If you want a moringa plant, but you don’t live in a hot and humid climate, and you don’t want one 40 feet tall, then growing a dwarf moringa in a pot is the perfect solution. It might take some work, but think about it–a dwarf moringa is the best way for you to have access to its amazing, nutrient-rich leaves while not having to worry about climbing three stories to prune it.
My moringa seeds are being shipped as I write this, but I wanted to become familiar with how to dwarf one first. Surprisingly, there’s not much information out there. But after reading through forums and the handful of posts, I’ve put together this quick guide.
You can grow a dwarf moringa tree by planting regular moringa seeds and dwarfing the tree through pruning. Keeping both its branches and roots pruned will keep the tree to a manageable size, usually about 3-4 feet. To best manage root size and prevent excessive growth, it’s best to grow moringa in a pot.
In this post, we’ll explore most things moringa including why you might want to keep a potted dwarf plant and how to take care of it.
What is moringa
The moringa plant is quickly becoming a nutritious supplement in many kitchens. Originally from Africa and Asia, the name moringa comes from the Tamil word for drumstick, which is why it’s also referred to as “the drumstick tree”.
With high-demand for the leaves and flowers, moringa has a reputation of being a “miracle” plant and is said to help with a variety of health conditions.
The only problem is, moringa requires a specific climate and growing conditions. This is where dwarf moringas come in.
Why grow a dwarf moringa
In the US, growing moringa outdoors works best if you’re in California, Texas, Florida, or Hawaii. The plant prefers hot and humid climates, which means zones 9 to 10 work best for outdoor growth.
Moringa plants can grow an amazing 10 to 16 feet per year, and up to 40 feet tall, which means LOTS of leaves.
But, if you don’t want a skyscraper plant, or you have a different climate, growing a dwarf moringa in a pot might be the right fit for you.
When pruned enough, moringa can be dwarfed and still maintain good leaf production. The plant can be grown anywhere from 1′ to 4′ (taller, if you are willing to prune that high).
However, growing a dwarf moringa can be challenging. You’ll likely have to deal with limited sunlight, poor drainage, seasonal frost, and more.
The good news is, there are ways to grow a dwarf moringa, whether indoors or outdoors, and still harvest lots of leaves.
Can moringa be grown in pots?
Yes! Moringa can actually thrive in pots. Generally, pots sizing from 5 to 20 gallons work best since they are easier to move if needed.
Growing moringa in a container helps dwarf them as it discourages root growth, helping control how large the plant can get.
The size of the pot depends on how large you want your moringa.
|Pot size||Plant size|
|5 gallon||12-inch plant|
|10 gallon||18 to 24-inch plant|
|20 gallon||4-foot plant|
While potted, it’s important to allow for proper drainage and sunlight and to move indoors during frost. You can improve drainage by placing pebbles towards the bottom of the container.
Starting your dwarf moringa
First, here’s a list of everything you need to start growing your dwarf moringa:
- A pot (5, 10, 15, or 20 gallon)
- Sandy soil (pH 6.3 to 7.0)
- Moringa seeds
- Full sun (at least 6 hours) and warmth
- Pruning shears
Where to find moringa seeds or saplings
You can find moringa seeds or saplings either by calling up your local nurseries or ordering them online.
When I first heard of moringa from Rob Greenfield, I thought it would be a pretty cool addition to the garden. So, I went to my local nursery.
They’re a decent-sized company and have several locations, so I thought for sure they’d have it (plus, it’s where I got my kaffir lime).
Turns out, they didn’t have any. The answer I got was, “It’s hard to come by”.
If you know me, you know hearing this made me want my moringa even more.
So, I hopped over to Amazon and took a look at their options. Most sellers were sold out, but there was one still available and it was on the way before you could say “it’s hard to come by”.
Germinating your moringa seeds
Once you get your moringa seeds in, it’s time to germinate.
The most effective germination method is the towel and baggy method.
- Put the seeds in a paper towel
- Spray with water (and germination solution if preferred)
- Seal in a ziplock bag
- Wait several days until roots start developing
I’ll link a great video on this below.
Even though the towel and baggy method is a common one, I have yet to try it on moringa. I’ll be doing this as soon as I get my seeds and I’ll share my update soon!
*Update: It worked! I didn’t use the germination solution, but still got around 50% germination. I have some moringa trees growing now!
*Update number 2: I tried germinating another set, but this time taking the shells off completely, without crushing the inner seeds. Continued to soak them for eight hours, and after five days, all five seeds germinated! (100% germination, see photo below).
How long does it take for a moringa tree to grow?
Normally, moringa trees can take 8 months to reach full height. They grow at a steady rate of 10 to 16 inches per month. Because of this, you’ll likely want to keep your dwarf moringa potted and prune consistently.
Pruning your dwarf moringa
Pruning is a good practice because it will signal the plant to focus on new growth.
You can start pruning when your dwarf moringa grows two sets of branches.
To prune, all you need to do is cut the branches to half their length and top the plant.
The more you prune, the more your plant will grow new branches out of its trunk. Which means more leaves for you!
When it comes to fertilizing your dwarf moringa, simple is better.
They usually require extra nitrogen and magnesium, which can either be obtained from fish fertilizer or kitchen scraps.
Common foods like eggshells and coffee grinds can contribute a fair amount of nitrogen and magnesium.
Fertilize once a month, and you’ll keep your moringa happy.
Dealing with frost
If you live in a colder climate, it’s important to know that moringa does not do well with frost. Many people choose to grow theirs as an annual for this reason.
You can also move the plant indoors during winter. If you don’t get a lot of sunlight, then you may want to consider wintering over the roots by storing it in a dark and warm place.
However, if you do get a good bit of sunlight in your home (or you have a greenhouse), then your dwarf moringa should continue to grow well.
Growing dwarf moringa in a pot is a great way to have full access to the nutritious and potentially medicinal properties of this wonderful plant. If you can give it enough sunlight, soil drainage, and warmth, then it will grow happily in a container. Prune your moringa regularly to help it maintain its size, and it will produce many leaves for you.
I’ll be taking up the challenge of growing one as soon as I get my seeds. If you decide to as well, send me a message and let me know how it’s going!