Growing Tabernanthe Iboga

The most healthy Tabernanthe Iboga shrub I have seen

Shopping list

1mm coarse sharp sand (aquarium soil)

Worm casting



Ericaceous Compost


Horse manure


Iboga pods (15 seeds per pod)



Propagator (Kweekbak) Prop64 / 60x40x25 cm with heating element
(55 cm x 35 cm x 8cm depth gives 15 liters)


How to start

If you look at the picture on the top and bottom of this page you see the best and most healthy looking iboga shrubs are sitting in a type of river sand soil of 1mm size sand with leafs and moss on top of the sand.

We will mimic this process the best we can below.

That being said, it is actually very easy to grow iboga as long as you have the fresh wet pods. The seeds in these pods grow in almost anything but too much food makes them grow too fast in the beginning and they become fragile and thin. Also a high PH makes them less solid and too much sun slows the growing process. Too dry air and it will loose its leaves but can survive and creates thicker leaves afterwards. One word of caution is fungal attack with standing water. It needs to be moist but not wet. Also the use of microlife in the soil helps the roots stay healthy. So sterile soil is not a good idea and can make the plant weak and vulnerable to attacks and illnesses.

Germinating the seed requires placing the seeds at a depth of at least 1cm in a propagator tray filled at least 5cm deep with rough sand or aquarium soil 1mm. Best is to use the almost rotten fruit pods, open them up but leave the fruit-flesh on them and place them 1cm in the substrate and cover them with moist sphagnum moss or vermiculite. No fertilizer, compost or manure should be added to the soil at this stage because it will make the iboga grow too fast and thin and fragile. Once you see the plants coming up you can add a small layer of worm casting ON TOP. The moisture will drip some of the castings down into the roots.

The sand with vermiculite or sphagnum moss must remain constantly moist with at least 90% humidity and kept at an air temp between 30-35 deg C. Any lower will delay germination and expose the plant to fungal attack. Best way to accomplish this is putting it in a propagator that can be heated up to 33C soil temperature giving you 28C average air temperature without towel and with towel about 30C.

Also best is to boil the aquarium soil and cooling it back down before using.
Soaking the seeds for 12 hours in 33C water helps as well. If you have dry seeds, try to soak them 48 hours in 33C water with a bit of orange juice but most likely they will never germinate, you need the whole pods for success.

Germination time ranges between 2 weeks to 2 months, so keep tending to the plant at all times and don’t give up hope. On average seedlings started emerging in 1 month @ 30C.


Mist the vermiculite or sphagnum moss every day and make sure the soil does not dry up (keep humidity levels above 90%).

Young plants can be transplanted to their final location after 2 - 3 months, when the root have become woody and about twice as long as the stem. This is about the time it has 8-10 leaves.

Final destination




Top layer





sphagnum (veenmos) and / or dead leaves
Horse manure and / or worm castings when needed


Root layer

30% aquarium sand 1mm
20% perlite
20% pumice

15% Ericaceous Compost
5% worm casting with microlife

10% laterite


Perlite is volcanic glass that has high permeability and low weight and low water retention and helps prevent soil compaction.

Pumice is also a volcanic glass: Iboga roots require continuous transportation of carbon dioxide and oxygen to and from the surface. Pumice improves the quality of soil because of its porous properties, water and gases can be transported easily through the pores and nutrients can be stored in the microscopic holes.

Laterite creates improved growing conditions for rooted aquatic plants kept in aquarium gravel and Iboga. It is a type of ancient clay found on geographically old continents. Younger clays may also be useful, but the aging undergone by laterite removes excess phosphate that can cause undesirable algal blooms in your fish tank. The commercial laterite available in pet stores is relatively unprocessed.
The benefits of laterite are all about more nutrients getting to the plants. If you want to have success with iboga while seeing robust growth in common rooted species then laterite is an excellent substrate improver.

1. This negatively charged mineral will actively attract plant nutrients. This delivers the nutrients where needed in a form that the plant can absorb.

2. It has a huge surface area compared with plain gravel. Laterite gives the plant root hairs more space for nutrient uptake.

3. The laterite itself can contain nutrients such as iron that iboga will feed on.

The pot or tray has to be perfectly free draining to avoid standing water, which can be achieved by placing a piece of clothe on the bottom to prevent the sand from escaping.
Also avoid direct sunlight. Iboga normally grows beneath a thick forest roof with little sun exposure.

When the leaves have yellow veins, it means the soil is too acid. If they turn brown, not enough water. If the leaves are dry and slim, soil quality poor and not enough food. Light colored leaves means it lacks potassium.

The best propagator is the vitopod

111cm by 55cm height but you can get extra levels so no limit. Here you can grow 2 large iboga schrubs @90% humidity and 28C in 2 large square pots

When you have 8 leafs it is time to put them in a pot with the above listed ingredients.

Feed the iboga with horse manure and worm castings and ALWAYS top dress. The soil should remain slightly acid and sandy (low PH). Why low PH because the roots will be more solid with less branches.

The soil in tropical rainforests is very poor. You would think with all that vegetation, warmth, and moisture that the soil must be very rich. But the truth is otherwise, as people who live in these regions are well aware. The soil is highly acidic. The roots of plants rely on an acidity difference between the roots and the soil in order to absorb nutrients. When the soil is acidic, there is little difference, and therefore little absorption of nutrients from the soil. The type of clay particles present in tropical rainforest soil has a poor ability to trap nutrients and stop them from washing away. Even if humans artificially add nutrients to the soil, the nutrients mostly wash away and are not absorbed by the plants. The high temperature and moisture of tropical rainforests cause dead organic matter in the soil to decompose more quickly than in other climates, thus releasing and losing its nutrients rapidly. The high volume of rain in tropical rainforests washes nutrients out of the soil more quickly than in other climates.

If the soil is so poor in tropical rain forests, how does such a dense array of shrubs and trees grow there? The answer lies above the soil. On the ground of the rain forest, there is a thick layer of quickly decaying plants and animals. Nutrients are washed by the heavy rains almost directly from the rotting surface material into the the trees without entering the soil much.


Growth success after x month (test is being conducted as we speak in 2021)

40% aquarium sand 1mm
20% perlite
20% pumice
10% Ericaceous Compost
5% laterite
5% worm casting with microlife


A 20% ericaceous compost  
B 20% horse manure  
C 20% worm castings