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Portulacaria afra (Elephant Bush)

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Scientific Name

Portulacaria afra Jacq.

Common Names

Elephant Bush, Elephant Food, Elephant's Food, Elephant Plant, Miniature Jade, Dwarf Jade, Dwarf Jade Plant, Small Leaf Jade, Porkbush, Spekboom

Synonyms

Crassula portulacaria

Scientific Classification

Family: Portulacaceae
Subfamily: Portulacarioideae
Genus: Portulacaria

Description

Portulacaria afra is a soft-wooded, succulent shrub or small tree, usually up to 15 feet (4.5 m) tall, that spread horizontally. Similar in appearance to Crassula ovata, it has red stems and small, round, succulent leaves up to 0.5 inch (1.3 cm) long and up to 0.4 inch (1 cm) wide. Flowers are lavender-pink, star-shaped and appear in small clusters.

Hardiness

USDA hardiness zones 9b to 11b: from 25 °F (−3.9 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).

How to Grow and Care

Choose a location with indirect sunlight when growing Elephant Bush indoors. Overly bright sunlight can char the leaves and cause them to drop off. Ensure that the container you choose has wide drainage holes. The most common mistake made in succulent plants is watering. They are drought tolerant but do require watering from spring to fall. In winter the plants are dormant and you may suspend watering. Elephant Bush plants in the home interior should not have consistently wet feet. Make sure the pot drains well. Do not leave water in the saucer of the pot. Fertilize in late winter to early spring with an indoor plant fertilizer diluted by half.

Like most succulents, Elephant Bush is easy to reproduce from cuttings. Take cuttings in spring or summer for the best results. Let the cutting dry out and callous for a couple of days and then plant the cutting in damp gritty soil in a small pot.

Learn more at How to Grow and Care for an Elephant Bush (Portulacaria afra).

Origin

Portulacaria afra is native to South Africa (Cape Province, KwaZulu-Natal, Transvaal) and Swaziland.

Forms and Cultivars

Links

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