Meet The Family: Elephant Bush/Spekboom – Join The Challenge

My rainbow Elephant Bush (Portulacaria Afra) or Spekboom as I know her from growing up in South Africa is not particularly one of my favourite plants, but she has a special place in my heart. Every time I look at her a lot of special memories from living in South Africa come to mind. If you haven’t heard of this miracle plant, keep reading! 

With my “Meet The Family” series of posts I will be introducing you to my plants and tell you a little bit more about the story behind each plant. I will also attempt to share more about my plant care, and how the plant responds to the conditions in our apartment.

This succulent is identified by its red stems and small bright green leaves. Mine is a variegated version so at first I wasn’t 100% sure that it was a Spekboom when I saw her at Deep Route Gardening in Cork. Also, as they are native to South Africa I couldn’t believe that they would be sold in Ireland. I took a photo and sent it to Saffron’s Garden to confirm that she is in fact a Spekboom. It was the weirdest thing, but I got a little bit emotional that day after seeing her so far from home. I have since seen them quite frequently in shops so they are more common here than I thought! 

This plant goes by many different names and I’ve found that outside of South Africa it is most commonly referred to as a Dwarf Jade Plant. It recently got placed in the spotlight thanks to the #SpekboomChallenge. It came to light that this plant is somewhat of a miracle plant and people were encouraged to plant as many as they can in an attempt to decrease carbon emissions. I learned a lot of this after buying mine and was amazed at the benefits this plant had! Not only are they edible, they are also amazing at purifying the air and combating pollution. You can read more here.

As they are drought resistant plants you would think they should be kept in semi-arid conditions, but apparently they are extremely good at adapting to their surroundings. I am personally still figuring out what mine needs, as she started shriveling her leaves when I let her dry out. I keep her in terracotta, but found that watering her more frequently put her in better shape. 

She is quite tiny and looked completely lost in the pot I bought, so a few weeks ago when I did a grocery run to get some essentials I saw that our local Aldi had an amazing selection of cacti and succulents. I got another Portulacaria Afra to fill up the pot and I must say she looks much happier.

If you’ve made it this far into the post and you’re thinking of joining the challenge, this is how you can get involved according to Garden And Home SA:  

1. Start in your garden, in your apartment or on your balcony by planting a Spekboom. If you are lucky you can get one at your local nursery or garden center. They are apparently very easy to propagate so if you have a friend or family member with a Spekboom beg or plead for a cutting. 

2. Once you have your Spekboom challenge your friends to get one too. Take a picture of your Spekboom and post it on social media. Add the hashtag #SpekboomChallenge and tag friends and family to challenge them to plant a Spekboom too.

Will you be joining the challenge? Tag me in your posts on Instagram so that I can see!  

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