Why Is My Elephant Bush Dropping Leaves

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.

How frequently 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.

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.

Will the leaves of an elephant bush regrow?

The plant may have a time of adjustment when brought indoors for the winter and begin shedding leaves, particularly if the environment change is significant. It may take some time for the plant to adjust because it may be in shock.

Avoiding activities like repotting, propagation, or trimming the plant during times of abrupt changes is the best thing you can do to lessen the shock to the plant. Wait to water the plant until it is completely dry. Before watering the soil, you can check to determine if it is dry.

If you are bringing a plant inside from the outside, give it as much light as you can to become adjusted to the environment, especially if it is used to full sun. Place it on a windowsill or in the room with the most light. Similar to when moving a plant from indoors to outdoors, avoid placing it in direct sunlight right soon.

To reduce shock and prevent burning the plant, start with early sun and gradually raise the intensity. Give your Portulacaria Afra plant some time to acclimatize if it starts to drop leaves as a result of abrupt environmental changes. Once it becomes accustomed to its new environment, it will begin to sprout new leaves again.

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.

Are elephant ear plants poisonous?

If consumed in high numbers, elephant ear plants are poisonous. Oxalic acid, which the plant’s leaves and stems contain, can seriously illen children or animals. However, heating makes the toxins innocuous, so many civilizations have eaten them for years without any ill effects (specifically taro root, or Colocasia esculenta). view more common plants that are poisonous to dogs and cats.

Do elephant ear plants bloom?

They can bloom, but it is neither typical nor predictable. After taking their plants outside and nourishing them, some gardeners report spathes (spring blooms), whereas other gardeners never see them bloom. The main reason these plants are grown is for their lush foliage.

Are elephant ear plants perennials?

In zones 9 and higher, the majority are perennials, meaning they will reappear each year. You can treat them as annuals if you plant in a cooler climate, or you can dig up the tubers before the first frost and store them for the winter in a cool, dry spot.

When do elephant ear plants sprout?

After planting, elephant ears often sprout three to eight weeks later. When the weather starts to warm up in the spring, sprouting happens. In warmer than in cooler climates, they will sprout more quickly. You can start them indoors and move them outside as it warms up to expedite the process.

Why are my elephant ear plants turning yellow?

There may be an issue if the leaves are turning yellow. Change the plant’s exposure to sunlight or water, and consider adding fertilizer if necessary. As an alternative, the plant can be hibernating for the season. Trim the yellow leaves, then wait for it to come back in the spring.

Do elephant ears spread?

Elephant ear plants can grow in clumps or spread out across the ground. Runners will soon create a substantial mass of plantings, which may or may not be desirable. Select a clumping kind if you are concerned about their spreading out of control.

Can elephant ears grow in full sun?

Most plants do best in bright, indirect sunlight rather than full sun. While too little sunshine might result in yellowing, too much sunlight can burn the leaves. There are certain types that can withstand direct sunlight.

Can you plant elephant ear plants in a pot?

Elephant ears can be grown in pots, yes. You should use a robust, capacious container because they are rather big. When the weather turns chilly, it is simple to bring container-grown plants inside and enjoy them as houseplants.

Why are my elephant ear plants drooping?

There can be a problem if elephant ears are drooping. Consider changing the amount of light, water, or fertilizer used. Large leaves being overly hefty is another factor in drooping. Plants can be supported and kept from drooping with the aid of staking. Plants will also droop if temperatures are too cold for them.

Flowers and Fragrance

The small, glossy green leaves that emerge from the reddish brown stem of the elephant bush succulent give it away.

However, they will produce flowers in clusters and in hues of white, pink, or purple if given the right growing conditions.

Light and Temperature

To grow and thrive, the Portulacaria afra plant needs a lot of bright light and a warm atmosphere.

The tiny jade plant’s leaves will scorch and fall off if it is transferred from indoors to direct sunlight outside.

The Rainbow Elephant Bush can endure brief periods of light frost and temperatures as low as 25 degrees Fahrenheit.

Growing Afra in a container will allow you to bring this succulent indoors during the colder months if you live in an area with icy winters.

Watering and Feeding

The Elephant Bush Succulent is a drought-tolerant plant, therefore it doesn’t require a lot of water to survive. It can withstand hot and dry weather.

In general, a developing Elephant bush plant requires more water in the hotter, drier summer months than in the milder winter months.

To make sure you are not overwatering this succulent plant, wait until the top layer of soil has slightly dried before watering it once again.

Use a diluted indoor plant fertilizer at a 50 percent strength to feed plants in the early spring or the late winter.

Potting Soil and Transplanting

With very little soil, trailing elephant bush succulents can thrive. The plants are top-heavy due to their thick branches and succulent foliage.

Plants may need a rock or stake when they are first planted to help stabilize them until they are well-established.

A well-draining potting mixture, such as a cactus mix or sandy succulent soil, is required for portulacaria afra.

Pots require drainage holes, so adding more perlite for more drainage also helps.

Avoid letting the soil become soggy since overwatering can quickly harm the plant.

To make sure the plant is receiving enough soil nutrients, repotting should be done every two years or so.

To ensure that the plant receives an adequate supply of nutrients, make sure the potting mix in the new container is fresh.

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.