How to Successfully Cultivate and Care for Variegated Elephant Bush: All You Need to Know about the Rainbow Bush


If you are looking for a unique and eye-catching plant to add to your succulent collection, the variegated elephant bush may be just what you need. Also known as the Rainbow Bush or Portulacaria afra ‘Variegata’, this stunning plant has the potential to add a pop of color to any area of your home or garden.

Native to South Africa, the variegated elephant bush is relatively easy to grow and care for. Like most succulents, it requires minimal watering, making it a great option for those who are not particularly green-thumbed. In fact, overwatering can be a potential issue for this plant, so it’s important to thoroughly check the soil before waterings and only water when it is dry.

When planting the variegated elephant bush, it’s important to use well-draining soil, such as a mix of potting soil, perlite, and vermiculite. This will help ensure proper airflow and prevent the roots from becoming waterlogged. Place the plant in an area where it can receive bright, indirect sunlight for at least 4-6 hours a day.

When it comes to fertilizing, the variegated elephant bush is a relatively low-maintenance plant. Fertilize it once a year during the growing season with a balanced fertilizer. Be careful not to over-fertilize, as this can cause the leaves to turn yellow.

In terms of pricing, the variegated elephant bush can be somewhat expensive due to its rarity and unique coloring. If you are having trouble finding the plant locally, consider looking online or at specialized nurseries. Keep in mind that the variegated elephant bush is often sold as a string of cuttings, rather than a potted plant.

Rainbow Elephant Bush

The Rainbow Elephant Bush, also known as Portulacaria afra ‘Variegata’, is a variegated version of the Elephant Bush plant. This unique succulent is native to South Africa and is a popular choice for indoor and outdoor gardens.

For those interested in growing the Rainbow Elephant Bush, here are some tips and care instructions:

Light: The Rainbow Elephant Bush thrives in bright, indirect light. Place it in an area where it can receive enough sunlight, but avoid direct sunlight as it may cause the leaves to burn.

Watering: Like other succulents, the Rainbow Elephant Bush prefers less water. Water the plant thoroughly and allow the soil to dry out before watering again. Overwatering can lead to root rot, so it’s important to check the moisture level of the soil before watering.

Soil: A well-draining and porous soil mix is ideal for the Rainbow Elephant Bush. Use a mix of cactus soil and perlite or vermiculite to ensure proper drainage and airflow around the roots.

Fertilize: Fertilize the Rainbow Elephant Bush once a year during the growing season. Use a balanced fertilizer specifically formulated for succulent plants.

Care: The Rainbow Elephant Bush is a relatively low-maintenance plant. Regularly check for pests, such as spider mites or mealybugs, and treat them promptly. Trim any dead or yellowing leaves to maintain the plant’s appearance.

Finding Variegated Elephant Bush: The Rainbow Elephant Bush is a sought-after variety due to its unique variegation. It can be found in nurseries or online plant stores. Pricing may vary depending on the size and rarity of the plant.

In summary, the Rainbow Elephant Bush is a beautiful and unique succulent plant that can add a splash of color to your home or garden. With the right care and attention, this variegated bush has the potential to grow into a stunning and eye-catching centerpiece.

Check the growing potential in your area

When it comes to growing plants, factors like airflow, temperature, and sunlight all play a crucial role in determining their success. The Rainbow Bush, also known as Portulacaria afra ‘Variegata,’ is a gnarly and somewhat rare bush to find in local nurseries. It is a variegated succulent that hails from Africa and is well-suited for warm and dry environments.

Before you dive into the process of growing and caring for a variegated elephant bush, it is important to check the growing potential of this unique plant in your area. You want to ensure that your local climate and conditions can provide enough sunlight, watering, and suitable soil to foster the healthy growth of this beautiful succulent.

Firstly, you need to determine your current hardiness zone, which can be easily done using an online calculator or by consulting with a local gardening expert. The Rainbow Bush generally thrives in zones 9 to 11, where the temperatures do not fall below 35°F (2°C).

Once you have checked the suitability of your area’s climate, it is crucial to pay attention to the lighting conditions. Variegated elephant bush plants require bright light to maintain their yellow and green color variegation. A location that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight per day is ideal for optimal growth. In case you have less light available, you may need to supplement it with artificial grow lights.

In terms of soil, the Rainbow Bush prefers well-draining and porous soil. A mixture of regular potting soil and perlite or vermiculite usually works best. This allows the water to drain efficiently and avoids waterlogging, which can lead to root rot and other issues.

To fertilize the variegated elephant bush, use a balanced fertilizer with an analysis of 10-10-10 or 20-20-20. Apply the fertilizer once a month during the growing season, usually from spring to early fall. Be sure not to over-fertilize, as it can cause excessive growth and negatively impact the plant’s health

When it comes to watering, the Rainbow Bush prefers a well-drained soil that is allowed to dry out between watering sessions. Water thoroughly, allowing the water to run out through the drainage holes. Avoid overwatering, as it can lead to root rot.

By checking the growing potential in your area and ensuring that you can provide the necessary conditions and care, you can successfully grow a variegated elephant bush in your home or garden. Follow these tips and guidelines to enjoy the beauty of the “Rainbow Bush” with its striking variegated leaves.

Finding light for Rainbow Elephant Bush in your home

When it comes to growing the Rainbow Elephant Bush (Portulacaria afra variegata) in your home, finding the right amount of light is crucial. This bush, native to South Africa, thrives in bright light but can also tolerate lower light conditions.

It is important to place your Rainbow Elephant Bush in an area that receives at least 4-6 hours of indirect sunlight per day. Placing it near a window that faces south or west is ideal for providing the necessary light. If your home doesn’t have a suitable window, you can also use artificial lights, such as grow lights, to supplement the light needs of your bush.

When choosing a spot for your Rainbow Elephant Bush, keep in mind that direct sunlight can scorch the leaves of the plant. Therefore, it is best to provide filtered or indirect sunlight to avoid any damage.

Another important factor when finding the right light for your Rainbow Elephant Bush is considering the temperature and airflow in the area. This bush prefers warm temperatures, ideally between 60-75°F (15-24°C), and good airflow to prevent moisture buildup and potential diseases.

Remember to check the soil moisture of your Rainbow Elephant Bush regularly. Water the bush thoroughly when the top inch of the soil becomes dry. Ensure that the pot has proper drainage to prevent water from pooling, as the bush doesn’t like to sit in soggy soil.

In terms of fertilizing, you can use a balanced succulent fertilizer, diluted to half the strength recommended on the packaging. Fertilize your Rainbow Elephant Bush once a month during the growing season (spring and summer) to promote healthy growth.

To summarize, finding the right light for your Rainbow Elephant Bush is essential for its well-being. Provide 4-6 hours of indirect sunlight per day, avoid direct sunlight, maintain a warm temperature and good airflow, and regularly check the soil moisture. By following these tips, you can ensure that your variegated Elephant Bush thrives and adds a touch of vibrant beauty to your home.

How to fertilize Rainbow Elephant Bush

The Rainbow Elephant Bush, also known as Portulacaria afra ‘Variegata’, is a popular variegated succulent that is native to South Africa. This beautiful bush, with its yellow and green leaves, can be a stunning addition to your home or garden. To ensure its proper growth and to enhance its potential, it’s crucial to fertilize your Rainbow Elephant Bush.

When it comes to fertilizing this succulent, it’s important to find the right balance. You want to provide enough nutrients to support its growth, but avoid over-fertilizing, as it can harm the plant. A general rule is to fertilize your Rainbow Elephant Bush approximately once a month during the growing season (spring and summer).

First, choose a fertilizer that is specifically formulated for succulents or cacti. These fertilizers are often low in nitrogen and high in phosphorus and potassium, which are essential for the growth and health of succulent plants. You can find succulent fertilizers at your local gardening store or online.

When applying fertilizer to your Rainbow Elephant Bush, it’s important to follow the instructions provided on the packaging. Typically, you will dilute the fertilizer with water at a ratio of 1:2. This means that for every part of fertilizer, you will use two parts of water.

Before applying the fertilizer, make sure to thoroughly water your Rainbow Elephant Bush. This will help prevent any potential damage to the roots caused by the concentrated fertilizer. After watering, apply the diluted fertilizer to the soil around the base of the plant. Be careful not to get any fertilizer on the leaves, as this can cause burns.

In addition to regular fertilization, it’s important to provide proper care for your Rainbow Elephant Bush. This includes watering the plant about once a week, or when the soil feels dry to the touch. Make sure to check the moisture level of the soil before watering to avoid over-watering. The Rainbow Elephant Bush prefers well-draining soil, so adding vermiculite or perlite can help improve the soil’s drainage.

When choosing a location for your Rainbow Elephant Bush, keep in mind that these plants thrive in bright light. They can tolerate some direct sunlight, especially in the morning or late afternoon. However, they should be protected from intense afternoon sun, as this can lead to sunburn and damage the variegated leaves.

To maintain the attractive look of your Rainbow Elephant Bush and to encourage its growth, regular pruning may be necessary. You can trim back any leggy or unruly growth to promote a bushier and more compact shape. Just make sure to use clean and sharp pruning shears to avoid damaging the plant.

By following these tips and providing proper fertilization and care, your Rainbow Elephant Bush will thrive and add a vibrant touch to your home or garden. Enjoy watching this gnarly succulent grow and flourish throughout the year!

✿ Read More About Cacti and Succulents.

Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.