Portulacaria Afra “Elephant Bush” + How to Care Elephant Bush Succulent Plants

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What is Portulacaria Care ’Elephant Bush’?

Have you ever wondered even in quarantine that how many species are there in the entire globe? So let me break down this riddle for you as there are 18 million species around the whole world. Similarly, succulents have uncountable families and species, which means reading about plants can be a leisure time activity in quarantine.

So as a matter of fact, there is a well known and articulate type of succulent i.e., PORTULACARIA AFRA, which is a bushy succulent shrub belonging to the Didiereaceae family. In its native habitat in the eastern part of South Africa and the Limpopo Province from the Eastern Cape northward, it’s found growing in dry, rocky slopes.

Portulacaria Afra “Elephant Bush” is a lengthy, bushing succulent with woody, cozy stems that could sustain to incredibly giant heights when given the adequate time, nutrients, and growing conditions. It can also be used in hanging baskets to add spiller. This plant is commonly known as:

  • Elephant Bush
  • Dwarf Jade Plant
  • Porkbush
  • Spekboom
  • Elephant succulent

Elephant Bush Plant Care

Size and Growth

Portulacaria afra plant prefers growing in dry, rocky slopes and outcrops.

The reddish-brown stems sustain upward reaching up to be 8’ to 15’ feet tall.

However, it is the most  preferable to remain a smaller plant growing only a few feet tall.

This plant is exceptionally hard to grow in USDA zones 9-11.

Flowers and Fragrance

The elephant bush succulent is characterized by a brownish-red stem sprouting with tiny, glossy green leaves.

It is rare for Elephant Portulacaria to bloom in cultivation.

However, when these elephant bush acquire the appropriate sustaining conditions, they will establish flowers in clusters and in shades of white, pink or purple.

Illumination and Temperature

Elephant bush portulacaria afra requires abundance of bright light and a warm environment to sustain and thrive.

Plant in full sun or partial shade.

However, if plants are moved from indoors to direct exposure of sunlight then there will no chance that the leaves will not burn and shed.

This is why filtered or partially shaded illuminated light is ideal.

Rainbow Elephant Bush could handle mild frost and freezy temperatures to 25° degrees Fahrenheit for a tiny period of time.

If once live in a climate with freezing winter temperatures, it is best to sustain Afra in a container so the plant can move indoors during the colder months.

Transplanting

Trailing Elephant bush can sustain with very tiny tiniest soil. Their thick stems and succulents leaves make the plants strapping.

When planting plants may need a rock or stake to assist in stabilizing them until these plants become well established.

This plant needs well-draining potting mix such as a cactus mix or sandy soil.

Adding additional perlite for extra drainage also assists and pots are needed to have drainage holes.

It is utterly prohibited to let  the soil get waterlogged as overwatering easily can damage the plant.

Repot every two years or so to ensure the plant is getting sufficient soil nutrients.

Ensure that the potting mix in the new container is fresh so the plant’s nutrient supply is replenished accordingly.

Disease

This plant is susceptible to mealy bugs that tend to look quite tiny apparently and there are cottony spots  present on the green leaves.

Such a time has arrived where planter has to get rid of these by wiping it down with a cotton swab dipped in alcohol.

Other pests to look out for are spider mites and whitefly.

Other problems with Elephant Bush include leaf dropping and leaf yellowing.

The former is caused by over or under watering.

It is highly recommended to Keep track on the soil to ensure that you are not letting your plant to stand in water.

Also, make sure that you don’t completely dry out the soil so that the plant is left starving for moisture.

Edible Uses

Pleasantly acid, they are used to add a tart flavor to mixed salads

How to Propagate Portulacaria afra “Elephant Bush”

Trimming:

To sustain  Portulacaria afra “Elephant Bush” from pollarding, usage of a sterile, spike knife or pair of scissors are needed. Now remove a stem from the paramount plant and never prohibit it to callous for optimum days as feasible before placing on well-draining soil. Water whenever the soil has dried out utterly.

Variations

Portulacaria Afra also comes in miniature and variegated varieties. There are other varieties of the animal bush as well, some of them are below

  • ‘Aurea’ is a compact form with the single leaves a bright yellow in full sun.
  • ‘Cork Bark,’ selected by a bonsai practitioner, is prized for bonsai because of its fissured, corky bark.

‘Foliis variegatus’ is a slow growing variegated form well suited to container culture.

  • ‘Limpopo’ has much larger leaves. It is the natural form (P. Afra form macrophylla) from the far north of the species’ range.
  • ‘Medio-picta’ is a variegated type with green leaves with whitish markings spreading from the center and exceptionally bright red stems.
  • ‘Prostrata’ or ‘Low Form’ are low-growing types that work well as a ground cover.
  • ‘Variegata’ has a more compact, upright form with white or cream edged, pale green leaves with pink highlights that does not tolerate bright sun as much as the species.

Usage

Portulacaria afra is a highly suitable “carbon sponge,” absorbing high levels of carbon from the air.

As it is suggested by the name “Elephant Food,” this succulent is eaten by elephants but feeds goats and tortoises as well. It is also widely used in Southern African cuisine, added to salads, soups, and stews to add a sour flavor.

Agroforestry Uses:

The plant can be used as a soil binder to prevent erosion

The plant can be used as a screen or a clipped hedge

At least one form of the plant can be grown as a prostrate, low-growing ground cover

Pairs Well With

Graptosedum ‘California Sunset’

Where to Plant

Portulacaria Afra is not freezing hard, so if you live in a zone that becomes colder than 30° F (1.7° C), it is best to plant this succulent in a container that can be brought indoors. It does well in brimful to partial exposure of the sun—plant in an area of your garden that gets 6 hours of sunlight exposure a day.

If planting indoors and then place it in a sunny window. This succulent tends to stretch briskly if not given sufficient exposure to sunlight. However, the stretching is not as noticeable as other succulents.

How to Look After Elephant Bush

Portulacaria care possesses symmetrical attribution to other succulent plants. If planted outdoors in warm and hot climates, dig in 3 inches of sand or gritty material foe the provision of well-drained soil. Watch for pests like whitefly, spider mites, and mealybugs. The most typical miscalculation made in succulent plants is watering. They are drought tolerant but do need watering from April to October. In winter, the plants are dormant, and you may postpone watering. Elephant bush succulents in the home interior should not have persistently wet feet. Make sure the pot drains well and doesn’t leave a saucer with water sitting under the container. Fertilize in late winter to new spring with an indoor plant fertilizer diluted by half.

Propagation of Elephant Bush Succulents

 Likewise, most succulents, elephant bush is capable of reproducing from cuttings briskly—select cuttings in spring or summer for incredible results. Make sure to cut the dry out and callous for a couple of days and then plant the cutting in damp gritty soil in a small pot. Place the cutting in a moderately lit area where temperatures are at least 65 F (18 C). Keep the soil mildly moist, and in a few weeks, the cutting will root, and you will have a new elephant bush succulent to share with a friend or add to your collection and selection.

Care for an Elephant Bush after Repotting

They can be hunged in the spot near the front door, where different plants are already growing. They can be kept in early spring, which means one does not has to panic about these newly unique planted fat succulent burning.

One is supposed to have watered the plant in its pot a few days before the repotting. As with the sufficient succulents one transplants, he/she should let the Elephant Bush settle in for about a week before giving it a thorough watering. 

Evaluation

One is now utterly free to find anything about elephant bush from this article. This article ranges from types, usage, trimming procedure of elephant bush to size, repotting, and temperature requirement, which shows that this article is all that is needed by the planter of elephant bush.

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