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Variegated Elephant Bush

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Also known as variegated elephant bush or rainbow portulacaria plant, rainbow elephant bush (Portulacaria afra ‘Variegata’) is a shrubby succulent with mahogany stems and fleshy, green and creamy white foliage. Clusters of small, lavender-pink blooms may appear at branch tips. A cultivar with solid-colored leaves is also available and known simply as elephant bush.

Place variegated elephant bush in indirect sunlight. Intense light can scorch the leaves and cause them to drop from the plant. The plant should be warm and protected from drafts. Be sure the container has adequate drain holes. Overwatering and poorly drained soil are the most common causes of death for rainbow portulacaria plants. An unglazed pot is preferable because it allows excess moisture to evaporate. Fill the container with a potting soil for cacti and succulents, or use a combination of half regular potting soil and half sand, vermiculite, or other gritty material. Water the plant regularly from April to October, but never overwater. In general, it’s best to withhold water while the plant is dormant during the winter months, although you can water very sparingly if the leaves look shriveled.


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