A few years ago a friend sent me some moringa trees to plant and that was my first introduction to this amazing plant. Growing a moringa tree is easy and it can be grown as a perennial in climates where the ground doesn’t freeze and as an annual in climates where the ground freezes. They are fast growing trees and the leaves and seed pods are edible.
Benefits of Moringa
Moringa leaves have 2 times the protein as yogurt, 7 times the vitamin C as oranges, 3 times the potassium as bananas, 4 times the Vitamin A as carrots and 4 times the calcium as milk.
Moringa leaves also contain vitamins B1, B2, and B3, as well as chromium, copper, fiber, iron, manganese, magnesium, phosphorous, and zinc.
You can also eat the flowers and the seed pods. In fact, in many cultures, the Moringa oleifera tree is called The Tree of Life.
But that’s not all, according to WebMD, other moringa benefits include helping with anemia, arthritis and joint pain, asthma, cancer, constipation, diabetes, diarrhea, epilepsy, stomach pain, ulcers, headaches, heart problems, high blood pressure, kidney stones, fluid retention, thyroid disorders and bacterial, fungal, viral and parasitic infections. I
t can be used topically for wound care. And it’s being used in cancer research.
Moringa also has complete amino acids which makes it an excellent choice for vegans to round out their diet.
It can be used in livestock fodder and animals love it. So you might want to protect it from rabbits, chickens, goats, sheep, etc. while it’s growing.
And probably the coolest thing is that the crushed seeds can be used for water purification. Of course, you’d need a lot of seeds but it’s still a pretty great benefit of moringa.
Of course, you can buy moringa capsules and powders for anywhere from $14-$25 a pound. But why, when you can just grow your own moringa tree.
Slight rant ahead – There are have been some companies that have made a LOT of money convincing people that their Moringa oleifera is the only true Moringa oleifera and that in order to benefit from moringa you need to purchase from them.
My husband ran into one of these unsavory characters at a local health fair and he brought me the literature. The man assured my husband that there was no way we were growing it in the back yard because the multi-level company he represented had the only true Moringa oleifera trees.
Here’s the deal, if you choose to purchase moringa as a supplement instead of growing your own, that’s totally fine, I just hate that people are being misled by companies.
One of my goals is to grow things instead of buying them at the store – not only fruit and vegetables but herbs, supplements, and even luffa that I use in place of synthetic scrubbers. I use some printable worksheets to help me keep track of what I need to grow for our family for a year. You can get these worksheets emailed to you by filling out the form below.
How to Grow Moringa Trees
Moringa can be started by seeds, a cutting or by root stock. I’ve only started it by seeds.
The seeds are pretty tough so I like to put them in a damp cloth or paper towel and then put them in ziplock bag that’s not zipped all the way and let them sprout before I plant them.
After they’ve sprouted I plant them in small pots until they are about 4-6 inches tall.
Moringa will grow in almost any soil but it really likes well drained soil. Water regularly the first few months then just water when it seems like it needs it.
If you live in a area that gets little rainfall, you’ll be glad to know that Moringa trees are very drought resistant. It has a deep tap root that will draw up water to keep the tree alive – but it might not flower.
Moringa trees will flower and produce edible seed pods (similar to green beans) when there’s adequate water, so if it rains a lot where you live, it will flower a lot. If it doesn’t rain much, you can force it to flower by watering.
Moringa trees are fast growing tress and can grow 15-20 feet in one season, so plant it where you want it, like I said earlier, it sends a deep taproot down so it will be hard to move.
Don’t be shy about harvesting the leaves, it will just produce more. In order for the moringa to have a small canopy instead of growing straight up, regularly cut the top back and it will fan out.
Moringa trees like warmth so in the US it will grow best in zones 9 and up. If you live in a colder climate, you can still grow it as an annual or in a container and bring it in for the winter.
If you live in a zone 9 and up and it happens to freeze, your moringa trees will die back. However, as long as the ground doesn’t freeze, they’ll pop back up from the roots in spring.
Moringa Pest and Problems
Growing moringa in the US is usually pest free, however, if the roots are continually wet they can develop root rot, so make sure you plant in well drained soil.
Harvesting and Preserving Moringa
You can harvest moringa leaves and eat like spinach. The pods can be harvested when they are young and snap like green snap beans. They need to be harvested very young as the seeds grow super fast.
I like to dehydrate the leaves to use as in teas and in our cooking. I’ll do some throughout the summer and then before we have a freeze I’ll harvest them all and dehydrate them.
The mature seeds can be dried out stored to plant later or to crush to use for water purification.
While moringa has some pretty impressive medicinal benefits, our family uses it as food not medicine. I like to use it as a nourishing tea in the afternoon, it really doesn’t have much flavor at all so I add hibiscus or spearmint to the tea.
I’ll use is fresh or dehydrated in soups, rices, or in eggs. Pretty much, I just sprinkle it on things I’m cooking to give extra nutrition.
We also add it to smoothies, this increases the nutrition and reduces the cost of smoothies – which can get pricey.
After you dehydrate moringa you can use a coffee grinder (that’s set aside for herbal use) and a capsule making machine to make your own moringa capsules. You can use the same process I share in this post on using nettle for allergies.
The moringa powder can also be added to treats like these dark chocolate coconut treats from Oh, Sweet Mercy.
Do you grow or use Moringa oleifera trees? If so, what tips do you have for us?