Live to Plant

What’s Causing my Elephant Plant to Die?

Updated: March 24, 2022

The Elephant Plant (Portulacaria afra), also known as the Dwarf Jade Plant, is a popular indoor succulent. It is a hardy plant that requires minimal care, making it an ideal choice for beginners. However, sometimes, despite your best efforts, your Elephant Plant may start to show signs of dying. There could be several reasons for this, ranging from overwatering to insect infestation. In this article, we will discuss some of the most common causes of Elephant Plant death and how you can prevent them.


Overwatering is one of the most common causes of Elephant Plant death. These plants are native to arid regions and are adapted to survive long periods without water. Therefore, they do not require frequent watering. Overwatering can lead to root rot, which eventually kills the plant.

To prevent overwatering, make sure that the soil is completely dry before watering again. You can check this by sticking your finger into the soil about an inch deep. If it feels dry, it’s time to water the plant. Also, make sure that the pot has proper drainage holes so that excess water can drain out.


While overwatering can be fatal to an Elephant Plant, underwatering can also cause it to die. If your plant is not getting enough water, it will start to drop leaves and become dehydrated.

To prevent underwatering, make sure that you water your plant regularly. However, do not water it too frequently as this can lead to overwatering. A good rule of thumb is to water the plant once a week during the growing season and once every two weeks during the dormant season.

Lack of Sunlight

Elephant Plants require bright but indirect sunlight to thrive. If your plant is not getting enough sunlight, it will start to stretch and become leggy. Eventually, it will lose its leaves and die.

To prevent lack of sunlight, make sure that your plant is placed in a bright spot where it can receive at least 4-6 hours of indirect sunlight every day. If you live in a region with low light levels, you can supplement your plant’s light requirements with artificial grow lights.

Insect Infestation

Insect infestation can also cause your Elephant Plant to die. Common pests that attack these plants include mealybugs, spider mites, and scale insects. These pests feed on the plant’s sap, weakening it and causing it to die.

To prevent insect infestations, inspect your plant regularly for signs of pests. If you notice any pests, remove them manually or use an insecticidal soap to get rid of them. You can also prevent pest infestations by keeping your plant clean and dust-free.

Fungal Diseases

Fungal diseases such as powdery mildew and root rot can also cause your Elephant Plant to die. These diseases thrive in wet conditions and can quickly spread to other parts of the plant.

To prevent fungal diseases, make sure that you do not overwater your plant. Also, avoid getting water on the leaves and stems as this can create a damp environment that is ideal for fungal growth. If you notice any signs of fungal disease, such as white powdery patches on the leaves or soft and blackened roots, remove the affected parts immediately.

Lack of Nutrients

Elephant Plants require minimal fertilization to thrive. However, if your plant is not getting enough nutrients, it will start to show signs of nutrient deficiency such as yellowing leaves and stunted growth.

To prevent lack of nutrients, fertilize your plant once every two months during the growing season with a balanced fertilizer. Do not fertilize during the dormant season as the plant does not require as many nutrients during this time.


Can I revive a dying Elephant Plant?

Yes, you can revive a dying Elephant Plant by identifying the cause of its decline and taking appropriate measures to address it. For example, if your plant is overwatered, you can stop watering it and allow the soil to dry out. If it is underwatered, you can water it regularly. However, if the plant is severely damaged or has been affected by a pest or disease, it may be difficult to revive it.

Can I propagate my Elephant Plant?

Yes, you can propagate your Elephant Plant by taking stem cuttings and rooting them in soil or water. To do this, simply cut off a healthy stem from the parent plant and remove the lower leaves. Then, place the cutting in water or soil and wait for it to develop roots.

Can I keep my Elephant Plant outside?

Yes, you can keep your Elephant Plant outside as long as the temperature does not drop below 50°F (10°C). These plants are native to warm regions and cannot tolerate cold temperatures. Therefore, it’s best to keep them indoors during the winter months in regions with cold climates.

In conclusion, the Elephant Plant is a hardy succulent that requires minimal care. However, to prevent its death, you need to ensure that it is not overwatered or underwatered, gets enough sunlight, is free from pests and diseases, and receives adequate nutrients. By following these simple guidelines, you can enjoy a healthy and thriving Elephant Plant for years to come.