Portulacaria afra 'foliis variegatis', or Rainbow Bush, is a strikingly beautiful variegated form of Portulacaria afra. The cream and light green leaves really stand out against the purplish red stems. The leaves will reach up to 0.75 inches (2 cm) long, but they are usually smaller. This form is a slow grower and its size is easily controlled by container size, making it a wonderful indoor bonsai subject. The plants are hardy in the landscape in USDA zones 9-11.
Blooming: Most Portulacarias do not bloom in captivity. In nature they have small pinkish blooms.
Culture: Portulacaria afra 'foliis variegatis' need full sun to partial shade or very high interior lighting with a well drained soil mix. In the greenhouse, we grow the plants under 25% shade all year round. We use a soil mix consisting of 1 part peat moss to 1 part loam to 2 parts coarse sand with small gravel added to insure good drainage. The plants are well watered and allowed to dry thoroughly before watering again. Too much water seems to rot the stems at the soil line. We fertilize the plants two times during the growing season with a balanced fertilizer. During the winter months, we never let the nighttime temperatures fall below 50°F (10°C) and water is restricted to only enough to keep the leaves from shriveling.
Propagation: Portulacaria afra 'foliis variegatis' is easily propagated from cuttings.
Portulacaria afra 'foliis variegatis' was featured as Plant of the Week December 8-14, 2006.
Guide to Past Plants-of-the-Week:
Cal's Plant of the Week was provided as a service by the University of Oklahoma Department of Microbiology & Plant Biology and specifically the late Cal Lemke, who used to be OU's botany greenhouse grower and an avid gardener at home as well. If the above links don't work, then try the overview site. You may also like to look at the thumbnail index. ©1998-2012 All rights reserved.