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Why Is My Elephant Bush Dropping Leaves – 4 Real Causes!

If you are an ardent fan of keeping succulents in your garden, you must have come across the adorable elephant bush, also known as Portulacaria Afra, and miniature Jade. This plant gets its name because it is a common food for elephants and a few other animals, such as tortoises and goats.

In general, the elephant bush is a low-maintenance plant, so it can startle you when the leaves start dropping. You are left wondering – why is my elephant bush dropping leaves?

If you want to know the reasons behind the dropping leaves, this guide is for you. Keep reading to know why your succulent is not in the right shape and to answer your question – why is my elephant bush dropping leaves?

Why Is My Elephant Bush Dropping Leaves 1
What wrong with my Elephant bush? It’s dropping leaves all of a sudden 🙁 – via Reddit

5 Real Causes of Why Is My Elephant Bush Dropping Leaves

The elephant bush is a succulent that can be grown indoors and outdoors. This plant has small, round leaves. These leaves are green and yellow, and they grow on red stems. The leaves of elephant bush may also be variegated in some species.

Since this plant is edible and has an acidic taste, the Africans use the elephant bush in their food, like salads, stews, and soups, to bring out the sour flavour.

While the elephant bush makes for a beautiful addition to your home garden, it is not a pleasant sight to witness the plant drop leaves. You must get to solving this issue.

But first, you should know why this dropping of leaves happens. Let’s find out the answer to this burning query – why is my elephant bush dropping leaves?   

1. Overwatering the Elephant Bush

Like any other plant, succulents need adequate water to thrive. If you are not giving the plant enough water or if you are adding too much water, the elephant bush can become affected and start dropping leaves.

Overwatering is one of the main reasons your elephant bush is shedding leaves. When you add excess water to a plant, the soil becomes clogged, and the plant’s roots will have trouble getting enough oxygen.

With a lack of oxygen and roots drenched in water, the plant becomes very susceptible to root rot. Root rot will destroy your plant, and the dropping of leaves will follow. The clear symptoms of overwatering include swollen leaves with discolouration on them.

If you notice signs of overwatering, take the plant out from the pot, and let it dry in the air. Cut off any dead roots or infected ones. Repot the plant with fresh, well-draining soil and keep tabs on when you water to prevent overwatering.

Overwatering usually happens in winter. In the colder months, the succulent needs less water than in other months of the year. If you keep adding water according to your normal schedule or like you water in summer, the elephant bush may face a case of overwatering. Just make sure to reduce the amount of water added in winter.

2. Underwatering

In a similar way to overwatering, the elephant bush can also face the issue of underwatering, which can lead to the plant shedding leaves. If the plant does not receive enough water, it will become dry and shrivelled.

You can solve the issue of underwatering by adding lots of water to the soil. Soak up the plant and make it a point to add more water regularly.

Underwatering usually occurs in the summer season. The succulents need more water in the hot months than in the colder ones. If you are not giving the plant enough water, it will start dropping leaves to conserve whatever moisture it has to make food.

The plant will perk up most of the time if you add more water constantly, but sometimes there could be another issue.

If the soil doesn’t retain moisture and the water is just passing off, adding more water will not do the trick. In this case, you need to change the potting material to cactus mix and perlite so it would retain water and the plant will be able to absorb it.

Why Is My Elephant Bush Dropping Leaves 2
Why is my elephant bush dropping all its leaves? – via Reddit

3. Issues With the Soil

The elephant bush will also drop leaves if the soil is not in a suitable condition. You need to make sure the soil drains well and has proper aeration for the roots to breathe and for the plant to absorb the required moisture.

The soil should also have the required amount of nutrients in it. Lack of nutrients can also damage the soil and cause it to lose leaves.

If the soil lacks nutrients, add a suitable fertilizer to the soil. To ensure the soil drains well and has aeration, use a special mixture with perlite. It is also beneficial to repot the plant in new soil a few times, especially if you notice that the current soil is causing trouble.

Miracle-Gro Perlite, Helps Improve Drainage and Aeration in Potting Mixes, Enriched with Plant Food, (2-Pack)
  • Helps prevent soil compaction and promote strong root development
  • Enriched with Miracle-Gro Plant Food
  • Lightweight media helps start root cuttings
  • Improves drainage and aeration in potting mixes
  • Use only with container plants

4. Change In Growing Conditions

The elephant bush thrives in specific environmental conditions. If you change those conditions too often or too abruptly, the plant may go into shock and drop leaves.

This succulent needs bright sunlight, and placing it in a darker corner, or a shady area will affect its health, and the plant may start dropping leaves.

The temperature required by the elephant bush is warm. If you move the plant to a colder location suddenly, you may witness the dropping of leaves.

Moreover, this plant does not do well in dry air, like in the winter months. Don’t put the succulent too close to a heating vent or an air conditioner to avoid messing with the humidity requirements.

It will dry the air out even more. If the weather is such that it affects humidity in the atmosphere, use a humidifier to maintain the humidity level for your plants.  


I hope this answers your question – why is my elephant bush dropping leaves? You must always be careful to provide the plant with the right conditions and prerequisites to grow well and thrive. Make sure to do your research and know the requirements for taking care of your specific plant.

Be persistent in following the guidelines, and soon your plant will bloom beautifully. Keep a constant check on the plants to catch the issues before they spread and have a great gardening experience.