Portulacaria afra - June 2010 re-pot

greenman28 NorCal 7b/8aJune 2, 2010

Good morning, GardenWebbers!

Although you might say Jades are my "thing," I do occasionally spend time with my other plants... ;)

Yesterday, for instance, I finally re-potted this Portulacaria afra (Elephant's Food Bush, Spekboom)

that I received as a cutting last April. Rooted and grown in a plastic .71 gallon container since then.

For this re-potting, I chose a pond basket ($5) as my container.

My mix is composed of Orchid Bark, Perlite, and two types of Pumice (white-micro and red-macro).

I won't do any more foliage pruning until the plant's roots are re-established.

The Port. afra, languishing in its root-bound condition:

1.

Tell-tale sign that I should have re-potted long ago....

2.

The pond-basket for the new container.

3.

Top Secret ingredients, recommended by NASA ;)

4.

Secret Ingredients assembled and ready to be implemented.

Bark, Perlite, White and Red Pumice...

5.

Washing the roots off, but leaving a decent root-ball.

6.

In the new container, potted in fresh mix:

7.

Back up on the deck where it will recuperate:

8.

Josh

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puglvr1(9b central FL)

Thanks Josh...very educational. Appreciate the fact that you shared your top ingredients(NASA) no less, with all of us,lol...

BTW, I really like that black tray with the small squares. Mind sharing where you found that at? I could use one of those. Thanks for posting!

Nice Port. afra, I like the tree style you're growing it.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2010 at 11:41AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Hey, Nancy!
You know it's my pleasure...I love sharing my projects, and hopefully sharing techniques that might be useful to others.

That black tray is actually just a nursery flat - the kind used to transport plants. They're
usually in a stack near the vegetables. Sometimes they're free, sometimes they're a few cents.
I find that they're perfect for screening bark...

Thanks again!

Josh

    Bookmark   June 2, 2010 at 12:10PM
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meyermike_1micha(5)

Josh, you are so generous on these forums..You are one of the reasons I love coming here..

Thank you for all these pictures and insight..Very educational...I think I will share this with my little niece and get her started..

Hi pug..:-)

    Bookmark   June 2, 2010 at 12:16PM
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bunnygurl(Z3)

I love your plants! My Portulacaria died and I had no idea why...perhaps it just wasn't meant to be.

Great pictures, great plant, great info and I agree; thanks for sharing your top secret ingredients. Always good to think I know something special to make me feel slightly smarter. =P

    Bookmark   June 2, 2010 at 2:12PM
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beachplant(9b)

Don't trust Nasa, their engineers built one of our floats-which broke during the parade and they can't figure out how to fix it. So they are chopping the float in 1/2!!!

I love potulacaria, they tolerate huge amounts of humidity, salt spray, neglect. I picked up an enormous one for $5 from Jimbos the other day, it's in a 5 gallon pot with roots coming out the bottom.

Thanks for the post! Always good to see what you are up to. And not a jade. LOL!
Tally HO!

    Bookmark   June 2, 2010 at 2:35PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Hey, everyone, happy Friday!

Mike, I hope your niece will take the plunge!
This is a great plant...very forgiving, very rewarding.

Bunny, you should try your hand at a Port. afra again!

Tally, I wish I could find large Port's out here....
Do you have any pruning plans yet? Large bonsai?

(If you'd like to see what else I've been up to,
I also re-potted my Pachira on the House Plant forum )

Josh

    Bookmark   June 4, 2010 at 11:20PM
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brwndot

Great tips! Is this the same mix you use for jades?

    Bookmark   June 5, 2010 at 10:19AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Hey, Brwndot!
This mix is very similar to the one I use for my Jades!
The only difference is that I'm now using Black Gold Pumice - I found 3 gallon bags for $4.

I should also add that I water my Port's more often than I do my Jades.

Josh

    Bookmark   June 5, 2010 at 2:57PM
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puglvr1(9b central FL)

Thanks for the info on the black tray Josh, will see if my local nursery has a couple for purchase.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2010 at 4:01PM
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kaktuskris

Hey, Josh!

Now that I'm into Jades again, I went and bought myself a little Porty. For the investment of $.50 I was rewarded with a dried out variegated specimen, to add to the green cutting that one of the kindest members here sent me. After a good soaking, however, my plant really perked up. Hope your plant rewards you for the nice repot.

Christopher

Before:

After:

    Bookmark   June 28, 2010 at 6:18PM
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norma_2006

Local nurseries often give those black trays away, especially the family owned ones. Norma

    Bookmark   June 29, 2010 at 1:32AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Yeah, if you buy a few plants, the nursery generally offers the black tray for transport.

Christopher, an excellent addition!
Last year, I purchased a variegated Port. afra almost identical to the one you've shown.
Over the winter, these lose a lot of leaves, whether I keep them dry or moist. I actually find they do better if they *don't dry out* like Jades. The leaves, if lost, will return with the sun. I move the variegates to my southernmost window for the duration of the winter, but they still look pathetic by January:

    Bookmark   June 29, 2010 at 10:57AM
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daffodillady(7b/8a central AL)

the one on the right reminds me of Charlie Brown's Christmas tree.....(sorry(-;)

    Bookmark   June 29, 2010 at 10:23PM
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blankpages

They look great! And the Charlie Brown Christmas tree-like one is my favorite! After getting your advice on Sunday, Josh, I moved my healthiest PAs into a place outside where they get about 5 hours of direct sunlight. They couldn't be any happier. They look like they're exploding with new growth. Indeed they do produce really well. I took a trip to my university greenhouse yesterday and the PAs there are just beautiful.
Josh, since most of mine have been drooping a bit, I'm assuming that the sun will help perk up the branches a bit, right? I'd like to grow a tall, straight tree-like plant. I know these make great bonsais and I'd like to take a few in that direction.
So glad to have benefited from another's enthusiasm for this great plant!
Jose

    Bookmark   June 30, 2010 at 8:55AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Thanks!
That pic was taken in January - the Port. afra's look considerably better now! ;)
I actually have them grouped in a tray on my patio table, beneath a large umbrella.
I think some pics might be in order...

Jose, the drooping branches will take a lot of work to rectify. They won't start growing
upward at this point, but new branches from the main trunk will grow upright. For a straight,
tree-like plant, I'd suggest that you start with a nice straight cutting...or you could stake
up or wire a flexible branch, supporting it until it sets in place. I like the look of your
trailing/drooping plants as they are.

Pretty soon, your plants will be so bushy that you'll have many different styling/pruning options.

Josh

    Bookmark   June 30, 2010 at 11:00AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

First, let me apologize for the dark/shade quality of the images.

I'll have better images eventually. I had to take these because my heart was set on pruning.....
and I needed before and after pics for comparison.

So, after three months of growth, the Port. afra had put on several inches and was taking off in multiple directions -
as seen here:

I guess this would be considered the "front" - pre-trimming:

And here is the "front" after trimming:

Josh

    Bookmark   September 18, 2010 at 11:31AM
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puglvr1(9b central FL)

Looks GREAT Josh!! I like the Christmas tree shape its starting to take. Very nice, thanks for the updates and pictures!

    Bookmark   September 18, 2010 at 12:08PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Thanks, Pug!
I'm very happy with this Port. afra and its progress.
I just wish I'd gotten some better images to share!!! ;)
How are your Port's doing?

Josh

    Bookmark   September 19, 2010 at 11:20AM
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puglvr1(9b central FL)

Hey Josh, I'm afraid I don't have any more potted Ports, I gave a few away and what I had left I decided to plant in the ground...they are not my most favorite succulents,lol. I have them planted right up against the house. If I get a freeze I will just throw a blanket over them and hope for the best.
I need to do some light pruning, but will wait till Oct.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2010 at 12:15PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Ever tried a variegated Port. afra before? ;)

Josh

    Bookmark   September 19, 2010 at 12:23PM
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norma_2006

I have three kinds, I have grown the variegated variety for years, and the upright green also.
Heads Up Did you know that there is also a weeping forum, it hangs at least a foot down over the sides of the pot. So keep on the lookout for one, I have never seen them for sale except at Turner's Los Vegas and they sold out and moved. Norma

    Bookmark   September 19, 2010 at 6:01PM
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puglvr1(9b central FL)

I have tried it a few times Josh, haven't had the best luck with them for some reason.

Norma, I haven't seen the weeping form...but I'm sure I won't find them here.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2010 at 7:14PM
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TT, zone 5b MA

Josh-

Looks awesome! I know that you were not soliciting advice...but if you are looking to achieve a thicker bonsai appearance, you could take the height down by about 1/3 and start a new leader from that point. Unless, of course, you are trying to keep increasing its height. All depends on what you are trying to achieve.

Looks great.

T

    Bookmark   September 19, 2010 at 9:02PM
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beachplant(9b)

Josh, the plant was whisked away, trimmed and in a bonsai pot almost before I got the car unloaded! The joys of living with a bonsai nut. Always buy 2.

Pug, Jim left his out all last winter and they had a heck of a freeze, down in the 20's, these guys weren't protected and suffered very little damage.

Tally HO!

    Bookmark   September 20, 2010 at 4:19PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

I wonder if the variegated would grow better in the ground for you, too, Pug?
Well, who knows, Santa may put one in your stocking.... ;)

Thanks, Tom, I appreciate the encouragement and the advice. You're absolutely right.
I've been routinely chopping the top 1/3, and I'll lop it again sometime around Halloween.
Your advice is always welcome!

Tally, as long as it was whisked away for bonsai...and not by a hurricane! ;)
These plants are pretty tough, as you note. They are quite woody for a succulent,
and I think that affords the stems and trunk a greater degree of cold tolerance. The
leaves seem a bit more perishable, but they readily grow back.

Josh

    Bookmark   September 20, 2010 at 5:51PM
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puglvr1(9b central FL)

Thanks for the info on the hardiness beachplant!

Hi Josh, I'm good...I really need to save my ever shrinking space on my true love...Hoyas and Jades,lol...Like I said these are not one of my faves, and although the variegated is nice, I think I'm done with Ports for now. Just seeing your pictures from time to time is good enough for me :o)

    Bookmark   September 20, 2010 at 6:55PM
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blankpages

Wow Josh, your ports are amazing. I could learn a lot! What makes the trunk so woody? And how do you decide where to make your cuts? I've got one cutting that's growing up really nice and straight. The guy at my farmers' market said that the reason I'm not getting the heavier trunks is because I'm not fertilizing enough. Your thoughts?
I just made some cuts I'm unwilling to toss into the trash so I'll be potting some more soon. Each one has a great different shape and a lot of character. I'll have to start giving them to friends soon. They're loving the really dry medium though, that's for sure!

    Bookmark   September 25, 2010 at 10:40PM
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haxuan(Vietnam)

Well, I also like the new look of the plant, especially I like the thick trunk.

Thanks for sharing, Josh.

Xuan

    Bookmark   September 25, 2010 at 10:49PM
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jade_man(P.A. zone 5)

blankpages,

you can always use those cuts for experimenting with fertilizer. i use some of my less favorite cuttings for experimenting with such questions.

good luck.

Doug

    Bookmark   September 25, 2010 at 10:50PM
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blankpages

That's a good idea Doug, thanks. Any suggestions for good commercial fertilizers? And the guy at the market said that he only fertilizes while the weather is warm - once he brings them inside he stops with the fertilizing. Does that sound about right?
Thanks again,
Jose

    Bookmark   September 26, 2010 at 9:16AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Thanks, Xuan!

Hey, Jose! I fertilize more frequently and at higher concentrations (half-strength)
during the warm months (April through October). During the winter, I do fertilize - just
very lightly.

The trunks and branches will become woody with time.
As far as pruning is concerned....well, I have a design in mind, and I make cuts that will
encourage that design. I try not to let branches get too long or thick, particularly those
that I plan on removing in the future. When I make a cut, I also try to imagine how the other
branches will grow to hide or obscure the scar.

Josh

    Bookmark   September 28, 2010 at 11:03AM
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lzrddr(91360)

Just to show a few pics of Portulcarias around my area (Southern California) that might be interesting...

This is a large plant at the Huntington Gardens.. about 8' tall and several dozen feet in either direction.

This is a large section of variegated plant in the same garden.. note that this one is much slow to grow and stays much lower to the ground

This last one is my neighbor's plant who the gardeners like to prune like a hedge

    Bookmark   September 28, 2010 at 12:30PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Dazzling pics!
The red stems of the variegate really catch the eye.
What a treasure hunt it would be to dig up part of that hedge!

Josh

    Bookmark   September 28, 2010 at 2:19PM
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romain(NYC)

You SoCal guys are so lucky! It seems that every corner of the streets has something cool to watch. I'm jealous. :-)

    Bookmark   September 28, 2010 at 4:44PM
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puglvr1(9b central FL)

Awesome...I agree you guys in CA have it made when it comes to growing Jades and Succulents(among other things)
TFS!

    Bookmark   September 28, 2010 at 6:48PM
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ltran54(9)

Josh, your plant is alsolutely beautiful. You have green thumps for sure. Lzrddr, thank you for taking those pictures. They are so nice ang huge....never see them this big.
marie

    Bookmark   October 2, 2010 at 12:46AM
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beachplant(9b)

8'...I'm gonna need a bigger pot...

Went to Jimbo's last Friday and was forced to buy another one of these. Managed to resist buying yet another dioscorea. At $3.50 for a gallon size port. it's hard to resist.
Tally HO!

    Bookmark   October 2, 2010 at 1:51PM
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