Portulacaria afra f. variegata
Accepted Scientific Name
Portulacaria afra Jacq.
Rainbow Bush, Variegated Elephant Bush, Variegated Elephant Shrub, Variegated Elephant Food
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 (3 m) tall. The stems become interwoven as the plant ages. Leaves are smooth, obovate, and up to 0.8 inch (2 cm) long. Flowers are small, star-shaped, lavender-pink, and appear in small clusters.
USDA hardiness zones 10a to 11b: from 30 °F (−1.1 °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 and does not leave a saucer with water sitting under the container. 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.
Portulacaria afra f. variegata is a variegated form of Portulacaria afra.
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