Natal Plum

marricgardensSeptember 4, 2012

I have just rec'd one and was wondering what kind of care to give it. The only instructions that came with it were to give it good light. I do that but the bottom leaves are drying up and falling off. What kind of fertilizer is best? Right now I just use an all purpose fertilizer that I use on my outdoor plants. How often should I fertilize? I think it may need more humidity so should I put it on a pebble tray? Any advice? Marg

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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

You'll love the blooms. ;-) Full sun is best but they might not tolerate the HEAT from full sun indoors unless there is good air movement. A fast draining soil that allows you to flush the soil thoroughly at will w/o any concern the soil will remain soggy so long it affects root function or might cause root rot. A soluble fertilizer with a 3:1:2 RATIO is probably the best choice. Ratios are different than NPK%. Common 3:1:2 ratio fertilizers are 24-8-16, 12-4-8, 9-3-6, with Foliage-Pro 9-3-6 getting a strong nod from me because it has ALL the essential nutrients (most fertilizers don't), and it gets most of it's nitrogen from nitrate sources, which will help keep your plant compact under low light conditions indoors. There's more, but I don't know how much you WANT to know. ;-)


    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 5:24PM
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The flowers, as Al notes, are wonderful - simply white and fragrant. The fruit's quite edible (as long as you let it ripen) - kind of like a semi-bland strawberry. It's a common landscaping plant in San Diego, especially in parking lots and along swimming pools. Quite the effective hedge, too.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 5:52PM
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Thanks for the info Al. I was concerned because the bottom leaves were drying up and falling off. Today I went out and bought a new fertilizer, I couldn't find much out there so I bought Miracle Gro All Purpose 12-4-8 with micronutrients. I haven't repotted it yet but it's looking like it's ready for a new pot. I have some Miracle Grow potting soil and I could add some orchid bark to it to make it free draining. Do you think that would work? I don't usually grow houseplants but think I will start. So far I have a variegated hoya, scheffelera(sp) and a snake plant that's about 4' tall. Hopefully I will be able to keep them alive. Now to find one of the big leafed hoyas! Marg

    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 7:40PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

There are several things that COULD be responsible for shedding of older/lower foliage, natural senescence being one of them. I think it's ok to pot up now, but I'd probably wait until next Jun to do a full repot. You might not make the distinction between the two.

I'm going to link you to a thread that I think is a very good place for beginners to start. It covers the basics that are important in the sense that they have a very large impact on how easy/difficult it might be for you to be able to consistently bring along healthy plants. Getting the basics right goes a long way toward ameliorating the difficulty factor, and can save a lot of time you might otherwise spend on learning by trial and error. If you find it to be interesting or of value, let me know. There are some other links I think have a great deal of potential to move you quickly forward if you'd like to get into growing houseplants.

I might even be able to furnish you a Canadian reference or two if you like. ;-)


    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 8:35PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

What a dullard. I forgot the link >>>>>

Here is a link that might be useful: An overview for you .....

    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 8:37PM
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Thanks for the link. Marg

    Bookmark   September 5, 2012 at 2:33PM
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silentsurfer(6A OH)

hi guys,
Of all my 'bloomers', my Carissa have never shown any signs of even 'wanting to', ?
..just 6 inches off the windowsill, theyre not in the 'absolute' brightest position i can offer, but very nearly so,, their vigorous (tho kinda 'leggy') growth would indicate a desire for a bit more Sun im guessing?

Im actually not that concerned about blooms, But,, would luv any firsthand tips regarding pruning or care, backbudding potential, rootwork tolerance, etc,, (ive posted here in the interest of conserving bandwidth? and condensing 'search' features)

As an interesting sidenote, ive found that 'propagating Carissa' is NOT as difficult as many 'instructions' had led me to believe,, one of the more common approaches ive
copied below from []

[A vegetative propagation is possible and preferred. The most efficient method consists of notching young branchlets by cutting them halfway through. Then they are bent downwards and allowed to hang limply. After the young branchlets have built a callus, in approximately 2 months, the cutting has to be removed from the parent and planted in sand under moderate shade. Roots form within one month.]

Myself, ive found that they will root from soft 'tip' cuttings, and ive even rooted a cpl in a ziplock baggie with the cuttings 'base' simply encloaked in a moist paper towel, tho i wouldnt suggest that approach,,,

Hope this encourages anyone who (like me) mayve been deterred from trying. :)

    Bookmark   October 12, 2012 at 12:53PM
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greenlarry(UK 8/9)

Hmm I had no idea what this is so I googled it. Wiki got me Carissia, a small shrub with edible fruit.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2012 at 1:13PM
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I also have a variegated Carissa 'Natal Plum' and wonder if it prefers cool or warm temps during winter months. What about humidity?

Years ago, I purchased NP, and grew in a Bonsai did well, even flowered and fruited..however, one summer, while taking care of other projects, the soil dried too much and it died.

Al, wanted to ask you about your Pilea/Artillary Plant..don't know if I should start a new thread??? Toni

    Bookmark   October 12, 2012 at 2:05PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Sorry folks, are you taking about Carissa or Natal Plum? I'm quite sure they are entirely different plants.

I too have enjoyed the Natal Plum in San Diego, the look, the bloom & the fruit, tasty too.

The Carissa I've seen bonsai'd is an entirely different plant, very small leaves & tiny white blooms, have seen the white edged version only. I saw one at the very first bonsai demo I ever saw, (of a Carissa, by Patty Lee, Jeff, pretty neat demo too, pruned, trimmed & bonsai'd).

    Bookmark   October 12, 2012 at 4:19PM
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Karen, Carrisa is Natal Plum...

A link on Wiki

Here is a link that might be useful: RE: Natal Plum

    Bookmark   October 12, 2012 at 4:35PM
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greenlarry(UK 8/9)

I wonder if some are confusing carissa with the similar serissa, a species most commonly grown for bonsai! (I've had one)

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   October 12, 2012 at 4:51PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Yup, GL's got it - thanks, it's Serissa I was thinking of. Sorry, nevermind!!

    Bookmark   October 13, 2012 at 6:39PM
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greenlarry(UK 8/9)

Serissa has one distinctive feature, stinky sap! Bruise a leaf or a stem and it gives off an odour- hence the name foetida

    Bookmark   October 13, 2012 at 6:59PM
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silentsurfer(6A OH)

its Tropical, coastal South Africa,,
so, spray it w/salt water and toss the noem-noems in ya Salad! hehe
btw a 'variegated' Carissa is on my 'List' you got my xmas list right?? :)~

hey Karen
you get back up n runnin again?
and Toni is right of course,,
both actually link to the same Wiki pg. :)

hey Larry,
weird, but yea, probably,,, couldnt be much more Dissimilar in my mind tho, ?

Ive a Serissa (foetida) i wanna post as well thats needs Serious attention, should i keep 'searching' for another 'previous thread' ? or...
Here, since we're all in the dark anyway? hehee

btw is there anything you Havent Had? lol
and Toni, anything you Havent (now)?? lol

btw the roots of Serissa are foetid! didnt know about the plant itself?
havent 'bruised' her yet,, tho taking cuttings didnt offend me that i recall..?
now the (milky) 'Sap' of Carissa (Natal Plum) is toxic, right?
"Some claim.... poisonous" according to wiki. :)

    Bookmark   October 13, 2012 at 8:02PM
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greenlarry(UK 8/9)

I had a serissa
Trained it for bonsai so I did a lot of clipping, and got a lot of stink!
It didnt live too long, a bit fussy.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 5:24AM
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My NP is not loosing its leaves like it did at first. There are still some that sre discoloring, I've attached some pics, but overall it looks fairly healthy. I've looked at the pics from others and mine doesn't look quite the same, it's bushier. Maybe it's just more mature? Any ideas what is causing the leaves to discolor? Marg

This picture shows the leaf discoloring.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 9:48AM
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greenlarry(UK 8/9)

Are all the discoloured leaves near the base of the stem like the one in the puck, or are some apical leaves(those near the ends of the stem) discolouring too?
Loooks just like old leaf fall

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 10:24AM
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Serissa's are very pretty plants and make wonderful bonsais. Natal Plum foliage is larger than Serissa..Both are beautiful when in flower/and fruit for NP.

SS... are you serious about spraying w/salt water???

If you're good, maybe Santa will leave a variegated NP under the Christmas tree. :)

Plants I'm without...I don't have a green NP or

Great, another poisonous plant! I didn't want toxic plants in the house because of our birds...turns out 90% are. I wasn't aware they were harmful when adopted.
I tossed out a tree Oleander after discovering it's extremely poisonous, and refrained from adding a Dief when my son, at 2-3-yrs-old, took not one but two bites from the cane. Talk about a hysterical time!

Larry, don't feel bad. I tried growing Serrisa luck..When you said, 'it got a lot of stink,' did you mean literally?

Marg..Your NP is nice and full.

Was NP outdoors in summer? Soil needs to dry between waterings..

It's slow-growing, and w/winter approaching will soon grow even slower, if at all.

I'd withhold fertilizer unless you see new growth and/or days are sunny. Just my opinion.

For the time being, removing dead foliage sitting atop soil, and marred leaves.

Otherwise, you have a very nice, good-sized NP...Toni

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 10:36AM
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greenlarry(UK 8/9)

Toni i do mean literally! It stinks to high heaven when cut or bruised.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 1:20PM
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I bought my NP mid August so I've just kept it in the house. The bottom leaves started dropping after a week, I assumed it might have been because of the move from a greenhouse to my home? It is still losing some leaves but not as many. When I was removing some of the dried leaves, I noticed that there was a grayish 'dust' on them and then I found one piece of white webbing, no insects tho. When I brought it home I found there were fungus gnats in the soil but I didn't think they could make the white webs. Spider mites maybe? BTW Toni, there is new growth forming at the tips of the branches. Thanks for all the help. Marg

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 1:29PM
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I have 3 of the green and two variegated ones.

As Al had mentioned above, I find mine do this naturally as they get older every spring and fall. It seems they loose older leaves as they get bigger and bigger.
Some leaves on my green ones turn a nice red while others fall off yellow.
I also find this happens when transeferring it from ideal conditions to less than ideal until it gets use to it's new location.
Also, I find mine hate the cold temps I keep in my plant room, even in full sun, so I keep them in the greenhouse now.

I LOVE the smell of the flowers and the taste of the fruit, therefore the reason I have 5. I also find that the variegated ones have a much more potent fragrance than the green ones.

If I had the room , I would get many many more, these plants being one of my faves. You can let them go wild, or keep them Bonsai style. I love the freedom of shaping them and find them very easy to grow.

I'll post a pic tomorrow if it's sunny.


    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 1:57PM
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Larry, That's strange. When you see Serrisa for sale, they boast about its fragrant

Marj...Nope, gnats don't build webs. Mites do. Inspect your plant regularly. If you see more webbing, it's time to treat..In the meantime, wash foliage w/soapy water..

Since you found Fungus Gnats, you repotted in different soil/medium, right?

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 2:09PM
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As soon as I saw the fungus gnats, I put up sticky yellow traps and caught lots! I replaced the traps and haven't seen any since. I keep checking it but so far haven't seen any. I did water with Insecticidal Soap hoping that might kill the eggs in the soil, don't know if that helped or not. I was hoping to be able to wait til spring to repot. Marg

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 2:43PM
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greenlarry(UK 8/9)

Fungus gnats are a sign of bad too wet soil!.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 5:32PM
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silentsurfer(6A OH)

just a wild guess, outta nowhere,,,
watch your watering for awhile. :)

nooo, LOL
wiki (n others) suggest (implies?) theyre semi-tolerant of ocean/sea-spray in their native coastal areas tho,,,,
We wanna keep the salts OUT of our containerized houseplants, right? ;)

btw i found like (6)? viable carissa cuttings over the weekend,
so Take That Meyer_Mike!! hoo-ra ...kiddin,,, lol im envious, wanna see yours :)

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 11:46PM
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SS, that's the reason I asked if you were serious? lol.
Thought, perhaps you conjured up a secret formula that works with Natal Plums. lol.

No, no salt..I attempt buying fertilizer w/o Urea. When my plants are fighting off a bad, sore-sprout, they are not allowed to gargle with salt and water... :)

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 4:45PM
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Here are mine everyone! 4 of them.

I finally had a moment to sit and share with you all....I forget to take pics of my other one, it is much smaller and I would like to keep it like a Bonsai plant. Instructions to come for me on that soon.:-)

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 8:53PM
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Siletnsurfer, you make me smile! I like you.

Good night everyone:-)

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 8:55PM
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Siletnsurfer, you make me smile! I like you.

Good night everyone:-)

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 8:58PM
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silentsurfer(6A OH)

lol ..killin me here,, i just HAD to google 'urea',, hehee
i hafta admit cept for a cpl tiny succulents, (i just didnt luv enough to bother with)
everythings mostly doing pretty well,, i Cant Explain it,, LOL
but i DO tend/intend to 'Backup' everything, just in case hehe

oh Mike,,,
man you n Toni post the most beautiful plants, i mean Really, Nice, plants, photos, good light, the whole 9,, ive GOT to get me a variegated now,,
its like.....Euonymous~? for Indoors!? :)
the compactness and short internodes~? obviates your better light availability tho,,
..i'll hafta see how artificial Lt. and aggressive pruning might compensate here on my cutting babies,,
hmm i retort~? im not envious, im Inspired!

oh wait, did he just say that?? yea, Twice! lol
Mike (who'll be henceforth known as Dbl-post Mike) lol
like-wise mista, you kids keep it fun. :)
tnx for the stunning Natal pics.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 10:51PM
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Well, I just finished repotting my Natal Plum. When I had watered it, the water always just ran out of the bottom and I assumed it was because of the porous mix they used. WRONG! It was because the plant was so pot bound the roots were wrapping around themselves and it had filled the pot! I washed the roots to try and loosen them, and then repotted. Believe it or not the plant looks happier. The pot I used is about the same height just a bit wider. I prefer clay but all I had was plastic. I always hold my plants over the sink and let the water drain so I knew it wasn't to wet (it wasn't). Because the roots were so tight I don't think any water was being taken up. I have not seen anymore fungus gnats so I think the yellow traps worked. Thanks for all the help. Marg

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 10:53AM
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Mike, Wow! Very impressive. Four NP's..
Would you happen to know their ages? Or the length of time you had them?

Reason I'm asking..Do you find variegated NP's fussier than green?

Why did I assume NP's grow upright? Yours are vining..Right?

SS. lol. I find myself researching often. Google this or that..

Are the succulents you neglected doing better than those you paid close attention to? Seems to work that way w/succulents.

After the holidays you can order NP..either green or variegated. has both.

Marg...the good news is, although your NP was rootbound, at least you know it's alive and well..roots just needed a little more room.

Were roots stuck together, as one huge clump? Toni

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 11:25AM
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Yes they were Toni. I washed them under running water and they came loose. Then I dried the excess water and repotted.
Meyermike , I love your variegated plant. Are NP hard to start?

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 11:37AM
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Hello Marric....Not at all....You just cut them and stick them in moist soil into lots of light, and they will root.
Thank you. That first bigger variegated flowerd really good this summer. Boy, did it smell good!

Toni, you know me, amd I lousy with ages...I think I remember telling you I bought these last fall? I have had them for quite sometime and find the very easy to care for.
They have grown quite well, but I find them to grow slower than the green and more compact.
Do you remember the pic I showed you of that one in flower?

Yes, that green one on top os draping and it will to teh floor if I let it. I have it on a round table that sits about 3 feet tall and let it flow down. I LOVE the shape of it.
Some do grow upright if you train it that way. By nature, they like to grow horizontaly if you let them.

Toni, the succulents are all doing good, whether I neglect them at times or pay special attention to some, especially the ones I recieved from Germany and Japan.

Hey silentsurfer, hey silentsurfer, thank you, thank you, and thanks for the laugh, the

My Natel plums are in a very porous mix since I found they do not being in a mix that stays wet too long. I almost lost one to that.
They can handle drying out better than staying to wet, especially in colder temps.
I water freely as often as I want which they seem to enjoy.
They never got more then 5 hours of sun all winter and less that that in the fall and winter months.

Thanks again everyone. I would post you a picture of my variegated one in bloom, but my work computer won't allow me.


    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 7:05PM
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The long draping one I have had over 2 years. I love this one and it has never had a haircut. That is it's natural growth.
The other green one I have had since spring and that is the one I want to shape. I was thinking of potting it between two volcanic rocks in a pot while the roots grow underneath them. We shall see.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 7:09PM
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