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Portulacaria afra f. variegata (Rainbow Bush)

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Scientific Name

Portulacaria afra f. variegata

Accepted Scientific Name

Portulacaria afra Jacq.

Common Names

Rainbow Bush, Variegated Elephant Bush, Variegated Elephant Shrub, Variegated Elephant Food

Synonyms

Portulacaria afra 'Tricolor'

Scientific Classification

Family: Portulacaceae
Subfamily: Portulacarioideae
Genus: Portulacaria

Description

Portulacaria afra f. variegata is a slow-growing, much-branched, succulent shrub, up to 10 feet (3 m) tall, with attractive, reddish-brown stems and glossy green leaves heavily variegated with cream. Leaves are smooth, obovate and up to 0.8 inch (2 cm) long. Stems become interwoven as the plant ages. Flowers are small, star-shaped, lavender-pink and appear in small clusters.

Photo via plant-identification.org

Hardiness

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 don't 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 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 f. variegata is a variegated form of Portulacaria afra.

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