Growing Moringa Trees From Seeds
Your Questions Answered Below:
How do you tell if your Moringa seed is good quality?
Moringa oleifera seeds should be dark brown or black. The hull should be firm and hard between your fingers. If the Moringa Oleifera seed is soft or cream colored, it is old seed. You really need to test germinate seed you buy, if planting in large quantities. One of the problems in buying seeds from foreign countries, is some of it, is old and won't germinate. I got some beautiful seeds but none sprouted. I tried test germinating them twice with different methods. I was just out the money for them. Some of the seeds produces trees that grow to about a foot and die. That has to do with the quality of the seed as well. I have had a lot of complaints on that from people buying seeds from off the internet.
The problem with moringa seed is the quality and that they are tempermental. They are a tree best suited to Hawaii and Florida. Any other climate type can be a problem. Even altitude can affect them as well as humidity. So if your seeds don't sprout, often it is not the seed but other growing conditions. They are also subject to mold because of the high protein content. The seed root tail cannot be broken or they die. They must be handled and planted gently after they have sprouted.
How many seeds should I germinate?
You need a minimum of three trees for a couple and more for a family. I would germinate 20 seeds at least to make sure you get enough seedlings for your family. Some seeds may mold or not germinate. If you end up with too many, give them to family. It will take them awhile for them to get tall and bushy enough to generate enough leaves to eat every day.
What is PK-1 Seed ?
It is a rating for the seed that denotes higher germination rates than lower seed grades. Moringa seeds are used as fodder for animals and people. Not all seeds are intended to be germinated into new trees. The seed is used for different products so the seed you bought may not be germinating quality.
What is the difference between Moringa Oleifera seeds and Moringa Stenopetala varieties?
These are the two most common Moringa species grown commercially.
Moringa Oleifera seeds are brown colored and winged. Stenopetala seeds are tan.
Stenopetala Seeds are tan Moringa Oleifera Seeds
How should I store Moringa Oleifera Seeds?
Store seeds in a dark, dry, warm area in an air tight container. Do not store in the refrigerator or freezer. These seeds are a tropical tree that likes warmth. Moisture will cause them to either sprout or rot. The best seed is fresh...not over a year old.
When should I start my Moringa Seeds? This can be tricky.
Start them indoors in early spring like you would your tomato seeds. They need warmth to sprout. If your house is too cold, it will not work. You can use a seed heat mat or grow lights to get them started indoors. Put your seedlings in a warm sunny living room or enclosed porch perhaps with nice big windows. If it is too cold you can put a small heater with a thermostat in the room. I did that here in the winter.
Do not put them outdoors until it is warm, after all danger of cold weather and frost is past. One frost will kill them, especially the baby seedlings.
Moringa seeds can be tricky to get started....like wine they take their own time.
If your Moringa seeds do not sprout, they can be stubborn. Wait until June when it warms up to try again. If you grow the trees without a heated greenhouse you may find the trees will not grow until summer. They will just sit there, like they are stunted. I had a whole set this year that did nothing no matter what I tried (other than a heated greenhouse) until June began. In June they began growing and are doing much better now. They like very warm, humid weather.
Grow lights and heat mats increase germination. A heated greenhouse is great but then some of them go into shock when put out in the real environment. Moringa Seedlings growly much more slowly without a greenhouse. It takes the heat to spur rapid growth.
Methods for Germinating Moringa Seeds
#1: Zip Lock Bag Method:
Pierce seed hull with your fingernail gently which makes it easier for the seed to sprout.
You can also remove the hull before planting, being careful not to damage the tender seed in the process.
Soak Moringa seeds for several hours in a zip lock bag containing 1/4 cup of warm water.
Next drain the water from zip lock bag.
Lay the bag on a plate so it is flat. Separate the seeds so they don't touch each other.
Don't sprout more than 5 seeds in a bag, so they are not crowded. This will cut down on mold and prevent their shoots from getting entangled as they sprout.
If you see mold growing on the seeds, gently wash the seed hull under warm water. If you get mold in the bag, move the seeds to a clean bag you have added water to, then drained.
Don't add additional water to the bag, the seeds are wet enough after being soaked overnight.
Place the plate with the zip lock bag containing the seeds in a warm drawer or in your gas stove where the temperature is between 90 and 100 degrees F. Temperature is important for germination. Don't let seeds get cold.
When the root and stem shoots are about two inches long, transplant them into containers.
Transplant seedlings to one gallon containers with loose, organic potting soil.
Make sure you plant seed with root shoot down into the soil and stem with first leaves part up. Plant seedlings in pots from 6 to 9 inches deep.
Do not put seed portion more than 3/4 inches below the soil surface.
Using a Dinner Plate or Plastic Cake Carrier Container Method
Go to the Dollar Tree where you buy a round plastic container normally used to carry a cake to a picnic. They work well because the top is high (6"or so) which is needed for the seedlings. A typical seed germinating kit comes with a plastic top only two inches tall.
#1: This is how I have spouted my last seeds. I soak them in water all night. I take my fingernail, and pierce the shell. Then I put a wet paper towel on the plate, put the seeds on the paper towel, don't let the seeds touch each other, then I put a round glass Corning Ware top over the plate.
#2: A second method is using a plastic cake cover that I found at the Dollar Store. it works the best since the top is high enough not to crowd the seeds. I waited until the sprout was about two inches in length, then planted them. If you work, this is not a good method to use. In the summer heat, the seeds dry out unless sprayed several times during the day.
I am home so I spray the seeds once or twice a day if the paper towel or seeds look dry. You must be home to use this method and not forget them. I have the plate on top of my chest freezer in the kitchen. When doing things in the kitchen, I check on the seeds. I have had no mold problem with this method.
Direct Coir kit Germination Method or Direct Planting into one gallon containers
Use individual one gallon pots filled with coir fiber. They don't seem to do well in peat. Seed must be relatively fresh to give a good germination. Fill the pot to within 1 1/2 inches or use a peat pot or coir from coconuts. Lay one soaked Moringa seed on top, then cover loosely with an inch of soil. Keep soil moist. They germinate from a few days to two weeks.
Set up with heat mat underneath and grow lights.
Why do I suggest one gallon containers. The Moringa seedling grow so fast that they have to be transplanted within a month using small containers.they grow faster in larger containers. The more times you have to move them, the easier it is to break them. They are fragile.
If you use individual peat pots, water the soil lightly daily until the shoot becomes visible. Then add only enough water to keep the soil moist. They don't like standing water or soggy soil. After the shoot is visible, place in indirect light for a month.
Not all seeds will grow into trees. Some seedlings die out quickly. Not all seeds are the same quality.
Commercial Germinating Seed Kit: The easiest kit to use is the one which has a water mat with it. Yu don't have to water as often, you can add fertilizer to the water, time saving, and more convenient. Con is they are more expensive.
I used a commercial Burpee kit one year which included a tray with individual cells and water mat included. Kit is much less work but more expensive and is reusable. I bought mine at Walmart. They run about $20 to 25.00. It does not come with a heat mat included.
If you get a kit, you will water it from the bottom. Each kit comes with a water mat which is nice. You don't have to worry about the cells drying out or getting too wet. The plants in their cells sit on top of the water mat. The mat soaks up water. The plants soak up water from the mat.
I also used a heat mat under my plants since it is cold in the house. The heat mat keeps the water and soil warm, so they sprout faster. They run about 20 to 30 dollars on Amazon. They really do help.
Seeds directly grown into the ground
Seed sown directly in the ground produces a very deep taproot, which will continue until enough water/moisture is reached, even at the expense of not growing the trunk or leaves. Soil must be organic and area or container must drain well. Soggy ground kills the plant with root rot. Wind will break them. Freezing temperatures will kill them. Location, soil, drainage are the main points to consider before your plant dies.
All animals including cats will eat your seedling. You must protect them from chickens, rabbits, mice, rats, dogs, and cats.
Growing Moringa Trees From Cuttings
Moringa needs to be planted in soil that drains well. Sandy loam is good. If you have heavy soil, add peat moss, sand, compost, aged manure. I use one from Home Depot called Amend and it is pretty good to add in.
Start with a mature tree. Cut a limb from 1 1/2 feet long and 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Dry the cutting in the shade for 3 days. Loosen the soil of an area 2' wide by 2' deep.
Amend the soil with compost and ages manure. Plant one third of the thicker end of the cutting into the ground.
Water the cutting daily until you see green growth buds on the cutting. Water the cutting when the ground is dry. Indoors, water the cutting every 2nd or 3rd day after it takes root. Do not allow water to collect in tray underneath potted cutting. It is generally held that you get faster growth from cuttings.
You harvest 3 times a year. You harvest the leaves, the flowers, and pods. The leaves can be harvested all year around in warm climates.
Cut the tree back when it gets too tall too harvest easily. It will grow up again quickly and won't hurt the tree to cut it back.
Published by Kate Freer, Master Herbalist, Medical Researcher, and Freelance writer.
We do not sell products at this point, education is our focus, so that you will have the information to make an informed buying decision about Moringa products.
Copyright: Kate Freer, the Herbladyisin All rights are protected on this article. You do not have permission to use this article or its contents without my express permission.
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