Elephant Bush – Portulacaria Afra

Elephant Bush is opulent and larger than life. Also known as the Portulacaria Afra, this is a succulent that grows into a bush. It is a part of the Didiereaceae family. Its unique feature is in its ability to grow to amazing heights. It has stems that appear woody in nature with small leaves all along with them. These stems are also bendy, making these plants ideal for using in hanging baskets.

Lots of space is needed for this succulent, especially if you want it to achieve its maximum growth. It can grow up to 12ft tall. Wondering how this succulent got the name Elephant Bush? It had little to do with its ability to reach such great heights. In its native South Africa, this plant has been food for elephants. In the wild, it can exceed the height of 12ft, with some being recorded as reaching even 20ft. It is found in places that are rocky and dry, on slopes.

Not to worry, when growing it indoors, it only grows a few feet tall. It is also non-toxic to people and animals. Since it is flexible in look and feel, being able to fit a hanging basket, it is an ideal ornamental plant.

Elephant Bush - Portulacaria Afra
One of The Most Famous Indoor Succulent @dwarfjadebonsai

Features of The Elephant Bush

The main features of the Elephant Bush are the stems and the leaves. The stems are dark brown in color, with the leaves being small and green.

In the wild, this plant blooms with flowers in clusters. These are normally a range of colors, including white, purple and pink. However, when cultivated, it is exceptionally rare for Elephant Bush to flower. The only way to achieve this result is to ensure that the conditions are exactly the same as its native habitat.

Elephant Bush plants are lovers of light, requiring some extra thought if they are to be kept indoors. They need to be kept close to the windows so that they can benefit from both light and warmth. This is best achieved with a south-facing window where it can get at least six hours of light each day.

When keeping this plant, it is advised that you leave it in one location. It can get damaged when moving from indoors to outdoors. This is because of exposure to direct sunlight. When it is not used to this exposure, the leaves can quickly burn outdoors. This plant is able to survive in cold temperatures since it is tolerant to frost. However, in the event of snow, you may want to move your plant indoors.

Make sure you also check out “Why Succulents Grow Tall and What to Do About it” for more info on seeing why certain succulents grow this way.

Elephant Bush - Portulacaria Afra
Characteristics of The Elephant Bush @dwarfjadebonsai

Propagating Your Elephant Bush Succulents

To grow your own Elephant Bush, propagation can give excellent results. Starting out in the spring or early summer will ensure excellent results.

All you need to do is plant a cutting that has been dried out and calloused. The soil should be moist. Once planted, in a few weeks, a new Elephant Bush will have taken root.

The weather where you are propagating will influence how you water your plant. If the area is humid, then use minimal water. If the plant is not exposed to constant and consistent sunlight, then you can use less water as well. Also, be aware of rain so that if it does rain while you are propagating, you resist watering your plant as this could affect the roots causing rot.

Want more info on root rot on succulents? Check out our piece “What is Root Rot & How Do You Fix it?” and learn techniques on how to fix this problem.

Quick Tips to a Thriving Elephant Bush

Keeping your Elephant Bush in the best possible health requires the following:

  • Consistent exposure to sunlight, with partial shade for protection
  • Use a stake to help keep the plant stable as it grows bigger
  • Sandy soil with extra perlite will help elevate drainage
  • Potted Elephant Bush should be repotted every two years

If you are starting out with caring for succulents, then this is an ideal plant for you to keep. It requires minimal care and can add character to a succulent garden, both indoors and outdoors.

Elephant Bush - Portulacaria Afra
Care For Your Elephant @dwarfjadebonsai

Thank you for reading! Enjoyed learning about the Elephant Bush succulent? If so, you’ll really enjoy our ebook about “The Most Common Issues Amongst Succulent Growers“. With this ebook you’ll find yourself more detailed answers that’ll help your succulent grow even better! With thousands of succulent lovers enjoying our ebooks, you don’t want to miss out on what works the best to grow your succulents. 

Be sure to also check out similar articles on rare succulents like the Elephant Bush to spark up your interest. Check out “Crassula perforata – String of buttons” or even “Pachyphytum Oviferum — Moonstones“.

Happy Planting! 🌵

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