Portulacaria afra Care – Ultimate Guide

The Portulacaria afra has become very popular among people and traders since it is believed that the owner of one of them will never lack money at home. This succulent has become quite famous!. Learn all about Portulacaria afra care in this article.

The succulent Portulacaria afra is a small plant popularly known by several names, so you will surely know it by one of them, here are the most popular ones:

  • Porkbush.
  • Purslane tree.
  • Dwarf jade plant.
  • Elephant bush.
  • Millionaire or dwarf jade plant (as it is commonly confused with the succulent Jade).

Characteristics of Portulacaria afra

Portulacaria afra is a succulent native to southern Africa, its leaves are small, round or oval and fleshy and bright green, although it is called a tree, really this succulent is a shrub that can reach up to 20 ft (6 meters) in the place where it comes from and in pots can reach a height of up to 6.5 ft (2 meters).

It is a very prolific plant, as its stems tend to branch easily and spread rapidly covering large areas over time.

It is believed that this succulent developed this ability to spread because in its country of origin it is widely consumed by elephants (and that is why it is also known as elephant bush).

Uses of Portulacaria afra

As an ornamental plant, it is a popular favorite and is widely used in landscaping.

Portulacaria afra is also very appreciated by bonsai lovers, as its trunk becomes woody over time and with proper pruning and care can be transformed into a very beautiful “small tree”.

uses portulacaria afra

Care of Portulacaria afra

Fortunately, the Portulacaria afra is a succulent that does not need a lot of care, it is ideal for beginners since practically from any twig you can get more of them.

Next, we will describe in detail everything you need to know to have your tree of plenty in optimal conditions.

care portulacaria afra

Care of Portulacaria afra – Light:

Portulacaria afra is a succulent that will love to be located in an area where it has very good lighting or semi-shade, which is why you can have it indoors without any problem.

It also tolerates direct sun, but in moderation, because if it receives it in the hottest times of the day its leaves can get burned.

If you are going to keep it indoors, avoid placing it next to a window since the magnifying effect of the glass can damage it.

Watering:

This succulent is prepared to withstand water scarcity, so watering your Portulacaria afra can be done every time its substrate is completely dry, although we comment that, from experience, you can water it up to twice a week and its foliage will become more abundant, just take care that its substrate does not become waterlogged because its root tends to rot with excess water.

In winter we must reduce watering to once a month.

By the way, take care that the watering is direct to the substrate and not to the leaves because they tend to get stained with water drops.

Remember that watering is one of the most important points in the care of our succulents, if you want to learn a little more about it you can find this information in Importance of watering succulents.

Temperature:

It develops very well in warm environments.

Be careful with low temperatures 32 °F (0°C) and frost as our tree of plenty does not tolerate them.

Substrate:

To avoid rotting problems in your Portulacaria afra it is recommended that the substrate in which you place it is very draining, so you can use commercial or homemade substrate combined with pumice, tezontle, or vermiculite in equal parts.

We use this with our succulents on this substrate (Order here). If you want to take good care of your Portulacaria afra we recommend this product.

Fertilization:

It is not necessary to fertilize constantly this succulent, you can do it two or three times a year or when it is their turn to transplant with worm humus, banana peel tea, or some fertilizer rich in nitrogen, to encourage flowering.

For our Portulacaria afra to take advantage of all the benefits of fertilization, it is ideal to do it in the spring period until the end of summer.

However, if you want to take proper care of your Portulacaria afra we recommend this fertilizer (Order it here).

fertilization elephant bush

How to Propagate Portulacaria afra:

Portulacaria afra is very easy to propagate by cuttings either stem or leaf, just try to do it in spring or summer, which is its active period.

Propagating Portulacaria afra by Cuttings:

This is the type of propagation that I recommend you to do since it is very simple and in a short time, you will see good results.

  1. Cut the twigs when they have a length of about 4″ (10 cm), for best results make this cut diagonally.
  2. Leave the cuttings in a well-ventilated place in a semi-shade for 2 or 3 days to allow them to heal.
  3. Once they have their crust, plant them in a prepared substrate and place them in a warm, semi-shaded area.

It is necessary to maintain very moderate watering and in a few weeks, the cutting will have rooted giving way to a new Portulacaria afra. Portulacaria afra cuttings here.

Flowering Portulacaria afra:

Portulacaria afra is a succulent that also blooms, however, it is a bit difficult for it to do so when it is potted.

If you have the possibility of planting your Portulacaria afra in the ground I advise you to do it, since with this action you will increase the probability that it will give you some nice flowers once your tree reaches maturity.

They give small pink or lilac flowers, usually in late spring and during the summer.

flowering portulacaria afra

Is It Necessary to Prune My Portulacaria afra?

As it is a plant that spreads very easily, you can prune it if you only want it to have a certain size or because you want to make incursions and turn it into a bonsai.

If on the contrary, you want it to grow without any limit you can leave it like that, it is not necessary to prune it to keep it in good conditions, just remember to check it from time to time to prevent any pest from lodging and spreading in your tree.

Frequent Problems with Portulacaria afra:

Taking care of the basics of our Portulacaria afra is not going to present major problems, just be careful with watering because it also tends to rot.

The pests that can attack our tree of plenty are the cottony mealybug, the fungus Oidium (it looks like a white powder that affects leaves and stems) this can be fought with the pruning of the affected leaves (you have to use good disinfected scissors and a fungicide.

Aphids can also attack our little tree, but keeping our succulent healthy and strong it will hardly suffer from any of these pests.

Portulacaria afra and Feng Shui

Not only people have taken the Portulacaria afra as a symbol of prosperity, but we can also find references in Feng Shui.

According to Feng Shui, this little plant should be placed at the entrance of your home or office so that your tree will attract good luck.

As you can read Portulacaria afra is a beautiful succulent that, regardless of the beliefs of each person, is a plant that can not miss in your collection and are very easy to find in nurseries.

If you want to know more about Feng Shui in plants we recommend you our article about Feng Shui Plant Placement: Strategic Allies.

elephant bush feng shui