Important Details on Growing and Caring for Portulacaria Afra

Important Details on Growing and Caring for Portulacaria Afra

A simple houseplant

The Portulacaria Afra is a simple houseplant that is also extremely easy to care for. The plant consists of tiny green leaves on a reddish stem, but, also, is often found in variegated foliage.

Portulacaria Afra Common Name

Getting confused by the big name? Don’t worry, this big-name belongs to one of the least fussy plants to have laying around the house. Yes, the Portulacaria is, in fact, the scientific name for the Elephant Bush, a succulent commonly found in South Africa. Some other common names of the Portulacaria Afra plant are listed below.

  • Dwarf Jade Plant
  • Jade Plant
  • Porkbush
  • Purslane Tree
  • Spekboom

Is there any difference between Jade Plant and Elephant Bush?

Known by several names

As mentioned above, the Jade plant and Elephant Bush are two popular names of the same plant, that is Portulacaria Afra. However, the Portulacaria Afra just resembles a Jade plant but is not a true Jade plant.

The most evident point that differentiates the Elephant Bush from the Jade plant is that the Elephant Bush can be consumed by humans as well as animals. However, the Jade plant can be severely toxic if ingested.

Essential Portulacaria Afra Benefits

Offers a host of benefits

The Portulacaria Afra might be small in size, but it certainly has many benefits etched on to it. Here are some Portulacaria Afra benefits that you should know of.

  • In the wilderness, Portulacaria Afra makes up for an important part of the diet for many herbivores. It is not a part of their primary diet, yet it makes up for a large portion of the food that they eat.
  • The Portulacaria Afra is a popular bonsai specimen. The Portulacaria Afra Bonsai is quite common in many households and is often a popular choice when it comes to selecting a Bonsai.
  • The Portulacaria Afra is also consumed as a popular food option in many parts of South Africa. It is often served as a part of salads and soups.
  • Portulacaria Afra is often used for feeding livestock as well. Due to their water-retaining capacity as a succulent, the plant also acts as a source of water for the livestock, in addition to being nutritious.
  • The Portulacaria Afra is also deemed as an essential treatment option to cure several skin conditions. This is an important benefit for the people in rural areas as they do not have much access to modern techniques of treatment.
  • Often referred to as a Carbon Sponge, the Portulacaria Afra is bestowed with the ability to soak in extra carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Does the Portulacaria Afra flower?

Produces beautiful blooms

With its glossy and fleshy leaves, the Portulacaria Afra often grows as a small bush. Generally, in its natural habitat, the Portulacaria Afra can easily grow up to a height of around 2 to 6 meters tall. But when planted indoors, the Portulacaria Afra plant seldom grows above the height of 1 meter. No matter the height, the Portulacaria Afra can bloom if met with the right care.

The Portulacaria Afra flowers are of pink colour and are rather tiny in size. These flowers appear in clusters towards the ends of the branches. The Portulacaria Afra flowers bloom after the dormant winter season. The Portulacaria Afra flowers can also appear in shades of purple and white.

Portulacaria Afra Care

Easy to care for

The Portulacaria Afra Elephant Bush has minimal care requirements. These requirements of the plant can easily be managed, without any kind of fuss whatsoever. Just ensure that you take care of the following important care tips and your Portulacaria Afra will be effectively taken care of.

  • Light Needs: The Portulacaria Afra adapts well to different lighting conditions. However, the best option for the plant is to be exposed to bright yet indirect sunlight. Avoid direct sunlight from falling on the plant at all costs as it can lead to the burning of the leaves.
  • Watering the Plant: As a succulent, the Portulacaria Afra does not require watering that often. The Portulacaria Afra plant, however, turns dormant during the winters and should not be watered from November to March. Make sure that you do not over-water the plant.
  • The Ideal Soil: While potting the Portulacaria Afra plant, it is essential to make sure that you choose the right kind of soil to favour the growth of the plant. You can use any general cactus potting soil or other general potting soil, but make sure that it consists of half parts of pumice, or sand and is well-draining.
  • Temperature and Humidity: The Portulacaria Afra favours to grow in warm temperatures. It is essential to maintain a temperature above 30 degrees Fahrenheit to make sure that the plant thrives well. The plant can sustain well in dry conditions and average humidity levels.

Portulacaria Afra Fertilizer

The ideal time of fertilizing the Portulacaria Afra is from the late winter season and up to the early spring season. You can use any general fertilizer on the plant. However, make sure that the Portulacaria Afra fertilizer that you use is just 50% fertilizer and 50% water.

Portulacaria Afra Variegata Pink

Also known as Rainbow Bush

The Portulacaria Afra Variegata Pink or the Variegated Elephant Bush is popularly known as the Rainbow Bush as well. The Portulacaria Afra Variegata Pink is called so as it is a variegated variety of the Portulacaria Afra plant that often blooms flowers that display several shades of pink.

In its natural habitat, the Rainbow Bush can easily grow up to a height of 6 meters. But when planted indoors, the plant grows to a manageable height of just 3 meters. The size of a Rainbow Bush can easily be contained by growing it in a smaller container.

Portulacaria Afra Gold

Also known as Golden Portulacaria Afra

The Portulacaria Afra Gold is also commonly known as the Golden Portulacaria Afra or the Golden Jade plant. It is named so because the plant displays leaves of beautiful golden colour that gradually fades to lime green over time.

When planted indoors, the Portulacaria Afra Gold can easily grow up to a height of just a meter. The plant does not require much care, has minimal water requirements, and is best accustomed to bright yet indirect sunlight.

Portulacaria Afra Propagation

Easy to propagate

Portulacaria Afra propagation is an easy enough job if you make use of stem cuttings. Here is a step-by-step breakdown of Portulacaria Afra propagation through the means of stem cuttings.

  1. Start with selecting a mature and healthy Portulacaria Afra, with branches around 3 to 4 inches long.
  2. Use a clean and sterilized knife to cut off a suitable cutting from the mother plant.
  3. Lay the cutting aside at a place for some days, allowing the cut side of the cutting to dry.
  4. Let the cutting rest for a week or two, until the development of callous. You can also brush up some rooting hormones on the cut side to prevent infections.
  5. Prepare a planter with some potting soil that consists of half sand or pumice.
  6. Gently place the cutting in and move the planter to a spot with some bright yet indirect sunlight.
  7. Water it just enough to make sure that the soil remains dry until the roots of the plant are successfully established.

Once the roots of the plant are developed enough, it can be treated just as any generally growing Portulacaria Afra.


How do you care for a Portulacaria Afra?

To care for a Portulacaria Afra plant, place it in some bright yet indirect sunlight. As a succulent, the plant does not need watering that often. Watering should be avoided altogether from November to March.

Is Portulacaria Afra the same as the jade plant?

The Portulacaria Afra just resembles a Jade plant but is not a true Jade plant. The Portulacaria Afra can be consumed by humans as well as animals. However, the Jade plant can be severely toxic if ingested.

Is Portulacaria Afra a money plant?

The Portulaca Afra is also referred to as the Money plant or the Money tree by some sections of people. However, the Portulaca Afra is not a Money plant.

How fast does Portulacaria Afra grow?         

When first planted as a cutting, the Portulacaria Afra takes around 4 to 6 weeks to successfully establish roots. Once done, the plant grows at a steady rate, reaching up to 1 meter when planted indoors.


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