Kratom Plant Secrets
Copyright JP Edley, JUNE 2008
After going through the same cycle of ordering Kratom plants online, anxiously awaiting for them to arrive, opening my package and dropping the plants into a 1 gallon plastic pot and some fresh Scott’s Potting soil, giving them lots of light and water, only to watch them die within a few days was really starting to get to me. I couldn’t figure out why this venture of mine was going so wrong, over and over again, especially when people make businesses out of growing and selling these plants!
I tried everything I could think of; I gave them only sunlight, I gave them only artificial light, and I even tried one of those “natural sunlight” lamps. But, my Kratom plants still refused to grow. I tried lots of water, not that much water, and every combination of light and water I could think of, but still…my precious Kratom plants didn’t survive past a week.
Then, several breakthroughs that were so obvious and simple, seemed to come to me at once, and I offer these to you now that my Kratom Plants are growing like gangbusters in the comfort of my own home.
The Kratom plants I buy (The Rifat strain and the Bumblebee strain from Shaman’s Garden) come already established, anywhere between 3” tall to some that arrived about 10” tall. They are all potted, and show signs of root crowding, so I know that they are all ready to burst out of their tiny travel pots and expand into the 1 gallon pots I immediately transplant them into.
I went to Home Depot and bought a product called “TakeRoot”. It says that you can “Grow New Plants From Cuttings!”, and since I was desperate, I figured I had nothing to lose. But this time, I took the “TakeRoot” and dumped the entire jar into a big glass bowl. I took 1 of my new Kratom plants and potted it directly. But the other two, I held the plants by the stems over the glass bowl, and liberally sprinkled the pure white “TakeRoot” over the entire square of roots and soil, and shook off the loose powder.
I realized that the standard potting soil that is commercially available is no good for Kratom plants. In fact, soil in general is not good for growing your own Kratom. It chokes the roots and encourages mold and fungus growth, no matter how careful you are. So, with the help of a seasoned grower, I tried 5 parts of sphagnum peat moss, 3 parts perlite, and 2 parts earth worm castings. Don’t compact this all together, just mix it gently, and pour it into the 1 gallon pot.
Even though I know that nurseries who clone Kratom plants use all kinds of professional equipment, from cloners to special hydroponic soils, to ultra bright lights, for some reason I always thought that my sunny window with a Southern view of the sky would be enough, if not PLENTY of light. NOT SO!
After another intensive discussion with the grower of these seedlings, I realized that it is FAR BETTER to have TOO MUCH LIGHT than not enough. Not enough lights can cause plants that are used to lots of light (especially young Kratom plants) to die rather quickly. And, this process can happen so quickly, that it can be difficult to diagnose the problem, since most of the leaves will curl up and fall off the plant in just a few days, as if you had given your new, live plants, no water, soil, or light whatsoever!
So, I ended up using 3 spiral fluorescents lights (100W equivalent each bulb) about 3 feet away from the tops of the plants, even though they should have been only 1 foot away. I also added 2 more lights with the same (100W equivalent) bulbs on either side of the plants, at the same height. I only did this because I couldn’t easily get the ones on top any closer than 3 feet away.
It turns out that it’s better to err on the side of almost burning your leaves, than to starve them of light. So, I took a chance and waited…
Armed with this new information and this new determination to have live Kratom plants long after my purchase was complete, I then placed these into their pots, and poured enough water on the soil to show in the catch tray at the bottom of the pot. After one week, the one I kept without the rooting hormone was on the verge of death, as was the one i placed in plain “Scotts Potting Soil”. I was tempted to “save” this little plants, but they both were my “Control Plants”, so I resisted the urge.
But the other plants! – They had fully recovered from their transplant and were looking healthier than any plant I had ever tried to grow before. I didn’t want to get too excited, and thought that maybe once the rooting hormone wore off, that the plants would then wither and die, but….nope.
Two weeks later, they were still holding steady, and then 3 weeks later, they actually stated to flourish. Something else I did slightly different than any other time was to NOT give them water until the first 1″ – 2″ of soil at the very top was dried out. Yes, Kratom trees live in a tropical environment, but for some reason, in my home environment, overwatering only leads to root rot, bugs, and mold.
I think this contributed to my present success, but it certainly isn’t the main reason. Kratom likes lots of water…it’s in a topical climate, so it’s important to remember that the leaves gather a lot of moisture, and the ground if often damp.
So, that’s how I treated my plants, but the real breakthrough came by way of an inexpensive product available at any garden center or your local Home Depot, a custom blend of VERY breathable growing medium, and light that was far closer to my plants than I ever thought possible.
See different information in the How to Grow Kratom article as well.
Also, see Photos and Descriptions of Kratom Leaf in different stages of health.