Portulacaceae plants are found in temperate and tropical regions and are distributed worldwide, except in alpine regions. They are often utilized as ornamental potted plants or for garden greening purposes. While Portulaca afra and Pailulacaria afra var.foliis-variegatis belong to the same Portulaca L. family of Portulacaceae, they are frequently confused for the same plant due to their appearance. However, these two lovely succulent bushes are distinct from each other. This article will explore the significant differences between these two plants in detail.

4 Differences Between Portulaca afra and Pailulacaria afra var. foliis-variegatis




Pailulacaria afra var. foliis-variegatis is a well-known variety of Portulaca afra, featuring pale green leaves that are opposite in arrangement. These leaves have a light yellow line around the pale green leaf heart. Upon careful observation, you'll likely also see a certain amount of white dots. The margins of the leaves are pink while newly propagated leaves have noticeable red edges. The plant's branches and stems are equally stunning, as they display a gorgeous purple-red hue that complements the leaves perfectly.


Portulaca afra, also called the elephant bush, features dark green leaves that are arranged alternately. Obviously, its leaves color is not vibrant as Pailulacaria afra var.foliis-variegatis. However, Portulaca afra is robust and easily stretched out to grow brown stem, which results in it is being commonly used as a bonsai tree like Crassula jade plant, thriving in a multitude of environments. Click here to learn how to make succulent trunks thicker.


Growth Rate


In the world of succulents, it has been observed that natural varieties demonstrate a higher growth rate than mutated varieties. Portulaca afra is no different. When grown in the same conditions, Pailulacaria afra var.foliis-variegatis grows slower and takes longer to reach its full height compared to Portulaca afra. Pailulacaria afra var.foliis-variegatis typically takes 3 to 4 years to reach a height of 5 feet, but it is capable of growing up to 13 feet. In comparison, Portulaca afra boasts a more robust plant structure and better resistance to diseases.


If you notice that your Pailulacaria afra var. foliis-variegatis is growing rapidly upwards, you may become concerned that the plant you acquired is actually Portulaca afra instead of the intended variety. This is due to the fact that the variegated leaves can be artificially induced.




Pailulacaria afra var. foliis-variegatis is a succulent plant that can withstand drought but is not tolerant of cold weather. As a variegated variety, it can be challenging to maintain indoors as it requires a warm, sunny, and well-ventilated environment. If it does not receive enough sunlight, the variegated leaves will lose their color, and the stem nodes will elongate, leading to a stagnant plant.

However, due to its high ornamental value, it is a popular choice for gardeners and can be grown outdoors without shade from spring to autumn. Like other succulent plants, it's best to bring this plant indoors when the temperature drops to 41℉.


Same as Pailulacaria afra var. foliis-variegatis, Portulaca afra likes a dry and sunny environment and can be outdoors all day. The difference is that Portulaca afra can tolerate partial shade, in which case the leaves will get thin and lose their luster.



The price of Pailulacaria afra var. foliis-variegatis is higher than Portulaca afra.

How to Care for Portulaca afra and Pailulacaria afra var. foliis-variegatis


Sunlight: Full sun to filtered sun.
Water: Once per week, only water when the leaves wilted.
Temperature: cold hardy to 41℉.
Soil: Well-drained succulent soil.
Pot: hanger planter pot or table planter pot with drainage holes.
Location: Fully outdoors in spring to autumn, indoors in winter; porch; near the bright window.
Propagation: Stem cuttings propagation. (recommended length>4")


You may wonder: How to propagate from stem cuttings



Now that you have all the details, you can easily tell apart the succulent twins, Portulaca afra and Pailulacaria afra var.foliis-variegatis. The most obvious way to differentiate between them is by looking at the color of their leaves and stems - Pailulacaria afra var.foliis-variegatis has more vibrant hues as it is a variation of Portulaca afra after brocade. On the other hand, Portulaca afra is considered to be quite ordinary.

If you want your Pailulacaria afra var. foliis-variegatis or Portulaca afra to grow and thrive, make sure they get enough light. Even though they are tough plants that can handle drought, giving them some water will still help them grow better. These plants would make a lovely addition to your garden due to their attractive appearance.

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