Grow Your Own Superfood...
Planting and Care Instructions
For your Moringa Seeds and Trees
Are You a Farmer? Would you like to grow Moringa Trees for livestock fodder?
Would you like to start your own Plantation to produce Moringa Products?
Also see www.MoringaSouthAfrica.co.za
See the following articles for lots of useful information or scroll down the page for "Planting Guidelines":
- Effect of Feeding different Levels of Foliage of Moringa Oleifera to creole Dairy Cows on intake, digestibility, milk production and composition
Also click HERE for other articles on the MoringaTree website (will open in a new window).
Please be aware that these are general Guidelines and do not represent a guarantee. We do not accept responsibility for failure to germinate.
Our seeds are sold in good faith but all risk passes to the Purchaser once seeds are delivered.
In our experience we get a 85 to 90% germination rate but results will vary because of different conditions and methodology which are out of our control.
When planting, Always ask a professional local nursery for their opinion and test on a small no. of seeds before committing your entire stock.
The Moringa Oleifera tree is a fast growing, drought resistant tree producing a tuberous taproot. In the wild it ranges in height from 5 to 12 metres with a straight trunk (10 - 30 cm thick) with corky whitish bark and an open, umbrella shaped crown.
When grown in orchards, the tree is normally cut back every year or two (ratooning) and allowed to regrow to encourage vigorous leaf and pod production and so that the pods and leaves remain within arms reach.
The Moringa Tree grows best in well drained sandy or loamy soil with a slightly acid pH of 6.2 to neutral 7.0. It can tolerate poor soil including coastal areas.
It is originally from sub tropical origin but when considering whether it will grow in your area or not; the most important consideration is that the tree can be killed by continuous frost and sub zero tempertatures. There are ways of minimising the effect of cold (eg. mulching) but there are no guarantees.
Never allow Water to sit around the roots. This could kill the tree. This is why the trees like sandy well drained soil. Pay particular attention to this if your soil is very clayey. If you have clayey soil then you could try to grow the trees on mounds.
When transplanting your saplings (if grown in bags) we suggest transplanting when the sapling is around 60 cm tall and is bushy and strong. Only transplant your sapling when the average temperature warms up especially the evening temperatures.
The Moringa Tree enjoys full sun. Initially the seedling must be protected from strong winds. In very hot areas water them daily (just make absolutely sure that the roots are not water-logged - ie. the water must be able to drain away). If you decide to water it less just keep an eye on it; it will definitely tell you if it needs more water.
The Moringa tree will certainly benefit from the addition of compost from time to time.
The Moringa Tree grows best in Tropical and sub-tropical climates. However, it will probably grow almost anywhere so long as it is protected from frost and sub-zero temperatures. In colder climates we strongly suggest growing the Moringa Tree in a greenhouse.
In areas with light frost (but not sub-zero temperatures) a simple plastic box (eg. a wooden frame with a plastic cover) should protect it adequately. Since you will most likely prune the tree to a manageable size (pruning is actually essential) a box with a wooden frame (1.5 m X 1.5m X 1.5m) covered with transparent plastic is easy to construct.
The tree will still most likely lose it's leaves since the Moringa loses it's leaves when the average temperature drops below 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21degrees Celsius) but it will always resprout new leaves in Spring.
In areas where the Moringa is deciduous (ie. drops it's leaves in Winter) only water the tree every week or two (when it has no leaves) depending on the prevailing temperatures and air dryness.
The Moringa Tree is a very hardy tree and will generally only be killed when it freezes and/or is exposed to continuous frost. In colder climates make sure the tree is well-mulched to protect the root ball from the cold -- a well mulched tree can even survive a severe frost - the tree may even freeze down to the ground level but can survive and will grow new shoots from the ground in Spring.
However, we don't recommend that you leave the tree uncovered (ie. a green house or other form of cover) in areas with frost and freezing temperatures since their is still a great risk of the tree dying. In climates that do experience freezes and frost it may be possible to cut the tree down to the last foot or so and completely cover with mulch material. There is a good chance (but no guarantee) of the tree surviving that way. Also, the Moringa Tree is adaptogenic which means that the seed produced in every successive generation will be better suited for the climate in which the tree lives.
The main reason for the Moringa Tree's hardiness is the fact that it has a tubular taproot. This is where it stores all it energy. If you feel at the base of the stem, just below the surface of the soil, you will feel a 'ball'. So long as this 'ball' is firm (not soft) your Moringa Tree is alive and well. This 'ball' actually gets incredibly large as the tree gets older.
Another way to protect the tree is to plant it in pots. In fact, the Moringa Tree has a tuberous tap root which is well suited to potting. The Tree can then be kept outdoors during Spring and Summer and be brought indoors to a warm sunny spot when it gets cold. If you decide to keep the tree permanently in a pot then make sure that the pot is at least 45 cm deep.
Pruning the Moringa Tree is very important to ensure a dense bushy Tree with the leaves and pods easily accessible.
Please follow the Pruning Instructions below or consult an experienced Nursery person:
Please note that the lengths used are only examples and may not match your tree exactly. Also keep in mind that pruning is not an exact science and that the Moringa Tree (as well as most other trees) are very forgiving of any mistakes.
When the seedlings reach a height of 60 cm, pinch the terminal growing tip 10cm from the top. Since the terminal tip is very tender this can be done using fingers. Of course a shears can also be used. You will notice secondary branches appearing on the main stem about a week later. When they reach a length of 20cm, cut them back to 10cm. Use a sharp blade or shears to make a slanting cut. Tertiary branches will appear. Pinch these in the same way.
This will encourage the tree to become bushy and produce many pods within easy reach. If pinching is not done then the tree has a tendency to shoot up vertically and grow tall with sparse flowers and few fruits found only at the very top.
Remove only the dead and worn out branches every year. Once every one to two years, cut the tree back to one metre from ground level and allow regrowth. This is called 'ratooning'. Also be aware that optimum fruit production will occur between 2 and 4 years depending on prevailing conditions. It is a good idea to plant cuttings and seeds on a regular basis to ensure that you always have trees that are in their optimal stage.
These are only estimate times and will vary from place to place.
Various Planting Methods
How to grow the seed in the ground:
(Highly recommended as opposed to seedling bags)
Moringa seeds have no dormancy period and can be planted as soon as they are mature.
The best time to propagate will be in the warmer months unless you have a warm tunnel.
In most places planting in December and onwards should work (pay attention to the evening temperatures; it doesn't help having warm days and cold nights)
NEVER PLANT THE SEEDS WHEN THE EVENING TEMPERATURES GO BELOW 13 TO 14 DEGREES CELSIUS
IT IS A GOOD IDEA TO TEST A FEW SEEDS WITH DIFFERENT PLANTING METHODS EG. SEEDLING BAGS OR DIRECT IN THE GROUND, TO FIND THE BEST METHOD BEFORE COMMITTING ALL YOUR SEEDS TO PLANTING
CONSULT AN EXPERIENCED NURSERY IN YOUR AREA FOR ADVICE
Germination can take up to 2 weeks. The seeds do not need to be scarified or treated with any other special preparations. Certain studies have indicated that the optimum light for germination during hot Summer months is half shade.
1. Choose an area with light and sandy well drained soil - not heavy with clay and water logged.
2. Dig holes 30cm square and 1 metre deep. Back fill the holes with 3 parts river sand and 1 part compost. Make the hole up to 90cm wide if the soil is heavy.
3. Plant 3 to 5 seeds per hole, 5cm apart. Plant the seeds no deeper than three times the width of the seed +- 1.5cm
4. Keep the soil moist enough so that the top soil will not dry and choke the emerging sapling, but not too wet or else the seeds can drown and rot. A light sprinkling of dry grass makes an excellent mulch. The seeds take between one and two weeks to germinate.
5. When the saplings are 10cm to 15cm tall, keep the healthiest sapling in the ground and remove the rest.
In Plastic bags:
When it is not possible to plant directly in the ground, use the following method
Grow the seedlings in 4 litre 30 cm tall bags (Citrus) to fit the big root ball and to allow the root to grow unimpeded.
1. For sowing in bags we use decomposed pine bark and sandy topsoil mixed 50:50 but one can also fill the bags with a light soil mixture ie. 3 parts river sand and 1 part compost
2. Plant two or three seeds in each bag no deeper than three times the width of the seed +- 1.5 cm. Cover lightly with a mulch.
3. Keep moist but not soggy. Germination will occur within two weeks.
4. Remove the extra seedlings leaving only one in the bag.
5. Place your seedlings in full sun but never next to a white wall or other reflective surfaces (they could burn). But the hotter and more humid the better.
The ground where the trees are to be planted should be light and sandy, not heavy with clay and/or waterlogged.
1. Dig a hole 30 cm square and 100 cm deep. Backfill with loose soil consisting of 3 parts river sand to one part compost
2. Water the planting holes one day before transplanting the seedlings.
3. Plant seedlings in the late afternoon to avoid the hot sun on the 1st day.
4. Make a hole in the backfill to accept all the soil in the bag. Carefully cut open the bag and place the seedling in the planting hole. BE VERY CAREFUL to keep the soil around the seedling's roots intact. Disturbing the soil can kill the tree.
5. Gently pack soil around the seedling base. Cover the soil around the tree with a suitable mulch. Well dried grass or straw works beautifully.
6. Water only lightly for the first few days.
Growing from a cutting:
After the trees have stopped producing fruits, branches have to be cut off so that fresh growth may take place. These branches are excellent for growing new trees:
1. Make a cutting at least 2.5 cm in diametre and at least 1.8 metres long.
2. Dig a hole 1m X 1m X 1m deep.
3. Place the cutting in this hole and fill with a mixture of 3 parts sand and one part compost. Pack firmly around the base of the cutting.
4. Water generously but do not drown the cutting in water. It is best not to let water not touch the stem of the new tree. Sprinkling with mulch will help to maintain moisture.
If you have access to cow dung then put some on the top of the open end of the cutting. This is an excellent way to protect the cutting from pests.