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Ultimate Guide to Growing Moringa Trees

A few years ago a friend sent me some moringa trees to plant and that was my first introduction to this amazing plant. Growing moringa 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.

image of small moringa oleifera tree in ground

Benefits of Moringa

Moringa is highly beneficial as food for both people and livestock. It can also be used medicinally and according to WebMD, moringa can help with various conditions that are often the result a poor diet.

Moringa leaves are highly nutritious and in many cultures, the Moringa oleifera tree is called The Tree of Life. Moringa has 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. 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.

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 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.

moringa seeds

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.

Growing Moringa as an Annual Crop

It takes moringa about 8 months to mature and set seeds. If you do not have that many frost free days in our climate, you can still grow moringa it will just be an annual and not a perennial plant.

To grow moringa as an annual crop, you will prepare the seeds by soaking them overnight. Then sow the seeds in a garden bed with loose, well-draining soil. Sow them about 6 – 9 inches apart and about 1 inch deep.

You’ll need to water them regularly for the first few weeks while they get established. You can start harvesting leaves once the plant is about 1 foot tall but don’t take more than 1/3 – 1/2 of the leaves at any one time until right before the first frost, then harvest them all.

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.

image of tall moringa trees growing near barn

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.

Moringa Uses

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.

But moringa can also be used in skincare such as moringa soap,  infused in oil to use in salve making, or infused in apple cider vinegar to use as a face toner.

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.

small moringa oliefera plant growing

Do you grow or use Moringa oleifera trees? If so, what tips do you have for us?

Thanks for sharing with your friends!

Marco Mongalo

Sunday 25th of July 2021

Thanks for the great info

Angi Schneider

Monday 26th of July 2021

You're welcome!

Olga Moser

Tuesday 14th of July 2020

My Moringa tree leaves has whites spots but it's not mildew. It just looks like the one on the picture in your website. It's the one showing on the Growing & Using Moringa. My small tree leaves exactly just look like that. The new leaves are nice and fresh and the older leaves has white spots.

I am afraid to harvest and eat them as I am not sure if that is safe to eat.

Please email me for advise. Thank you.

Angi Schneider

Tuesday 14th of July 2020

I can't say for sure what the white spots on your moringa leaves are without seeing them, so you'll need to do whatever you feel is best for you. The plant in my photo was newly planted and I believe the spots are just from stress, not from some kind of disease. As the plant grew the leaves became greener. Sometimes the leaves turn yellow, I'm sure its from lack of nutrients. We harvest all the leaves and just discard the ones that don't look good. Moringa trees produce a lot of leaves so discarding a few isn't a big deal.

Elaine

Thursday 20th of June 2019

Have my 1st tree growing, again. I transplanted it once at about 1 ft, and it lost all of its leaves. But it came back in a few weeks. Then as it was getting going and about 18 inches, it got knocked over and broke in half. It lost all leaves again in our moving to a new home. I stuck the stick back in the pot and just watered as usual. Low and behold, it started growing again. It's now almost 3 ft tall. It started the lower leaves turning yellow and I nearly cried. "Not again!" I added some more soil after reading about its tap root, (Until I get a bigger pot), gently raised it to give it foot-room, and fed it some epsom salts sparingly. I cut back its water, too.

My point is don't give up. I hope to plant it in my boss's yard in about a week. I ordered seed from Amazon.com and will start a few more trees. Read about Moringa and do your best. It will pay off. My question is how much do I need to eat daily to get the most benefits of the vitamins, etc? I only eat a few leaves as the plant is still small.

Angi Schneider

Sunday 23rd of June 2019

Hi Elaine, I'm so glad you've persevered! I'm not a dietitian and we just eat moringa as food, we don't use it medicinally or use it as supplements. My opinion is that you will get benefits from the moringa whenever you eat it as part of a healthy diet. I know that moringa powder that is sold as a supplement has a recommended dosage, however I could not find any recommended serving size from the USDA. Here is some info so you can make your own decisions about how much moringa is good for you, https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/2974 Hope this helps.

Kathryn Felgenhauer

Sunday 7th of April 2019

Moringa grows everywhere here in Africa - just last week for a school project my daughters class went to a village school and planted 100 moringa trees 🙌🏻 The benefits are amazing and seemingly endless !! I can purchase capsules and powders and teas here for very cheap!! We take the capsules and sprinkle the powder into all of our homestead animals food! I hope to plant our own trees as well !! Thanks for spreading the word about this tree of life !!

Angi Schneider

Monday 8th of April 2019

That's is so great! If I could only grow one thing, it would be moringa. It's not a fun or pretty as tomatoes or berries but it truly is an all purpose plant. By the way, I got lost in your site. Now I'm wondering if I can grow cashews here?

Corinn

Monday 5th of March 2018

THanks for the info on Moringa, I bought two small trees and I thought they died in our last nor’easter but I just realized they are both alive. I’m getting ready to move into a new house that doesn’t have any trees on the property so these will be part of my new landscape. Do you know how tall they get? Most of the pictures I seen of Moringa are of very spindly trees, do they ever get really full and One last question, when are you suppose to start harvesting the leaves, I don’t want to do it too soon. Should the plant be a certain height? Thanks, Corinn

Angi Schneider

Monday 5th of March 2018

Hi Corinn, I'm so glad your trees survived! Moringa doesn't get a big canopy put the more you harvest and cut the lead trunk down the more they will spread out. Ours have grown to over 12 feet tall. I *try* to keep it trimmed to about 6-8 feet but it grows really fast during our hot summers. For harvesting leaves, I like to wait until it's about 4 feet tall, just so I know it's growing well. I've always worried about taking too many leaves but last summer, our moringa trees went through hurricane Harvey and were stripped bare, all that was left was a stick from the ground, no branches, no leaves. In just a few weeks it as covered in new growth, so now I won't be shy of harvesting leaves. One more thing, you can propagate moringa from the roots, so when you move, you might want to break off a couple of roots and see if you can start new trees. Hope this helps.