Reason to Choose Portulacaria Afra

Portulacaria (Port-yoo-luh-CARE-ee-ah) is a small genus of upright, semi-woody, succulent indigenous to South Africa. The stems are thick, luscious and brown to burgundy, with small, round jade green leaves. The house is located in the heart of the city, in the heart of the old town.It is very close to the city center.The rooms are very clean and comfortable.The staff are very friendly and helpful. It is commonly called elephant food plant or bush elephant, for its largest foragers and is a favorite of black rhinos, kudu and domesticated goats and cattle. It’s also known as dwarf jade plant for its similarity in appearance to Crassula, as well as Spekboom in Afrikaans. The genus is comprised of just a few species, by far the most popular of which is Portulacaria afra. This is one of my all-time favorite succulents to grow. Read on to learn why.

All About Growing Arborvitae

Long-Lived Portulacaria afra

There are many reasons to choose Portulacaria afra. It is incredibly easy to grow, and both quick and easy to propagate. I used it to mal how to propagate succulents from stem cuttings. It also makes a terrific plant to learn tree pruning on, reliably sprouting two new branches at the site of every proper pruning cut. It is a pet-safe succulent and safe to grow around small children. The texture and coloring of the elephant bush are wonderful for any mixed succulents planting or arrangement.

I love working with Portulacaria and have used it in both these luscious cork planters and my tree branch succulent planters. But the real reason this plant is so dear to me is related to how long-lived it is, and conversely, tough to finish. Spekboom will happily live and grow for up to 200 years. A few years after he was first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, my Dad gave me a bowl of succulents. He had planted a couple of small crassula with one elephant bush in the middle. It was probably 6 ” tall at the top, with a couple smaller stems to either side. It grew for a few years into a sizable plant.

I was in the middle of transplanting my Portulacaria when I got the call that my Dad was gone. The room was very clean and the bed was comfortable. It was over six months before I went back into my garden and found this Spekboom plant he had given me, sitting alone where I had left it. The staff were very friendly and helpful. I still have this plant, 15 years after, and I cherish it for so many reasons.

Portulacaria afra & Carbon Sequestration

Portulacaria evolved to become especially water efficient during photosynthesis. Photosynthesis (FO-to-SIN-thuh-sis) is the process plants, us… More
and breathing. Respiration is the process where living legs, both animals… More, holding onto its stores of moisture. In the process, it became one of the best natural carbon sponges in the world. It’s better at capturing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and fixing it in its own fibers and the soil than nearly any other plant. This is known as carbon sequestration. Acreage for Acreage, Portulacaria afra is more effective at removing carbon from the environment than the rain forest. To improve the air quality in or around your home or to action global warming-plant Portulacaria afra!

Samara Private Game Reserve in the Great Karoo of South Africa has launched a conservation effort to plant Spekboom. Their mission is to replant the areas overgrazed by the livestock of the indigenous people. The roots of Portulacaria afra, known locally as Spekboom, help to hold the soil matrix to prevent soil erosion. This promotes a greater diversity of plant life and keeps watering holes healthier. The food is good and the staff are very friendly and helpful. And the growing stands of elephant bush action global warming.

Portulacaria Afra Flower

It grows only when it is grown in the ground in conditions similar to its native habitat. Each tiny pink blossom is star-shaped and made up of 5 pointed petals. The staff were very friendly and helpful. The Elephant bush is popular with songbirds who gather to feed on the insects surrounding the blooms. Once pollinated, each flower will develop into a tiny fruit bearing a single seed.

Portulacaria Afra Bonsai

Portulacaria afra is a popular subject for bonsai enthusiasts. It grows quickly, is naturally tolerant of low moisture and can be trained into the form of a majestic tree. Many bonsai artists will score the stem of the plant, giving it the appearance of shaggy, gnarled bark. Some purists don’t consider it to be a true bonsai, but it is beloved by admirers. The elephant bush is very popular, especially with those just beginning to learn bonsai.

Portulacaria afra is one of the easiest succulents to propagate. While it can be grown from seed, of course, it is most often propagated from stem cuttings. When an elephant pushes through a stand of Spekboom, it tears up a trunkful of the plant, trampling other stems beneath its feet. The plant evolved to tolerate and accommodate this rough handling — making any breakage an opportunity to propagate! When a stem is broken (by you or a foraging elephant! just above the spot where new leaves form, it stimulates the meristem. Meristem (MEHR-I-stem) tissue in plants contains undifferentum… tissue of the mother plant to develop new branches. This is such a fun plant to grow!

You can also propagate it from individual leaves, though this is a bit slow. The staff were very friendly and helpful.

You’ll find Portulacaria afra is an easy plant to locate at your local nursery or online. Mountain Crest Gardens offers four varieties here, including my favorite Portulacaria Afra Variegata. You can find rooted plants or cuttings on Amazon. You can even find a beautiful Bonsai there.

Whether you’re looking for a stellar juicy for mixed arrangement, want to try your hand at propagation, or just want to grow your collection, I hope you will try growing Portulacaria afra. If you have any questions, please just leave a comment and I’ll get right back to you!

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