Portulacaria Afra – 5 Amazing Ways To Propagate The Plant

Portulacaria Afra

Portulacaria Afra “Elephant Shrub” (also called “Hippo Food”, or “Dwarf Jade”) is a big, bushing succulent that has woody stems and can grow to amazing heights if appropriate time, nutrients, and best growing conditions are given. Furthermore, it can be used in hanging baskets to add a “spiller”.

Elephants eat it, but you don’t need to be afraid for your Portulacaria Afra unless you have a pet pachyderm. It is succulent with fleshy, glossy leaves that grow like a little shrub. They are just resilient in USDA plant hardiness zone 10 and 11.

Portulacaria Afra (Elephant rose shrub houseplants) do best in intense light in a warm, draft absolutely free space. A number of policies on caring for the plant will surely assist you to grow a specimen of enthusiasm that could be a stand-alone natural herb or as a component of an elaborate succulent yard.


Portulacaria Afra-‘ Elephant Rose shrub’ is thought to originate from South Africa. They are used mostly as elephant foods and also food for numerous other wild pets in their indigenous habitat, and they can also grow to around 20 feet tall.

Portulacaria Afra

Their stems are reddish-brown with shiny environmental-friendly green leaves. Some other names for Portulacaria Afra are pork shrub and spekboom.

Portulacaria Afra vegetation is used mainly as food in some native cultures. They begin as a little shrub and at some point grow tree-like. The stem gets thicker in time as the plant grows. These plants are extremely easy to grow and multiply.

They are the hardiest in USDA zones 9 to 11. They grow upright flat, nonetheless, they can additionally grow side to side and also sprawl or hang, which makes them an excellent choice for hanging baskets or containers.

Portulacaria Afra, or (Elephant Shrub/shrub), are sometimes mistaken for Crassula Ovata ‘Jade Plant’ because of their similarity in many ways. Although Elephant Roseshrub looks like Jade plants closely in look, however, they are not linked at all. I was also guilty of making the exact same mistake when I first got an Elephant Shrub plant.

My thought was to get a Jade Plant, and to add to the issue, the pot of the plant was classified as “Dwarf Jade’.

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


There are many types of Portulacaria Afras. Part of the most common one used in farming is Portulacaria Afra ‘Variegata’– also called ‘Variegated Elephant Shrub’ or ‘Rainbow Shrub’. These have comparable top qualities and likewise include Portulacaria Afra yet the leaves deal with an enticing tone of variegated cream in addition to eco-friendly/green red stripes.

The red-colored-brownish stems in these are additionally a lot more noticeable. These tend to create or grow laterally unlike upright like Portulacaria Afra Caring for these plants are similar and are likewise noted thoroughly below.

Growing Portulacaria Afra

These succulents need well-drained soil and also an unglazed pot that will certainly assist excess wetness to evaporate. The most efficient mix for this type of plant is typically cactus soil or potting soil cut by fifty percent with pumice, sand, or vermiculite. When attempting to grow elephant shrub inside your residence, Select a location with indirect sunlight. Exceedingly glossy sunshine can char the leaves and cause fall off.

Ensure that the container you pick has substantial water drainage openings. Elephant shrub succulents serve well as components of a succulent display with plants that call for the exact same treatment and conditions.

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Care and Breeding Information

Portulacaria Afra

Portulacaria Afra is the best inclusion to your outdoor or indoor succulent garden. Although a favored name for this succulent is “Miniature Jade,” it is not linked to Crassula ovata. “Elephant shrub” also is offered in mini or variegated forms. The non-variegated kind is a lot more tolerant to heat.

Portulacaria Afra is also a recommended succulent for bonsai.

Caring for Portulacaria afra is similar to numerous other succulent plants. Dig in 3 inches of fine sand or gritty material to provide well-drained soil, if planted outdoors in a warmer climate.

The most common blunder/mistake made in succulent plants is watering. They can withstand drought very well but do require watering from April to October. You may stop watering in the winter periods because the plants are dormant and do not require much watering.

Elephant shrub succulents indoors should not be constantly watered. Make sure the pot drains extremely well and also don’t leave a saucer that contains water to sit under the container. During the winter periods, fertilize very late up until the early spring periods, using an indoor seed fertilizer diluted by half.

Sunlight Requirements: Light Shade to Full Sunlight

Portulacaria Afra requires lots of intense sunlight and could periodically withstand the full sun. You might require to acclimate the plant to complete sunshine at the start. Light sunburn could be expected under severe heat scenarios yet otherwise, these plants can perfectly endure the heat.

Indoor Lighting

If you’re caring for the plant inside your home, give the brightest light feasible in the house. A south-facing residence window will absolutely work best, however, an eastern or west-facing home window will certainly work too. You may need to relocate the plant a number of times up till you find the ideal place. Ideally, the plant requires at least 5 to 6 hours of light.

If your area does not get adequate sunlight or you have poor lighting in your house, consider making use of a grow-light so your plant can satisfy its lighting requirements to grow properly, particularly throughout those dark winter season months. Below are some grow-light suggestions that may assist you.

You can additionally read my blog post “proper lighting for indoor succulents” to get some helpful ideas.

Outdoor Sunshine requirements

Portulacaria Afra

Portulacaria Afra ‘Elephant Shrub’ does great in areas that receive a good amount of sunlight. They are able to withstand partial sunshine to full sunlight, yet they prefer brilliant filtered sunlight. They should be changed to full sun or the leaves will definitely get sunburnt.

When outdoors, put it in a bright sunny spot. Prior to moving the plant outdoors or trying to raise the quantity of sunlight it gets, it is best to acclimate the plant so as to secure it against burning or sunshine problems. Ensure you raise the quantity of sunlight it gets gradually till it is fully adjusted to the sunshine. Also, when the plant has finally accustomed to full sunshine, it can still experience sunburnt throughout a heatwave or extremely high-temperature level.

Sunshades have constantly been a lifesaver for my plants throughout the severe summer heat or warm right here in Northern California, where the temperature degrees can rise above 100℉ or 37.8℃.

For additional details or suggestions on outdoor sunshine requirements, you can see my blog post “how much Sunshine Do Succulents Need Outdoors?” to get some useful information.

Frost Resistance

Portulacaria Afra might endure moderate frost in addition to cold temps as long as they aren’t for an extended amount of time. If you reside in USDA hardiness zones 9-11, you can preserve the plant outside all year long and they can likewise be grown on the ground.

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The ideal means to grow this plant remains in the container if you have extreme winter problems in your location. When there is a forecast of ice or snow, that way you can bring them inside throughout the winter months.

There are ways to conserve and safeguard them from frost or cold temperature ranges if for whatever reason you can not bring the plants in. You can use frost cloths or mini-greenhouses to considerably help them to make it via the great winter season. Below are some of my optimal recommendations for frost safety and protection.

For even more details on this subject, do have a look at my recent post on “Ideal Temperatures for Succulents to Thrive“.

Soil Needs

Similar to numerous other succulent plants, Portulacaria Afra ‘Elephant Shrub’ needs well-draining soil. I have actually been using a simple yet outstanding combination that has actually been working entirely well for my plants. Occasionally, I always to use a cactus potting mix together with perlite for a lot more drainage. Although, I do not make use of superb measurements, however, but eyeball it to around 2:1 solution of cactus blend and perlite. Others might encourage using sandy garden soil. This can normally be achieved by blending cactus mix or growing soil with coarse sand (around 2:1 proportion).

We buy most of the materials from a local shop. You can similarly get them online at the touch of your fingertips by visiting this page. To find out more about soil for succulents, please read “Ideal soil for Succulents“.

Watering Needs

The Schedule of watering completely depends on the environment you reside in. When given sufficient water, these plants grow well, nonetheless, they can perfectly endure completely dry situations and drought. There truly isn’t a formula or set routine on watering succulents plants similar to this.

I live in an entirely dry climate so my watering schedule is gotten from the dry conditions of my environment.

In the summer season periods, I water my Elephant Shrub as adequately as every 7 to 10 days, occasionally more throughout a heatwave, supplying an excellent drink for the plant. I cut down watering to about 10 to 14 days when the climate condition cools.

Assuming you stay in a moist area, you will not be required to water a lot. And additionally, if you keep your plant indoors, you may not need to water very often, especially if they are not getting a lot of light.

Throughout the winter season, I totally rely on rainfall and minimize watering completely because this is the minute when we get a good deal of rainfall in my location. If we do not get any kind of rainfall in any way during the winter season then I water at the very least as soon as a month or every 2 to 3 weeks.

How to know when to water

One superb method to know whether it’s a period to water is to examine the wetness of the soil. The top surface of the soil needs to be totally dry prior to you watering again. It’s constantly a better suggestion to underwater in the beginning and increases the watering as required if you are unsure exactly how much or how often to water your succulents. Focus on the looks of your plants and you can adjust water provisions as needed.

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Think about using unique devices like hygrometers or moisture meters to check out for wetness in the soil and air if you need added help with watering methods. These devices are rather economical and will certainly come in handy particularly if you are unsure of when to water your succulent next. Do have a look at this wetness meter equipment if you need assistance in evaluating your watering requirements.

Want to learn more about watering succulents? See my blog post “how and when to water Succulents” where I discuss details regarding this subject.

Where to Plant

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

If growing inside your home, set it in a warm residence window. This succulent has a tendency to stretch easily if not given adequate sunlight, however, the stretching isn’t as noticeable as various other succulents.

Propagating Portulacaria Afra “Elephant shrub”

Portulacaria Afras are among the most basic succulents you can propagate from stem cuttings. For me, this is the most convenient and fastest way of propagation. You may similarly root from leaves although this is not my preferred way.

When they land in the pot, I always let the leaves alone and allow them to execute their own thing. If you intend to propagate from leaf cuttings, see to it to use the whole leaves consisting of the base to ensure success.

I like using stem cuttings due to the fact that it is less complicated, quicker, as well as practically sure-fire. I find leave propagation a little more difficult and also takes a lot longer.


When preparing to plant Portulacaria Afra “Elephant Shrub” from cuttings, see to it you use a sterilized and clean, sharp blade or pair of scissors. Cut off a stem from the parent plant, allow it to callous for several days prior to putting on a well-draining garden soil. After that, watering can be done when the soil has dried entirely.


Portulacaria Afra can be gotten in miniatures and variegated varieties.


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

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

Pairs Well With

Graptosedum ‘California Sunset’.

Steps in propagating Portulacaria Afra

  • Acquire a couple of stems or leave cuttings and allow them to completely dry for a day or two
    (Optional) Dip the cut end in rooting hormone. I truly do not see the demand to use the rooting hormone, nevertheless, some individuals select it to speed up the procedure and also ensure success.
  • Once the cut has actually recouped and also dried out, positioned the cuttings in a well-draining potting mix. You can either place them in soil or lay them flat on the ground if making usage of leaves.
  • Avoid direct sunshine. Water when it looks completely dry, or every few days.
  • After around 2 weeks or thereabout, you will certainly see brand-new roots growing.
  • After around 4 to 6 weeks, you will see the cuttings have really been absolutely rooted and also you will certainly see fresh growth developing from the top.
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