How to Grow Drumstick

Common Name: Moringa, Horseradish Tree, Benzoil Tree

Indian Names: Murungai (Tamil), Sahajan (Hindi), Nuggekayi (Kannada)

Botanical Name: Moringa oleifera

Varieties: Dwarf, Semidwarf

The drumstick is the fruit of the Moringa oleifera tree, which is native to northern India. It is a very versatile plant, with many applications, outside of cuisine such as herbal washing, water purification, etc. The nutritional benefits of the plant and its leaves are widespread, as it is extremely high in protein, vitamin A,B1,C along with high content of calcium, and iron. It is usually cultivated on a large scale, but it is also grown individually in some cases. Let’s see some of this tree’s main features.

Drumstick fruit

Drumstick fruit

NOTE: You can buy Drumstick (Moringa) seeds online at our gardening store – we deliver across India

Plant Features

Life-Cycle: Annual

Height: The trees can reach a height of up to 10m (32 ft), while the fruit ranges from 25-40cm in length.

Width:  The trunk of the tree can reach a diameter of up to 45 cm (1.5ft). The diameter of the fruit is around 1 cm (0.5in)

Flowering season: It usually flowers within the first 6 months of planting, sometimes flowering twice in a year.

Flowers: Its flowers are small and a pale yellow colour.

Foliage: Tripinnate leaves, which form a cluster of foliage around the base of the tree

Drumstick flower

Drumstick flower

Planting/Growing Details

Sunlight: The Moringa tree requires full sunlight, i.e. direct exposure to the sun for around 6-8 hours a day.

Water: It is actually a drought resistant tree, and only needs to be watered sparingly, once the soil has completely dried out.

Sowing Season: As it is a warm season plant, the drumstick tree is usually planted after the end of the cool season.

Sowing Method: The seeds should be planted in an area with light, dry soil, and placed in holes dug 30cm (1ft) deep and 30cm wide. The holes can be filled in with loose soil, and/or compost or manure to help the tree grow. In each hole plant 3-5 seeds at a distance of 5cm (2in) apart, and water the soil, such that the top soil remains moist. The plant will germinate within 12 days.

Drumstick tree

Drumstick tree

Care: When the saplings grow to around 15cm (6in) tall, then in each plot, keep the healthiest one, and pull out the rest, as they can be susceptible to various pests. A layer of compost or manure should be applied to the soil, to promote growth. Take care not to over-water your plants, as the soil should be kept dry so as not to choke the roots.

Pests: Some common pests are termites and nematodes, which generally infest when the tree is in its sapling stage. This can be prevented by spraying an insecticide or by regular inspection and crop rotation.

Harvest: Generally the plants flower and bear fruit either once or twice a year. In South India, the plant is known to give fruit once in July-September, and again in April-May. In the first year of the plant, the yield is usually around 150 pods, which keeps increasing as the years go on. After 4-5 years, the tree usually yields around 1000 pods.

Propagation: The drumstick tree can be propagated by seeds, or by cuttings. In the latter, the branches of an existing tree are cut and then placed in the ground. The size of the branches should be around 1m long, and 4cm in diameter. It should be completely planted underground, and watered regularly. The yield from the cutting method of propagation is just as much from seeds, and is also common due to the relative ease of planting the cuttings, as compared to seeds.

Clearly, this is not your typical garden plant. However, it will last for a long time, and the yield it provides is more than satisfactory. Not only are you gaining a high-nutrition vegetable on a constant basis, its herbal benefits are also vast. So if you’ve never planted a full-grown tree before, then let the drumstick tree be your first!

NOTE: You can buy Drumstick (Moringa) seeds online at our gardening store – we deliver across India

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