Elephant Bush vs Jade Plant: What’s a Better Pick & Why?

Two giants in succulent plants reign supreme – the Elephant Bush and the Jade Plant. While both share a high tolerance to drought and a luscious green appearance, they possess an essential difference.

In this article, I will address the Elephant Bush vs Jade Plant debate, so that you can take an informed decision on what to choose.

Uniquely, the Elephant Bush tolerates more sun exposure than Jade Plants, making them a wonderful option for sun-drenched spots.

Elephant Bush vs Jade Plant
Elephant Bush vs Jade Plant

This article elucidates on this and more in a comprehensive comparison of these two beloved succulents. Get ready for an enlightening exploration of their characteristics, growth habits, and care requirements among other intriguing qualities.

Elephant bush vs jade plant: Detailed Comparison

In their unique ways, both Elephant Bush and Jade Plant have become favorites among succulent enthusiasts. This comprehensive comparison delves deep into understanding these fascinating species, enabling you to make an informed choice.

Elephant bush vs jade plant- Detailed Comparison

Size and Structure

  • Elephant Bush: Elephant Bush (Portulacaria afra) is a behemoth among succulents, reaching a typical height range of 10–15 feet. Occupying a substantial footprint, this plant assumes a near tree-like structure, setting itself apart in a succulent collection. Deep-rooted in the soil, the Elephant Bush is anchored by thick, robust, succulent branches spanning an intricate network sprouting small, rounded green leaves. 

These leaves, hugging closely to the branched tendrils, are tender to the touch and can often develop a darkened edge when exposed to ample sunlight. Overall, the Elephant Bush takes on an impressive, wildlife reminiscent form, making it a showstopper in garden spaces.

  • Jade Plant: In stark contrast to the towering Elephant Bush, the Jade Plant (Crassula ovata) carries a more compact stature, never exceeding about 5 feet in height. As a slow-growing plant, the Jade Plant’s architectural beauty lies in its majestically curved woody stems supporting clusters of round, glossy leaves. 

These leaves, elegantly opposed to each other in pairs, impart a vibrant green color with a waxy touch, glowing under the sunlight. While smaller in comparison, the Jade Plant’s shrub-like structure and intricate branch pattern reveal a delicate, zen-like elegance, perfectly befitting indoor settings and small gardens.

Under most conducive conditions, the Jade Plant occasionally surprises with beautiful blossoms, adding another nod to its versatile charm.

Light Requirements

  • Elephant Bush: Elephant Bushes bask in sunlight and welcome a light-drenched environment. Acclimating well in spaces flooded with natural light, these plants enjoy positioning in areas with high sun exposure. 

Possessing an innate ability to adapt, they can withstand the intensity of harsh midday sunlight without incurring any adverse effects. Vigorous growth, dense foliage, and rich color are some rewards Elephant Bushes reap from soaking up substantial sunlight. That said, they can also acclimate to partial shade, offering indoor and outdoor planting versatility.

  • Jade Plant: In contrast, Jade Plants prefer a more balanced light environment, neither too dim nor overwhelmingly bright. Ideally, they appreciate basking in the gentle sunlight of early mornings or the golden glow of late afternoons. 

Prolonged exposure to scorching midday sun can cause leaf burn, resulting in unsightly blemishes, making these plants better suited for spaces with filtered or indirect sunlight.

Adaptable by nature, Jade Plants can adjust to partial shade, particularly if they receive ample light for at least 4–6 hours daily. Care must be taken when positioning them indoors, ensuring the plants receive their desired daily dose of sunlight to maintain vitality and luscious green foliage.

Water and Humidity

Water and Humidity
Water and Humidity
  • Elephant Bush: As the name suggests, one might expect the Elephant Bush to be a heavy drinker. However, as a succulent, it’s prone to root rot if over-watered and prefers a “water sparingly” regimen. Like many succulents, the best watering technique for the Elephant Bush is to allow the soil to completely dry between waterings. 

This keeps the roots as dry as possible, preventing rot. The Elephant Bush is particularly resistant to dry and drought-like conditions partly due to its rich, succulent, water-retaining leaves. So, boasting a strong knack for survival, the Elephant Bush does not enjoy highly humid conditions, preferring environments closer to its native, desert-like habitats.

  • Jade Plant: A lot depends on the season when watering a Jade Plant. During the active growing period (spring, summer), the plant prefers regular watering whenever the soil’s surface feels dry to touch. 

However, watering must be minimal in the dormant winter, only enough to prevent the leaves from shriveling. Despite needing well-drained soil like most succulents, Jade Plants are somewhat adaptable to humidity, tolerating more moisture than Elephant Bushes. They can exist comfortably in environments with moderate humidity, making them suitable for indoor cultivation across various climates.


  • Elephant Bush: Propagating Elephant Bush can be a rewarding experience, usually resulting in rapid root development and growth. It lends itself to stress-free propagation through stem or leaf cuttings. 

By simply placing the cuttings in a conducive environment with loose, well-draining soil, under suitable light and temperature conditions, one can expect the Elephant Bush to establish roots quite quickly. This is how Elephant Bush spans wild expenses in its natural habitats, dropping branches that quickly take root and turn into new plants.

  • Jade Plant: Jade Plant propagation, while not difficult, requires a bit more patience. They can be propagated from leaves or stem cuttings, but compared to Elephant Bush, they need longer to establish. After taking a cutting, it’s important to let it heel over or dry out for several days to a week before planting in a well-draining soil mix. 

Providing optimum light and water conditions are crucial during the initial weeks. With time, the cutting will develop roots and grow into a mature Jade plant. During this propagation phase, they should ideally be kept at a slightly cooler temperature range of about 70-75°F for better results.

Temperature Tolerance

  • Elephant Bush: Elephant Bush, also known as Portulacaria afra, is a sturdy succulent native to South Africa. It is highly adaptive and capable of tolerating higher temperatures, making it an ideal choice for gardeners in warmer climates. The Elephant Bush is known to withstand temperatures up to 100°F (37°C) without any signs of stress. It can also survive in cooler temperatures down to USDA hardiness zone 10 (30°F or -1°C), though it will need some protection against frost.
  • Jade Plant: Jade Plant, also known as Crassula ovata, is a popular succulent originating from South Africa and Mozambique. While this plant can adapt to various environments, it prefers cooler temperatures than the Elephant Buss. Jade Plants can tolerate temperatures between 65-75°F (18-24°C) during the day and 50-55°F (10-13°C) during the night. Although they can endure brief periods of higher or lower temperatures, long-term exposure to extreme heat or cold can harm their growth.

Pet Safety

  • Elephant Bush: One of the key advantages of choosing Elephant Bush for your garden is its pet-friendliness. The plant is considered non-toxic, so it poses no threat to your furry friends if they accidentally ingest <sup>3</sup>. This makes the Elephant Bush an attractive option for households with curious pets who may explore and nibble on their surroundings.
  • Jade Plant: Conversely, the Jade Plant is known to be toxic to pets, specifically dogs and cats, if ingested. Ingestion can cause symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy in pets. If you suspect your pet has consumed any part of a Jade Plant, it is essential to contact your veterinarian immediately to prevent any serious health complications.

Soil Type

Soil Type
Soil Type
  • Elephant Bush: Regarding soil requirements, the Elephant Bush thrives best in well-draining, sandy soils. These soil types allow excess water to drain quickly, vital for preventing root rot in succulents. The ideal soil mix for Elephant Bushes consists of 1 part potting soil, 1 part coarse sand, and 1 part perlite or pumice.
  • Jade Plant: on the other hand, Jade Plants prefer a slightly different soil composition. They flourish in a mix of sand and peat moss. This combination provides the Jade Plant with a well-draining soil that retains sufficient moisture to support its growth. A recommended soil mixture is 2 parts potting soil, 1 part peat moss, and 1 part perlite or sand.

Elephant Bush and Jade Plant are popular succulent choices for garden enthusiasts, but they have different temperature tolerances, pet safety considerations, and soil preferences. Understanding these differences will allow you to make informed decisions when selecting the perfect plants for your home or garden.

frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Is Elephant Bush Dwarf Jade?

No, Elephant Bush is not Dwarf Jade. Although they look similar, Elephant Bush (Portulacaria afra) and Dwarf Jade (Crassula ovata ‘Minima’) are different plant species.

What plant looks like Jade but isn’t?

A plant that looks like Jade but isn’t is the Echeveria, specifically Echeveria Agavoides, often mistaken for Jade due to its similar leaf structure.

What plant looks like the Elephant Bush?

The Spekboom or Porkbush (Portulacaria afra) can look very similar to the Elephant Bush, primarily because they belong to the same species. A different variety, such as the Rainbow Elephant Bush (Portulacaria afra variegata), also shares strong similarities.


Elephant Bush and Jade Plant are appealing choices for plant enthusiasts due to their unique qualities. The Elephant Bush’s higher heat tolerance and pet-safe attributes make it an ideal choice in warm climates and households with pets.

Conversely, due to its toxicity, the Jade Plant is better suited for cooler environments and may require extra care around pets.

Varied soil preferences of these plants also add to their requirements. Deciding between the two plants ultimately depends on an individual’s specific circumstances and preferences, ensuring the chosen plant’s overall well-being and thriving growth.

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