Typically known as the miniature jade plant, elephant bush is just not truly associated to the jade plant, which is a member of the Crassula household of vegetation. It’s thought of a part of the Portulacaria household, generally often known as Purslane, though there may be some analysis that implies that it needs to be labeled within the Didieraceae household.
This attention-grabbing plant is usually offered as a houseplant, however in its native South Africa, it’s fairly a big plant, rising as much as 15’ tall. This plant will get its title from the elephants who prefer to graze on its foliage. The leaves are additionally eaten by people. It has a bitter taste and is usually utilized in salads.
Elephant bush has lately been acknowledged for its practically unparalleled skill to take away carbon from the air, which makes it a unbelievable home plant. This succulent plant is straightforward to propagate and makes a pleasant hanging basket plant as properly.
Fast Care Information
Full Solar to Half Shade
Low to Reasonable
Succulents and Cacti
Root Rot, Botrytis,
Spider mites, Mealybugs
Elephant bush is a perennial succulent, though it may well technically be thought of an evergreen, because it doesn’t shed its leaves for a dormant interval. It’s a very long-living succulent plant, and with the correct care, it may well reside as much as 50 years.
If you’re on the lookout for an easy-care, fast-growing houseplant that thrives in sunny home windows, look no additional than Elephant Bush. With its fleshy inexperienced leaves and putting purple stems, this plant is eye-catching and enjoyable to domesticate.
The leaves of the elephant bush are small and resemble these of a jade plant. They’re oval to spherical and brilliant inexperienced, often with purple margins. These leaves are fleshy and plump and are the a part of the tree mostly eaten by each people and animals, because the trunk is woody and semi-hard.
Elephant bush does bloom, however it’s unlikely to bloom indoors. It sometimes solely blooms when grown in delicate climates outdoor. However by no means say by no means! These vegetation CAN bloom indoors; it’s simply not one thing to depend upon.
Apparently, the circumstances wanted for the plant to bloom are dry climate. If the elephant bush stays dry for a while after which will get good rain, it may well bloom. This solely occurs when the plant is mature, and it sometimes blooms within the fall.
In South Africa, the place this succulent grows wild in its native habitat, it flowers prolifically, protecting the tops of the shrubs with a sea of small, star-shaped, pink flowers in giant clusters.
Elephant bush may be propagated in 3 ways: root cuttings, stem cuttings, and leaf cuttings. Root cuttings put pointless stress on the dad or mum plant, so it is suggested to keep away from this. Propagating from stem cuttings is simply as fast and can be much less taking up the dad or mum plant.
Propagation by stem cuttings is the best option to propagate elephant bush. As with most succulents, leaf or stem cuttings will root very simply underneath the appropriate circumstances. The very best time to take cuttings is in spring and summer season, throughout lively development durations, to offer the cuttings an excellent begin.
Select a stem with plump leaves with a normal look of excellent well being. Use clear hand shears to clip your cuttings just under a node and permit them to dry for just a few days earlier than planting.
Place cuttings lower aspect down right into a container of moist cactus potting soil, you possibly can improve the drainage by including some pumice, which can maintain moisture however drain properly. It’s vital to maintain the soil moist however not moist whereas the cuttings take root, which takes 1-3 weeks.
You may propagate elephant bush from leaves in the identical method. Nevertheless, it is going to take longer, and stem cuttings have the next success fee, so it isn’t the advisable methodology.
If you’re not in a rush and wish to produce a lot of these vegetation with out chopping away an excessive amount of of the dad or mum plant, merely take away some leaves, enable them to dry for 3 days after which stick them right into a pot of moist soil with the hooked up aspect down. They need to root inside 3 weeks and you should have small vegetation subsequent 12 months.
Rising Elephant Bush
Elephant bush is taken into account straightforward to develop as a houseplant. It doesn’t require an intense quantity of consideration and may be fairly pleased with simply the occasional watering and a spot close to a sunny window.
The most important concern with one among these vegetation can be overwatering. There are some extra ailments and pests that may have an effect on the elephant bush, however as an indoor succulent plant, these are principally preventable.
Planting Depth and Potting Wants
Elephant bush has a shallow and delicate root system. This makes them good hanging vegetation, and so they additionally develop properly in bonsai pots. The best concern is supporting the highest portion of the plant, because the roots don’t act as a really stable anchor. Each indoors and outdoor, elephant bush has shallow planting wants.
It’s crucial to plant your elephant bush in a container with no less than one drainage gap so that you just don’t run the chance of fungus within the container. Unglazed pots are nice for succulents as they take up water, sustaining moisture within the soil, however stopping saturation.
As a succulent, an elephant bush wants soil that drains very properly. Cactus potting soil is a good place to start. Overwatering this plant can rapidly result in root rot, which is a serious killer of indoor succulent vegetation.
Common potting soil will sometimes maintain an excessive amount of moisture for these vegetation. If you wish to improve the drainage of the soil, you possibly can combine in some materials with coarse particles, equivalent to perlite or sand. A very good ratio of soil to perlite or sand can be 3:1.
Elephant bush is a succulent and a solar lover. It’ll tolerate full solar, however the perfect publicity for this plant is brilliant however oblique daylight for many of the day.
Like most vegetation that develop properly in oblique brilliant mild, there’s a distinct desire for the cooler morning solar. The afternoon solar tends to be hotter and extra intense, which can burn the leaves and go away this plant wanting leggy.
This plant needs to be positioned close to a sunny window the place it may well obtain mild for many of the day. If an excessive amount of afternoon solar is a matter, you possibly can diffuse the sunshine with a sheer curtain, and this plant will really feel proper at house.
These vegetation should not have excessive watering wants, though they’ll carry out higher should you don’t neglect to water them. They don’t thrive on neglect at fairly the identical degree as many succulents. When watering, purified water or rainwater is greatest. Chlorinated water can stress elephant bush roots.
Throughout the hottest months, elephant bush needs to be watered as soon as per week. This may be lowered to each 10-14 days in spring and fall. In winter, it may be additional lowered to as soon as monthly. It’s best to maintain the soil barely moist and water when the soil dries. You may test by testing the soil with a finger. If the soil is dry ½” down, it must be watered.
Overwatering is usually a downside for this plant, as it’s for many succulents. That’s the reason we are saying the soil needs to be moist however not moist. Extra water could cause root rot, a fast option to a lifeless plant.
Local weather and Temperature
In contrast to most succulent vegetation, elephant bush prefers a damp setting. A humidity degree of fifty% is nearly good for this plant. In the event you can not obtain this humidity degree within the house, you possibly can attempt utilizing a pebble tray or a humidifier to lift the humidity. Misting the plant can even serve this goal so long as it’s achieved often.
Elephant bush is just not chilly tolerant and can’t survive a freeze. The best temperature for this plant is between 65°-80°F, which can also be within the perfect vary for many people, which is one other issue that makes this an amazing houseplant.
In the event you preserve your elephant bush outdoor within the hotter months and indoors within the cooler months, count on the plant to bear some stress while you make the transition. Make the transition regularly by shifting the plant to an intermediate area. A shaded spot outdoor will assist to reduce the quantity of stress.
Elephant bush doesn’t want very a lot in the way in which of fertilizer. No fertilizer is required in any respect throughout the winter, and as soon as monthly can be adequate in spring and fall. You may improve this to bi-weekly in the summertime, however watch out to not overdo it.
Utilizing a low nitrogen components is greatest, and dilute your fertilizer to ½ power to keep away from salt buildup on the roots. Salt buildup can contribute to leaf scorch, so watch out about over-fertilizing.
Pruning and Upkeep
Pruning your elephant bush will assist to maintain it wanting shapely and sturdy. Over time, these vegetation can get fairly giant and unruly. They develop rapidly, so if you wish to preserve the form and measurement of your plant, common pruning of most succulents ought to happen on the finish of spring. This manner, the plant has time to get well throughout its rising season.
The quantity of pruning you do will depend on the dimensions of the plant and whether or not you wish to management the dimensions or encourage extra development. To take care of the dimensions of the plant, lower branches again by about ⅓. In the event you merely wish to encourage branching and development, lower a lot much less.
Be certain to trim away any branches that cross the inside of the plant, as these could cause leaf injury and create an setting through which each bugs and fungi will thrive. Pruning will assist preserve your plant from turning into leggy.
Elephant bush is just not poisonous to people or animals, making it a protected plant for pets and youngsters. It’s a widespread meals for elephants, goats, and different grazing animals in locations the place it grows wild, which embody its native South Africa, in addition to the Western United States.
There are just a few completely different varieties you could come throughout in native backyard facilities or when purchasing on your plant on-line. let’s take a look at a number of the most typical varieties you’ll doubtless encounter.
Botanical Identify: Portulacaria afra Minima
- Solar Necessities: Vibrant Oblique Gentle to Full Solar
- Hardiness Zones: 10-11
This selection has tiny leaves, each not any bigger than a pea. It’s a low-growing trailing plant that can flower when burdened. The trailing branches attain about 2’ lengthy and appears fantastic peeking out from the border of a rock backyard or hanging from a basket. Indoors it wants full solar, however as an outside plant, it may well thrive partly shade.
Botanical Identify: Portulacaria afra Variegata
- Solar Necessities: Solar or Shade
- Hardiness Zones:10-11
Also referred to as Rainbow Bush, the variegated number of Elephant Bush is a stunning, sprawling plant that may have a ramification of as much as 6’ and in addition attain as much as 12’ in peak.
It has fantastic reddish-brown stems and pale inexperienced and cream-colored leaves. It doesn’t bloom a lot in captivity however can produce fairly lavender flower clusters.
Botanical Identify: Portulacaria afra Decumbent
- Solar Necessities: Vibrant Filtered Gentle
- Hardiness Zones: 10-11
This selection is understood for being straightforward to develop. Its brilliant, lime-green leaves stand out in opposition to reddish-brown stems, and when it blooms, it produces clusters of purple flowers.
That is extra of a trailing selection, though it may well develop as much as 8’ tall when planted within the floor. It likes a number of filtered mild and heat temperatures.
Botanical Identify: Portulacaria afra Medio-picta
- Solar Necessities: Gentle Shade
- Hardiness Zones: 10-11
Also referred to as the Midstripe Rainbow Bush, medio-picta is a small selection that stays near 2’ tall and huge. It’s a sluggish grower with purple stems. The principle attraction for this plant are its leaves that are inexperienced with a white stripe down the middle, and sometimes, they don’t have any inexperienced in any respect. This selection prefers cooler temperatures and doesn’t do properly in direct solar.
Pests and Ailments
Elephant Bush is just not significantly prone to pests and ailments, however just a few points may crop up if the setting is simply too damp. Most pests come into the setting from new vegetation.
The easiest way to forestall shedding your houseplants to insect infestation is to look at new vegetation earlier than bringing them into the home. Any vegetation with a illness or infestation needs to be remoted and handled, ensuring that the difficulty is handled earlier than introducing it into the house the place different vegetation may be affected.
Root rot is a typical concern for succulent vegetation, usually attributable to fungal development attributable to overwatering. Moist soil is a breeding floor for fungi, and the fixed moisture causes a breakdown within the root tissue.
Root rot may be prevented by correct potting and care strategies. Be certain your container has sufficient drainage, and don’t water too typically. Keep in mind that the soil ought to dry nearly utterly between waterings.
Botrytis cinerea is a fungus that may seem in cool, damp environments. Its favourite victims are fruit-bearing vegetation, however succulents will also be a number to one of these rot.
Also referred to as grey mildew, botrytis is extra prevalent in soil that has extra nitrogen and manifests as a grayish-white, velvety mildew. Therapy entails the removing of affected tissue and using fungicidal brokers.
This fungal illness is one which prefers dry climates and is the commonest fungus you will see within the backyard. It exhibits up as a chalky white residue on leaves and can stunt the plant’s development because it inhibits photosynthesis.
That is extra widespread outdoor, because it travels on the wind, however it’s not unattainable to finish up with powdery mildew in the home should you transfer vegetation out and in.
Also referred to as Sclerotium rolfsii, this soil-borne fungus could be very troublesome to cope with, so it’s greatest to forestall it. When it’s discovered within the soil, it must be handled with steam, which can even kill the roots of your vegetation. The excellent news is that it not often exhibits up in potted vegetation, so except you’re planting within the floor, it’s not a difficulty.
An excessive amount of nitrogen is a think about managing a whitefly infestation. These guys have a tendency to point out up in vegetation which have an extra of nitrogen within the soil. These little flying bugs are associated to aphids. They lay their eggs on vegetation, and when the larvae hatch, they feast in your plant’s sap.
These, like many bugs, go away behind a sticky excrement known as honeydew, which might play host to sooty mildew, so bugs can actually wreak havoc in your houseplant assortment. You’re more than likely to search out them on the underside of leaves, and a powerful stream of water is the primary line of protection. Spray as many off as you possibly can, after which deal with the plant with an insecticide or neem oil.
These tiny terrors are troublesome to identify and troublesome to deal with. They’re mostly recognized by the existence of their high quality webbing on the underside of leaves and typically within the plant’s container. They feed on the sap, sucking the life out of your vegetation and abandoning honeydew.
Neem oil works properly to rid your house of those guys, however multiple remedy is normally crucial. In addition they have a variety of pure predators, so leaving your vegetation outdoor might help, however it may well additionally result in different bugs indoors, so train warning.
In the event you’ve ever handled these waxy, white crawlers, you recognize that it’s nothing you wish to expertise once more, and also you doubtless examine your new vegetation a bit higher as of late. I personally have needed to cope with mealybugs, and they’re an actual ache. Their waxy coating makes them troublesome to do away with.
An alcohol-soaked cotton swab is a good weapon in opposition to these pests because it helps to interrupt down that waxy coating. That is one other pest with many pure predators, and leaving affected vegetation outdoor for just a few days is an efficient option to knock down their inhabitants.
The elephant bush is a simple houseplant to take care of. It has only a few wants and might stand to be uncared for for average durations of time. This gorgeous succulent appears nice each by itself and in a blended succulent planter or backyard and makes a pleasant hanging plant. Whereas it not often flowers in cultivation, it may well, and it’s a stunning show when that occurs.
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