The mahogany tree or Swietenia macrophylla is a massive tree. Mature specimens can reach heights of 150 feet and boast massive trunks capable of growing 6 feet in diameter. The fissured bark of the tree disguises magnificent wood that is the creme de la creme of woodworking. If you live within USDA hardiness zones 9 through 11, it is possible to plant a mahogany tree as long as you have a sunny planting site with well-drained soil.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Soil testing kit
- Lime or peat moss
- Garden hose
- Soaker hose
Prepare the planting site. Loosen the soil to a depth of 18 inches using a pitchfork. Check the pH of the soil afterward using a soil testing kit. Mahogany trees prefer soil with a pH between 6.1 and 7.4.
Amend the soil in the planting site if the soil pH is not within the mahogany tree's preferred range. Mix lime in with soil with a pH below 6.1 or peat moss if the soil pH is above 7.4. Follow the instructions on the manufacturer's label to determine allocation amounts and application methods for adding the required amendment.
Dig the hole for the mahogany tree. The hole must measure twice the width of the current planting container in order to give the roots plenty of room for expansion. The depth of the hole should match that of the present container.
Tip the mahogany tree on its side and slide it out of the nursery container. Leave the roots and attached dirt intact. Stand the mahogany tree upright and set it in the centre of the planting hole.
Ensure that the root flare is above the soil line before backfilling. The root flare is the area of the tree where the roots meet the trunk. If the root flare is not above the soil line, add more soil to the bottom of the hole to raise it.
Backfill the hole halfway with soil. Fill the remainder of the hole with water from a garden hose to secure the roots of the mahogany tree. Continue backfilling the hole once the water begins to drain.
Tamp down the soil around the trunk of the mahogany tree using your foot to remove air pockets. Spread a 3-inch deep layer of bark chip mulch around the trunk to improve drainage and protect the roots of the mahogany tree.
Wrap a soaker hose around the mahogany tree. Soak the soil to a 1-inch depth after planting. Continue to provide the mahogany tree with at least 1 inch of water per week using the soaker hose for the first two growing seasons. Once the mahogany tree establishes itself in the soil, supplemental watering is only required during drought.
Tips and warnings
- If you are planting more than one mahogany tree, space the holes a minimum of 45 inches apart.
- Avoid overwatering the mahogany tree. Oversoaking the soil can subject the mahogany tree to root rot, which is a condition that can eventually kill the tree. Test the soil before each watering by pressing a ruler into the soil. If the soil is moist at a 1-inch depth according to the ruler, there is no need to water. Instead, check the soil again in a few days.
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