Portulacaria Afra (The Elephant Bush Succulent)

Portulacaria afra Image

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

Lots of space is needed for the portulacaria afra 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’s leaves have 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 to benefit from light and warmth. This is best achieved with a south-facing window where it can get at least six hours of light daily.

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

Elephant Bush Propagation

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

So, how to propagate elephant bush? 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 and the leaves bloom.

The weather where you are propagating will influence how you water your plant. If the area is humid, then use minimal water. You can also use less water if the plant is not exposed to constant and consistent sunlight. Also, be aware of rain so that if it does rain while you are propagating, you resist watering your plant, which 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 to fix this problem.

Elephant Bush Care

How to care for elephant bush? Just keep 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 with caring for succulents, this is an ideal plant for you to keep. It requires minimal care and can add character to a succulent indoor and outdoor garden.


Elephant Bush - Portulacaria Afra
Care For Your Elephant @dwarfjadebonsai

FAQs About Elephant Bush

1. How often to water elephant bush?

Since the elephant bush is a winter grower, we should water it more often in Spring and summer. The frequency can be this simple: once a week in summer and spring, once every 2 weeks in autumn and winter.

2. Why are my elephant bush leaves falling off?

The elephant bush requires full sunlight with stable humidity and temperature. If any of these conditions change, the elephant bush will start dropping leaves.

3. Is elephant bush toxic to cats?

No, the elephant bush plant is safe for pets. Feel free to have a pot of this plant in your house and never have to worry about your pets accidentally eating the leaves ๐Ÿ™‚

Final Words

The Elephant bush plant or Portulacaria afra plant is a fascinating succulent. I get way too excited to get this plant featured on my blog. Let me know if you want to know anything else about this plant!

Happy Planting!

I expect every single visitor to Succulent City to extend their visit here. My blog always has more reads about interesting succulent plants and helpful guides. See my suggestions below:

Succulent City chief editor


Succulent City

Hey everyone! Welcome to Succulent City! We are all about succulents, cacti, and a bit about air plants. Ten years back, in 2013, we began the journey with succulents. It started as a simple hobby, crafting and selling charming succulent-themed pins and decorations. But as time passed, our fascination with these remarkable plants grew, and we gained extensive knowledge about them. Therefore, Succulent City is the blog as you see it is now. Enjoy your visit and happly planting!

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Posted in Succulents