Elephant Bush vs Jade Plant: A Succulent Comparison

Disclosure: As Amazon Associates we earn from qualifying purchases. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you.

Please note that while we always strive to provide 100% up to date and accurate information, there is always the small possibility of error. Therefore, we advise conducting further research and due diligence before consuming any plants or exposing pets to anything mentioned on this site. Kindly refer to the full disclaimer for more details here.

If you’re looking for a low-maintenance houseplant that’s easy to care for and adds a touch of green to your home, you may be considering either elephant bush or jade plant. While these two plants may look similar at first glance, there are some key differences in their appearance, care requirements, and growth habits. In this article, we’ll compare elephant bush vs jade plant and help you decide which one is the right choice for your indoor garden. We’ll cover everything from their appearance and care needs to their propagation and common problems.

Elephant Bush and Jade Plant: A Brief Overview

Elephant Bush and Jade Plant, although appearing similar to an untrained eye, are in fact two distinct types of succulents from different families. The key differences between the two plants involve their leaf shape, leaf size, plant size, stem color, flowers, natural home, origin, and uses.

The Elephant Bush, scientifically known as Portulacaria afra, boasts smaller leaves and has stems with a reddish or purple hue. This plant is native to South Africa and is often called “dwarf jade” due to its resemblance to the Jade Plant (Sun And Seedlings).

On the other hand, the Jade Plant, or Crassula ovata, exhibits larger leaves compared to the Elephant Bush. While both plants possess small leaves, the Elephant Bush is smaller in size. Jade Plants have star-shaped flowers, whereas Elephant Bushes possess smaller, non-star-shaped flowers. Jade Plants are native to both South Africa and Mozambique ( Elephant Bush vs Jade Plant: 8 Differences You Need to Know).

Here are the main differences between Elephant Bush and Jade Plant:

  • Leaf shape
  • Leaf size
  • Plant size
  • Stem color
  • Flowers
  • Natural home
  • Origin
  • Uses

It is important for plant enthusiasts and collectors to recognize the differences between these two distinct but visually similar plants in order to provide proper care and growing conditions for each.

Physical Characteristics

Elephant Bush

Elephant Bush vs Jade Plant
Portulacaria afra or Spekboom, Elephant Bush, Porkbush is a small-leaved succulent plant native from South Africa.Selective focus.

Elephant Bush, also known as Portulacaria afra, is a succulent plant characterized by its round leaves and brown stems. The leaves of the Elephant Bush are small and round, with a darker green color, which sets it apart from the Jade Plant (source). This plant can grow up to 3 feet tall and produces small, inconspicuous flowers during the summer.

Jade Plant

Jade Plant
Beautiful Crassula ovata, Jade Plant,Money Plant, succulent plant in the sun on a white background. Home decor and gardening concept.

The Jade Plant, or Crassula ovata, is another type of succulent with distinct physical characteristics. Its leaves are strictly oval in shape, larger than those of the Elephant Bush, and typically have a red-edged border (source). The stems of the Jade Plant have a reddish hue, which differentiates it from the brown stems of the Elephant Bush.

In terms of size, the Jade Plant is generally smaller than the Elephant Bush. When grown indoors, Jade Plants usually reach heights of around 6 feet, while the Elephant Bush can grow over double that size, reaching approximately 15 feet tall (source).

There is a noticeable difference in the flowers of these two plants. The Jade Plant produces small, star-shaped pink or white flowers during the late winter or early spring (source). On the other hand, the Elephant Bush blooms with small, non-star-shaped flowers that are overall less visually striking than those of the Jade Plant.

Habitat and Distribution

Elephant bush and jade plant have different natural habitats and distributions, even though both are native to southern Africa.

Elephant Bush

The elephant bush (Portulacaria afra) is found primarily on rocky slopes in its native range. These plants are resilient and adaptable, often growing in harsh conditions where other vegetation struggles to survive. They can grow quite large, reaching up to fifteen feet tall in their native habitat, making them a standout feature in the landscape (source).

Jade Plant

On the other hand, jade plants (Crassula ovata) are typically found growing on sandy slopes and forests. They prefer slightly more hospitable environments compared to the elephant bush, but they are still drought-tolerant and can cope with some level of environmental stress. Jade plants are generally smaller than elephant bushes, with their size being more limited(source).

When grown as houseplants, both elephant bush and jade plant will need to have their specific habitat preferences accommodated. The elephant bush will require well-draining soil and less water to mimic its rocky slope habitat, while the jade plant can tolerate damp soil and slightly less light, reflecting its forest-undergrowth origins (source).

Growing Conditions and Care

Both Elephant Bush and Jade Plant are popular succulents, but they have different requirements when it comes to growing conditions and care. Understanding these differences helps gardeners provide the best care for each plant, allowing them to thrive.

Elephant Bush

Elephant Bush prefers well-draining soil and infrequent watering. It’s crucial to let the soil dry out completely between watering sessions to prevent root rot (Greenpacks). This drought-tolerant plant can thrive in a lot of sun, making it suitable for outdoor gardens or bright indoor spaces (Greenkosh). Some essential care tips for Elephant Bush include:

  • Avoid overwatering to prevent root rot.
  • Provide bright sunlight for optimal growth.
  • Use well-draining soil.

Jade Plant

Jade Plant can tolerate more moisture compared to Elephant Bush and can even thrive in slightly damp soil, but they should not be overwatered. It grows well in room temperatures between 61 and 71 degrees Fahrenheit but can tolerate hotter conditions if moved outdoors during the summer (The Spruce). Unlike Elephant Bush, Jade Plant can tolerate low light and still thrive (Greenkosh). Some important care tips for Jade Plants include:

  • Water moderately, allowing the soil to dry out slightly between watering sessions.
  • Adapt to low light environments, making them suitable for indoor growing.
  • Use well-draining soil, with a preference for a bit more moisture.

In conclusion, both Elephant Bush and Jade Plant can make lovely additions to your garden or home, but it’s essential to understand their respective growing conditions and care requirements to ensure they flourish.

Common Issues and Solutions

Both elephant bush and jade plant are popular houseplants, but they may encounter some issues during their growth. By learning how to prevent and treat these problems, you can keep your plants healthy and thriving. In this section, we will discuss some common issues that affect elephant bush and jade plants, as well as potential solutions.

Elephant Bush

As a sun-loving plant, elephant bush may experience issues due to insufficient light exposure. To prevent this, make sure you place the plant in a bright location, preferably near a south or west-facing window, where it can receive plenty of sunlight (Greenkosh).

Another common issue for elephant bush is overwatering, which can cause root rot. To avoid this, water the plant sparingly and ensure it has proper drainage. Let the soil dry completely between waterings to help keep the roots healthy.

Jade Plant

Jade plants, on the other hand, are less tolerant of high light exposure. They prefer indirect sunlight and can adapt to lower-light conditions (Greenkosh). To prevent sunburn or excessive stress, place your jade plant in a location with bright, indirect light, such as near an east or north-facing window.

Like the elephant bush, jade plants are susceptible to overwatering, which can lead to root rot. To prevent this, water the plant only when the soil is completely dry and ensure it has adequate drainage.

Additionally, jade plants can be prone to mealybug infestations. To treat this issue, remove the pests by hand using a cotton swab dipped in alcohol, and repeat this treatment weekly until the bugs are gone. Avoid using chemical sprays on succulent plants, as they can damage the leaves (The Spruce).

Maintaining these guidelines for both elephant bush and jade plants will help to promote healthy growth and minimize the occurrence of common issues. Remember to adjust your care routine according to the specific needs of each plant, and keep an eye out for any signs of stress or discomfort.

Visual Comparison Between Elephant Bush and Jade Plant

When comparing Elephant Bush and Jade Plant visually, there are several key differences to consider. One of the most notable differences lies in the size and shape of their leaves. Elephant Bush leaves are smaller and rounder, measuring only 2 cm in length on average, whereas Jade Plant leaves are nearly 5 cm long and more oval-shaped, earning it the scientific name Crassula ovata, with “ovata” meaning oval-shaped (source).

In terms of overall plant size, Elephant Bush grows much larger than the Jade Plant. In the wild, it can reach heights of up to fifteen feet, while Jade Plants typically only grow to a maximum height of six feet when grown indoors (source). Additionally, Elephant Bush exhibits more compact growth due to shorter internodal spaces, which can be as little as 1.5 millimeters (source). This leads to a denser appearance in comparison to the Jade Plant.

Another distinction between the two plants is their flowers. Jade Plants produce star-shaped flowers, while Elephant Bush’s flowers are smaller and lack the star shape (source). Both plants, however, share similarities in their preference for well-draining soil and the need for adequate sunlight to thrive.

In summary, key visual differences between Elephant Bush and Jade Plant include their leaf size and shape, overall plant size and growth patterns, and the characteristics of their flowers. Understanding these distinctions can help plant enthusiasts and gardeners choose the appropriate plant for their needs and preferences.

Helpful Video