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Portulacaria afra ‘Variegata’

Portulacaria afra ‘Variegata’

Portulacaria afra ‘Variegata’, also called Rainbow Bush or Elephant Bush, belongs to the family Didiereaceae, which was considered endemic to Madagascar until recently, when Portulacaria and two other African genera were added. This elegant, sprawling succulent grows up to 8 feet at maturity but with selective pruning can be kept to a manageable size. ‘Variegata’ is smaller than the green form of the same name, which can grow up to 12 feet at maturity. This tender succulent is commonly used for Bonsai and will thrive as a house plant if placed in a warm room with bright indirect light.

Portulacaria afra ‘Variegata’ has beautiful reddish-brown stems that contrast with the bright green and cream colored leaves. It is lovely in the garden near a grass that has some rust color such as Anamanthele, and other plants that have one or more of its colors. It loves full sun, and can tolerate light shade. Plant in well-drained soil and irrigate sparingly. It is said that even southern California gets too much precipitation for this plant to flower, so flowers are rarely seen, but are mild pink/lavender colored in the wild. Because of its low water needs, this is a good choice for xeriscaping. It is cold hardy to 25°F and the Sunset Climate Zones are 8, 9, 12-27.

Deer and rabbits generally avoid this plant. It is a considered a “Carbon Sponge”, meaning that it uses a pathway for carbon fixation and photosynthesis that allows it to soak up more carbon dioxide than other plants. We are currently carrying Portulacaria afra ‘Variegata’ in 1 gallon containers. Give us a call, “Like” us on Facebook, or check out our website at to learn more about this and other plants we are growing!

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