How To Take Care Of An Elephant Bush

The most frequent error with succulent plants is overwatering. Although they can withstand drought, they do need watering from April to October. Since the plants are dormant throughout the winter, you can stop watering them. Elephant bush succulents should not have persistently moist feet inside the home. Make sure the pot drains properly and avoid placing a saucer filled with water underneath the plant.

Apply a fertilizer to indoor plants that has been diluted by half in the late winter to early spring.

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.

How are elephant bushes maintained?

the watering can be held! Elephant bush thrives on neglect, like the majority of succulents. Simply plant it in sandy soil with full sun to ensure quick drying and prevent root damage. Make sure the pot has a drainage hole at the bottom so the water can flow out if you are growing it in a pot. If there is a saucer underneath the pot, it is essential to drain it after watering the plant because they detest having their feet wet. To pot the plant, use a ready-made cactus mix or create your own by mixing equal parts potting soil and sand or vermiculite.

General Care for Portulacaria afra “Elephant Bush

You should include Portulacaria afra in your indoor or outdoor succulent garden. Although it goes by the moniker “Miniature Jade,” this succulent is not linked to Crassula ovata. Additionally, there are tiny and striped varieties of elephant bush. The non-variegated variety can withstand more heat.


“Elephant Bush requires the same amount of water as other succulents do. You should utilize the “Use the “soak and dry” method, letting the soil to dry out in between waterings. When in dormancy, Portulacaria afra requires less frequent watering.

Portulacaria afra can withstand more frequent waterings than other succulents since its leaves are so thin.

Additionally, make sure to get our FREE watering cheat sheet to learn how to determine whether your succulents are receiving too much water (and how to save them if needed).

Where to Plant

Because Portulacaria afra is not cold hardy, it is advisable to grow this succulent in a container that can be moved indoors if you reside in a region that has temperatures below 30 F (1.7 C). It thrives in full to some sun. Plants should be placed in a garden area with six hours of direct sunlight each day.

Put it in a sunny window if you’re planting indoors. If not given enough sunshine, this succulent has a tendency to stretch readily, albeit the stretching is less obvious than with other succulents.


To grow Portulacaria afra “Elephant Bush from cuttings, use a sterile, sharp knife or pair of scissors. Take a stem from the main plant and place it on well-draining soil after letting it callus for a few days. When the soil is fully dry, add water.

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.

Elephant bush can it survive indoors?

In habitats where it is a preferred meal of elephants, elephant bush plants can grow to heights of 6 to 20 feet (2 to 6 meters). It is considerably more likely to only grow a few feet (about one meter) tall inside the house. The bush has small, soft green leaves on thick, succulent brown stalks that resemble miniature jade plants.

Elephant bush houseplants do well in indoor environments like those found in homes. Warm temperatures and bright light are necessary for portulacaria care. The bush produces tiny pink blooms clustered at the terminals of the branches after a wintertime dormancy period.

Why is my elephant bush losing moisture?

Verify that the plant is not very dry or wet. When submerged, the leaves of this “Spekboom” elephant bush (Portulacaria afra) will get shriveled.

Do I need to trim my elephant bush?

If the branches of this plant are not clipped, they will develop into unkempt brush. Because of this, pruning is a crucial component of elephant bush maintenance. The elephant bush in your garden will stay in top condition with regular pruning.

  • Elephant Bush should be pruned to achieve the correct shape. Some people favor pruning bonsai.
  • Removing leaves that are broken or dead.
  • Get rid of any dead branches.
  • Plant parts with illness should be cut off and disposed of completely away from the plant.

What’s up with my wrinkled elephant bush?

Elephant bush or miniature jade plants, commonly known as portulacaria afra plants, are common indoor houseplants. They are indigenous to South Africa and do well in hot, arid environments. When these plants are underwatered, overwatered, or exposed to excessive sunlight, their leaves may get wrinkled. If the source of the wrinkling was excessive exposure to sunshine, you need to transfer them to a location with less direct sunlight and give them a good soak until water trickles out the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot.

In the summer, water the plants every one to two weeks, and in the winter, every three to four weeks.

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.

Does elephant bush expand quickly?

A popular indoor plant, the elephant bush (Portulacaria afra) is a succulent that may grow outside in warm areas.

South Africa is home to the semi-evergreen shrubby blooming succulent known as elephant bush (Portulacaria afra). Elephant bush naturally grows in arid, sunny climates. Elephant bush is a drought-resistant shrub that thrives in dry, desert-like conditions.

USDA zones 10 and 11 are favorable for Portulacaria, or elephant bush plants. Small elephant bush plants cannot withstand cold temperatures, despite the fact that Portulacaria afra shrubs may tolerate mild frost. Low temperatures, below 30F (-1C), harm and even kill plants.

Elephant bush is a shrub-like plant or small tree that, under the right circumstances, can reach heights of 8 to 15 feet (2.5 to 4.5 meters). However, elephant bush stems only reach a height of a few feet when grown as a succulent in a pot indoors. The succulents are perfect for growing in hanging baskets or on high shelves because of their trailing, green stalks.

Elephant bush is another succulent species with flowers. Portulacaria afra produces masses of star-shaped flowers in tight clusters when the conditions are ideal for growth. On the ends of stems, these pink or white blooms bloom. However, indoor elephant bush blooming is uncommon.

Elephants love to eat portulacaria afra, hence its popular name, “Elephant Bush.” Porkbush and spekboom are two additional common names.

Elephant bushes are also referred to as small jade plants because of their resemblance to jade plants (Crassula ovata). However, there is no connection between jade plants and elephant bushes. For instance, elephant bushes grow more quickly and are more resilient than jade succulent plants. Another distinction is that jade leaves (family Crassula) are slightly toxic, whereas elephant bush is an edible succulent.

The Crassula ovata in an image (jade plant). Although they are unrelated, the elephant bush (Portulacaria afra) and the jade plant are similar.

When ought my elephant bush to be repotted?

from spring to summer. I prefer to hold off till the weather has warmed up and the days have become a little longer. You can repotter from late winter to early fall in more temperate regions.

Winter is the season for plants to rest, so avoid repotting your elephant bush then.

Soil Mix

The Elephant Bush can be grown indoors or outdoors. Make sure the mix you use is loose and fully aerated because it is a succulent. Succulents store water in their leaves, stems, and roots in addition to their roots. Root rot results from using too much water.

As a Houseplant

Using a high-quality succulent and cactus mix is perfectly acceptable if your plant is a houseplant. Even though I now create my own mixes, if you can’t locate one locally or don’t want to create your own, I still suggest any of the ones listed below.

A few internet retailers for succulent and cactus mix are Hoffman’s (more affordable if you have a lot of succulents, but you might need to add pumice or perlite), Bonsai Jack (this one is quite gritty; perfect for people prone to overwatering! ), and Superfly Bonsai (another fast-draining 1 like Bonsai Jack which is great for indoor succulents).


I added some more components because mine is grown outdoors year-round in a region where it is hot and sunny for five months of the year. I repot plants frequently, and I have a garage where I keep them, so why not?

Here are the resources I employed:

  • 1/3 mix of succulent and cactus (see above for options)
  • third of potting soil
  • I enjoy Fox Farm Ocean Naturals since it contains many beneficial ingredients that plants adore.
  • Pumice in generous handfuls
  • The drainage and aeration elements are now more important.
  • multiple hefty handfuls of compost
  • Naturally-occurring compost feeds the soil, but be careful not to put too much in a container this size.
  • 1/3 of a layer of worm compost

My favorite alteration, but because it’s so expensive, I only use it seldom. I’m using Worm Gold Plus right now. Here’s why I find it so appealing.

The Pot I Used

This pot is 8 deep and 14 broad. I used spray paint to turn it yellow from tan. Similar pots can be purchased here. These are the ones that contain both my String of Bananas and my Grey Fishhooks Senecio.

Steps Taken

Before I replanted my Elephant Bush, I gave it some water. Any plant stress during the procedure should be avoided.

By pressing the sides of the pot, turning it upside down, and drawing the plant out, the plant was readily removed.

In order to get the root ball level with the top of the pot, I added some potting soil and a mixture of succulent and cactus plants to the bottom of the pot.

An established Variegated Elephant Bush growing in an upright container looks like this.

Why I Repotted My Elephant Bush

As you can see from the video, this plant didn’t actually need to be replanted. Although it wasn’t at all pot-bound, I wanted a better plant to take the place of the Spider Plant.

The Elephant Bush can live in the pot for a long time because it is big enough. Compared to other Portulacaria kinds, this variegated variety grows more slowly and stays smaller.