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

All of our Standard Planters include a removable drainage plug to give our customers the option of drainage. While no drainage is sometimes preferred for its aesthetic simplicity, we don't recommend this option for beginners as watering mistakes can be hard to rectify.

Whether you choose to use drainage or not, we always recommend using a layer of drainage (such as our Aeration Stones) at the base of the planter. A drainage layer allows the plant's roots access to oxygen in the pockets between the drainage medium, and a lack of drainage can cause anaerobic damage to your plant.

If you decide to utilize the drainage hole for your pot, make sure to include a Plant Saucer beneath your pot to collect excess water. For most plants in standard planters, we recommend watering about once a week. Water the soil mass until water begins pooling in your Plant Saucer.

With no drainage hole, you will need to be more precise in your watering. While we would love to give you a specific measurement of water to provide for your plant, the reality is that a plant's water requirements vary wildly depending on factors such as light exposure and the overall health of the plant. You will need to learn to tell when the plant is thirsty based on how its foliage looks. Droopy foliage is usually the first sign: when your plant looks a little slumped over that's usually a visual indicator that it's thirsty.

The best solution for checking your plant's moisture level, drainage hole of not, is to use a Soil Probe to determine the moisture content of the soil at the bottom of the planter.

Self Watering Planter Instructions

The Self-Watering Planters require a deep and thorough watering of the topsoil after they are first planted. This is important because the roots of the plants first need to grow into the reservoir in order to drink from it. Water your plant from the top for two to four weeks before using the reservoir. During the dormant seasons, or for plants that have slower growing habits, consider top watering for longer.

TEST: After the initial top water period, fill the bottom water reservoir. If the water in the reservoir is absorbed into the planter, 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 plant has started drinking from the reservoir.

RESERVOIR SERVICING: Once the reservoir empties on its own, do not refill the reservoir right away. Similar to how humans need a breath of air between gulps of water, most plants require a drying out period. Allow for the reservoir to empty all the way between watering. All plants are different in their needs so the amount of time the reservoir sits empty will need to be determined, but know that for most plants this period is between 1-3 days. 

From here on out, you should rarely topwater the plant while using the reservoir system. Watering from below allows the plant to drink at its own pace, and can help combat certain issues like fungus gnats by allowing the top layer of soil to dry out more. Please note that if your plant's soil dries out too much, it can impair the wicking ability of the Aeration Stones in your planter. If your soil becomes too dry, we recommend giving it a thorough watering.

For more information on our Self Watering Planters include planting instructions, visit our blog post on How to Use Our Self-Watering Pots.

Additional Care Guides