A plant genus such as Portulacaria is directly related to the Portulacaria family. In nature, such a plant can be found in arid, hot areas of South Africa. According to data from various sources, this genus unites about 5 species or is monotypic, that is, it is represented only by 1 species - African Portulacaria (Portulacaria afra), which is also called the “elephant bush”.
African Portulacaria is a highly branched lignified shrub that can reach a height of 3.5 meters. He has several shoots that grow randomly, and thick fleshy stems. Young stems are painted in lilac-red color, but over time they become covered with wrinkled dark brown bark. Short internodes, while the nodes are clearly visible. The leafless, oppositely arranged, juicy leaves are relatively small in size, for example, they reach 2 to 3 centimeters in length and 1 to 2 centimeters in width. In the broadly oval shape of the leaves, the tip is slightly pointed. Flowering is plentiful. The flowers are small (diameter 2–2.5 mm), five-petalled, have a pink color. They are collected in axillary inflorescences, spike-shaped and reaching a length of 7.5 centimeters. Such inflorescences are located on the tops of the shoots.
The original form has a pale green foliage. But there are forms with a purple-pinkish leaf edge. Also on the surface of the sheet plate there may be wide bright spots that have no shape, which in some cases almost completely discolor it.
Purslane care at home
This plant is notable for its unpretentiousness, so even inexperienced flower growers may well grow it.
In order for the plant to grow and develop normally, it needs good bright lighting, and at the same time, direct rays of the sun must be present. In this regard, the window of the southern orientation will suit him perfectly. To form a beautiful uniform crown, you can resort to one trick. Namely, it is necessary to regularly turn the pot with portulacaria in different directions to the light source.
In winter, such a plant will need additional illumination with special phytolamps.
You feel quite comfortable in a mid-latitude climate in the summer. In the spring-summer period it is recommended to transfer it to fresh air (in the garden, on the balcony). It should be remembered that such a flower just needs fresh air, so when growing in a room, you will need systematic ventilation.
Portulacaria needs a cool wintering. In this case, it is necessary to ensure that the temperature in the room where the plant is located is not lower than 10 degrees. Otherwise, the fleshy leaves freeze and become lethargic.
How to water
Such a succulent is quite familiar to an arid climate, where rain is a comparative rarity. Therefore, when grown indoors, it should be provided with similar conditions. So, it is recommended to watering only after the soil in the pot dries by 1/3. With a cool wintering, watering should be more scarce and rarer, because the root system and foliage with excessive absorption of water decay very quickly.
If there has not been watering for a sufficiently long time, then the foliage on the plant becomes shriveled. However, after it is watered, the leaves will again become smooth.
It should be watered with water at room temperature, in which there is no chlorine. If tap water is not chlorinated, then it can be used without prior sedimentation. In this case, water hardness does not play a special role.
It is not necessary to artificially increase air humidity. But for hygienic purposes, it is recommended to arrange a warm shower for the plant, which will help remove dust accumulated on the leaves.
During intensive growth, top dressing is carried out once every 2 weeks. For this, fertilizers with a low nitrogen content are used. So, a ready-made liquid fertilizer for succulents and cacti is perfect. From mid-autumn to mid-spring, all top dressing ceases.
A suitable substrate should be loose, low in nutrients, and also well permeable to water and air. In order to prepare a soil mixture, you need to combine the purchased soil for succulents and cacti with coarse sand (can be replaced with vermiculite) and brick chips (or fine gravel), which should be taken in a ratio of 3: 1: 1.
This plant is characterized by relatively slow growth. In this regard, regular frequent transplants are needed only by very young specimens. An adult plant should be transplanted only if necessary, so when the root system completely fills the container.
As a rule, when grown indoors, propagated by cuttings. At the same time, sufficiently thick branches on which there should be 4 internodes are suitable for cuttings. After trimming, they are left in the open air for 1-2 days for drying, after which they are planted for rooting in a mixture of sand and peat. The first roots should appear after 2-3 weeks. After 2-3 months, you can transplant the rooted cuttings into a permanent pot.
It can be propagated by seeds, however, their purchase can cause certain difficulties.
Pests and diseases
Resistant to pests. However, on such a plant you can find mealybugs , scutes, or spider mites . Once these pests are detected, the plant needs to have a warm shower. With a strong infection, treatment with an appropriate insecticide will also be required.
Resistant to disease. But can get sick due to violation of the rules of care. For example, with abundant watering, especially in a cool room, a variety of rot may appear.
Partial discharge of foliage may occur due to a lack of light in winter or for other reasons. But when the plant is placed in favorable conditions, the leaves quickly grow.