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Mitragyna Speciosa, known commonly as kratom, is a plant that is known for both it’s mood enhancing and pain relieving properties.
While most get their supply of kratom in the form of an extract, powder or dry leaves, you may want to be your own supplier and try growing some kratom of your own. Kratom grows as a tree which can reach up to 30 feet (about 9 meters) in height.
It is a part of the coffee family and is native to Southeast Asia, specifically countries such as Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia. It’s important to note that growing kratom is notoriously difficult, especially outside of a tropical climate, requiring that you carefully follow specific steps and have a well controlled environment in order for your plants to thrive. So you will definitely want to be well informed before considering such an undertaking.
Kratom cultivation requires a warm, tropical environment, mimicking that of Southeast Asia’s dense, temperate interior. The humidity needs to be high — akin to what you would expect from Thailand, the birth place of Mitragyna Speciosa.
Seeds can be notoriously hard to obtain, while you need to grow it in bulk in order to have enough plant matter to use it to its full potential. The only way to grow kratom indoors is with a large greenhouse and extremely rich soil. Its natural environment is very hard to mimic, making most pure kratom imported.
How to Germinate Kratom Seeds
In order to determine if you’re up to growing your own kratom let’s start with what it takes to get kratom seeds sprouting. The first step is of course to get some seeds. As for how and where to get them, we’ll cover that in depth a bit later. If you do get some seeds you will see that they are very small, often being described as slivers. They come in seed pods that contain around 50 seeds.
One of the main reasons that growing kratom is difficult is that the seeds need to be fresh, as they are only viable for a short time after being collected. If you get kratom seeds that are more than a few days old, chances are they will not grow. Even with very fresh seeds, only some of them will germinate, so you will need a lot of them to increase your chances of successfully growing kratom. Specifically, having multiple pots and planting several seeds in each pot makes it much more likely that you will end up with at least one healthy plant.
The soil that the seeds are planted in should be fertile, humus rich and very moist. Some even say it needs to be like a swamp. You have to be careful though, as having too much water can lead to mold and other fungus growth which can end up killing any kratom seedlings that do sprout, so you need at least some drainage. The goal is to find a balance between giving the kratom seeds enough water that they germinate and grow, but not so much that fungus grows; which will likely take some trial and error.
Whether to Grow from Seeds or Get Live Plants
If you don’t want to try growing kratom from seeds you can instead order some already sprouted live plants. Getting live plants shipped to you can also be quite the undertaking as there is a higher chance of a plant being damaged during shipping than with seeds and it can also be more expensive. That being said, once you manage to successfully get a live kratom seedling your chances of having it grow into a healthy tree are much higher. Getting kratom to sprout and fully germinate is difficult, but once a plant is well established it’s usually pretty hardy.
Determining whether to go with seeds or live plants is all a risk versus reward assessment. Are you more willing to pay less and have a chance that none of your seeds germinate, or to speed more more on an already established plant with the potential of it dying during shipping? Something to look for when considering a live plant is that there are sellers which offer a guarantee for their live plants and will replace them if they die within a certain time period.
How to Maintain Soil and Moisture Levels
As mentioned before, it’s important for kratom to have moist, humus rich and fertile soil. Some also say that you need very specialized soil mixtures, but others have found success with just regular Miracle Gro soil. The pH (acidity or basicity) of the soil is another very important factor in how successfully your kratom plants grow. It seems that between 5.5 and 6.5 is thought to be the ideal pH range for proper growth of kratom. Many things can affect the pH of the soil, so monitoring it is important to keep your plants healthy. Reliable pH meters can be expensive, but pH paper can be a cost effective way to test your soil.
Being a plant that grows in tropical regions, kratom needs high humidity levels in addition to lots of water. Some suggest simply misting your plants regularly, but indirect humidity through the air will often yield better results. Keeping a humidity level of around 90% is ideal, but this can be difficult to maintain.
Humidity naturally fluctuates in tropical areas as well, so this isn’t as major a concern as it may seem at first. As long as you can maintain an average humidity level of about 70% your kratom plants should do just fine. Humidifiers are of course one way to keep the humidity high, but less expensive methods such as keeping the plants in an enclosure like a terrarium, or using pebble trays can be just as effective and lower maintenance. Even just having several kratom plants in an enclosed space like a closet can be enough to keep the humidity at the right level.
Proper Heat and Light Levels
Temperature is another important factor in growing kratom. As it’s a tropical plant, kratom needs to be warm to be healthy, ideally around 75 to 90 degrees fahrenheit, or about 24 to 32 degrees celsius. It can handle even higher heat levels, but when it gets over 90 degrees growth can slow significantly, so it’s best to keep it at a more moderate temperature.
Kratom is very sensitive to cold and should be kept from reaching temperatures in the 50’s or below. At this temperature the leaves begin to change color and eventually fall off. Even when leaf loss occurs, if brought back to a warm enough temperature the leaves should eventually regrow if the plant is healthy enough.
As with any plant, the amount of light kratom receives is vital in determining growth and overall health. Kratom likes lots of light, to the point that even 24 hour lighting can be beneficial. In general, the more light that kratom receives, the darker the leaves and redder the stems get. HPS (High Pressure Sodium) and LED are the most recommended lighting types for growing kratom, but fluorescent lighting can work well too and can be less expensive to set up and run. Specifically, the T5 fluorescent tubes are known to be great for indoor growing.
How to Harvest from Your Trees
Before you can actually harvest the leaves from your kratom trees they need to grow enough. The amount of time that growing kratom takes can vary, but the account the writers at Psychotropicon give of growing kratom should give a pretty good idea of what to expect. For them it was three weeks after planting the kratom seeds that they started to see sprouts. A little over half a year later is when the plants became well established enough to be transplanted. When the trees are about a year old is when they should be ready for harvesting.
Even when a tree is old enough to handle having leaves harvested, it’s best to also wait for when the leaves are most potent. Between the end of summer and beginning of winter is when the kratom leaves have the highest levels of alkaloids. This makes autumn the best time to harvest the leaves, specifically towards the end, right before the leaves begin falling on their own.
By now you should have a pretty good idea of what it takes to grow your own kratom. If you’re up to it and want to get started, you first need to check if it’s legal where you live before doing anything else. While kratom is perfectly legal in most of the United States and the world, there are some exceptions. For example, Wisconsin, Indiana and Tennessee are all states that have made kratom illegal. There are also some places where it’s legal on a state level, but individual cities and counties have banned it, like San Diego County in California.
The legality of kratom in each country can sometimes be strangely difficult to find out. Erowid has a list of the legal status of kratom in several countries, but some of the information may be outdated and some comes only from unconfirmed reports.
Because of the confusing and unreliable nature of much of the information regarding the legality of kratom internationally, it’s best to thoroughly research the laws of your country, or that of any country you are going to be in before purchasing any kratom products. The most accurate way to do so will likely be through local resources.
Ironically, a country where kratom is for sure known to be illegal is in Thailand, its country of origin where it has been used traditionally for quite some time and is even seen as being part of their culture. This may soon change, however, as there is a push to end the ban on kratom, mainly due to its potential to help deal with the problem of methamphetamine addiction in Thailand by acting as a safer alternative. The public is divided on the issue of kratom legalization, however, with a poll showing 52% worry it could lead to misuse, while 48% view kratom simply as a harmless traditional medicine.
Where to Buy Kratom Seeds
Once you’ve confirmed that kratom is legal where you live, it’s time to find a place to buy your kratom seeds or live plant from. For live plants one of the main things you want to look for is a seller that has a money back guarantee. This way you aren’t out of luck if something happens to your plant on its way to you. Coastline Kratom is one such place and our personal recommendation at Kratom Ninja, promising a refund if your plant arrives damaged and you send it back right away.
As for buying kratom seeds, the most important thing is that they arrive fresh. This makes it important to look for vendors that make it clear their seeds are fresh and viable and also offer very fast shipping. Because of the fragile and time sensitive nature of kratom seeds, many sellers do not offer a money back guarantee with their seeds, so buying them will almost always be a greater risk than getting live plants.
Whether from seeds or from live plants, growing your very own kratom tree is quite the accomplishment and will be a great way to always have access to the wonderful properties of fresh kratom leaves.
Until next time,