Kratom is an exotic tree native to southeast Asia, and is specifically indigenous to Thailand, Malaysia and Myanmar but grows throughout Indochina and the Malesia floristic regions. The botanical name is Mitragyna speciosa, and this tropical species is part of the Rubiaceae, or coffee family, and can either be evergreen or deciduous, depending on the climate and environment that it has adjusted to. With an erect and branching stature, this tree usually grows from 12-30 ft (3.7-9.1 m) tall and 15 ft (4.6 m) wide, but in its ideal and natural conditions, it can range from 40-100 ft (12-30 m) in height.
Kratom can be grown easily in any climate, and it will flourish so long as there is a decent setup. The surest way to encourage the tree to grow is usually done exclusively indoors or in a temperature-regulated greenhouse, unless it is grown outside in a temperate region when it is warm enough and brought inside when temperatures drop during the cold season. Special equipment is not necessary to grow Kratom as long as its fundamental atmosphere can be provided. All in all, the essential factors of caring for a Kratom tree are temperature, humidity, soil and light. These factors are easy to simulate in a controlled environment. Only in a tropical or sub-tropical climate could a Kratom tree be planted directly in the ground.
To start a tree from seed is close to impossible, unless the seed is obtained from the tree and germinated within a couple of days. This is because after the second or third day off of the parent tree, the seed loses its viability to sprout. Obtaining cuttings from a tree and rooting them is a more feasible method of propagation. The success rate of a cutting actually taking root is around 25%, but with the use of proper soil, fertilizer, planters, root hormones, fungicides and insecticides the percentage may rise.
The cuttings, rootings or small trees should be planted in larger pots so that the roots can spread out and take in more moisture from the soil, allowing it to grow quicker. The trees need to be pruned periodically because of the tendency to grow quite large, and light fertilizing is necessary every few weeks when it is actively growing.
As a tropical tree, Kratom naturally does not like cold weather and will not tolerate frost, but they do well as house plants. In temperate regions during the winter, the trees will go dormant and active growing ceases until the temperature is right for the plant, which is generally from 70-90 degrees Fahrenheit (21-32 degrees Celsius). Never try to leave young trees less than two years old outside in temperatures less than 60 degrees Fahrenheit (16 degrees Celsius). Older trees with an established root system are able to tolerate colder temperatures, but never a frost. The colder the temperature is the slower the trees will grow.
Greenhouses with sufficient lighting and supplemental heating are ideal to increase the growing time. It is also possible to trap natural thermal heat from the earth by using tarps or blankets to cover a tree. Heavy mulching around the base of the tree is also a way to ensure that the root system survives when the temperatures drop.
Kratom prefers a humid environment and does well in medium-high humidity. The average humidity in Thailand can range anywhere from 90-94% in the morning, and 50-70% during the evening and night. As a general rule, the more humid the environment, the higher the quality of Kratom will be produced. This is reflected in the healthy glossy shine on the leaves, whereas in a drier atmosphere, the leaves may be roughly textured or discolored. Humidifiers can be used to control the humidity of the environment, but they can be expensive and drain a lot of energy. Large terrariums are also a possibility for better controlling the humidity, though this would call for more pruning to keep the plant from outgrowing its confines.
Kratom will settle for just about any fertile and well-draining bag of soil available. Although, the plant does has a preference, and it favors acidic soil that is usually between 5.5 and 6.5 pH. A more alkaline soil will be reflected in the quality of the leaves, leaving them yellowed, blotchy and apparently under nourished. Adding sulphur or even dry pine needles could help to balance the pH of the soil.
The dark, lush leaves of Kratom love the light, and it will fair well in full exposure to the sun. If it grows inside, the tree does phenomenally well with a 24-hour light cycle. The love of light is also mirrored in the leaves, as it produces darker, greener leaves with prominent red veins. Any watt bulb, depending on the size and quantity of plants, from 18-100 watt (120 volt) full spectrum bulbs will do. Kratom can tolerate heat up to 96 degrees Fahrenheit (35.5 degrees Celsius), but any hotter and the plants will slow their growth.