The Gift of Carbon Sponges

Carbon sponge Potting idea

Since it’s the festive season and a time for giving, why not give somebody you love a potted collection of spekbooms (Portulacaria) or carbon sponge? This large old tin, which previously held pickled gherkins bought from a deli, were potted up with three special portulacarias:

  1. Portulacaria armiana (whipstick-porkbush)

A very special, large-leaved species that is only found naturally in the north of the Richtersveld and south of Namibia, in very arid conditions. It is an extremely hardy plant and something special to have in a porkbush collection. The ‘whipstick’ part of its common name refers to the extremely long, whip-like stems that carry sprays of small flowers in winter and spring.

  1. Portulacaria afra ‘Aurea’ (yellow porkbush)

This carbon sponge groundcover, which reaches a height of 30 – 50cm, has a sprawling growth habit and bright yellow leaves.

  1. Portulacaria afra ‘Prostrata’

This is a low-growing groundcover variety with long arching branches covered in glossy emerald-green leaves.


  • Portulacaria plants have the ability to absorb free carbon from the atmosphere.
  • Although these plants are very drought resistant and sun-loving, they will not mind a little shade. This pot and its lovely inhabitants was an attractive decoration near a sunny kitchen windowsill before it was moved to a sunny patio.
The Gardener