Elephant Bush(spekboom, Portulacaria afra) Leggy growth

smishgibson(7b)August 19, 2013

Hello everyone!

I have a wonderful little Elephant bush that has put up with a lot from me. I bought it quite destressed from lowes. Its my first time with house plants, so I almost killed it putting it in a dark room, with a small south facing window obscured by trees and not watering it for 3 week! I took the "low light, low water" tag serious. I have learned a lot since then. Played around with light and water until i got the leaf drop to stop. Then the leaves all grew back and it started exploding with growth. The pot just wasn't draining well thought so I reported it in a mix of loose potting soil and perlite. Put a bunch of rocks in the bottom of the pot to get better drainage too.

Now its really really growing. I am concerned though, because i feel its becoming leggy, and may need more light. I have it in a WNW window. In the apartment, its the best there is. It gets bright indirect from 8 am until about 2pm. then from 2pm until 8 or 9 it gets direct light.

If it does need more light to grow bushier, could i prune it to improve its shape since i don't have a window with better light?


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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

It is growing wonderfully.
Pinch off the new growth to keep it compact....but this is the plant's habit, and you will need to "tame" it several times throughout the growing season. Don't forget to fertilize periodically.


    Bookmark   August 19, 2013 at 10:12PM
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Thanks Jose.

I didn't realize this was its typical habit. I have some some varieties that look more suited for a hanging basket, growing more out, and down, instead of up. Maybe its not that they are getting more sun, but just that they are a slightly different cultivator.

I will try pruning back and see how it goes.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2013 at 10:33PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

This is the standard habit of the green Port. afra.
There are other variegates, cultivars, that have a more mounding or trailing habit. In many cases, though, it is lower light that leads to droopy growth.


    Bookmark   August 20, 2013 at 11:13AM
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