Kratom plants are notoriously challenging to propagate outside of their natural tropical habitat in southeast Asia. While most people try to grow their plants from seeds or cuttings, cultivating Kratom using these methods has a very low success rate, with plants often failing to germinate, develop roots, or falling victim to fungal diseases and pests.
Seedlings offer a greater chance of plant survival, and under the right conditions, these fast-growing plants can grow from a 3-inch seedling to a 20-foot tree within 2 years. However, there are certain critical factors you need to take into consideration to ensure your Kratom crop reaches its full potential.
Seeds vs. Seedlings: Which is Best?
Kratom plants produce seed pods, each containing approximately 50 seeds. In the wild, these seeds fall to the ground or into the fur of animals and are carried away to germinate. Unfortunately, the minute kratom seeds leave the tree, their viability rate decreases, which is the rate at which seeds germinate and produce a living sprout. Most Kratom seeds only have a 10-20% viability rate.
For Kratom plants grown outside southeast Asia, seedlings are a safe option as they already have a semi-developed root system and several small leaves to obtain nutrients.
How to Grow Kratom From Seedlings
- Select high-quality Kratom seedlings from a reputable source
To ensure the hardiest plants and the highest quality strains, only buy your Kratom seedlings from a reputable vendor. Choose a supplier who has close connections to the southeast Asian Kratom growing industry and liaises with the farmers to obtain the best seeds and seedlings for cultivation.
- Decide whether to plant indoors or outdoors
Kratom plants thrive in tropical conditions. Unfortunately, this means there are not many locations across the U.S. with the correct climate for growing Kratom outdoors.
Kratom plants do best in plant hardiness zones 11, 12, and 13, where there is a high average yearly minimum temperature, such as Florida, Hawaii, and certain areas of Texas, Louisiana, and California. Harsh winters in Central, Northeastern, and Northwestern states mean it is better to plant your Kratom seedlings indoors.
- Transfer to pots with ample drainage
If you need to plant your seedlings indoors, ensure you use a large pot, as it will hold moisture in the soil more effectively resulting in less frequent watering. However, you also need to ensure your pot has drainage holes, and the potting mix is combined with perlite or vermiculite to encourage drainage since Kratom is prone to root rot. Other options for improving soil drainage include coco peat or pine bark humus.
If you plan to plant your Kratom outdoors, check to see if your soil has a high density due to the presence of clay or certain other minerals. If it does, you may need to add drainage supplements when tilling and preparing your garden bed to improve drainage. Highly dense soil prevents oxygen circulation and nutrient uptake.
- Use high-nitrogen soil
Whether you are transferring your seedlings to a larger indoor pot or planting them directly in the ground, you need to ensure your soil has a high nitrogen content to support healthy photosynthesis.
Use a soil testing kit to determine the nitrogen levels. If the soil lacks nitrogen, you can prepare your plot by adding organic matter to the soil, such as manure-based fertilizers, lawn clippings, leaf matter, and compost. If you have a vegetable garden, planting your seedlings in the soil previously used to cultivate legumes and beans is ideal for ensuring that your Kratom seedlings get ample nitrogen.
- Assess the soil pH
Kratom plants grow optimally in soil between 5.5 and 6.5 pH. If the soil is more acidic or alkaline, the plant roots have trouble absorbing nutrients. After using a pH testing kit to assess the soil, you can use organic supplements to alter the pH. Use limestone or wood ash to raise the pH and products containing elemental sulfur to lower it.
- Support and protect your seedlings
After transferring seedlings to a new growth habitat, the roots are very fragile. Insert wooden dowels approximately an inch away from the base of the plant and use a biodegradable twine to tie the seedling gently to the dowel.
For outdoor plants, you need to cover your plants with netting to prevent birds, rodents, and other pests from attacking the young leaves.
- Keep your seedlings moist
Kratom plants need a moist environment to thrive. Humidity and soil moisture play a significant role in the development of the alkaloids, which give Kratom its therapeutic benefits.
You can manage the soil moisture levels by using soil additives that facilitate drainage and keeping a regular watering schedule. Humidity can be slightly more challenging to control.
For indoor plants, use a humidifier to increase the overall humidity in your home, and group plants close together so they can benefit from the moisture that evaporates from the leaves of neighboring plants.
The climate in Borneo and Indonesia where Kratom naturally grows can reach around 90-94% humidity in the morning and decrease gradually to about 75% by the late evening. Using your humidifier, you can mimic the tropical climate indoors.
- Avoid direct sunlight
Kratom plants grow under the canopy of larger tropical trees with lush foliage in their natural habitat that creates dappled shade. For outdoor Kratom crops, select a partially shaded location to imitate the light the plants receive in their natural rainforest climate.
If you are planting your Kratom seedlings indoors, you’ll need to invest in an artificial light source. High-density discharge bulbs with metal halides or high-pressure sodium are excellent for indoor plants. Bulbs with metal halides are the best option as they emit a greater level of blue light.
Alternatively, you could opt for full-spectrum LED growth lights, which are longer lasting and more energy efficient.
Challenge Your Green Thumb By Growing Kratom at Home
If you enjoy the therapeutic benefits that Kratom offers, from increased alertness to maintaining joint flexibility and a healthy heart, then growing your Kratom at home gives you access to fresh Kratom leaves for tea.
Growing Kratom can be difficult without a suitable climate and soil, so ensure you make a thorough assessment of your home environment before transferring your seedlings to their new growth habitat.