Elephant Bush - Portulacaria afra
Elephant Bush - Portulacaria afra
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Introducing the Elephant Bush, also known as Portulacaria afra, a fascinating and popular succulent garden plant native to South Africa. It belongs to the Portulacaceae family and is known for its unique appearance and easy-care requirements.

The elephant bush succulent gets its name from its resemblance to the foliage of an elephant's trunk. It is also commonly referred to as the dwarf jade plant, small leaf jade, miniature jade, elephant food, or the Spekboom. The name "Dwarf Jade Plant" comes from its small, jade-like leaves, while "Spekboom" is an Afrikaans term meaning "bacon tree" due to the plant's edible leaves that reportedly taste like bacon.

The elephant bush plant features small, round, and fleshy pale green leaves that store water, allowing your elephant bush plant to withstand drought conditions. The trailing stems of the elephant bush plants are thick and red-hued, which gives them a unique and appealing appearance in hanging baskets.

When grown as a houseplant, the elephant bush typically reaches a height of 1 to 3 feet. However, if planted outdoors in its native habitat, your Portulacaria afra elephant bush can grow much larger, reaching heights of up to 20 feet. The elephant bush makes for an excellent bonsai due to its unique growth pattern and ability to withstand pruning. Its thick, fleshy leaves and sturdy branches give it a robust appearance, making it an ideal succulent for shaping into intricate bonsai designs. 

The elephant bush flowers are small, star-shaped, and usually a light pink or lavender color. While the flowers are not the main attraction of this elephant bush succulent, they can add a touch of beauty when they bloom during the spring to late summer.

This African elephant bush is relatively easy to propagate. It can be grown from stem cuttings, which should be allowed to dry for a day or two before being planted in well-draining soil. The cuttings usually root quickly and can be grown into new, young plants.

The elephant bush Portulacaria afra comes in various varieties, including a slow-growing variegated form Portulacaria afra variegata; a trailing growth bush Portulacaria afra prostrata; and a midstripe rainbow bush Portulacaria afra medio-picta, offers a diverse range of beauty in green spaces.

Additionally, the Portulacaria afra Elephant Bush is friendly to both humans and to dogs and cats. This makes it a great choice for households with curious pets or small children.

Watering Needs 

Like other drought-tolerant jade plants, your elephant bush succulent prefers a watering routine that allows the soil to dry out between waterings. Overwatering can harm the elephant bush plant and cause root rot.

In the summer, during the growing season, you should water elephant bush succulents once or twice a month when the soil is dry. A good rule of thumb is to water this elephant plant when the top 1-2 inches of soil feel dry to the touch. In the winter, during the dormant period,  you probably do not need to water them at all. 

Remember, it's always better to underwater than to overwater the elephant bush plant. This resilient Portulacaria afra plant can tolerate drought conditions better than excessive moisture. So, keep an eye on the soil moisture and adjust your watering schedule accordingly.

Light Requirements  

When growing the elephant bush indoors, it thrives in bright, indirect light. Place your elephant bush plant near a window where it can receive plenty of natural bright light, but make sure to avoid direct sunlight, especially during the hottest parts of the day. If you notice the leaves turning yellow or getting scorched, it's a sign that the Portulacaria afra elephant bush is receiving too much direct sunlight. So, finding that sweet spot of bright, indirect light is key to keeping your elephant bush succulent plant happy indoors.

If you decide to grow your elephant bush outdoors, it loves basking in the full sun. Although partial shade in the afternoon is frequently preferred, these plants need at least six hours of strong light each day to survive. This is true, especially in hotter climates where the plant may become stressed by the afternoon sun's intense heat. Your succulents should not be placed in any areas that receive continuous, direct sunlight, as this could lead to burned foliage.

Remember, the elephant bush is a versatile succulent plant and can adapt to different light conditions. Just keep in mind that it prefers bright, indirect light indoors and full sun to partial shade outdoors.

Optimal Soil & Fertilizer Needs 

Elephant succulents are very airy, porous, nutrient-rich well-drained soil with a pH of 5.5- 6.5; succulents require fast-draining soil that dries completely between waterings. Your soil must have a sandy texture and a low water-holding capacity, just like desert soil.  Soggy, consistently moist soil can damage your elephant bush succulent and contribute to bacterial and fungal rot. In addition, because of a lack of oxygen, soggy soil substitutes air pockets with water, resulting in an anaerobic environment that can kill your Portulacaria afra. 

As an alternative, you can create your own potting mix by combining equal portions of perlite, coarse sand, and good natural potting soil. Ideally, you want to use our specialized succulent potting mix that contains 5 natural substrates to promote the development of a strong root system that helps your African elephant bush plant to thrive.   

When it comes to fertilizing your elephant bush plant, it only needs a small amount of fertilizer applied once a year in spring. These succulents prefer a fertilizer with lower doses of NPK, with a maximum ratio of 5-10-5 that is higher in phosphorus than nitrogen.

Hardiness Zones & More 

When it comes to growing the Elephant Bush plant indoors, the Elephant Bush prefers a cozy environment with temperatures between 65°F and 75°F. It can tolerate slightly cooler temperatures, but it's best to avoid extreme cold or frost. If you notice the leaves starting to shrivel or the tips turning brown, it may be a sign that the air is too dry. You can increase humidity by placing a tray of water near the plant or using a humidifier.

If you are living in USDA zones 9-11, you can grow your Elephant Bush plant outdoors year-round. These zones have mild temperatures and are less prone to frost.  In cooler zones, it can be kept outdoors during the summer and brought in as the temperature drops. Elephant Bush can handle average to slightly higher humidity levels outdoors. Just make sure to provide well-draining soil to prevent waterlogged conditions, as excessive moisture can lead to root rot.

Don't worry if your succulents become too hot; they can tolerate triple-digit temperatures in the summer and prefer constant temperatures above 70 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Final Thoughts

Overall, the Elephant Bush (Portulacaria afra) is a fantastic succulent plant to have. It's not only visually appealing with its small, succulent-like leaves, but it's also quite easy to care for. Whether you choose to keep it indoors or grow it outdoors, the Elephant Bush is quite adaptable. It can tolerate a range of temperatures between 65°F and 75°F and higher humidity levels, making it a great choice for different climates. Just remember to provide your elephant bush plant with the right amount of sunlight, as it thrives in bright, indirect light. It's a great choice for both beginner and experienced plant enthusiasts alike.

Most often it is grown as a seasonal accent plant or houseplant. Don't miss out on this opportunity to add something truly exceptional to your garden. Order your very own elephant bush - Portulacaria afra today! 

Bloom Season Spring, summer
Botanical Name Portulacaria afra
Common Name Elephant Bush
Dormancy Winter
Family Didiereaceae
Flower Color Pink, white
Genus Portulacaria
Growth Habit Trailing, hanging
Growth Rate Fast
Hardiness Zone 9, 10, 11
Mature Size 3 ft. tall (indoors), 20 ft. tall (Outdoors)
Native Area South Africa
Plant Type Perennial succulent
Propagation By stem cuttings, divisions
Resistance Drought tolerant, heat resistant, pest resistance, deer resistant
Soil PH 6.5, Acidic, Neutral
Soil Type specialized succulent potting mix
Special Features Star shaped showy flowers
Sun Exposure Full sun, partial shade
Toxicity Safe for humans, friendly to dogs, friendly to cats
Watering Needs Low

Pests & Common Problems of Portulacaria afra

Generally speaking, the elephant bush is a low-maintenance outdoor plant with few challenges. Mealybugs and scale insects are the most common pests, and they can cause white patches or brown spots on the body, respectively. Don't be worried if you find any of these pests on your elephant bush succulent plant. They can be eliminated with ease. 

For mealybugs: To get rid of them, simply dab the insects with a cotton swab dipped in 70% isopropyl rubbing alcohol. Until they are gone, repeat this procedure every week.  

For scale insects: Using a pair of heavy gloves, you can remove scale insects from the plant. 

The most common problems are:  

Root rot: Overwatering or too much moisture in the soil may be the cause of rot. If the plant exhibits stem or root rot, you must cut off the affected areas and let the plant fully dry out before replanting.  

Leggy Growth: If you start noticing that your plant is growing leggy, simply move it to a bright area because this is a sign that there isn't enough light. 

FAQs - Elephant Bush Plant

Is Portulacaria afra a houseplant? 

Portulacaria afra, commonly known as the 'elephant bush' or 'dwarf jade plant', is a popular indoor plant due to its easy care and attractive appearance. It is a succulent that can tolerate low light and infrequent watering, making it a great choice for beginners or those with busy schedules. 

Is the Portulacaria afra elephant bush a money plant?

One of the common houseplants is the African native 'Portulacaria Afra'. It is also known as the Good Luck Jade Plant, Lucky Plant, Money Tree, and Friendship Tree and is thought to be a symbol of good fortune.

Does Elephant Bush need direct sunlight?

The elephant bush loves basking in the sunlight. It thrives in bright, indirect light, but it can also tolerate some direct sunlight. However, it's important to be cautious with intense, scorching sunlight, especially during the hottest part of the day. If you're keeping it indoors, placing it near a sunny window where it can receive a few hours of indirect sunlight each day is ideal. Outdoors, providing it with partial shade or dappled sunlight can help protect it from getting sunburned. So, a good balance of sunlight is key for the elephant bush's overall health and growth.

Does the elephant bush grow fast?

Yes, elephant bush is known for its relatively fast growth rate. It can quickly establish itself and develop into a full-sized plant between 6 inches and 20 feet tall within a few years. It takes a maximum of 6 weeks to produce roots. Additionally, its ability to tolerate different light conditions and low maintenance requirements contribute to its rapid growth.

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Elephant Bush - Portulacaria afra

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Regular price$ 48.29
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Shipping calculated at checkout.

Size
Height: 16"-20"
Diameter:

Please note: All Landscape Ready plants that are in a 6-inch pot or larger WILL NOT come with a pot as it will be shipped bare root.

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  • Inventory on the way

Please note: Our large plants are many years old, and as a result, they might have minor scaring but will arrive 100% healthy and looking great.

Please note: Our large plants are shipped bare root. They are also many years old, and as a result, they might have minor scaring but will arrive healthy and looking great.

If you live in a cold climate and are expecting temperatures below 40 degrees within the next five days after placing your order, we highly recommend adding a heat pack to your order. If you do not order a heat pack, we do not send one with your order.

BUY HEAT PACKS HERE

**FREE HEAT PACK WITH ORDERS OVER $50 before taxes and shipping- BY REQUEST ONLY, PLEASE MAKE A NOTE ON YOUR ORDER.

To prevent plants from freezing while in transit, orders placed for areas with extreme severe freezing temperatures will be held for shipment until it is safe to ship.

Plants that are in 3.5" pots and smaller will be shipped in its pot to prevent any damage to the roots. Any plant that is 6" and larger WILL NOT come with a pot as it will be shipped bare root.

Depending on the species and season, you will receive a very similar plant to the one in the picture. It may or may not be blooming at the time of your purchase.

We ship via USPS Priority Mail, and we calculate the shipping cost based on the weight and volume of your purchase. Care instructions are included in every package you order. Please allow us up to 3 business days to process your order. Depending on your location, we will ship the plants on a certain day to avoid transit time during weekends or holidays. If you wish to receive your order on a specific date, or have special instructions, please add a note on your order. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact us at any time.

  • Description
  • Key Plant Features

Introducing the Elephant Bush, also known as Portulacaria afra, a fascinating and popular succulent garden plant native to South Africa. It belongs to the Portulacaceae family and is known for its unique appearance and easy-care requirements.

The elephant bush succulent gets its name from its resemblance to the foliage of an elephant's trunk. It is also commonly referred to as the dwarf jade plant, small leaf jade, miniature jade, elephant food, or the Spekboom. The name "Dwarf Jade Plant" comes from its small, jade-like leaves, while "Spekboom" is an Afrikaans term meaning "bacon tree" due to the plant's edible leaves that reportedly taste like bacon.

The elephant bush plant features small, round, and fleshy pale green leaves that store water, allowing your elephant bush plant to withstand drought conditions. The trailing stems of the elephant bush plants are thick and red-hued, which gives them a unique and appealing appearance in hanging baskets.

When grown as a houseplant, the elephant bush typically reaches a height of 1 to 3 feet. However, if planted outdoors in its native habitat, your Portulacaria afra elephant bush can grow much larger, reaching heights of up to 20 feet. The elephant bush makes for an excellent bonsai due to its unique growth pattern and ability to withstand pruning. Its thick, fleshy leaves and sturdy branches give it a robust appearance, making it an ideal succulent for shaping into intricate bonsai designs. 

The elephant bush flowers are small, star-shaped, and usually a light pink or lavender color. While the flowers are not the main attraction of this elephant bush succulent, they can add a touch of beauty when they bloom during the spring to late summer.

This African elephant bush is relatively easy to propagate. It can be grown from stem cuttings, which should be allowed to dry for a day or two before being planted in well-draining soil. The cuttings usually root quickly and can be grown into new, young plants.

The elephant bush Portulacaria afra comes in various varieties, including a slow-growing variegated form Portulacaria afra variegata; a trailing growth bush Portulacaria afra prostrata; and a midstripe rainbow bush Portulacaria afra medio-picta, offers a diverse range of beauty in green spaces.

Additionally, the Portulacaria afra Elephant Bush is friendly to both humans and to dogs and cats. This makes it a great choice for households with curious pets or small children.

Watering Needs 

Like other drought-tolerant jade plants, your elephant bush succulent prefers a watering routine that allows the soil to dry out between waterings. Overwatering can harm the elephant bush plant and cause root rot.

In the summer, during the growing season, you should water elephant bush succulents once or twice a month when the soil is dry. A good rule of thumb is to water this elephant plant when the top 1-2 inches of soil feel dry to the touch. In the winter, during the dormant period,  you probably do not need to water them at all. 

Remember, it's always better to underwater than to overwater the elephant bush plant. This resilient Portulacaria afra plant can tolerate drought conditions better than excessive moisture. So, keep an eye on the soil moisture and adjust your watering schedule accordingly.

Light Requirements  

When growing the elephant bush indoors, it thrives in bright, indirect light. Place your elephant bush plant near a window where it can receive plenty of natural bright light, but make sure to avoid direct sunlight, especially during the hottest parts of the day. If you notice the leaves turning yellow or getting scorched, it's a sign that the Portulacaria afra elephant bush is receiving too much direct sunlight. So, finding that sweet spot of bright, indirect light is key to keeping your elephant bush succulent plant happy indoors.

If you decide to grow your elephant bush outdoors, it loves basking in the full sun. Although partial shade in the afternoon is frequently preferred, these plants need at least six hours of strong light each day to survive. This is true, especially in hotter climates where the plant may become stressed by the afternoon sun's intense heat. Your succulents should not be placed in any areas that receive continuous, direct sunlight, as this could lead to burned foliage.

Remember, the elephant bush is a versatile succulent plant and can adapt to different light conditions. Just keep in mind that it prefers bright, indirect light indoors and full sun to partial shade outdoors.

Optimal Soil & Fertilizer Needs 

Elephant succulents are very airy, porous, nutrient-rich well-drained soil with a pH of 5.5- 6.5; succulents require fast-draining soil that dries completely between waterings. Your soil must have a sandy texture and a low water-holding capacity, just like desert soil.  Soggy, consistently moist soil can damage your elephant bush succulent and contribute to bacterial and fungal rot. In addition, because of a lack of oxygen, soggy soil substitutes air pockets with water, resulting in an anaerobic environment that can kill your Portulacaria afra. 

As an alternative, you can create your own potting mix by combining equal portions of perlite, coarse sand, and good natural potting soil. Ideally, you want to use our specialized succulent potting mix that contains 5 natural substrates to promote the development of a strong root system that helps your African elephant bush plant to thrive.   

When it comes to fertilizing your elephant bush plant, it only needs a small amount of fertilizer applied once a year in spring. These succulents prefer a fertilizer with lower doses of NPK, with a maximum ratio of 5-10-5 that is higher in phosphorus than nitrogen.

Hardiness Zones & More 

When it comes to growing the Elephant Bush plant indoors, the Elephant Bush prefers a cozy environment with temperatures between 65°F and 75°F. It can tolerate slightly cooler temperatures, but it's best to avoid extreme cold or frost. If you notice the leaves starting to shrivel or the tips turning brown, it may be a sign that the air is too dry. You can increase humidity by placing a tray of water near the plant or using a humidifier.

If you are living in USDA zones 9-11, you can grow your Elephant Bush plant outdoors year-round. These zones have mild temperatures and are less prone to frost.  In cooler zones, it can be kept outdoors during the summer and brought in as the temperature drops. Elephant Bush can handle average to slightly higher humidity levels outdoors. Just make sure to provide well-draining soil to prevent waterlogged conditions, as excessive moisture can lead to root rot.

Don't worry if your succulents become too hot; they can tolerate triple-digit temperatures in the summer and prefer constant temperatures above 70 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Final Thoughts

Overall, the Elephant Bush (Portulacaria afra) is a fantastic succulent plant to have. It's not only visually appealing with its small, succulent-like leaves, but it's also quite easy to care for. Whether you choose to keep it indoors or grow it outdoors, the Elephant Bush is quite adaptable. It can tolerate a range of temperatures between 65°F and 75°F and higher humidity levels, making it a great choice for different climates. Just remember to provide your elephant bush plant with the right amount of sunlight, as it thrives in bright, indirect light. It's a great choice for both beginner and experienced plant enthusiasts alike.

Most often it is grown as a seasonal accent plant or houseplant. Don't miss out on this opportunity to add something truly exceptional to your garden. Order your very own elephant bush - Portulacaria afra today! 

Bloom Season Spring, summer
Botanical Name Portulacaria afra
Common Name Elephant Bush
Dormancy Winter
Family Didiereaceae
Flower Color Pink, white
Genus Portulacaria
Growth Habit Trailing, hanging
Growth Rate Fast
Hardiness Zone 9, 10, 11
Mature Size 3 ft. tall (indoors), 20 ft. tall (Outdoors)
Native Area South Africa
Plant Type Perennial succulent
Propagation By stem cuttings, divisions
Resistance Drought tolerant, heat resistant, pest resistance, deer resistant
Soil PH 6.5, Acidic, Neutral
Soil Type specialized succulent potting mix
Special Features Star shaped showy flowers
Sun Exposure Full sun, partial shade
Toxicity Safe for humans, friendly to dogs, friendly to cats
Watering Needs Low

Pests & Common Problems of Portulacaria afra

Generally speaking, the elephant bush is a low-maintenance outdoor plant with few challenges. Mealybugs and scale insects are the most common pests, and they can cause white patches or brown spots on the body, respectively. Don't be worried if you find any of these pests on your elephant bush succulent plant. They can be eliminated with ease. 

For mealybugs: To get rid of them, simply dab the insects with a cotton swab dipped in 70% isopropyl rubbing alcohol. Until they are gone, repeat this procedure every week.  

For scale insects: Using a pair of heavy gloves, you can remove scale insects from the plant. 

The most common problems are:  

Root rot: Overwatering or too much moisture in the soil may be the cause of rot. If the plant exhibits stem or root rot, you must cut off the affected areas and let the plant fully dry out before replanting.  

Leggy Growth: If you start noticing that your plant is growing leggy, simply move it to a bright area because this is a sign that there isn't enough light. 

FAQs - Elephant Bush Plant

Is Portulacaria afra a houseplant? 

Portulacaria afra, commonly known as the 'elephant bush' or 'dwarf jade plant', is a popular indoor plant due to its easy care and attractive appearance. It is a succulent that can tolerate low light and infrequent watering, making it a great choice for beginners or those with busy schedules. 

Is the Portulacaria afra elephant bush a money plant?

One of the common houseplants is the African native 'Portulacaria Afra'. It is also known as the Good Luck Jade Plant, Lucky Plant, Money Tree, and Friendship Tree and is thought to be a symbol of good fortune.

Does Elephant Bush need direct sunlight?

The elephant bush loves basking in the sunlight. It thrives in bright, indirect light, but it can also tolerate some direct sunlight. However, it's important to be cautious with intense, scorching sunlight, especially during the hottest part of the day. If you're keeping it indoors, placing it near a sunny window where it can receive a few hours of indirect sunlight each day is ideal. Outdoors, providing it with partial shade or dappled sunlight can help protect it from getting sunburned. So, a good balance of sunlight is key for the elephant bush's overall health and growth.

Does the elephant bush grow fast?

Yes, elephant bush is known for its relatively fast growth rate. It can quickly establish itself and develop into a full-sized plant between 6 inches and 20 feet tall within a few years. It takes a maximum of 6 weeks to produce roots. Additionally, its ability to tolerate different light conditions and low maintenance requirements contribute to its rapid growth.

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