Portulacaria Afra – Uses & 5 Astonishing Steps To Propagate

Portulacaria Afra

Last updated on August 13th, 2022 at 08:33 pm

Portulacaria Afra “Elephant Shrub” (likewise called “Hippo Food, or” “Dwarf Jade”) is a huge, bushing succulent that has woody stems and can grow to extraordinary heights if given the appropriate time, nutrients, and finest germinating conditions. Additionally, it can be made use of in hanging baskets to add “spiller.”.

Elephants consume it, yet you do not need to fear for your Portulacaria Afra unless you have a pet pachyderm. The plant is a succulent with fleshy, glossy fallen leaves that grows like a tiny shrub. They are just durable in USDA plant strength zones 10 and 11.

Elephant rose bush houseplants (Portulacaria Afra) thrive in intense light in a warm, draft totally free space. A couple of policies on caring for elephant bush will certainly help you to grow a specimen of passion that might be a stand-alone natural herb or as part of an elaborate succulent yard.


Portulacaria Afra

Portulacaria Afra-‘ Elephant Rose shrub’ is believed to stem from South Africa. They are used mainly as elephant foods and various other wild animals in their indigenous habitat and can develop to around 20 feet tall.

Their stems are reddish-brown with glossy eco-friendly green leaves. Other names for Portulacaria Afra are pork bush and also spekboom.

The vegetation 0f Portulacaria Afra is used as food in some native cultures. They begin as a little shrub and also eventually grow tree-like. The stem gets thicker in time as the plant develops. These plants are extremely simple to grow and proliferate. They are hardiest in USDA areas 9-11. They develop upright horizontally however can additionally expand side to side and also sprawl or hang, which makes them a terrific choice for hanging containers or baskets.

Portulacaria Afra, likewise called Elephant Shrub/bush, are in some cases mistaken for Crassula Ovata ‘Jade Plant kingdom’ because of their resemblance in a whole lot of ways. Although Elephant Rosebush looks like Jade plants closely in appearance, however, they are not connected at all. I was additionally guilty of making the exact same mistake when I initially obtained an Elephant Shrub plant.

My thought was to purchase a Jade Plant, and to add to the complication, the pot of the plant was labeled as Dwarf Jade’.

That’s because Portulacaria Afra is also referred to as ‘Mini Jade’ or ‘Dwarf Jade’ by some as well as is popular amongst bonsai tree growers.


There are many kinds of Portulacaria Afras. Part of the most common one offered in cultivation is Portulacaria Afra ‘Variegata’ – likewise called ‘Variegated Elephant Bush’ or ‘Rainbow Bush’. These have similar qualities and also features as Portulacaria Afra yet the leaves handle an appealing hue of variegated cream as well as eco-friendly/green stripes.

The reddish colored-brownish stems in these are also much more obvious. These tend to develop or grow laterally in contrast to upright like Portulacaria Afra. Caring for these plants is similar and is also listed carefully below.

How To Grow Succulents - 6 Easy Steps To Follow

Growing Portulacaria Afra

Portulacaria Afra

These succulents require well-drained soil and also an unglazed pot that will certainly assist excess wetness to evaporate. The most effective blend for this kind of plant is generally cactus soil or potting soil cut by half with pumice, sand, or vermiculite. Select an area with indirect sunshine when trying to grow elephant bush inside your home. Excessively shiny sunlight can char the leaves and cause fall off.

Make sure that the container you pick has vast drainage openings. Elephant shrub succulents work well as components of a succulent display with plants that call for the very same care as well as conditions.

Care and Propagation Details.

Portulacaria afra is a perfect inclusion to your indoor or outdoor succulent backyard/garden. Although a preferred name for this succulent is “Miniature Jade,” it is not connected to Crassula ovata. “Elephant bush” also is available in miniature as well as variegated kinds. The non-variegated type is much more tolerant to heat.

Portulacaria afra is a preferred succulent for bonsai.

Portulacaria afra care is similar to various other succulent plants. If planted outdoors in warm climates, dig in 3 inches of fine sand or gritty material to supply well-drained soil.

The most typical blunder/mistake made in succulent plants is watering. They are tolerant to drought but do call for watering from April to October. In winter season the plants are dormant as well as you may stop watering. Elephant shrub succulents in the residence inside must not have continually wet feet. Be certain the pot drains very well and don’t leave a saucer that contains water t sit under the container. Fertilize very late in winter up until early spring with an interior seed fertilizer diluted by fifty percent.

Sunshine Requirements: Light Color to Full Sunlight

Portulacaria Afra needs plenty of bright sunlight and might occasionally endure the full sun. You may require to acclimate the plant to full sunshine at the start. Light sunburn might be expected under severe warmth scenarios but otherwise, these plants can tolerate the heat.

Indoor Lights

Give the brightest light feasible in the home if you’re caring for the plant indoors. A south-facing home window will certainly function best, but an eastern or west-facing home window will certainly work too. You may want to relocate the plant a couple of times up until you find the ideal spot. Preferably, the plant requires at the very least 5-6 hours of light.

If your location does not receive sufficient sunshine or you have inadequate lighting in your home, take into consideration making use of a grow-light so your plant can meet their illumination needs to develop properly, specifically throughout those dark winter season months. Below are some grow-light recommendations that may help you.

Sunburned Succulent: How To Recover from Heat Damage

You can also read my post “proper lighting for indoor succulents” to get some helpful tips.

Outdoor Sunlight Requirements

Portulacaria Afra ‘Elephant Shrub’ does great in spots that receive great deals of sunlight. They are able to tolerate partial sunlight to full sunshine, yet they favor bright filtered sunlight. They must be adjusted to full sun or the leaves will certainly get sunburnt.

When kept outside, place it in a bright sunny spot. Prior to moving the plant outdoors or trying to raise the amount of sunlight it receives, it is best to acclimate the plant so as to protect against burning or sunlight damages. Raise the quantity of sunlight it obtains slowly till it is fully acclimated to the sunlight. Also, when the plant is currently accustomed to full sunlight, it can still suffer sunburnt during a heatwave or extremely high-temperature level.

Sunshades have actually always been a lifesaver for my plants throughout the severe summer warm or heat right here in Northern California where the temperature levels can climb above 100℉ or 37.8℃.

For further info and tips on outdoor sunshine needs, you can see my post “how much Sunlight Do Succulents Need Outdoors?” to get some great valuable bits.

Frost Tolerance

Portulacaria Afra may tolerate mild frost as well as cold temps as long as they aren’t for extended periods of time. You can maintain the plant outside all year long as well as they can also be grown on the ground if you reside in USDA hardiness zones 9-11.

The best way to grow this plant is in the container if you have extreme winter conditions in your area. That way you can bring them inside your home throughout winter months or when there is a forecast of ice or snow.

There are ways to save and protect them from frost or cold temperature ranges if for whatever reason you cannot bring the plants in. You can make use of frost cloths or mini-greenhouses to significantly assist them to make it through the cool winter. Right here are some of my ideal recommendations for frost safety and protection.

For more details on this topic, do have a look at my recent article on “Optimal Temperatures for Succulents to Prosper“.

Soil Requirements

Similar to various other succulent plants, Portulacaria Afra ‘Elephant Bush’ needs well-draining soil. I have been using an easy yet excellent mixture that has been functioning completely well for my plants. I always like to use a cactus potting mix incorporated with perlite for a lot more drainage. I do not use excellent dimensions but eyeball it to around 2:1 solution of cactus blend and perlite. Others might advise making use of sandy garden soil. This can typically be achieved by blending cactus mix or growing soil with coarse sand (around 2:1 proportion).

Echinocactus Grusonii "Golden Barrel Cactus"

We get the majority of the materials from a local shop. You can likewise acquire them online at the touch of your fingertips by visiting this page. To learn more about soil for succulents, please click “Best soil for Succulents“.

Watering Requirements

Watering entirely depends on the climate you reside in. When given sufficient water, these plants thrive well, however they can very well tolerate dry circumstances and drought. There really isn’t a formula or set schedule on watering succulents plants like this.

I actually live in really completely dry weather so my watering timetable is adjusted to the completely dry out conditions of my atmosphere.

In the summer season months, I sprinkle water on my Elephant Bush as commonly as every 7-10 days, sometimes more throughout a heatwave, providing a good drink for the plant. I reduced watering to about 10-14 days when the weather condition cools.

Suppose you reside in a moist area, you will not be required to water a lot. And also, if you keep your plant inside your home, you may not have to water quite often. especially if they are not receiving a lot of light.

During wintertime, I primarily depend on rain and reduce watering completely since this is the moment when we get a great deal of rainfall in my area. If we don’t get any rainfall at all during the wintertime then I water at least once a month or every 2-3 weeks.

One excellent method to know whether it’s a duration to water is to examine the moisture of the soil. The top surface of the soil needs to really feel dry prior to you watering again. It’s always a better idea to underwater in the beginning and increases the watering as needed if you are not sure how much or how often to do watering. Focus on the appearances of your plants and you can readjust water provision as necessary.

If you require additional help with watering methods, think about using special devices like hygrometers or moisture meters to examine on for wetness in the soil and also air. These tools are pretty affordable and will come in handy particularly if you are uncertain of when to water your flower next. If you need help in gauging your watering needs, do have a look at this wetness meter equipment.

Interested in finding out a lot more regarding watering succulents? Visit my post “how and when to water Succulents” where I explain details regarding this subject.

Where to Plant

Portulacaria Afra

Portulacaria Afra is not cool hardy, so if you reside in an area that gets colder than 30°F ( 1.7°C ), it’s ideal to grow this succulent in a container that can be brought inside. It succeeds perfectly in partial or full sunlight. Plant in a location of your garden that gets 6 hours of sunshine a day.

Cotyledon Orbiculata "Pig's Ear Succulent"

If growing indoors, position it in a warm home window. This succulent has a tendency to stretch conveniently. If not actually given enough sunlight, however, the stretching isn’t as obvious as other succulents.

How to Propagate Portulacaria Afra “Elephant bush”

Portulacaria Afras are among the simplest succulents you can propagate from stem cuttings. For me, this is the most convenient as well as the fastest route of propagation. You may likewise root from leaves although this is not my preferred route.

When they land in the pot, I always leave the fallen leaves alone and let them carry out their own thing. If you want to propagate from leaf cuttings, make sure to use the whole leaf including the base to ensure success.

I like using stem cuttings because it is easier, quicker, and almost foolproof. I discover leave propagation a little bit trickier and takes a lot longer.


When planning to plant Portulacaria Afra “Elephant Bush” from cuttings, make sure you make use of a clean and sterile, sharp blade or pair of scissors. Cut off a stem from the parent plant, permit it to callous for several days prior to placing on well-draining yard soil. Watering can then be done when the soil has dried completely.


Portulacaria Afra can be bought in miniature and variegated varieties.


Portulacaria Afra is an incredible “carbon sponge,” taking in high levels of carbon directly from the air.

Like the name “Elephant Food” suggests, elephants eat this, but can also feed goats and tortoises. It is likewise discovered in Southern African cuisine, included in salads, stews, and soups to add a sour taste.

Pairs Well With

Graptosedum ‘California Sunset‘.


Portulacaria Afra

  • Obtain a few stems or fallen leave cuttings and allow them to dry for a day or so

(Optional) Dip the cut end in rooting hormone. I really do not see the need to utilize the rooting hormone, however, some people choose it to accelerate the procedure and likewise ensure success.

  • Once the cut has recovered and dried, placed the cuttings in a well-draining potting mix. If making use of leaves, you can either place them in soil or lay them flat on the ground.
  • Avoid direct sunlight. Water the soil every few days or when it looks completely dry.
  • After around two weeks or thereabout, you will see brand-new roots growing.
  • After around 4 to 6 weeks, you will see the cuttings have actually been totally rooted and also you will certainly notice fresh growth developing from the top.