Portulacaria afra: How to Grow and Care for Elephant Bush, Elephant Food, Dwarf Jade

Portulacaria afra Elephant Bush, Elephant Food, Dwarf Jade

Scientific name: Portulacaria afra

Common name: Elephant Bush, Elephant Food, Dwarf Jade

The Portulacaria afra “Elephant Bush” can grow to incredible heights when given the proper time, nutrition, and growing conditions. It can be used in hanging baskets as well.

Quick Look at Portulacaria afra

  • Full sun to partial shade
  • Typical water needs for a succulent
  • Plant grows up to 12 ft (3.6 m) tall
  • Zone 10 (Minimum 30° F | 1.7° C)
  • Not cold hardy
  • Propagation by cuttings
  • Generally non-toxic to humans and animals
  • Summer Dormant

General Care for Portulacaria afra “Elephant Bush”

Portulacaria afra is a great addition to your garden. Miniature Jade is a popular name for this succulent, but it is not related to Crassula ovata. Miniature and variegated forms ofElephant Bush can be found. The non-variegated form is more resistant to heat.

Portulacaria afra is a popular plant.


The watering needs for a Succulent is typical. The “soak and dry” method will allow the soil to dry out completely between waterings. During its dormancy period, Portulacaria afra needs less frequent watering.

The leaves on Portulacaria afra are so thin it can handle more frequent waterings.

Our free watering cheat sheet will show you how to tell if your plants are getting too much water and how to save it.

Where to Plant

If you live in a zone that gets colder than 30 F, it’s best to plant Portulacaria afra in a container that can be brought indoors. It does well in both full and partial sun. There is an area of your garden that gets 6 hours of sunlight a day.

If planting outdoors, put it in a sunny window. The stretching of this plant isn’t as noticeable as other plants.

How to Propagate Portulacaria afra “Elephant Bush”


Cut Portulacaria afra “Elephant Bush” with a sterile knife or scissors. Allow the main plant’s stem to callous for several days before placing it on well-draining soil. Water whenever the soil has dried out.


Portulacaria afra is also available in miniature and variegated varieties.


Portulacaria afra is an incredible sponge that absorbs high levels of carbon from the air.

The name “Elephant Food” suggests that this succulent is eaten by elephants, but also feeds goats and tortoises. In Southern African cuisine, it is added to salads, soups, and stews to add a sour flavor.


  1. Portulacaria afra (Elephant Bush, Elephant Food, Dwarf Jade) – Wikipedia

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