Noni (morinda citrifolia), or the Indian mulberry, is a shrub or small tree that can grow to 20 feet. The fruit is large and fleshy yellow when ripe, and has a pungent odor. The Physician’s Desk Reference for Herbal Medicine states that the fruit is “inedible.” Noni occurs from India to Eastern Polynesia but is native only to Southeast Asia. If you live in a tropical climate, noni is easy to grow and often pops up as a volunteer in gardens where other noni trees exist.
Scarify the seed to help germination by nicking it with a nail file or sandpaper. Plant seeds in standard potting soil mixed with one handful of sand, perlite or vermiculite for each 1-gallon nursery pot. Be sure to keep the soil moist and give it partial sunlight every day and high heat--a plant heating coil might be needed to achieve 100 degree temperatures that noni needs in order to germinate.
Select an area for your young tree: noni is not particular about soil and often appears to be growing out of solid lava rock. It requires full sun and prefers to grow at lower tropical elevations, where the weather is warm and humid year-round. Noni will not transplant well in very windy areas, so provide a wind break if needed.
Dig compost and black volcanic cinder into a large planting hole--dig it at least twice as large as the root ball of your young tree. Avoid using topsoil, especially if you know that root-knot nematodes are present.
Plant young trees 15 feet apart in the area you have prepared at the beginning of your rainy season (fall in many areas of the Northern hemisphere). If rains do not occur regularly, water your tree thoroughly after planting it and keep the soil moist for the first two months.
Fertilize your tree with a balanced fertilizer having an N-P-K ratio of 14-14-14 or 16-16-16. Feed young trees with a controlled-release plant food and mature trees with granular fertilizer.
Things You Will Need
- Noni seed or young tree
- Nursery pot(s)
- Standard potting soil
- Sand, perlite or vermiculite
- Plant heating coil (optional)
- Black volcanic cinder
- Balanced fertilizer
- After you start noni seeds, saplings might take nine months to one year before they are large enough to transplant into the garden.
- Noni has a reputation as a cure-all, and as a medicinal plant every part is used: the bark, leaves, flowers, fruit and seeds.
- Noni trees that grow in the wild, of course, do not receive any fertilizer. Unless you are planting a commercial orchard of these trees, you can get by without fertilizing your tree.
- Avoid over-watering noni trees because this can encourage root-knot nematodes and fungal diseases.
- Although no adverse reactions have been reported with noni, always consult a physician before using any herbal remedy, especially if you are pregnant or nursing or taking any prescribed medications.