Is it possible to grow moringa in Spain?

Moringa in Spain is a demanding plant

Image - Flickr / Scott Zona

Moringa is a fast growing tree, which has beautiful flowers as well as numerous uses. Therefore, it is normal to wonder whether or not it can be grown in the country in which we live, since who would not want to have one in their garden? But Before deciding whether to buy seeds or plants, we have to see if a moringa could really live in Spain.

Luckily, this is a country where the climate is temperate, and significant frosts are only recorded in the north of the peninsula. So I tell you in advance that it is not very difficult to have a copy, but it is not easy either.

What does moringa need to live well?

Let's start by talking about the basic needs of the Moringa; that is to say, of what it needs to live well and therefore be an easy-to-grow plant. And it is that it is a deciduous tree, which reaches 12 meters in height, native to eastern India, specifically from the foothills of the Himalayas, in Uttar Pradesh.

Weather

Climograph of the capital of Uttar Pradesh, where moringa lives

Climograph of Vanarasi, capital of Uttar Pradesh (India).

The climate is dry tropical. The rains are monsoon and occur between the months of June and September, but the rest of the year it rains little. Likewise, average temperatures remain between 8ºC and 38ºC, while the extremes are a minimum of 3ºC in January and up to 45ºC in May-June.

Consequently, our protagonist receives plenty of water during the monsoon, but little the rest of the time. When it starts to get cooler, in November/December, it loses its leaves and doesn't have them again until February/March.

Land

Moringa is not an excessively demanding plant. It grows in poor soils without problems, although it can also do so in fertile ones.. However, it should never be kept in a land that drains water poorly. If you plant it in very heavy and compact soil, you are going to have two problems:

  • the roots will not be able to breathe normally, since the air will barely be able to circulate well between the grains that make up the soil;
  • when it rains or waters, the soil will remain moist much longer, so the plant could drown.

And as if that were not enough, it may be necessary to add more water than we would if the soil was light so that it reaches the roots well. Therefore, If the land we have is not adequate, we will improve it by installing a drainage system., or making a planting hole about 1 meter deep by 50 centimeters wide. Once we have it, we will fill it with a 40 centimeter layer of volcanic clay that you can buy here!, perlite or similar, and then with universal crop soil mixed with perlite in equal parts.

Space to grow

Moringa is a tree that lives in a tropical place

Image - Wikimedia / Dinesh Valke

Although it can be grown in a pot as long as it is pruned, it is best to plant it in the ground as soon as possible so that it can develop well and become a magnificent tree. But how much space do you need? Let's talk first about the estate of moringa. These are very long; in fact They can grow up to 30 meters..

They serve to keep it attached to the ground, but also hydrated, since they are in charge of going in search of moisture. Also, they are pivotable, so have a tendency to grow downwards, except the secondary rootlets that do it horizontally.

Another thing that we must take into account is the width that its crown occupies once it finishes growing; In this way, we will know how far from the wall or from a plant we have to plant it. For this reason, it is important that you know that his glass looks like an umbrella opened; that is, it has a wide base, but it narrows as it gains height. This base can reach about 4 meters, as long as it grows as an isolated specimen.

By the way, it is a very fast-growing tree when the weather is good, and it can even flower during the first year. Unfortunately, in tropical and subtropical regions their life expectancy is short, about 20 years. When the weather is mild, its growth slows down and therefore it can live longer if protected from frost.

Can it be grown in Spain?

Moringa is difficult in Spain

Image – Wikimedia/Micha089

And now we are going to see if it is possible or not to grow a Moringa in Spain. From the outset, I will tell you that if you live in a place where there is frost and you have a greenhouse with heating, it is possible, but if you want to have it outside… things get complicated. In fact, You can only have it if these conditions are met:

  • Temperatures are maintained between 3ºC and 45ºC. Or, at least, the winters are mild and the summers very hot.
  • During cold days, the maximum temperature exceeds 10ºC.
  • There are one or two seasons when it rains little, and another two when it rains frequently.
  • The soil is deep and has good drainage.

This means that it can grow in a large part of the Canary Islands (except in the high peaks), as well as in sheltered sites on the Mediterranean coast. For example, where I live, in the extreme south of the island of Mallorca, it is possible to have it if it is planted -1 or 2 meters high- in an area protected from the wind. The lowest temperature we have is -1,5ºC, but if the cold air does not give it, it can endure. And the same would happen in some points of the Valencian Community and Murcia.

But I insist, moringa does not resist frost. If there are any in your area, it is best to keep it indoors until spring returns. Once it's about 2 meters tall, you can leave it outside in a sheltered area if the frosts are very, very light and short-lived.

I hope it has been helpful for you.


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