How To Grow Tamarind

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Tamarind tree is a great addition to your garden as a light shade tree, ornamental bonsai or as a tree to harvest its sour-sweet fruit. The beautiful feathery leaflets of the tamarind tree close up at night. It is a fairly large tree and farmers use a ladder to harvest the fruit. If you are growing in the ground, keep in mind the size of the tree and the roots can be quite invasive, so decide the location where you want to plant in the ground accordingly.

 

To grow a tamarind tree, you can either germinate a seed or plant a cutting in a location that receives full sun. The most efficient way to plant a tamarind tree is by marcotting (air layering) and can be done from a mature tree. To produce the best fruits, it can take upto 6 years.

 

To grow a tamarind tree successfully for years, it needs full sun (can handle light frost), watering must be frequent, fertilization weekly during the growing season and a rich sandy soil.

 

Tamarind General Information

Origin

Tropical Africa, Sudan

Common Names

Imli, Tamarindus indica, tamar hindi (Arabic), Tamarindo, Tamarin, Sampalok (Filipino)

🌵Type

Leguminous tree

🌵Climate

Arid Tropical and humid tropical

🌡️Temperature

60°F to 113°F (24°C to 45°C)

🌼Growing season

Summer, Spring

💧Watering

Only when 1-2 inch of topsoil is dry

☀️Light

Full sun

Soil

Sandy, slightly acidic

Fertilizer

½ lb of 6-6-3 NPK once every 2 months

Pot Size

10 inch and increase the size gradually.

Propagation🌱

Seeds, air layering, cuttings

Height📏

can reach upto 80 ft high and upto 35 ft wide.

Time it takes to get fruit

Upto 6 years

From Seeds

Growing a tamarind tree from seed is not a recommended way to grow tamarind as it takes years (6 to 8 years) for the tree to start bearing fruit, whereas growing tamarind tree using an air layered stem from a mature plant would yield fruit in about 3 years.

If you are patient like a farmer, or if you are growing tamarind as an ornamental bonsai, here are the steps for you:

 

Best time to germinate the tamarind seeds is anytime after the winter season, and the recommended time is during the summer season.

 

  1. Pick several thick tamarinds and remove the pulp of the tamarind seeds. Take the outer shell Wash the seeds.
  2. Take a 2 inch pot or seed tray and sow the seeds ½ inch in the soil (garden soil + compost) or a soilless type of potting media.
  3. Add a ¼ inch fine layer of potting mix. Do not sow the seeds too deep.
  4. Press it down lightly, firm the potting mix with the palm of your hand to create a smooth, even surface.
  5. Water the potting mix until it feels wet at a depth of 1 inch.
  6. Place the container in a partial shade for 10 days and keep the potting mix moist all the time while the Tamarind seeds germinate.
  7. Seeds will germinate in 10 days.
  8. Once the seedling reaches a height of about 4-5 inches, you can transplant it into a slightly bigger pot.
  9. If the stem is not thick enough, you may need to add support to help the plant grow upright.

In a Pot

Although a tamarind tree is meant to become a massive tree and planted in the ground, you can certainly grow tamarind trees in pots.

Opt for a big, lightweight container (10 to 20 gallon) and fill 25% of the container with a layer of gravel to keep the roots cool and avoid contact with the floor. Next fill 25% of the container with a layer of small pebbles. Now fill 25% of the container with Coco peat and the rest with river sand, compost and organic manure.

How fast does Tamarind grow

Tamarind trees grow slowly, live long, and can reach upto 80 ft high and upto 35 ft wide.

 

Here is a table that explains the rate of growth for Tamarind that you can expect:

 

Event

No. of Days

Germination

10 days

New branches growth

40 days

10 inches tall

2 to 3 months

Bear fruit

3 to 8 years

 

It takes at least 3 years for a propagated tamarind tree to bear fruit, and it takes about 6 to 8 years for a tamarind seedling to start bearing fruit.

Water💧

If your tamarind tree is young, water your Tamarind plant frequently and keep the soil moist. Underwatering a young plant can cause irreversible damage to its leaves. If you have a mature and established tamarind tree, only water when the top 1-2 inches of the soil is dry. Just touch the top soil, if it is dry and doesn’t stick your fingers, water your Tamarind plant.

 

A tamarind tree is adapted to the semiarid climates and can handle drought. Avoid overwatering.

 

In Winter, the plant will very likely be dormant so you will need to reduce the frequency of watering as it does not need much water (or fertilizer) when dormant.

Sunlight☀️

Tamarind grows natively in hot africa and should be planted in a location that receives full sun. If you live in a hot, dry, desert, arid or tropical climate and your tamarind tree is still young, place the Tamarind in a location that receives shade from the afternoon sun for a few months.

Temperature🌡️

The Tamarind tree is native to Africa and likes Arid, Tropical and windy climates. Ideal growing temperature for Tamarind is between 60°F to 113°F (24°C to 45°C) with relative humidity of 65 to 80%. It grows well in USDA Hardiness zones 10 to 11.

 

Mature tamarind trees are highly wind resistant.

 

Care in the Winter

Expect the young tamarind tree to shed most of its leaves during the winter, while a mature tree will withstand light frost without any serious harm. If your area gets some sun during the winter, tamarind will do better and might continue to grow. Once the temperatures warm up, you can resume watering and fertilization and your tamarind tree will start growing again.

 

If you live in a climate where winter temperatures drop below 32 degrees F (0 degrees C), you will either need to cover the tree in plastic, keep it inside a greenhouse or bring it indoors. 

Soil

In nature, tamarind trees can be found in the sandy beaches of tropical countries.  In terms of preference, tamarinds grow best in slightly acidic, well-draining sandy soil. Tamarinds will grow in most types of soils from clay to coarse and they can tolerate a range of pH from 4 to 8.5. One recommended soil mix is Sand/perlite with 30 to 40% of organic compost.


 

If you live in a hot, dry, desert, arid or tropical climate, cover the soil with mulch (dead leaves, coco peat, or wood chips) to keep the soil temperature cool and avoid heating of exposed soil by the sun.

Fertilizer

A tamarind tree does not demand much in terms of fertilization. You can fertilize young trees with ½ lb of 6-6-3 NPK once every 2 months. If you are growing tamarind for its fruit, it is recommended to use an organic compost or manure fertilizer instead, every week during the summer season. Also add some Super phosphate monthly during the spring season to encourage new growth.

Pruning

The right time to prune a Tamarind tree is during their growing season (summer). Light pruning and trimming of dead, damaged, diseased or crossing branches can be done anytime. Tamarind tree focuses more on top growth while the lower branches weaken and die back. Tamarind trees quickly sprout new branches from it’s trunk. If you are growing tamarind in a pot, prune or train the top growth accordingly. 

 

Fruit

Dry weather is required for the fruit to form, else the tamarind tree will/may flower, but fail to form the fruit.

Pests and Diseases🐛🦠

Tamarind trees may have Scale, Caterpillars and Borers. You can easily get rid of these pests and diseases.

Things to check before buying Tamarind Plant

Look for the following attributes when buying a tamarind tree.

  • Tamarind tree is a slow grower, so pick a tree that has the largest trunk.
  • Touch the soil and see if the nursery has kept the tamarind tree in a sandy well-draining soil.

 

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