Moringa, the famous “miracle tree,” has many nutritional benefits and is one of the most efficient and influential plants out there. It grows best in tropical and sub-tropical regions, but many climates can support a moringa tree. This article is for anyone considering growing their own moringa tree.
Moringa trees can be grown from either moringa seeds or branch cuttings from a moringa tree. If you have a nearby friend with a healthy moringa tree who can lending you a branch, then seeds are the way to go. Moringa oleifera is a common variety of moringa and is a great choice for growing and consuming.
HOW TO GROW YOUR OWN MORINGA TREE
In the United States, the only places moringa can grow outside year-round are southern areas of Florida, Arizona, California, and Texas. Depending on where you live, you may decide to grow moringa trees outside in the ground, or in a pot to be kept indoors during the winter months. If you go with the “indoor/outdoor” combo, you can move your moringa tree outside during the summer.
Growing moringa trees in greenhouses is also an option, and is great for climates that regularly get below freezing temperatures. The optimal temperature range for moringa trees is 77-95 °F, but it can also survive in extreme temperatures up to 118 °F in the shade and down to a light frost. Altitudes lower than 1,970 ft above sea level are best, but moringa trees have been able to grow in the tropics up to 3940 ft above sea level.
No matter where you decide to grow your tree, try to place it in a sunny location and give it plenty of water.
STEP BY STEP DIRECTIONS FOR PLANTING MORINGA
Before you get straight to planting, you need to think about where your tree is going. Is this tree in a pot that you will move inside during the winter? Or do you live in a sunny, drier climate where you can plant moringa seeds directly in the ground?
Once you know where your tree might go, you are ready for the next step. There is no dormancy period for moringa seeds, so you can plant mature seeds at any time.
Follow these instructions for the best success with planting moringa seeds, and see other planting options below!
PLANTING MORINGA SEEDS OUTSIDE:
Find a spot with soil that is light and sandy, not waterlogged or clay-like.
Dig a few 1 ft. x 1 ft. holes
1 ft. deep, and “back-fill” each hole a bit with soil.
If you must plant in heavy soil, dig a hole up to three times as big as described in Step 2 and use a 1/3-sand, 2/3-soil mixture to back fill.
Plant 3-5 seeds in each 1 ft. hole, spaced 2 inches apart.
Be careful not to plant seeds more than ½ an inch deep.
What about indoor moringa plants? Moringa trees can grow up to 50 feet tall, which is less than ideal for an indoor environment.
These next instructions will teach you how to grow a “dwarf” moringa tree, which is still the same plant that has just been pruned to grow less.
PLANTING MORINGA SEEDS IN A POT:
Fill a pot that is 12-18 inches in diameter with loose soil.
One pot can usually hold about five dwarf moringa trees, but it is a good idea to initially plant 7 or 8 in case a few seeds don’t sprout.
Space out ¾- to 1-inch deep holes in the soil.
Put a seed in each hole and lightly cover them with some soil.
Once the plants have at least two layers of branches, it is time to start pruning. Cut back the tops of the seedlings and cut the branches back to half their length.
When the tree is young, check the tree for new leaves at least once a week. New leaves usually appear on the tops and in a sort of “junction” or fork in branches–cut these back as well!
Pruning the tree will keep it small, and will also produce a LOT of leaves, which is great for you to use in your food!
If you do have the option to start your own tree from a branch cutting, follow these instructions on how to use a moringa cutting to grow your own moringa tree.
PLANTING MORINGA FROM A CUTTING:
Use hard wood instead of green wood for cuttings, which should be at least one inch in diameter and at least six feet long.
The best branches for cuttings are the ones that need to be cut off anyway after the tree has finished producing fruit for the year and needs to be pruned to promote new growth.
Dig a 3 ft x 3 ft hole that is 3 ft deep and plant the cutting inside.
Fill the hole with a sand and soil mixture. Pack soil firmly around the base of the plant.
We hope the above ways help you with your moringa! Once you’ve planted your tree, you might start wondering about the “best tips” to keep your tree healthy. We’ll provide top tips below.
GENERAL TIPS FOR CULTIVATING MORINGA
The best way to learn is by trial and error, and you can also consult your local nursery for tips on your area’s soil and weather conditions. Most moringa seeds sprout within two weeks of being planted, so if you’re not seeing sprouts, you may need to replant.
SOIL AND WATERING TIPS:
Even though moringa can grow in a variety of conditions and in poor soil, we recommend using compost or manure. Mix the compost into your soil, as this will help the tree grow. Moringa trees do not usually need fertilizer of any kind, but if yours needs a little bit of extra help, phosphorus will aid root development; nitrogen will help with leaf growth. Ammonium sulfate can also help your tree grow.
Be generous with watering, but don’t water too much. The soil should not be dry and cracked, but the seeds should not be drowning either. Seedlings also are a bit fragile when they have recently sprouted, so water lightly during this period. When watering a new plant that was started from a branch cutting, try to avoid watering the stem of the plant. Moringa can survive in very dry climates with little water, but regular watering during the first two months of planting seeds helps them develop properly.
After the first two months, you can cut water back significantly and only water the tree when it looks like it needs water. If you live in a very wet climate and are growing your tree outside, Diplodia root rot can occur. To avoid this, try planting your tree on top of a small mound so that excess water can run off away from the plant.
All moringa trees need regular pruning to promote leaf growth, curb branching, and prevent the tree from being taller than you want it to be. If a moringa tree is left alone to grow, it will become tall with many branches and few leaves, and will only flower near the top, which is very unhelpful.
A good height to aim for is 8-12 feet, and if you continue to prune the tree will keep growing lots of leaves and growing branches from the trunk instead of out the top of the tree. To prune, simply cut branches back to half their length and trim the top of the tree.
The branch parts that you’ve removed can be chopped up into 4- to 10-inch bits and scattered underneath the moringa tree to serve as a natural mulch.
PESTS, POWDER & PODS TIPS:
Moringa does resist a lot of pests, but termites still might give you trouble. If this is the case, use mulch with castor oil plant leaves, mahogany chips, tephrosia leaves, or Persian lilac leaves.
To harvest the pods for eating, pick them when they are about ½ an inch in diameter and come off easily. Older leaves are better for making moringa powder.
WHERE CAN I BUY MORINGA SEEDS?
Here is a list of a few moringa seed vendors in the United States, in addition to online shopping services like Amazon and Ebay. Kuli Kuli does not in any way endorse these vendors, but solely is providing them for informational purposes:
Good luck cultivating your own moringa tree!