Bursera fagaroides 101: Everything to Know About This Stunning Plant

Are you looking for a unique, low-maintenance plant to spruce up your home or garden? Meet Bursera fagaroides, the extraordinary elephant tree bonsai! With its sculptural trunk, delicate blue-green foliage, and occasional bursts of light blue berries, this shrub is a true showstopper. Keep reading to discover everything you need to know about caring for and propagating this striking plant.

bursera fagaroides

About Bursera fagaroides

Native to parts of Mexico and the southwestern United States, Bursera fagaroides is an evergreen plant that can grow into a small tree or shrub. Its common names like “elephant tree” and “fragrant bursera” hint at two of its captivating features – its swollen, trunk-like base resembling an elephant’s foot, and the pleasant aroma it gives off.

During spring and summer, it is cloaked in tiny, bluish-green leaves. As winter approaches, the leaves drop to reveal the plant’s naked, sculptural framework. This natural self-pruning makes Bursera fagaroides an excellent choice for bonsai enthusiasts.

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Care for Bursera fagaroides


Bursera fagaroides thrives in bright, sunny conditions. Outdoors, position it in full sun. Indoors, place it near a south or west-facing window. If sunlight is limited, use a grow light, following the manufacturer’s instructions for optimal brightness and duration.


This plant is quite drought-tolerant. Check the soil regularly and only water when the top 2-3 inches (5-8 cm) are completely dry. Overwatering can lead to root rot, so drain any excess moisture from the saucer or pot.

bursera fagaroides


A fast-draining cactus or bonsai potting mix works best to prevent waterlogged roots. Avoid soil with lots of organic matter, as it breaks down quickly.


During the growing season, fertilize every 1-2 weeks with a balanced liquid fertilizer diluted to half strength. Reduce feeding to once every 3 weeks in fall and winter. Stop fertilizing completely during winter dormancy.


Ideally, Bursera fagaroides prefers temperatures between 70-85°F (21-29°C) during spring and summer. In fall and winter, aim for a cooler 55-60°F (13-16°C). Freezing temps can damage the plant, so bring it indoors when cold snaps hit.

Pests and Diseases

Bursera fagaroides has good resistance, but watch for common houseplant pests like mealybugs, spider mites or scale. Use an insecticidal soap or neem oil treatment as needed. Prevent root rot by avoiding overwatering.


The elephant tree bonsai’s growth habit lends itself well to artistic pruning and shaping. In spring, trim back up to 1/4 of the main branches. As new shoots emerge, carefully direct growth by pruning extra stems, leaving just those growing in your desired direction.

bursera fagaroides

Potting and Repotting

Slowly-growing roots allow the plant to stay rootbound for 5-6 years before repotting is required. When shifting to a new container, do so in late spring.

Bursera fagaroides Propagation Methods

Bursera fagaroides can be easily propagated from seeds, cuttings or root division for an endless supply of new plants! Here’s how:


Sow fresh seeds in spring or early summer and provide warmth until germination in 3-4 weeks.


  1. Take 4-6 inch (10-15 cm) stem cuttings in spring or summer
  2. Remove lower leaves and dip cut end in rooting hormone
  3. Plant cutting in well-draining soil and keep warm and humid
  4. Roots should form in 4-6 weeks

Root Division

  1. In spring, carefully divide the rootball of an established plant
  2. Each section with roots can be potted up to form a new plant