use a soil mix consisting of 1 part peat moss to 2 parts sand with small gravel added to ensure good drainage. The plant's growing season starts in late spring through late autumn. Plants are well watered and allowed to dry before watering again. They don’t seem to be as drought resistant as some of the other succulents from Africa. Prolonged drought is not good for these plants. In late autumn, we move the plants to our cool rooms which have a nighttime temperature of 48°F (9°C) for over wintering. Although the plants are grow very dry during this period some water should be applied to keep the leaves from shriveling.
Propagation: Rhombophyllum nelii is very easily propagated from cuttings or from seed.
Rhombophyllum nelii was featured as Plant of the Week August 3-9, 2007.
Guide to Past Plants-of-the-Week:
Cal's Plant of the Week was provided as a service by the University of Oklahoma Department of Microbiology & Plant Biology and specifically the late Cal Lemke, who used to be OU's botany greenhouse grower and an avid gardener at home as well. If the above links don't work, then try the overview site. You may also like to look at the thumbnail index. ©1998-2012 All rights reserved.