The moringa tree is widely used in tropical and some sub-tropical regions extensively as food, medicine, and landscaping. All parts of the tree are usable: the roots, bark, leaves, and seeds. The roots can be used as a tea. The trunk can be scraped and pressed for juice as an ointment. The leaves can be eaten, used as a tea, or dried and ground into a powder for a nutrient supplement and herb. The seeds can be pressed for oil (cooking, cosmetics, lubrication, etc.) and the “press cake” from those seeds after oil extraction can be used for water purification!
Planting a Moringa Tree
Moringa trees (USDA zone 9 – 11) do well in areas that are very hot and dry, where many other plants may not succeed. In tropical, dry areas, they are evergreen. While in sub-tropical and Mediterranean climates, the moringa will die back in the winter and grow back in the spring and summer. Make sure to avoid frost with these trees!
Plant by seed or cutting
By seed, soak the seed for 24 hours in water. Then, use a damp paper towel in a sealed bag until germination or place in soil. Keep the temperature warm. Leave it for 3 – 14 days, checking every two days.
By cutting, take a healthy three-foot branch with new growth. Make cut at a diagonal on both sides of the branch and place in soil with a handful of compost and two handfuls of sand mixed into soil for every one gallon pot.
Caring for moringa
Plant in full sun with minimal wind. Soil should be deep, rich in organic matter, fertile, and well draining. Use a pot if you live in an area that frost occurs to move inside during the winter. Water more while tree is getting established – usually about once a week. Check the soil moisture by putting a finger to the second knuckle in the soil. Do not over-water. The tree will grow up to six feet per year, so plan accordingly. Once established, only water during severe droughts. Happy planting!