Portulacaria afra (known as elephant bush, dwarf jade plant, porkbush and spekboom in Afrikaans) is a small-leaved succulent plant found in South Africa.
These succulents commonly have a reddish stem and leaves that are green, but also a variegated cultivar is often seen in cultivation. They are simple to care for and make easy houseplants for a sunny location. In frost-free regions they may be used in outdoor landscaping.
Portulacaria afra “Elephant Bush” is a large, bushing succulent with woody stems that can grow to incredible heights when given the proper time, nutrients, and growing conditions. It can also be used in hanging baskets to add “spiller.”
- # Full sun to partial shade
- # Typical water needs for a succulent
- # Plant grows up to 12 ft (3.6 m) tall
- # Zone 10 (Minimum 30° F | 1.7° C)
- # Not cold hardy
- # Propagation by cuttings
- # Generally non-toxic to humans and animals
- # Summer Dormant
Variations Type of Portulacaria Afra
Portulacaria Afra F. Variegata (Rainbow Bush)
Scientific name Portulacaria Afra F Variegata with common names Rainbow Bush, Variegated Elephant Bush, Variegated Elephant Shrub, Variegated Elephant Food. Synonyms Portulacaria Afra ‘Tricolor’
Portulacaria Afra F Variegata is a slow-growing, much-branched succulent shrub with attractive, reddish-brown stems and glossy green leaves heavily variegated with cream. It grows up to 10 feet or 3 m tall.
The branches become interwoven as the plant ages. Leaves are smooth, obovate, and up to 0.8 inches (2 cm) long. Flowers are small, star-shaped, lavender pink and appear small clusters.
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Portulacaria Afra ‘Midstripe Rainbow Bush’
Scientific name Portulacaria Afra with common names Midstripe Rainbow Bush, synonyms Portulacaria ’Roulant’.
Portulacaria Afra ‘Medio-picta’ is slow in growing succulent shrub with attractive bright reddish-pink stems and small green leaves with broad white stripes down their middle.
The leaves are ovate, up to 0.5 inches (1.3 cm) long. They sometimes have little or no green. Flowers are pink color, star-shaped and appear in small clusters.
Portulacaria Afra (Elephant Bush)
Scientific name Portulacaria Afra Jacq, coomon names elephant bush, elephant food, elephant plant, miniature jade, dwarf jade, dwarf jade plant, small leaf jade, porkbush, spekboom.
Portulacaria Afra is asucculent shrub or small tree that spread horizontally with red stems and round, fleshy leaves. It usually grows up to 15 feet or 4.5 m tall. Leaves : 0.4 inches (1 cm) – 0.5 inches (1.3 cm). Flowers are lavender pink, star-shaped and appear in small clusters.
Distribution and Habitat
It is really prevalent in the east of South Africa (along with Eswatini). In this wet climate, it is reasonably uncommon, and often tends to favour clothes dryer rough outcrops and inclines.
It is additionally found in much denser numbers in the clothes dryer southern Cape. Right here it happens from the Little Karoo of the Western Cape, eastwards up till the thicket greenery of the Eastern Cape.
Spekboom is located most prolifically in the Albany thickets, a timberland ecoregion, which in your area is frequently called noorsveld, after the high number of succulent Euphorbia varieties, which are frequently called noors plants.
In these environments, Portulacaria afra is a source of food for multiple huge herbivores, such as the Black rhinoceros and the African elephant.
Although it is not the key food resource for these animals, it still makes up a considerable portion of their diet plan.
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Care & Propagation Portulacaria Afra Succulents
Portulacaria afra “Elephant Shrub”
Portulacaria afra is an excellent addition to your indoor or outside succulent garden. A prominent name for this succulent is “Mini Jade,” it is not associated to Crassula ovata. “Elephant Bush” additionally can be found in miniature and variegated types. The non-variegated type is much more warmth forgiving.
Portulacaria afra is a popular succulent for bonsai.
Expanding Elephant Shrub Houseplants
These succulents need well drained soil and an unglazed pot that will help excess dampness evaporate. The very best mix for this kind of plant is cactus soil or potting soil cut by half with pumice, vermiculite, or sand.
When growing elephant shrub inside your home, pick a place with indirect sunlight. Extremely bright sunshine can char the leaves and create them to hand over.
” Elephant Bush” has typical watering requirements for a succulent. It’s best to utilize the “saturate and completely dry” technique, and enable the soil to dry out entirely in between waterings. Portulacaria afra needs less constant watering during its inactivity period.
It can take care of more constant waterings than other succulents since the fallen leaves on Portulacaria afra are so slim.
Where to Plant
Portulacaria afra is not cold sturdy, so if you stay in a zone that obtains chillier than 30 ° F( 1.7 ° C ), it’s best to plant this succulent in a container that can be brought inside.
It does well completely to partial sunlight. Plant in an area of your garden that obtains 6 hours of sunlight a day.
If planting inside your home, position it in a bright window. This succulent often tends to extend easily if not offered adequate sunlight, nevertheless the stretching isn’t as visible as various other succulents.
How to Propagate Portulacaria afra “Elephant Shrub”
To grow Portulacaria afra “Elephant Bush” from cuttings, use a clean and sterile, sharp blade or set of scissors. Eliminate an originate from the primary plant, and allow it to unsympathetic for numerous days prior to putting on well-draining soil. Water whenever the soil has dried totally.
Portulacaria afra is an amazing “carbon sponge,” soaking up high levels of carbon from the air.
As the name “Elephant Food” recommends, this succulent is eaten by elephants, however feeds tortoises and goats. It is additionally used in Southern African cuisine, contributed to stews, soups, and salads to include a sour taste.
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Common Problems with Portulacaria Afra
One of the most typical factor for gone down fallen leaves in Portulacaria Afra is watering issues. Overwatering and underwatering can both cause fallen leaves to drop.
During a dry spell or when underwatered, the plant will certainly drop leaves to preserve its water storage.
It is a survival device. Together with dropped leaves, the fallen leaves would certainly also have actually a shriveled and level look. When touched, the fallen leaves will really feel flat and deflated as it continues to lose its water.
If you’ve maintained your plant on the completely dry side and have actually not sprinkled in a lengthy while and you notice these points happening, give the plant a good beverage of water and it need to perk up in a day or two.
You do not need to overcompensate by watering exceedingly. If the top inch of the soil feels completely dry prior to watering again, merely offer it a great beverage and wait about a week and see.
When a plant is overwatered, the leaves can likewise drop. Rather of a flat, shriveled look the leaves will be mushy and soft. The fallen leaves can also take on a lighter, extra transparent shade.
These are indications that you are overwatering your plant. Reduce on watering and allow the plant to dry. You may also need to move the plant to a brighter area to aid it dry faster.
Leaves Turning Yellow
The most typical reason is the soil may not be draining pipes quick enough and is too damp for the plant. If you think this to be the instance, get rid of the plant from its present soil and repot in an even more ideal potting mix that drains well.
Leaves can likewise turn yellow from lack of nutrients. The plant may be depleted of nutrients if your plant is in a container that has actually not been repotted in a while (even more than 2 years or so). Succulents as a whole are not hefty feeders.
But nutrients in the soil do go out and after years of watering and having the water drainpipe out of the pot, the nutrients will require to be replenished.
You can either select to repot now or feed with a plant food. When you repot you use fresh potting mix that would certainly have the needed nutrients for the plant.
You can feed the plant if you do not wish to repot at this time. You can utilize a well balanced houseplant plant food or one that is especially created for succulents and cacti. When feeding, weaken the fertilizer suggested in the package to half.
Fertilizing as soon as a month during the energetic growing period (spring time to very early autumn) ought to be sufficient. Here are some of the plant foods that I suggest. I have created some valuable information on soil and fertilizers for succulents.
How to Get Portulacaria Afra to Bloom
In all honesty, I have yet to see my Portulacaria Afra bloom. Getting these plants to bloom in cultivation is uncommon, and even rarer for them to bloom in containers or when kept inside. I have every one of mines expanding in containers outdoors. They generate collections of small white, purple or pink flowers.
To encourage blooms, ensure they are getting appropriate illumination. Along with appropriate lighting and the appropriate environmental problems, they additionally need to experience a wintering duration.
This can be attained by keeping them dry and cool in the winter months, with temperature levels simply over freezing between 35-44 ⁰ F (1.5-7 ⁰ C).
I maintain my plants outdoors all year and we get lots of rain throughout the winter season so the possibilities of mines growing will certainly be slim, but I haven’t given up hope yet since anything is possible.