The Natal Plum plant is a tropical shrub native to Africa. The plant is not a true plum and produces small fruit similar in taste to cranberries. These tasty fruits are perfect for homemade jams and jellies. The plant is easy to grow indoors, much like an average houseplant.
Natal Plum Appearance
The Natal Plum plant grows to an average height of between 2 to 7 feet (61 cm to 2.1 meters). The tree’s foliage is dark green with leathery, ovate leaves. The plant takes approximately two years to mature and produce fruit for the first time. Blooms appear in spring as five-petaled, star-shaped flowers. Each bloom grows to between one and three inches long with a scent similar to orange blossoms. Fruit appears after the blooms die off. Each fruit is round and between one to two inches in diameter.
Natal Plum Plant Sunlight Requirements
Natal Plums prefer full sun exposure from a South or East-facing window. Light shade is acceptable but blooms and fruit production will be diminished. Supplement light for your Natal Plum tree with an LED grow light if needed.
Watering the Natal Plum Tree
The tree is considered drought tolerant. Let the soil dry completely between waterings, then water thoroughly. Depending on the plant’s environment and size, watering frequency may be one a week or once per month. Let the soil’s moisture level and the plant’s appearance guide you.
Soil and Fertilizer Requirements
The Natal Plum is not picky about the type of soil it grows in, as long as it’s well-draining. Average potting soil is adequate, which can be amended with some perlite if the soil feels heavy. Use a balanced NPK fertilizer such as a 10-10-10 for optimal health and more fruit production. Feed the plant in the late winter to provide nutrients needed to produce blooms in the spring.
Temperature and Humidity Levels
The Natal Plum plant prefers temperatures above 70 Fahrenheit (21 Celsius) during the day and between 50 and 65 Fahrenheit ( 10 to 18.3 Celsius) during the night. For young plants, never expose them to temperatures below 30F (-1C) and older plants should never experience temperatures below 25F (-3.8). The plant is not particular about the humidity levels it grows in.
Harvesting Natal Plums
The fruit ripens individually, not all at once. Pick the small fruits once it turns dark red or purple in color. Natal Plums will store well in the fridge for one week after harvest.
Propagating the Natal Plum Plant
Cut a stem 4 to 6 inches long and place the stem in a glass filled with water. Place the glass in a warm spot with indirect sunlight. Change the water every three to four days. When the stem has produced roots that are 2 inches long, plant the stem in a pot filled with two parts soil, one part peat, and one part sand. Water the cutting enough to keep the soil moist but not soggy.
Common Pests and Diseases
Aphids are common pests that infest Natal Plum plants. These small, green insects feed on the plant and leave behind a sticky substance called honeydew. To remove the insects and honeydew, without the use of chemicals, spray the plant with a shower nozzle or garden hose. If something stronger is needed, use a horticultural soap as directed.
Fungal issues are diseases to watch for and are often caused by overwatering the plant. Decrease the watering frequency and remove any affected parts of the plant. For advanced cases, use a fungicide designed for houseplants.
Natal Plum plants have straightforward care needs. The plant is well adapted to indoor growing because of its preference for temperatures similar to most household levels. Try adding this plant to your collection for both its beauty and the delicious fruit it yields.
Natal Plum Tree FAQ
No, Natal Plums are not considered toxic to pets.
The tree will grow outdoors, in the ground, in USDA zones 9 to 11.
Natal Plums are known for their anti-inflammatory properties and are high in vitamin C and Calcium.
Repot your Natal Plum plant in either the spring or fall once the plant becomes root bound in its current pot. When repotting, take the opportunity to trim away any old or damaged roots to encourage the growth of new roots.
Use Natal Plums in jams, jellies, and desserts.