Saturday, September 24, 2011

Elephant Bush-Love this plant

You may have seen elephant bush around at the nursuries lately.  It is growing in popularity because it is a low maintennance plant in the succulent family.

I first saw an elephant bush across the street at my neighbor's house.  It closely resembled a boxwood in my opinion, but it is a succulent, almost like a jade plant, in fact it is known as a dwarf jade plant.  I fell in love with it immediately.  It is much more delicate looking than a typical jade and the species that I have has a reddish tint to the stem.

So last January (2010), my neighbor was moving out of state and since she is a gardener, she wanted her plants to go to good homes.  I think I spent a week over at her house helping her pack, and digging out plants and re-potting them to pack up to her new home, taking cuttings, etc.  The one plant I didn't take was the elephant bush, because it was in a location where it would have de-valued the landscaping if I ripped it out.  So I kindly left it alone and figured I would come back for cuttings in the early spring.

Turns out the landlord had other ideas, and immediately came in and ripped out ALL the plantings...oh it broke my heart.  My neighbor had lived there for 20 years building an English cottage garden with bulbs and roses and arbors.  It was spectacular.  A bit overgrown, but very Secret Garden-esque so to see it be reduced to palm trees and grass was awful.

When I saw them ripping out the elephant bush I ran over and asked them to let me salvage the pieces they had thrown in the dumpster.  I was able to retrieve 25 or so 6-10 inch cuttings. 

Since then, I've potted them, and moved them several times because I didn't have a permanent home anywhere.  Today, however, the largest of the babies have gotten to be about 3 feet tall and they are big enough to place in my front flower beds.

Here's how the biggest few look now.

If you want to take cuttings of succulents, here are the steps I follow:

  1. Get a clean cut of a young area of the plant.
  2. Set it aside out of direct sun but in a warm-ish area for 4-5 days.
  3. Dig a hole and bury the bottom inch or so stripping off any leaves that may go underground.
  4. Keep moist for several weeks then let it dry out for a week and resume a regular watering schedule.

As much as everyone says that succulents are drought tolerant and great for our Southern California weather, I find that mine really do appreciate being watered and most of them just don't like full sun.  They thrive in part sun in my experience.

Also, that freaky hail storm we had a couple of weeks ago pitted and dented my elephant bush severely and I thought the scarring would be permanent, but not so at all!  It bounced back and actually looks better than before the hail.  Who knew?

For a little bit of inspiration hop over to this blog post about how to make a wreath out of succulent clippings!  I think I might make this soon!


  1. We used to have one of those in our backyard, but we ripped it out, it was about 6 feet tall.

  2. Jealous!!!! I want mine to grow bushier rather than tall so I'm trying to figure out how to prune them.