Plant Care  |  May 03, 2020

Natal Mahogany Care


PRO TIP: As a water loving plant, the Natal Mahogany is sensitive to underwatering. When thirsty, the newest leaves on the plant will begin to curl.

Native to southern Africa, the Forest Natal Mahogany (Trichilia dregeana) is found near riverbeds, shaded by the high trees of the tropical forest.

While Natal Mahoganies definitely appreciate bright indirect light, they are one of the most low-light tolerant large indoor plants. We have found that they are an excellent choice for lower light spaces where you may want a bit of height. They also tend to adjust well to fluorescent light, so they are a great addition to an office. Keep in mind that they will not survive in no light.

If you are unsure of the lighting conditions in your home or office, we have a guide for how to measure light in your space.

Natal Mahogany Leaf Close-up

With its lusciously leafy appearance and ability to adapt to artificial light, the Natal Mahogany is a versatile tree that can add an impressive pop of verdancy to almost any space.

Routine Maintenance

PRO TIP: This tree is highly susceptible to spider mites; look for pin-prick stippling on leaflets. Natal Mahogany is also susceptible to scale, which can be hard to spot on the woody trunks of this plant.

Always be sure to assess your plant’s watering needs upon receiving it. Before giving your plant a drink, it is best to check the moisture level in the soil first to ensure it isn’t moist right beneath the surface. Also, consider aerating the soil of your plant before the initial watering. We compact the soil to avoid shifting during transit, so aerating can help the soil breathe and allow moisture to be released.

These plants are very easy to care for, however they do require the soil to be evenly and consistently moist at all times. Be sure to aim to keep the soil moist, not soggy, as despite this plant's love of moisture, it is still possible to overwater it. Check the soil at least once a week until you establish a watering routine with your plant. These plants do very well in the self watering containers!

Rotate your plant periodically to ensure even growth on all sides and dust the leaves often so the plant can photosynthesize efficiently. When dusting the leaves, also take the opportunity to inspect the undersides and keep an eye out for pests.

Remember each plant is a unique living thing and may have varying needs, especially in their individual locations. Pay attention to the condition of your Natal Mahogany and its watering needs and you will have a long and happy relationship.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does Greenery NYC offer only the self watering container option for this plant?

  • Because this plant needs consistent moisture, it thrives in the self watering container. Additionally, most of the planters offered by Greenery NYC do not have drainage holes and because of the higher water levels required with the Natal Mahogany there is a higher risk for root rot.

Help! My plant has brown and yellow leaves that are falling off.

  • This is most likely due to underwatering. Check in with the soil, and consider recent care. If the soil feels slightly dry go ahead and give your plant a nice thorough watering.

Why does my Natal Mahogany have brownish black, crispy scalloped edging on the leaves?

  • If the edges of the leaves look brown with little bites taken out of them, then this is most likely due to over watering. Although uncommon with this plant, it can get waterlogged and acquire root rot. Aerate the soil and allow for some of the moisture to release before the next watering.

How often should I fertilize my plant?

  • In general, house plants will thrive when they are fertilized spring through fall. Fertilize once a month with an organic houseplant fertilizer, following the package instructions for dilution and administration. Greenery NYC uses an organic potting mix with a slow release fertilizer in the soil, so your plant will not need fertilizer within the first 6 months of receiving it.

How often does my plant need to be repotted?

  • For larger floor plants, we suggest repotting every 18-24 months. Typically you want to choose a potting vessel 2”- 4” larger in diameter to allow for growth. Don’t choose a pot much larger than the previous as this could drown the plants roots. If you prefer to maintain the current size of your plant, repot into the same vessel, providing new soil and trimming away some roots and foliage. Spring or summer is the ideal time to repot as the plant is at its strongest.

Standard Planter Instructions

There are two types of standard planters offered by Greenery Unlimited—those with drainage holes, and those without. Within these two categories are an array of sizes and styles to choose from. The presence of drainage holes and the size of the planted vessel both play a role in the quantity and frequency of water given to your plant.

Plants purchased in pots without a drainage hole have been set up with a built-in drainage system. A layer of Aeration Stones (porous, absorbent material made of recycled clay) has been placed beneath the soil to act as a reservoir for any excess water that flows through the soil. You will need to be slightly more cautious not to pour too much water into these containers as there is no way for the excess water to escape. We suggest slowly pouring small amounts of water in bit by bit, until you have reached the desired moisture level in the soil.

For plants potted with drainage, water until the excess begins to come out the bottom of the pot and into the catch tray.

Self Watering Container Instructions

The self-watering containers require a deep and thorough watering of the topsoil after they are first placed. This is important because the roots of the plants first need to grow into the reservoir in order to drink from it. Follow the standard planter instructions for at least four weeks, before testing the reservoir. During the dormant seasons, or for plants that have slower growing habits, consider top watering for up to ten weeks. 

TEST: After the initial top water period, fill the water reservoir until the red indicator reaches half way between the MAX and MIN line. If the indicator goes down over the first few days, it means the plant is ready for regular reservoir servicing. If not, be sure to continue top watering for a few more weeks, until the red indicator goes down, meaning the plant has started drinking from the reservoir. 

RESERVOIR SERVICING: Once the indicator goes down, do not refill the reservoir right away. Similar to how humans need a breath of air between gulps of water, almost all plants require a drying out period. Always allow for the reservoir to empty all the way, and after a drying out period of a few days, be sure to refill it until the indicator reaches the MAX line.

From here on out, you should NEVER topwater the plant while using the reservoir system. If you water from the top, it can drown the plant. In the Self Watering Container, the top layer of soil will eventually become extremely dry and hard, and may even pull away from the edges of the pot. This is not a cause for concern, but simply because the plant is drinking directly from its roots in the water reservoir. You may opt for adding fresh soil into the gaps between the soil and planter, so as to give the plant a nutrient boost. You may annually, or bi annually, top water the plant to flush the foot system. Only do so when the reservoir is empty and the plant is ready for more water. 

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