Elephant Bush

wow_im_a_dogJanuary 13, 2013

I have a very old Elephant Bush (Portulacaria afra) that is grown almost 10 feet high, but is rather leggy and misshapen. Does anyone have any advice on how to prune it? I'd love it to look like the photo I've attached. Thank you!

This post was edited by wow_im_a_dog on Sun, Jan 13, 13 at 10:33

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To look like the attached photo, grow it in the ground in a South African / Southern Californian environment. I guess I'm saying a potted plant will never look like a (almost) habitat plant, but you can give it full sun when it's warm (and you've acclimated it to same) and lots of water in its growth season (spring / early summer / fall / winter, depending on your climate).

    Bookmark   January 13, 2013 at 12:19PM
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thank you, but i should have said it's already in the ground; it just needs to be shaped. any suggestions? thank you.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2013 at 12:53PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)


If you'd like help with shaping it, pls. provide a picture, so folks can have an idea where to start.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2013 at 1:09PM
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Suggestions by size description A pair of loppers ... pruning sheers ... a ladder, or with no instructions to be given....borrow an elephant...

In the real world cuts made have a chance to root suggesting some clean up might be needed.
Basically inward cuts make for fuller upward growth and more taller AND top to bottom cuts make way for wider fuller inside growth.

Hack away until your happy with both height and width fine tuning the prunes for shape or inside cuts can be done later. For now even if you miss cut a small to medium sized branch here and there it'll grow back in it's manner as described.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2013 at 8:44PM
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Hard to say anything without a picture and not an expert on the afra, but I'd slowly start exposing the trunk from the ground up. I know you want it to look like the bush in the picture, but trunks are NICE! :) Rules in the bonsai world is that branches should not cross. Branches should not grow inward. You can also set your own rules for what angles branches are allowed to grow (up, out, or down).

Just go slow. Step away from the plant to see if it looks good. These plants are fairly fast growing so a mistake is not detrimental. Picture please! :)

    Bookmark   January 15, 2013 at 12:41AM
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I think we may of missed the before pics .. Any chance for an after pic ?

    Bookmark   January 15, 2013 at 7:13PM
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Here is one belonging to my neighbor... the gardner just started to square it up and kept at it for a year like any other 'squarely' pruned plant. I cannot say I have had personal experience doing this, but it doesn't seem particularly complex. I would just do as someone suggested... take the pruning shears and after you have decided what shape to make it, make it.. and keep at it... it will eventually fill itself in.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2013 at 10:15PM
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I'd suggest looking at pictures of what other people have done. Not sure if you want to bonsai your plant but there are tons of portulacaria afra bonsais on google search.

If you're not making it a bonsai all you need to do is decide on a shape, like the square on above, or whatever you want.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2013 at 10:41PM
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