Posted by Hannah Brand on Jan 11th 2022

January 11th, 2021


Hey Plant Friends!

This week we are talking about Portulacaria afra, commonly known as elephant’s food or elephant shrub. Elephants actually like to eat it! This plant is native to South Africa and belongs to the Didiereaceae family. With amazing carbon storing abilities, Portulacaria offers environmental benefits up to 10 times greater then the same area of rainforest.This is a succulent with small, thick, glossy leaves and in most cases a pink stem. Both green and variegated varieties are available. Portulacaria are grown in many different shapes and forms including bonsai. If you’re looking to start a bonsai collection this is a great place to start.

Let’s talk about care. Portulacaria require at least 5 hours of bright light each day. Make sure to home this plant in a sunny window where there are no cold drafts. Plant in a sharply-draining potting soil. We recommend the Sol Soils Cactus Grit, locally mixed available in 1 or 2 quart bags. Just like any succulent let this plant dry almost completely between watering. At this time, give it a good soak until the water drains out the bottom of the pot. During the summer months, and during active growth, you may have to water more often. Beware not to let it dry all the way out as this will cause leaf drop.

If you are looking to bonsai your Portulacaria, prune an pinch growing tips to an interesting shape and to your liking. Portulacaria will benefit from being moved outside for the summer months making sure to temper it to sunny conditions and avoid leaf burn. Portulacaria also mix well with other succulents especially kalanchoe, echevieria, and sedums.

Portulacaria afra are available in greenhouse in 4”, 6”, and 8”, and 10” pots. If you have additional questions feel free to reach out to us by phone, Instagram, or email us - hello@tonkadale.com.

Happy Planting!