Portulacaria afra, commonly known as Elephant Bush, is a popular succulent native to South Africa. It grows up 3 feet (90 cm) tall with a spread of 4 feet (1.2 m). Elephant Bush adapts to either full sun or shade, is not particular about the pH, but does require well-drained soil. This succulent propagates best from stem cuttings taken in spring or summer.
1. Take a tip cutting, 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm) long, of your Elephant Bush with a clean, sterilized razor blade. Pruning shears, or scissors can bruise the stem, causing delayed healing.
2. Remove the bottom leaves from the stem cutting, leaving a 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 cm) section of the stem bare.
3. Dip the bottom 2 inches (5 cm) of the stem of the cutting in rooting compound. Tap the stem against the container to remove excess powder. Many prefer to pour the rooting powder into a paper cup and then dispose of the excess powder and cup together. This prevents contaminating the container of rooting powder.
4. Place the cutting in a warm, well-ventilated area to heal and form a callous. Healing time varies but typically ranges from a few days to a week for Elephant Bush.
5. Mix four parts sand or perlite with one part potting soil and fill a pot 4 inches (10 cm) in diameter with the mixture. Firm the soil down with your hands to level the surface. This creates soil that drains well and provides good aeration for your cuttings.
6. Insert the stem of the cutting into the mixture to a depth of 2 inches (5 cm). Firm the soil around the stem with your hands to secure it in the soil.
7. Add a 1/4 to 1/2 inch (0.6 to 1.2 cm) layer of gravel over the top of the pot to conserve water and prevent soil from spilling over the edges when watering.
8. Water to moisten the soil. Although Elephant Bush does not typically require frequent watering, it needs even moisture for young roots to grow.
9. Place your cutting in a sunny, warm, well-ventilated area. Move your Elephant Bush to its permanent location once roots have formed, and the plant shows new growth.
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