How To Grow Elephant Bush Succulent

Elephant bushes are simple to grow from cuttings, just like the majority of succulents. For optimal results, take cuttings in the spring or summer. Plant the cutting in a small container of moist, rocky soil after allowing it to callus for a few days.

Place the cutting in a room with a reasonable amount of light and a temperature of at least 65 °F (18 C.). Maintaining a light moisture level in the soil will help the cutting to take root and grow into a new elephant bush succulent that you can give to a friend or add to your collection in a few weeks.

Does elephant bush need to be in the sun?

These succulents require well-drained soil and a pot without glaze to aid in the evaporation of extra moisture. Cactus soil or potting soil that has been cut in half, combined with sand, vermiculite, or pumice, is the ideal composition for this kind of plant.

When growing elephant bush inside, use a site with indirect sunlight. The leaves may burn and fall off if the sun is too bright.

Elephant bush succulents look great in a succulent arrangement with other plants that need comparable conditions and upkeep.

How can I get my elephant bush to grow bigger?

Cut a section of stem below a branch or leaf node with a clean, sharp knife, pair of scissors, or shears to take a stem cutting. When transplanting the cuttings, an Elephant Bush with unusually thick leaves will be able to produce numerous cuttings at once, resulting in a bigger plant.

It’s preferable to wait a few days before planting the cuttings to give the cuts a chance to calluse. The cuts will be shielded from any pathogens in the soil of their new container if they are given time to calluse. Despite the low likelihood of infection, it’s always preferable to be safe than sorry.

Additionally, some gardeners choose to grow their Elephant Bush cuttings in water as opposed to soil. You can choose to utilize soil or water; many gardeners find that one option is more effective for them than the other.

Within a few weeks of being planted in water or soil, roots ought to start to show. Cuttings that have been propagated in water can be planted in the soil when their roots are a few inches long.

Make sure to transfer your cuttings to the soil as soon as you feel they are ready because some gardeners may find that if they keep their cuttings in water for too long, the cuttings don’t adapt to the soil as well.

The cuttings can be treated like mature Elephant Bushes once they have taken root and been planted in soil.

Although stem cuttings have the obvious advantage of producing a more complete plant faster, the Elephant Bush can also be produced from leaf cuttings. With leaf cuts, it’s almost like beginning over.

However, you can use any leaves that you unintentionally knock off during trimming or transplanting by growing leaf cuttings. It is advisable to let them dry out for a few days before planting them in the soil to root, much like with stem cuttings.

Is it simple to grow elephant bush?

Cool tiny elephant bush can let you get into the succulent obsession. In South Africa, elephants love eating elephant bush, which lives up to its name. If you reside in a warm climate with sporadic lows of no lower than 30 degrees Fahrenheit, you can grow it outdoors. Elephant bush is a low-maintenance indoor plant that can be grown if you reside in a cooler region.

The distinctive reddish-brown stems of this drought-tolerant jade plant clone contrast exquisitely with the glossy, spherical, variegated, 3/4-inch succulent leaves. It grows slowly, but as the stalks ripen, they become thicker, giving the plant an aged appearance even when it is young. Elephant bushes are ideal for growing in hanging baskets because of their somewhat expansive or cascading habits. It can slowly develop to a height of several feet when planted in the ground, and because it is evergreen, it can be used as a screen or hedge.

How long does it take the elephant bush to grow?

Using a sterile razor knife or a pair of razor-sharp scissors, cut a stem from the plant.

Place the cut in a potting mix of well-drained cactus soil once it has dried for a few days.

Keep the plant out of direct sunlight for the first 4-6 weeks while it establishes itself, and when the soil begins to dry out, make sure to water it immediately.

Plants should fully establish root systems and begin to produce new growth in four to six weeks.

How often should an elephant bush be watered?

The Portulacaria Afra needs a succulent soil mixture that drains well. There shouldn’t be too much moisture in the mixture.

Use a pot with holes for drainage. Perlite is another option for your potting soil mixture. The correct airflow in the soil is made possible by perlite, hastening the drying process.

What are the Sunlight Requirements of the Elephant Bush?

Place your elephant bush where it receives some direct sunlight and some partial shade throughout the day.

The Portulacaria Afra or Elephant Bush requires at least six hours per day of direct sunlight. Avoid spending a lot of time in direct sunlight. Otherwise, keep in some shade.

Heat intolerance exists in the elephant bush in miniature. It might be more prone to sunburn than its larger sibling.

What is the Humidity Requirement of the Elephant Bush?

A succulent is not required by the elephant bush for humidity. It does well in humidity at room temperature.

The portulacaria afra needs average indoor humidity. Spraying it with water to wet it is not recommended because it can result in unreasonably high humidity levels.

How Should I Water the Elephant Bush?

Elephant bushes don’t store a lot of water because their leaves are thin. In the summer, it has to be watered once a week. In the winter or during the milder summer months, water it every 1.5 weeks.

Simply because the Portulacaria has thin leaves, don’t overwater it!

How to Fertilize the Elephant Bush?

Little fertilizer is required by the Elephant Bush. You can use the one designed for cacti. Give a drop each month from spring to fall, when the plants are actively growing.

In the winter, succulents scarcely need to be consumed. That is more akin to their free time. When it’s cold, water with fertilizer will make them unhappy!

How to Prune the Elephant Bush?

The Elephant Bush can be pruned for shape in addition to removing dead sections!

Before pruning, the Portulacaria Afra needs to be dry. Before you start pruning, make sure your knife is clean and sharp. Offsets and dead stems must be immediately cut.

The Elephant Bush plant can also be styled by pruning. Make cuts in the desired shapes for your Portulacaria Afra. You can even create a Bonsai tree in small size if you like!

You’ll need water and bleach. Pour some bleach into a 90 percent water solution. Before you cut the plant, thoroughly rinse your blade or knife in the mixture.

How to Repot the Elephant Bush?

The Elephant Bush takes a while to mature. Only when the plant outgrows its pot will you need to repot it. You shouldn’t water the Portulacaria Afra for at least seven days after repotting.

Why are the leaves on my elephant bush falling off?

Overwatering is the main reason why Elephant Bush loses leaves. Too much water makes it difficult to breathe, which promotes the growth of fungus-related disorders. Swollen and discolored leaves are the first symptom of overwatering. Simply replant your Elephant Bush in new soil and pull out any decaying roots if you notice these changes in it.

Another indication of underwatering is leaf drop. Elephant Bush leaves might dry out and finally fall off if they don’t get enough water. In the summer, you should water your elephant bush frequently, and in the cooler months, you should water it less frequently. Use the “soak and dry approach,” as you can with the majority of other succulents, and you won’t go wrong. To prevent the leaves from shriveling in the winter, you should only apply a few drops of water.

What does an elephant bush look like when it is overwatered?

Dropped leaves are most usually the result of a watering problem. If a portulacaria afra gets overly damp, it will drop its leaves and appear sickly. The fallen leaves may be yellowish in color and soft to the touch. This frequently occurs when a plant is overwatered, the soil medium is not allowed to dry out quickly enough, or both.

If the plant was substantially overwatered, the stems would begin to rot from the bottom up. The stem turning dark or black from the bottom is the first symptom of this. A plant that has persistent “wet feet” and insufficient sunlight rots more quickly since it isn’t given a chance to dry off.

Is it possible to grow elephant bush from leaves?

One of the simplest succulents to grow from stem cuttings is Portulacaria Afras. This seems to be the simplest and quickest way to spread. Although this is not my favourite method, you can also grow roots from leaves.

When the falling leaves settle in the pot, I do leave them alone and let them proceed as they like. Use the entire leaf, including the base, when propagating from leaf cuttings to ensure success. Stem cuttings are my preferred method because I find them to be simpler, quicker, and practically foolproof. Leaf propagation is more difficult and time-consuming in my opinion.

Repotting a Variegated Elephant Bush plant revealed a few rooted leaves.

How to Propagate a Portulacaria Afra Plant:

Obtain a few stem or leaf cuttings, and then let them to dry for about a day.

Dip the cut end in rooting hormone (optional). Although some individuals like to add a rooting hormone to expedite the procedure and ensure success, I don’t really see the necessity for it.

  • Insert the cuttings in a well-draining potting mix after the wound has healed and dried. When utilizing leaves, you can either bury them in the ground or lay them flat.
  • Avoid the sun’s direct rays. Every few days or whenever the soil becomes dry, water it.
  • You will see new roots forming after about two weeks.
  • The cuttings should be fully rooted after four to six weeks, and you will soon see new growth emerging from the top.

You now have it. These plants can be easily multiplied from stem cuttings. They grow all over my house, and I really use them as filler in several of my pots. I’ve also distributed a lot to pals.

In my article “Easiest Way To Propagate Succulents,” I described how I expanded my collection of succulents by using stem cuttings. Being able to expand your collection and having them literally sprout everywhere is a truly satisfying experience.

Can elephant bushes be grown inside?

Elephant bush is a native of South Africa, where it grows on rocky, semi-arid hillsides. It is also referred to by its botanical name, Portulacaria afra. Because it is a succulent plant, it may thrive in practically any environment. Both indoors and outdoors, it thrives, but it’s preferable to grow it inside. Additionally, it has as many names as applications. In its native South Africa, people refer to it as Spekboom. Elephant’s Food and Miniature Jade are some other names for it.

Elephant bushes and the traditional jade plant, Crassula ovata, another succulent, are commonly mistaken for one another. Even though they are similar in many ways, classic jade can be identified by its unsupported vertical growth. The elephant bush, on the other hand, needs support because it appears to droop and is unable to maintain its heavier leaves.

If you’re wondering where this succulent got its name, it has quite obvious origins. Juicy leaves and stalks of the plants are enjoyed by many animals, including elephants and goats. 80 percent of an elephant’s food in the wild comes from this plant. Tortoises may eat from this unusual succulent as well.

This hardy plant can thrive in USDA hardiness zones 9 through 11. This succulent’s reddish-brown stems shoot upward and reach an average height of 8 to 15 feet. The likelihood is that it will only grow to a height of a few feet, though, considering its sluggish rate of growth.

Is elephant bush a plant of fortune?

Portulacaria afra, sometimes referred to as the Elephant Bush, the Good Luck Jade Plant, and Spekboom, is thought to bring luck and prosperity into your home.

How old is an elephant bush?

Sun burn is caused by receiving too much sunlight, and its symptoms usually include crispy or browning leaves, dry leaf edges, sunken leaves, or stunted growth. Although too much light will lead to overwatering problems, too little light will also harm the plant. Reduce the quantity of sun exposure significantly if yours has fallen short of this, and always be cautious of environmental shock (when two locations offer too different growing conditions). Eliminate some of the harmed leaves and slightly raise the water level.

On the other hand, specimens kept in overly dark conditions with extended soil wetness frequently get root rot. Rapid leaf browning, moldy soil, stunted development, and a rotten brown base are all symptoms. Examine the plant’s health below the compost line after removing it from the pot. You’re okay to go if the roots have a yellow tint, but you need to take fast action with brown and mushy roots. On this link, you may learn more about treating root rot.

Regularly clean the leaves. Although it’s not a big deal, a buildup of dust particles might clog the plant’s pores and reduce its ability to absorb light. In order to maintain low levels and enhance growing circumstances, rinse the topsides of the leaves once every month.

Never let the temperature drop below 10°C (50°F), since this may do irreparable harm to things like yellow foliage and decreased health. Never cut through softened yellow or brown growth when this happens; instead, remove the badly impacted sections and quickly correct the growing environment. Because of its slow growth, rehabilitation might take many months. To shorten this time, make sure to give the plant a stable place with improved growing conditions.

Several different factors could be the cause of unsuccessful leaf-cuttings. Elephant Bushes are best propagated in the spring when they are at their busiest, thus cuttings obtained then may root considerably more slowly and may even die in the interim. Check the surroundings to see if there is enough light to read a newspaper. If not, increase the amount of indirect sunlight it receives to improve the growing conditions. Never place the cuttings in the sun; doing so will cause severe dehydration and almost certainly death. Its success will also be significantly influenced by its overall size. There must be no obvious signs of damage or cuts, and the total height must be greater than 8cm. Smaller specimens won’t root properly since the stems have less energy stored in them. If the leaves are grown hydroponically, the water should be changed every week to reduce the chance of germs growing in the container. In order to prevent nasty infections from spreading to unaffected specimens, yellow or brown parts that are progressively withering away must also be eliminated. Those who are submerged immediately in cold water will also display signs of distress. Make sure to use a well-draining potting mix with the appropriate quantity of sand and grit if you’re interested in propagating via soil. The likelihood of roots developing will be drastically reduced if they are planted too deeply or in soil that is too wet.

Despite its slow rate of growth, Portulacaria can be easily shaped into a bonsai after years of cultivation.

Over ten species make up the genus Portulacaria, which has its natural distribution in Southern Africa. Its name is derived from the Latin word portula, which means “door” and relates to the fruit’s opening lid. Caria, which refers to the resemblance of the species Portulaca, means “related to.” The name of the species, afra, is a particular derogatory term for the continent of Africa. The sour-tasting leaf is a favorite food source for a variety of species, including elephants and ostriches. The species’ leaves, which are used in salads and soups, are also regarded as a local delicacy.


H1b (Hardiness Zone 12) – Can be grown outside in the summer in a protected place with temperatures above 12C (54F), but is also acceptable to stay indoors. Avoid exposing this plant to direct sunlight if you decide to take it outside because it could cause sunburn and dehydration. Watch out for bugs frequently, especially while bringing it back inside.


if replanted every other year, up to 1.5m in width and 2m in height. The final height will take 5 to 10 years to reach, but with the correct care, it may live for 20 years or longer.


To promote healthier growing conditions, remove yellow or decaying leaves as well as any plant detritus. Always use clean shears or tools when pruning to lower the risk of bacterial and fungal infections. Never cut through yellowed tissue as this could lead to severe harm from bacterial infections or other disorders. To avoid shocking the plant and resulting in decreased growth and a decline in health, always create clean incisions.


Stem Cuttings (Easy): Cut a 5 cm (2 inch) chunk from the end of the stem using a pair of clean scissors. Use a component that is brand new, undamaged, and free of pests because unhealthy divisions are more likely to fail. To hasten the development of roots, remove the elder half of the leaves, leaving the lowest third of the stem naked. Purchase some “Cactus & Succulent” compost, then put the cutting’s base vertically into the ground to prevent soil from getting on the real leaf. Place the cutting in an area that is indirect, light, and has temps over 18C. (64F). Once there are indications of new foliar development, remove the bag and treat the plant as an adult specimen because the roots will grow first.


Mid-summer, mature specimens can produce tiny clusters of 2mm-wide, pink or white-scented blooms that can persist up to a few weeks. Due to the unfavorable growing circumstances and lengthy maturation period, elephant bushes won’t bloom in a home environment for many years.


Every two to three years, repot your plants in the spring using ‘Cactus & Succulent’ potting soil and the next-largest pot with drainage. Checking the health of the roots and, if desired, propagation can also be done now. Check the lower part of the root ball for any discolored or damaged root caps as Elephant Bushes are susceptible to root rot. If so, use clean tools to remove the damaged parts and gradually reduce the irrigations. For additional information on how to perform the ideal transplant, go on this page.

If you’d want a customized tutorial on repotting your houseplant, schedule a 1-on-1 video session with Joe Bagley. The appropriate branded-compost and pot size will be suggested, and a live video call will be made while you transplant the specimen to provide step-by-step instructions and address any other questions.