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How to Care for Elephant Bush

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Elephant Bush, better known as the Dwarf Jade plant, is a low-maintenance succulent native to South Africa. Unlike other succulents, the Elephant Bush grows like a shrub, with wood branches that sprout elegant, round leaves shaped like elephant ears. Slow growing and drought-tolerant, the Elephant Bush makes a perfect long-term houseplant, as it can live for decades!

General Care

Like most jade plants, the Elephant Bush is relatively low-maintenance and can thrive in most conditions, although they prefer access to fresh air! If you’re growing your Elephant Bush indoors, consider keeping it near a window you like to have open.

1. Lighting

Your Dwarf Jade will need about five to six hours of full, indirect sunlight per day, although it can still grow in partial sun. To ensure your succulent gets the most sunlight without burning its leaves, consider placing your Elephant Bush at a south, east, or west-facing window with a window shade for extra protection.

2. Water

Although the Dwarf Jade is quite a drought-tolerant succulent, it still needs water. When you water this succulent, make sure to do so only when the soil is dry to the touch. Water deeply and thoroughly, and let the plant’s soil drain completely before returning your succulent to its usual spot.

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Water Elephant Bush deeply and thoroughly only when the soil is dry to the touch

 

3. Temperature and Humidity

If you plan on growing your Elephant Bush outdoors, it thrives in USDA zones 9b to 11b. This succulent prefers temperatures ranging from 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit when growing inside. Like many succulents native to warm climates, the Elephant Bush is not frost tolerant and will die if exposed to frost. For plant parents living outside the recommended zones, it’s best to keep your Elephant Bush indoors.

4. Soil

Your Dwarf Jade will need extremely porous soil that promotes drainage. If you plan on making your own soil mixture, be sure to add extra coarse sand and perlite or pumice. You can also modify a cactus soil mix by adding an extra cup of perlite or pumice per two cups of soil.

Potting and Repotting

Drainage is vital for the Elephant Bush, and so when the time comes to choose a pot for your succulent, it’s best to go with something porous. Concrete, ceramic, and terracotta pots are all excellent options for the Dwarf Jade, but to ensure further drainage, consider using an unglazed pot. The glaze on some pots can keep water from properly evaporating through your pot’s material.

When repotting your Dwarf Jade, be sure to do so during the growing season to give your succulent plenty of time to adjust to its new home! If you choose to grow this plant as a hanging succulent, be careful not to damage any trailing stems when you begin to repot.

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Repot Elephant Bush during the growing season to give your succulent plenty of time to adjust to its new home!

 

Blooming

The Elephant Bush blooms during its springtime growing season, sprouting beautiful tiny white or pink blossoms that vaguely resemble lilies. While these flowers are indeed gorgeous and add a lovely touch to your garden, don’t be discouraged if you can’t get your Elephant Bush to bloom. Unlike many succulents, the Dwarf Jade only blooms after several years of growth and only in climates near identical to the plant’s natural habitat.

To encourage blooming with this succulent, you’ll need to keep its climate similar to that of its natural habitat– cool nights, dry air, and little water will help promote flowering. Still, your Elephant Bush must ultimately be old enough to bloom. Patience is key!

Propagation

To propagate an Elephant Bush, you can simply take a cutting from one of the plant’s stems using a pair of clean, sharp scissors. As always, let your succulent callous over before planting the cutting.

Pruning and Maintenance

Dwarf Jade can grow many different ways, and how you go about pruning depends on how you plant it. For example, if you wish to grow your succulent as a trailing plant, hang it from the ceiling to encourage your Elephant Bush’s stems to grow downward. Then, you can prune the plant during its growing season when trails become leggy or get damaged. The same goes for traditional growing methods; you can also use the pruned cuttings for propagation!

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You can prune the plant during its growing season when trails become leggy or get damaged

 

Elephant Bush as a Bonsai

Unlike other succulents, the Elephant Bush makes for an excellent bonsai! However, there are some extra care tips you’ll need to follow to turn this already beautiful succulent into a gorgeous tiny tree.

1. Wiring the Bonsai

For starters, the Elephant Bush is a succulent and is thus far more fragile than your traditional bonsai plant. Wiring the plant itself can potentially damage the Elephant Bush’s trunk, and in fact, you may not need to wire this plant at all!

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You may not need to wire Elephant Bush at all

 

2. When Pruning

Instead of wiring your Elephant Bush, first consider trimming away any growths on the lower part of your main stem. By strategically pruning away any unwanted branches, you can control your Elephant Bush’s growth pattern without the need for wiring. In addition, the Elephant Bush retains water in its trunk and branches (like all succulents), so you’ll still be able to get that trademark twisty shape as it grows naturally.

3. Repotting

Repotting the Elephant Bush as a bonsai requires a mix of skills from traditional succulent repotting and bonsai repotting. To repot this succulent, always make sure you use well-draining soil instead of bonsai soil, and do so during the growing season!

Common Pests and Complications

Like all succulents, keep a lookout for common pests like whiteflies, mealybugs, aphids, and spider mites while growing your Elephant Bush. In addition, this succulent may also be susceptible to complications related to poor drainage– fungal gnats, overwatering, and root rot are all higher risk due to the Elephant Bush’s need for well-draining soil and little water.

Toxicity

Like other plants in the Jade family, the Elephant Bush is toxic to humans and animals. In humans, ingestion can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. In pets, ingestion can cause “Jade poisoning,” a type of illness derived specifically from eating plants within the Jade family. If your pet ingests some of this succulent, contact your veterinarian immediately, or take your pet to a 24/7 animal hospital.

If you plan on raising this lovely succulent alongside your fluffy babies, always make sure it stays out of reach from children and animals to ensure everyone’s safety!

Happy gardening!

See more about How to Deal with Transplant Shocks in Succulents

HOW TO DEAL WITH TRANSPLANT SHOCK

 

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