Fat plants

Portulacaria afra

Portulacaria afra

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evergreen succulent shrub, native to southern Africa; in nature it can reach 2-3 meters in height, while in pot it remains below 50-70 cm. It has the bearing of a small compact shrub, and develops a short stem that carries a roundish, disordered, very branched "hair"; the fleshy stems are reddish brown. The succulent leaves are oval, 2-5 cm long, light green in color, there are varieties with variegated leaves or with a yellow border. Plants grown outdoors in full ground at the end of winter produce small pink, star-shaped flowers, gathered in terminal racemes; specimens grown in pots bloom sporadically. This succulent has fairly rapid growth, and is often used also as bonsai.

Display and watering

Exhibition: the Portulacaria prefers sunny, or even partially shady locations; it can withstand temperatures close to 0 ° C, but it is advisable to keep the plant at temperatures not lower than 7-10 ° C.
Watering: from March to October water the plant only when the soil is perfectly dry, even every 10-15 days; during the cold months sporadically water the plants cultivated at temperatures above 15 ° C, otherwise suspend the watering. During the vegetative period, dissolve fertilizer for succulent plants in the water every month.

Portulacaria afra: Other tips

Soil: it is cultivated in very well drained, sandy soil; you can prepare a substrate suitable for the cultivation of Portulacaria mixing balanced soil with equal quantities of washed river sand.
Multiplication: takes place by leaf or stem cutting; the cuttings of portulacaria root very easily and can also be directly buried in the cultivation container.
Pests and diseases: they fear cochineal and mites; excess watering or a poorly draining soil can quickly promote the development of root rot.


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