A favorite food of elephants in its native habitat, this plant is identified by its small, glossy leaves and bush like shape. In the wild, it can grow to sizes of 6-20 feet tall, though it also thrives as a house plant. Use these helpful tips to ensure your elephant bush grows happy and healthy.
The recommended watering method for the elephant bush is to soak it, then allow the soil to dry out completely before watering again. Typically this means every 7-10 days in hotter/drier weather and 10-14 days in cooler weather. Choose a container with good drainage holes. If the container is sitting in a saucer, make sure to empty it so your elephant bush is not sitting in water. This will help ward off root rot. Always air on the side of underwatering versus overwatering.
Light and humidity
The elephant bush prefers a sunny location, so choose a window that receives 5-6 hours of sunlight per day. If it does not receive enough light, this succulent will stretch like others of its kind. A grow light is an excellent idea if your home does not receive much light.
Soil and fertilizer
Since the elephant bush prefers evenly moist soil, choose a cactus or succulent mix. You can also make a mix at home by using half sand/vermiculite and half potting soil. To fertilize, dilute an indoor plant fertilizer by half and administer in later winter to early spring.
Cleaning and pruning
Elephant bush is susceptible to the usual house plant offenders, so watch for whitefly, spider mites and mealybugs. Some health issues with this plant could include dropped or shriveled/flat leaves. This can be due to underwatering. Give your plant a good drink and it should perk up in a day or two. Soft, mushly leaves can be a result of overwatering. In this case, allow your plant’s soil to dry before watering again and consider moving it to an even brighter location to help that process.
You can propagate your elephant bush by removing a stem from the main plant with a sharp knife or pair of scissors. Allow the cutting to callous for a few days, then place it in well-draining soil. Water the cutting once the soil has dried out completely. Place the cutting in an area with decent lighting, keeping the temperature above 65. It should take root within a few weeks.
You should repot your plant when it outgrows its current container. Check out our repotting guide for more tips on this process.
The elephant bush’s nickname is often “Miniature Jade”, though it is not related in genus to the Jade succulent. It is also a popular succulent for bonsai. While elephants enjoy it, so do goats and tortoises, and its leaves are even used to add a sour flavor to Southern African dishes like stews and salads.