The Elephant Bush is a semi-evergreen succulent shrub native to South Africa. The shrub gets its name from the fact that it’s elephants’ favorite food. If the name doesn’t sound familiar, you might know this shrub also as the Dwarf Jade, Pork Bush, Spekboom, or Portucalaria afra. This shrub is becoming increasingly popular, and people have started wondering, “Does elephant bush flower?” Most people are surprised to learn that under the right circumstances, it can.
Only under very specific conditions does the elephant bush bloom. Although almost all shrubs produce flowers, the conditions for the Elephant Bush have to be so specific that it can be an extremely uncommon sight to ever see it in bloom. However, if you are lucky enough to see it blossom, it will most likely be in nature, as flowers are even more rare in cultivation.
For any chance of the Elephant Bush blooming, the shrub has to be old enough and kept very dry, and only then is there a chance that it might flower after rain.
Therefore, you are most likely to see the Elephant Bush in bloom during the fall months of October and November in areas around San Diego in the United States. Similarly, you can sometimes see the Elephant Bush bloom in South Africa during a good flowering season.
Other people have reported that you have the best chance of seeing the Elephant Bush bloom during the late spring and early summer months. This means that the chances of it flowering aren’t as dependent on the season as much as the circumstances that just have to be right.
When the Elephant bush flowers, you’ll see small, soft pink, lilac, or white flowers clustered at the end of the branches. The little flowers are star-shaped, and each one has 5 pointed petals and very long, prominent stamens.
You’ll usually find the Elephant Bush growing in rocky areas, for example, on the side of a mountain, so when they are in bloom, you’ll find a carpet of flowers ranging from soft pink to dark purple, all in the same area. After flowering and once pollinated, small berry-like, transparent dry fruits appear in their place. Each fruit only contains a single seed.
The flowers will last about 2 to 3 weeks, but as the Elephant Bush is a monocarpic plant, the blooms will die right after flowering. You can also get some tasty honey from the flowers if you are ever lucky enough to encounter an Elephant Bush in full bloom. The nectar is wildly attractive to bees and many other insects. The nectar also attracts songbirds that feed on the insects around the flowers.
How to make Elephant Bush flower
Unfortunately, it’s very hard to get your Elephant Bush to flower as they only do so under very specific conditions that are hard to control. The best chance to get your Spekboom to bloom would be to plant it outdoors in a sunny spot and hope for the conditions to be perfect. Then, if you have some good rain after a long dry spell, there could be a chance that your shrub blooms.
You could experiment with keeping it dry for a long period of time and giving it some water during certain periods of the year, but this approach will most likely lead to some frustration. Also, if your shrub is still very young or you grow the Elephant Bush as a houseplant, it’s unlikely to flower at all. The best you can do is to keep growing it in a bright spot in well-draining soil, as only the mature plants are said to flower.