Caring for a Natal Mahogany Plant (Trichilia Emetica)

Updated on May 9, 2019
thoughthole profile image

I have more than eight years of hands-on experience in the horticultural maintenance industry and shares many tricks of the trade.

Unveil the Indoor Mahogany Plant

A Mahogany plant is quick to catch attention with its deep green foliage and wide, feather-shaped leaves. Mahogany leaves are oval or feather shaped, and there are clusters on each stem, usually in groups of seven. The leaves are thin and flexible. The dense foliage covers dark woody trunks & stems. Interior Mahogany are usually composed of several small Mahogany plants potted together in one large grow pot to form a lush interior tree.

A stunning plant that can be used in most design settings, enhancing the area and making a great filler piece, or as a stand alone eye catcher.This incredible interior tree holds an important secret, it is frequently underestimated and misidentified. The error can spell disaster in a very short time.

What a Mahogany Is Not!

Natal Mahogany can be frequently mistaken for a member of the Ficus family, Schefflera Amate, or the very similar looking Coffee Arabica plant. This typical misidentifying can spell death for the fragile Mahogany plant that requires a constant and consistent supply of water.

A Mahogany plant is one that requires frequent water checks, and it's a plant that will not recover from a skipped watering that leads to over drying. Many a Mahogany have met their swift end in a locked home or office, having been skipped only once in their watering cycle. Most interior plants can easily tolerate two or even three weeks between waterings, but not the Mahogany. When over dried, the plant quickly and completely defoliates to the point of no return.

In short, here are the things that a Mahogany is not:

  • Not a Ficus Tree
  • Not a Schefflera
  • Not tolerant of neglect
  • Not able to withstand any drought like circumstance
  • Not a coffee plant

Selecting a Space

As it is most commonly a floor plant, Mahogany can easily stand alone as a center piece, enhance an area as an accent, or become part of a plant grouping.

Best results for overall health will be had by placing Mahogany in a space where light is able to reach all areas of the plants foliage.

The Mahogany can also be placed near a wall or corner as long as the plant is regularly rotated to avoid defoliation to the side away from the light.

The Mahogany has many options for placement especially in moderate lower light conditions, and conditions that have only artificial lighting available. Their dark green leaf pigments make the plant shade hardy which translates well indoors. Even in odd dark spaces the Mahogany can do very well if provided with a central grow light, or some sort of artificial light.

Optimum Lighting

Moderate diffused light & artificial light yield the best results for a Natal Mahogany. This tree form floor plant will do the best if light is able to reach all sides. However, Mahogany can do fine placed next to a wall or in a corner as long as it is rotated regularly. This plant will defoliate from light variation however very slowly.

High light is not recommended due to Mahogany's insatiable water lust. High light will only serve to increase water usage and chance of over dying.

Low light is not recommended, but can be tolerated if at least some light is available, and watering is adjusted to balance soil moisture.

Watering Mahogany

Perhaps one of the most critical care aspects to the long term health of the Mahogany plant is diligent watering maintenance. As mentioned previously, Mahogany react very badly to under watering often with fatal results.

The keys to success lie in these elements of the Mahogany plant.

  • Check this plants moisture at least once a week. Once a week should be sufficient however if your plant is new it is a good idea to check it a couple times a week while the plant is acclimating to it's new environment. Using a large moisture probe of some kind is the best method with which to check this plants moisture, most Mahogany are large trees with a pot diameter of 10" plus, being able to evaluate the moisture all the way through the pot is beneficial.
  • Be sure to place this plant in a drip liner. Water Mahogany through and leave excess water in it's liner each time it is watered, the plant should easily use the excess water left in the liner by the time the next watering is due.
  • Beware of the drain holes on the grow pot of your Mahogany plant, often the drain holes on these plants are placed about 1/2" up on the grow pot, preventing the plant from getting to the water left in the liner. If your Mahogany has drain holes such as this cut them down to the bottom of the pot to allow access to the liner water.

Other Items of Note

Mahogany is not prone to interior pests, however, it can still get them. The pests to watch for are mealy bug & scale. The best treatment is to clean away the bugs, clean your plant leaves regularly with insecticidal soap and, in relentless cases, treat your plant with systemic pesticide as directed.

Trimming Mahogany is a great way to keep your mahogany plant symmetrical and full. Mahogany have a tendency to grow up and get leggy, topping off the plants stem from time to time will keep it in balance.

Enjoy your plant, and don't forget to water!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

  • Why does a fully grown Mahogany's leaves turn yellow?

    If the leaves are turning completely yellow, and easily fall off the plant may be lacking water, Mahogany requires consistent attention with watering, and is a heavy drinker. If the leaves are turning a mosaic yellow/green and do not easily fall off it is likely not getting enough light, which in turn will also keep the soil consistently too moist.

Do you have a Mahogany?

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image


      4 weeks ago

      Got my plant two months ago and started sprouting new foliage. Not i notice the new leaves are dry and falling off. I have a mild mealy bug infestation which i’ve been treating with Neem oil. Is the drop in leaves from the mealy bugys, neem oil or could it also be because its under a vent. Please help! Thank you!

    • profile image


      3 months ago

      9315 Garnet Ct

    • profile image 

      4 months ago

      have a dying natal it was stressed whn i received it. did well for few weeks. I GAVE IT FUNGICDE BEC THOUGHT IT WAS TOO WET,


      suspected root rot so pulled it out nd left it sit overnight to dry.Then

      repotted it and treated it with more fungicide - 2nd drench.

      still wilted. put under plastic tent and mist 3 times a day ////??????

      nothing is getting it to perk up.

      help HELP HELP i tried everything i can think of desperate to save him !!!!

    • profile image

      Hasti af 

      4 months ago

      Please help ! I got my Natal Mahogany 3 months ago, when brought it home it started having new leaves and branches supper fast ! In three weeks the tree got 4” taller! Then I think an insect happened! Something started biting off the leaves and now they are mostly yellow. I treated the leaves with Neem oil spray also neem oil water to water the plant , after a day took it to shower and cleaned every single leaf. Although I sprayed the neem oil during day in the living room by window! So maybe I screwed up there ? Now the plant is droopy, leaves look really sick with yellow and spots. We really love this tree! Please help ! Do I need to prone ? I also changed the soil and pot !

    • profile image

      An indoor plant lover 

      6 months ago

      For Jack: Sounds like "honeydew" which probably means you have aphids or some other pest. Get good professional help quickly or you'll lose the plant.

    • profile image


      23 months ago

      I have a Natal Mahogany that is getting the floor and pot it is in with a sticky substance, it cleans up ok with warm water but seem to be getting a lot of it on the lower leaves, I water it twice per week, is this normal ?

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      what a sensitive little snowflake tree


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)