Other common names: Elephant’s food
The Elephant Bush is a succulent shrub that grows up to 5m tall in the wild, but is usually kept to less than 20cm tall in cultivation. It has small and fleshy leaves with rounded edges that are oppositely arranged and reddish brown woody stems.
A perennial succulent shrub, its ability to tolerate shallow soils makes it suitable to be grown in a variety of containers, and can be used for bonsai. It also comes in a variegated form, where the leaves are a light green with hues of white and pink.
Sun and soil needs:
This plant thrives in grows best in at least 4 hours of direct sunlight. It can tolerate a minimum of 4 hours of indirect sunlight or 2-4 hours of direct sunlight, but may grow long and leggy. Plants do best in pots with sandy soil at least 15cm deep.
More direct sunlight and regular pruning will encourage a bushier growth. These plants do not need to be fertilised frequently; a balanced slow-releasing fertiliser given once every 4 months will be sufficient.
As with all potted plants, regular repotting once a year will prevent it from becoming root bound.
The Elephant Bush can be grown from stem cuttings rooted in soil.
Common problems & solutions:
This plant is susceptible to root rot if grown in waterlogged soil. To prevent rot, grow the plant in sandy soil with plenty of inorganic soil amendments. Plants can also be bottom watered once a week or less to keep the soil airy.
Mealy Bugs often infest the plant if it has underlying problems like root rot. Mechanical pest control methods like pruning the infested parts are the best methods for managing these pests in the short term. However, resolving the underlying problem will prevent them in the long term.