Plant Library

Crested Elkhorn

Euphorbia lactea 'Cristata'

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Crested Elkhorn (Euphorbia lactea 'Cristata') at Green Thumb Nursery

Crested Elkhorn

Crested Elkhorn

(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)

Crested Elkhorn (Euphorbia lactea 'Cristata') at Green Thumb Nursery

Crested Elkhorn foliage

Crested Elkhorn foliage

(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)

Height:  3 feet

Spread:  3 feet

Sunlight:  full sun 

Hardiness Zone:  10a

Other Names:  Crested Candelabra Plant, Coral Cactus


An attractive, bold plant for a sunny area; fan shaped crests that split and branch out like ocean coral; flower bracts are showy atop the crests; adds a truly exotic dimension to the garden

Ornamental Features

Crested Elkhorn is primarily valued in the garden for its ornamental upright and spreading habit of growth. It features dainty clusters of red flowers held atop the branches from late winter to mid spring. It has attractive green deciduous foliage. The succulent fan-shaped leaves are highly ornamental but do not develop any appreciable fall color.

Landscape Attributes

Crested Elkhorn is an open multi-stemmed deciduous shrub with an upright spreading habit of growth. Its relatively coarse texture can be used to stand it apart from other landscape plants with finer foliage.

This is a relatively low maintenance shrub, and should only be pruned after flowering to avoid removing any of the current season's flowers. Deer don't particularly care for this plant and will usually leave it alone in favor of tastier treats. It has no significant negative characteristics.

Crested Elkhorn is recommended for the following landscape applications;

  • Accent
  • Mass Planting
  • General Garden Use
  • Container Planting

Planting & Growing

Crested Elkhorn will grow to be about 3 feet tall at maturity, with a spread of 3 feet. It has a low canopy. It grows at a medium rate, and under ideal conditions can be expected to live for 40 years or more.

This shrub should only be grown in full sunlight. It prefers dry to average moisture levels with very well-drained soil, and will often die in standing water. It is considered to be drought-tolerant, and thus makes an ideal choice for a low-water garden or xeriscape application. It is not particular as to soil pH, but grows best in sandy soils. It is highly tolerant of urban pollution and will even thrive in inner city environments. This is a selected variety of a species not originally from North America, and parts of it are known to be toxic to humans and animals, so care should be exercised in planting it around children and pets. It can be propagated by cuttings; however, as a cultivated variety, be aware that it may be subject to certain restrictions or prohibitions on propagation.

Crested Elkhorn makes a fine choice for the outdoor landscape, but it is also well-suited for use in outdoor pots and containers. With its upright habit of growth, it is best suited for use as a 'thriller' in the 'spiller-thriller-filler' container combination; plant it near the center of the pot, surrounded by smaller plants and those that spill over the edges. It is even sizeable enough that it can be grown alone in a suitable container. Note that when grown in a container, it may not perform exactly as indicated on the tag - this is to be expected. Also note that when growing plants in outdoor containers and baskets, they may require more frequent waterings than they would in the yard or garden.

Hardiness Zone Plant Height Minimum Sunlight
Accent  Massing  Garden  Container 
Flowers  Foliage Color  Texture  Plant Form 
Ornamental Features