Care Instructions Natal Plumb

Natal Plumb

The Natal plum (botanical name Carissa macrocarpa cv.) is a semi-tropical evergreen plant bearing fragrant, star-shaped white flowers and, following pollination, dark red edible plum-shaped fruits. It is native to the Kwa-Zulu Natal Province of South Africa.

Natal Plumb plant Placement:

Your Natal plum plant should be placed indoors where it will receive bright light. It will benefit from two or three hours of morning or late afternoon sun such as would be received through a window with an eastern or western exposure. Since the Natal plum needs higher humidity than the normal house provides, place it near other leafy plants, or next to an open container of water, or in a decorative tray filled with pebbles and water. Do not allow the water to touch the bottom of the planter, however, or the plant will be overwatered. Misting the leaves frequently will also be beneficial. Indoors, ideal temperatures for the plant are night temperatures of 50° to 65°F and daytime temperatures of 68°F to 85°F.

In the spring after minimum night temperatures exceed 45 °F, the Natal plum plant may be moved outdoors into a semi-shady location. It should not be exposed to full sun, especially during the hottest part of the day. Return the plant indoors in the fall before temperatures drop below 45°F. The Natal plum plant is frost tender and should never be exposed to temperatures below freezing.


Watering:

The soil should be kept evenly moist but not soggy. Allow the top one half inch of soil to dry between waterings. In warmer weather, especially if it is situated outside, your Natal plum may need to be watered daily.

Apply water to the soil until water runs out the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. Reduce frequency of watering in cooler weather. Never allow the soil to dry out completely, but if it does, immerse the entire pot in water for five minutes to ensure that the soil is thoroughly wet. Do not use water from a water softener.


Pruning:

To prune, pinch out ends of branches about once every six weeks while they are growing. Since natal plums produce flowers on new growth, allow some branches to grow out unpruned. After flowering, these branches may be pruned back or, if fruit is desired, allowed to remain until after the fruiting. Early spring, before new growth starts, is an ideal time to prune back all branches by one third to encourage branching and fullness.


Fertilizing:

Fertilize every six weeks between spring and mid-summer, using regular houseplant food at half strength.


Insect Control:

Natal plum bonsai are susceptible to aphids and scale insects. Check often for them on the new growth, along the stems and on the undersides of the leaves. If insects are present, spray with an insecticidal soap or a light horticultural oil which specify on the label that they are for use on fruit-producing plants or vegetables. Follow label directions.


Toxicity:

Natal plum fruit is edible when ripe (red in color). Do not spray your plant with any toxic insecticide if you plan to eat the fruit. The leaves and other parts of the plant are not edible.