Plant Care for a Rainbow Bush & Elephant Plant


Rainbow bush and elephant bush fall under the category of Portulacaria afra. They come from South Africa and grow 4 to 6 feet tall and several feet wide. The small bushes bloom with pink flowers in the spring through fall. Both varieties need bright light to grow well. Elephant plant and rainbow bush can cope with little water, making them low-maintenance plants.

Step 1

Check the moisture of the soil. Rainbow bush and elephant plant do not handle wet environments well. Provide a loose, well-draining soil. Add organic compost or peat moss to the soil if it gets soggy.

Step 2

Give the plants warm water until it comes out the drainage holes in the bottom of the planting container. Let the soil dry a bit between watering. Touch the soil to determine when it needs attention.

Step 3

Put the rainbow bush and elephant plant in a south- or west-facing window to ensure they get full sun.

Step 4

Feed the plants with a water-soluble fertilizer. Apply the fertilizer in April and July every year. Follow the label instructions for dosage details.

Step 5

Treat mealy bugs, if they are evident. Trim off the infected branches. Spray the rainbow bush and elephant plant with a mixture of 10 percent rubbing alcohol and 90 percent water to get rid of the pests. Reapply until signs of the infestation are gone. Another option is to use insecticidal soap. Follow the label instructions for dosage details.

Things You'll Need

  • Potting soil
  • Organic material or compost
  • Fertilizer
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Spray bottle


  • Aggie-Horticulture: Outstanding Interior Plants
  • Colorado State University Extension: Mealybugs on Houseplants
  • Plantcare: Elephant Bush, Rainbow Bush
Keywords: rainbow bush care, elephant plant care, shrub care

About this Author

Kelly Shetsky has been a broadcast journalist for more than 10 years, researching, writing, producing and reporting daily on many topics. In addition, she writes for several websites, specializing in medical, health and fitness, arts and entertainment, travel and business. Shetsky has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Marist College.