Moringa (Moringa oleifera ) grows well in warm regions. This tropical and subtropical, semi-deciduous tree is hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 9 through 10 and flowers and fruits freely. The tree is slender, grows about 25 feet tall with feathery foliage and drooping branches, and it often is used as an ornamental specimen. Moringa tree leaves and roots are edible, and the root is often used as a substitute for horseradish. It is propagated by seeds, cuttings and air layering. Moringa does not grow well in heavy soil, claylike soil or vermiculite . Moringa roots rot in soggy soil.
Vermiculite and Its Uses
Vermiculite is a soilless mix that can be added to a growing medium to improve drainage. When used for horticultural purposes, it is a clean, odorless, non-toxic and sterile natural mineral. It does not rot, deteriorate or mold. Vermiculite is often mixed with composted pine bark or peat to promote faster root growth and to help anchor developing roots. Although vermiculite increases water and fertilizer retention of potting mixes, it is not well-suited for a Moringa tree, which does not grow well in wet soil.
Soil for Moringa
The Moringa tree needs a somewhat moisture-retentive growing medium that is not heavy. The tree will grow in poor soil, sandy soil and even depleted soil but does not tolerate wet roots. For that reason, loosen heavy soil by adding perlite, sand, peat moss or coconut coir. Amending the soil in this way allows the tree’s roots to penetrate deeply in the soil and the soil to drain well.
Moringa tree has a single taproot that grows straight downward, like a carrot. The tree also develops small feeder roots , but does not develop branching roots. Plant a Moringa tree where its root has room to grow straight downward. If planting the tree in a container, use the deepest container you can find to allow plenty of room for the taproot.
Moringa seeds can be started in small pots with a loose, organic potting mix as the growing medium. Place the seeds about 1 inch deep in the soil, and cover them loosely with the soil; don’t compact the soil. Water the pots’ growing medium, and place the pots in a warm place with plenty of sunlight. The seeds sprout in about two weeks when their soil temperature is 70 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Water the soil daily to every other day, keeping it moist. After the trees reach 8 inches tall, transplant them into the ground or into larger pots.