Elephant Bush Leaves Falling Off? Here’s What to Do

Elephant Bush is one of the most popular succulent garden shrubs. Its compact growth and more rounded leaves make it the perfect addition to your indoor or succulent outdoor garden.

Although it is often confused with the jade plant, it is much harder, faster growing, and more loosely branched than the other. 

Elephant Bush, or Portulacaria Afra, is very easy to take care of. But even though they are easygoing succulents, they still get stressed from time to time.

It is easy to see when your elephant bush is distressed. It starts dropping leaves like it’s raining. But figuring out what could be behind this stress can be tricky.

But this is why we are here. To help you figure out what might be troubling your plant. 

This article will discuss the possible reasons why your plant is dropping leaves and solutions you can apply to turn the situation around. 

Why Are Leaves Falling Off My Elephant Bush?

Elephant Bush

If your elephant bush starts to lose leaves, you may need to start asking yourself one or more of these questions 

Have I Been Overwatering My Elephant Bush?

Overwatering is one of the easiest ways to kill your elephant bush. You may not know it is possible because you might think you are giving your plant the best care.

But it is possible to overwater a plant, and overwatering can cause leaf drop. 

When you give your plant water in excess amounts, it prevents it from being able to absorb sufficient amounts of oxygen, encouraging the development of root rot.

The first sign of overwatering is swollen, mushy, and discolored leaves. 

Have I Given My Plant Too Little Water?

Leaf drop is also a sign of underwatering. When the plant runs low on sufficient water levels, its leaves will dry out and fall to the ground.

Underwatering usually occurs when the plant is not given enough to drink and/or the soil drains too quickly and cannot hold any moisture.

The bottom leaves would drop first, and if the situation continues for longer, the leaves will fall from anywhere along the stem. 

Am I Using The Appropriate Soil Mix?

Poor soil quality is another reason why an elephant bush would lose its leaves. These poor qualities include lousy drainage, poor aeration, compaction, and the absence of proper nutrients.

Soil with drainage issues would render your watering efforts useless. If it doesn’t drain properly, the plant’s roots will be made to sit in excess water, which can lead to root rot.

A soil with little to no moisture retention would lead to a constantly dry plant, and if it does not have enough nutrients to fulfill your plant’s needs, the leaves will start to fall off.

Poor aeration would make the soil dense and heavy, while compaction would make it difficult for the roots to grow and spread properly.

Has My Elephant Bush Been Getting Enough Light Lately?

Being a succulent, the elephant bush needs plenty of sunlight to grow. If it doesn’t have access to enough light, the leaves will start to fall.

Check the plant to confirm if your elephant bush is losing leaves because of a lack of light. The leaves usually turn yellow and look pale.

Has My Elephant Bush Been In the Sun For Too Long?

While we know that an elephant bush needs a lot of sunlight to thrive, too much can harm your plant.

Placing your plant in the direct sun for too long will lead to sunburn, and the leaves will turn yellow or brown and then fall. 

Did I Recently Change My Plant’s Location?

A location change may stem from moving your plant indoors, bringing home a new plant from the nursery, forcing it to a new room in your house, or transplanting it.

Considering that the temperature, humidity, and lighting in two places may not be the same, this sudden location change may stress your plant severely.

The plant will need some time to acclimate itself to the new location, leading to stress which will cause the leaves to fall off.

Have I Been Using  Chemicals On My Plant Recently?

Chemical damage is a big reason why elephant leaves fall off. This may occur if the plant constantly interacts with fungicides, pesticides, or even fertilizers. 

A chemical shock from fertilizers occurs if fertilizer is applied in excess or too regularly.

The buildup of chemicals in the soil would cause pollution and burn the plant. The leaves would turn yellow or brown and then fall off.

Is My Plant Infested With Pests Or Diseases?

A severe infestation of pests or infections can cause serious damage to your elephant bush plant, with loss of leaves being one of those.

The most common diseases that affect the elephant bush are root rot caused by excess water and powdery mildew caused by a fungus that spreads in highly humid conditions.

Whiteflies and scale moths are the pests that mainly affect the elephant bush. Others include mealybugs, spider mites, and fungus gnat larvae.

Is My Pot Too Small?

The pot may become too small for the roots to spread when your elephant bush has grown. 

When this happens, the roots become overcrowded, and the plant cannot absorb water and nutrients from the soil, so the leaves start to fall. 

How Can I Fix My Elephant Bush?

removing plant from soil

To save an overwatered plant, you should let it dry out. You can remove the plant from the soil, let it dry for a few days, and then replant it in fresh potting soil.

If root rot has already set in, trim the rotten roots and stem, then repot the plant in a slightly bigger pot.

A quick fix to underwatering is to give your plant a good soak, then let it dry before watering again. You may need to increase your watering frequency if your plant is dehydrated often.

Ideally, the best way to water an elephant bush is the “dry soak dry” method. Soak thoroughly when watering, and let the soil dry before the next.

You should water regularly during the summer and reduce the amount to a few drops during the winter to prevent the leaves from drying.

If your soil is giving your plant issues, you might want to repot and change the soil to a better one. Choose a potting mix specifically created for succulents.

If you decide to make your potting mix, you can add organic matter like compost or peat moss to improve drainage, aeration, and nutrient content, improving the soil quality.

If your elephant bush needs light, you can change its location to an area that gets full sun. Supplementing by using grow lights would be helpful too.

To save a sunburned plant, you can move it someplace that gets bright but indirect sunlight. You can put it near a window or use a sheer curtain to filter out some of the light.

If your plant is dropping leaves due to a change in location, the best thing to do is to provide optimal growing conditions to help adjust to the new environment. 

This includes providing plenty of water, sunlight, nutrients, and everything it needs. It would help if you tried not to move your plant too often.

To remedy overfertilizing, soak the plant thoroughly and run the water until it runs clear, then hold off on fertilizing for a while.

Try using natural pesticides and herbicides to protect your plant from chemical damage. You can grow your elephant bush in an organic potting mix.

These diseases that may affect your plant can be prevented and controlled by watering your plant correctly, using soil with good drainage, and pest control products.

Repotting your elephant bush plant into a larger pot would help fix the problem of overcrowded roots. This would give the roots more room to grow. 

How Can I Prevent My Elephant Bush Leaves From Falling?

Elephant Bush in a Pot

Here are a few things to keep your plant perked up and healthy.

  • Keep your plant out of direct sunlight.

  • Maintain a proper watering schedule. 

  • Prune your plant regularly. Pruning would help your plant focus all its energy on new growth.

  • Fertilize regularly using a balanced or organic fertilizer.

  • Check for pests and diseases regularly. At the first sign of infection, treat it immediately.

  • Place your plant in an area with good circulation.

  • Put your plant in place with enough warmth.

  • Ensure your plant’s soil is in the proper condition with good drainage and enough nutrients.

  • Repot every two to three years.

Lastly, it is essential to remember that as the elephant bush grows, the older leaves would fall off to conserve energy. So, the old ones would fall to give way to newer ones

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