elephant bush hanging over wood siding
photo credit EuToch/Shutterstock

Are you looking for a new variety of succulent that is easy to grow, easy to propagate, and easier to care for than a jade plant (with a similar look of a jade plant!)? Look no further than Elephant Bush Succulents. Native to South Africa, Elephant Bush Succulents give you many options from whether it is planted indoors or outdoors to what it is shaped like with some simple pruning. Continue reading to learn more about Elephant Bush Succulents and what it can bring to your home or garden. 

Elephant Bush Characteristics

Here are some characteristics to help you get more easily acquainted with an Elephant Bush Succulent:

Unlike many varieties of succulents, the foliage on Elephant Bushes are edible. Both people and animals eat Elephant Bushes. People in South Africa add the foliage to salads and soups for a sour flavor and used to use it for medicine. Elephant Bushes are eaten by a large variety of animals too, including elephants, tortoises, goats, and other domestic animals. 

Light & Temperature Requirements

Elephant Bush Succulents prefer sun but can also tolerate partial shade

Ultimately, Elephant Bushes will grow best in bright light, whether it is planted indoors or outdoors. 

Be warned that you may have to move your Elephant Bush around indoors to find the best place for it because:

  • Too much direct sunlight can burn the leaves
  • Direct sunlight can turn the leaves red or yellow, though this does not hurt your Elephant Bush

A south facing window could provide the best kind of sunlight, but remember: don’t be afraid if your Elephant Bush drops a few leaves as you move it around looking for the best sun exposure.

Water Requirements

Elephant Bushes, like many succulents, require little watering to continue growing.

The Elephant Bush grows best when it receives adequate water, so you should still water deeply and infrequently. 

Be careful not to overwater your Elephant Bush Succulent; too much water can lead to root rot, which could kill your Elephant Bush. 

Check out this handy guide for watering your Elephant Bush throughout the year if you experience multiple seasons:

  • Winter: Do not water your Elephant Bush until leaves begin to shrivel because it is dormant. You might have to wait weeks or even months between watering during the colder months.
  • Spring: Gradually begin to water your Elephant Bush more often, still waiting a few weeks between waterings.
  • Summer: Water your Elephant Bush every two weeks or so, making sure to check if the soil feels dry to the touch.

How Big Does An Elephant Bush Succulent Get?

Elephant Bush Succulents will grow to different heights depending on whether it is planted outside in the ground or in pots. 

Outside, an Elephant Bush Succulent can grow up to 10 feet tall and five feet wide. The stems and leaves of the Elephant Bush provides ample groundcover and piles on top of itself to greater heights than other sprawling succulents. 

Elephant Bushes will stay small and petite if planted inside in a pot. It is often compared to a bonsai plant in indoor conditions. You can also easily prune an Elephant Bush without limiting its healthy growth by pinching branches off. 

What Kind of Soil Should I Use For An Elephant Bush?

As mentioned, you should use a well-draining soil, like any other kind of succulent. You can use a soil made for cacti if you plan to purchase the soil at a store or nursery. This is a good option because it drains easily and does not hold water.

Keep in mind that the branches of Elephant Bushes can make it top heavy, so the soil will need to be well-packed. If you are still worried that your Elephant Bush will pull its own roots out of the pot or ground, use a stake to stabilize the plant. You can also use rocks if grown outside.

How Do You Make An Elephant Bush Bushier?

There are a few ways to make an Elephant Bush bushier:

  • Do not prune your Elephant Bush. Left untouched, your Elephant Bush will grow thicker, especially one that is planted in ground outside. 
  • Or, prune smartly to train your Elephant Bush to grow wider rather than taller.
  • Repot your Elephant Bush when it has filled the pot it is in, allowing it more room to grow each time it’s repotted. 

What Is The Lifespan Of An Elephant Bush? 

If you properly care for an Elephant Bush Succulent, then you can expect your Elephant Bush to survive for 40-50 years.

Outside, an Elephant Bush will live to the longer end of that lifespan and may even survive well past 50 years if it is not overeaten or under watered.

Cared for under proper conditions, your Elephant Bush will still likely survive for a few decades. With as hardy as Elephant Bushes are, you may not have to worry about killing it. 

How to Propagate An Elephant Bush

Elephant Bushes should be propagated during warmer months.  

All you need to do is cut one of the stems from your Elephant Bush and plant it in soil after giving it a few days to dry out. It will begin growing quickly, generally within 4-6 weeks of propagation. 

If you really want to test your green thumb and plant propagation abilities, try propagating your cutting in water! Elephant Bush cuttings root so well in nearly any environment that you could begin a new Elephant Bush with water.
Sometimes you do not need to work hard to propagate an Elephant Bush Succulent. Some branches or leaves that fall will actually root where it lands, especially if it is grown outside. You’ll have new Elephant Bushes growing without needing to do anything!