Gigantic, exotic and gargantuan, baobab tree is special. Learn how to grow a baobab tree as growing baobab tree is not that difficult if you understand the basics. You can also make a baobab bonsai, it looks superb.
What is a Baobab Tree?
Baobab is a low maintenance tree and regarded as world’s largest succulent. It can also be grown in pot, baobab bonsai is famous and is particularly well suited for beginners and if you have a large backyard, you can grow it outside. The baobab tree flourishes on poor soils, tolerates heat and has the ability to store large amounts of water, to survive in drought.
USDA Zones: 10 – 12, can be grown in other zones in pots with care in winter
Other Names: Adansonia (scientific name), boab, boaboa, tabaldi, bottle tree, upside-down tree, and monkey bread tree.
Height: up to 30 meters
Bloom Color: White
Even gardeners without green fingers can make it with a little patience, to multiply the baobab tree. This is done in two ways:
Growing Baobab from Seed
Before sowing, the Baobab seeds needs soaking at room temperature. For this, soak the seeds for one day in warm water. After that, scarify the baobab seeds on sandpaper to expose their inner white layer.
Dry seeds indoors for a day before planting. The germination rate of baobab seeds is low, so sow 3 times more seeds than required.
Sow baobab seeds 1 to 2 inch deep and keep the soil temperature above at least 15 degrees Celsius. It is important to keep soil evenly moist, but not kept wet.
Once the roots are formed, baobab can be planted into individual pots or on the grounds. The pot you use should have a minimum diameter of seven centimeters.
The germination of baobab seeds is sporadic, their germination can take anywhere from a week to a month. The cultivation of baobab from seed requires some patience. Because in some cases, the germination can take several months.
Propagation from cuttings
Baobab tree can also be grown from cutting. For this, take cutting in spring from the tree. The cuttings should have at least three leaves.
After taking a cutting, let it dry for a few days to reduce the chances of fungal attacks and stem rot. After that, plant the cutting in soil mixture of sand and peat.
Location and Soil
Growing baobab tree requires at least 6 hours of direct sunlight, it appreciates as much sun as given. If baobab receives too little daylight, it grows slowly and spindly and leaves turns yellow.
In order to create the optimum soil conditions for the baobab, soil must have good drainage and should be sandy. To make baobab soil at home, mix 3 parts of compost, 2 parts of sand in 1 part soil.
However, best to buy premixed cactus soil. This allows better aeration of the soil and prevents the roots rot.
Watering and fertilizing
Watering requirement of baobab is moderate to low as it is native to arid areas of Africa and it should be done carefully. If you’re growing baobab in container, choose one with good drainage holes, so that the excess water can seep out from bottom.
Overwatering should be avoided. Before watering the plant again, always check if the soil is dry. If it is moist, do not water. As baobab is very tolerant to droughts, do not water if unsure.
Mature baobab tree on ground does not need any fertilizer. Fertilize young and potted plant with liquid succulent fertilizer that is high in potassium and low in nitrogen every month.
Taking care of a baobab is simple. The sturdy exotic plant loves warm, sunny and bright location. Larger specimens survive longer drying sessions. Seedlings, on other hand need more water and should be kept moderately moist. Baobab tree if grown successfully, rewards you not only with its ornamental thick trunk and rich green leaves, but also with large white flowers and edible fruits.
Knowing how to grow a baobab tree is not as difficult as overwintering it especially if you’re living in extremely cold climate. You’ll need to do a lot of care to overwinter it.
Place it indoors, in a bright and warm position near a windowsill. Try to keep temperature around 10 C, lower than this will stunt baobab.
In winter, baobab tree drops its leaves and goes to dormancy. During this time water sparingly, watering in winter can cause root rot.
Also stop to fertilize. In the spring, place it back at its usual location. Resume watering when buds begin to swell.
If you are growing baobab trees in pot, repotting is necessary. The growth of baobab roots is very strong. Therefore, the tree requires enough space to unfold. Repot baobab when plants seems root bound, roots starts to appear on upper surface.
The baobab tree can be pruned throughout the year except winter. It’s easy, simply remove the shoots, which are located under the main crown. If possible, make a cut near bud. So a new bud of the branch will be ensured.
In order to cut individual branches summer is the ideal time.
Diseases, pests and other problems
Some common pests that attracts on baobab tree are mealybugs, spider mites and fungus gnats.
Baobab Tree Facts and Adaptations
It has strong branches, impressive trunk and fleshy leaves.
Baobab tree forms large white flowers after a few years of growing, it also produces fruits that taste well and provide energy.
Fruits are rich in calcium and slightly acidic.
Baobab tree is drought tolerant and has the ability to store large amounts of water in its trunk and roots.
It is forgiving, robust and low-maintenance plant.
Baobab tree is a long living tree, it can live up to 1000 of years.
Hello I’m a grower in sicily,that’s the south part of Italy,as you can see of my web site I grow mediterranean plants,I’m tryng adenium obesum and I would like to know if the baobab can be introduced as a ornamental plant for the nice shape
do you sell bulbs or cuttings ?
I can get it also by plane in alsmeer,every week there is a truck to sicily
thanks in advance
Hi Giacomo Isgro’, thanks for your interest on our website. You can easily grow baobab although we don’t sell seeds or plants. If you want to grow it, please check locally or buy online.
I live in Musina Limpopo. The home of the Baobab. So plenty seeds and perfect growing conditions. How do I keep my trees small from the start as mine are growing fast. Must I leave the shoots made in summer as they are also very long. I have managed the root cuttings well.Would appreciate any advise. Regards
Hi Greta, You can pinch the tips (end of branches) after it has grown 3-4 leaves to keep it small and make it bushy. If you want to make bonsai of it, this article might be helpful.
Hi, i have a couple of adansonia grandidieris in pots, it is the second time they loose leafs, i want to plant one on them on the ground, my question is, would it be better to wait for them to grow leafs again to pass one from the pot to the ground? I read that it is not adiceable to water them when they are leafless and i dont want to risk my plants since i live in Mexico and it was not easy to get them. The weather here is not as arid as Madagascar but we do get a dry season which is when most of the plants here loose their leafs, and plenty of sun, so that doesn’t concern me that much, i would be very happy to hear some advice from anyone my mail is: [email protected]
Hi there. I’ve managed to germinate baobab seeds but it seems that the root has come out upwards and the leaves are in the soil.! Will this come right? Thanks and regards Nicos
Sometimes the shell stays in the soil and the sprout just pushes through it. So make sure the aerial part that you are calling root are not the leaves.
Did you germinate the baobab seeds in dark? Are all seeds germinated upside down? Are you strictly following the method written in our article? If the seed really germinated upside down, it may not live. Still, you can try to transplant it to the right position.
Hahaha thats funny upside down germination
The bushmen here in africa call them upside down trees. They say the branches are the roots. It dose look like roots though.
Cool Article ! I love Baobab Trees I grew a few in pots, they like warm weather best.
They have nice Baobab Seedling at http://www.BuyBaobabTrees.com
Thanks for your post. We grow baobab in west Africa and we find it germinates much faster and more consistently if you soak the seeds over night or until the outside is soft and squidgy. If you will plant in the afternoon, in the morning you can put the seeds in a clear plastic bag in water and leave it the the sun for the day. I learned that from our 71 year old nursery man who retired last year.
We are having bad problems with root rot. Any ideas apart from limiting water and improving drainage?
it is better to be here the propagation methods in detail and informations about diseases and pest that attack the species
Thanks for the tips. I will try to grow them and see how they will do
Hi . I have 2 boab seed pods , they both rattle when I shake them , are they no good to plant or do I take the bit insde the nut and plant that bit as per you insructions .
Thanks for any reply , regards Bruce
Hi, looking to start a baobab bonsai, and will try grow it, but even better would love to buy an established tree. Having a really hard time finding either online. Any tips?
Have some two year olds for sale.
How much do you sell the 2 yr olds for? Thanks, Tony Close
If I have to follow all these complicated instructions to get Baobab seeds to sprout and grow into a Baobab tree, how do they manage to do it on their own in the wild?
Hi Franklin sometimes the seeds are eaten by animals it comes out after few days and its very hot inside there
Dennis from Hoedsptuit South Africa
Hi there. Is it possible to grow the a Baobab tree in a tropical country. There is plenty of hot sunshine throughout the year, but it rains here as well. I live in the Phillipeens.
the process of stem cutting for propagation it can be done in india or not?
Yes it can be done in India. Which parts of India do you live in ?
I live in Yosemite, California. It snows here. Can I grow it inside? If a. Will I have to keep getting larger containers for it? How warm, in farenheit degrees, would I have to keep the room for it to be healthy?
Hi, growing it in the ground will roots break walls or foundations eventually? Better grow them in containers?
Hi, i got a boabab from Senegal 2 years ago, I grow like the best here in Holland, but i really need to trim it, I don’t want a bonsai version, but a full tree a bit trimmed, but what’s the best time to trim it? I guess beginning of autumn? I’m not sure. Thnx in advance
Hello, we are currently growing a baobab tree in south west Florida. We are trying to figure out about bringing the tree in with the weather getting chilly (below 70 degrees Fahrenheit). Is it a good idea to bring the tree in for the night and back outside when it’s sunny and 80 degrees?
You should be fine leaving it outside. I have grown a few different varieties from seed and have 2 currently in the ground in my yard and live in Miami. I don’t think I brought them inside when it got it’s coldest in awhile and temperatures were around 30 degrees
I live in Illinois, but I think I know enough about my baobabs to answer this. Florida rains a lot. This will likely be more problematic than anything for you, but if the roots are allowed dry out thoroughly between waterings, you’ll be ok. If there is an option to shelter it from rain, but not sun, like a conservatory, I’d do that as much as possible between waterings, or make a little extra effort to make sure the substrate drains well. As to temperature, I never let my baobabs weather anything below 55°F, and I’ve been really successful with that. I have a six year-old and a four year-old, and they’re kept small and in pots, so I can bring them inside every winter. In Florida, you probably won’t have to worry about temperature so much. Just make sure the substrate doesn’t stay wet too long. When the leaves fall off, stop watering them and keep them completely dry until after they start to bud again. They can stay dormant and bone dry for eight months out of the year, so don’t get impatient. I take mine indoors in the fall, they stay there all winter and do not get water again at all until after I put them out again in the late spring.
Love your website. Just had to donate our 11’ tall 6 year old Baobab to our local botanical garden, they were excited to receive it! It was too tall to winter over indoors this year here in zone 8b. Now we have our one year old one and more seeds to try to germinate.
San Antonio Texas
We planted one in our front yard in zone 10b its 6 feet tall, how tall and large could it be in 10 more years?
Are the roots of the baobab tree very aggressive , will they lift the foundation of a house if planted to close to the house
I probably have a very weird question to ask …
I had brought home a baobab little tree from the airport in Dakar, you can by in tax free zone.
I have put in soil and it started to grow and develop leaves in just a few weeks. I so love my little tree. It is now about nine months old and I will soon move from the USA to Europe. I would love to take my tree with me. Is there any way I could die off my baobab so I can transport it and revive it back in Europe?
Hello, I bought a dry small plant in Paris. It’s about 15mm dia x 100mm high. The instructions said to water it thoroughly then leave it to dry. Within days it sprouted leaves but they have now all fallen and the plant seems to do nothing. It is kept warm and in a bright south facing window, so gets lots of sun. is it OK?
I am looking for 6x Baobab trees and 10x fever trees all roughly 5 meters tall.
Where am I able to purchase these?
My Adansonia Za is six years old repotted as it grows. Cut it off at 4 feet year 3. It grew 3 branches 2 feet. Cut them back to 10 inches in Fall (Dec)Each Winter (Dec 1-Apr 1) I store in garage without water using small heater and grow lamps along with Plumerias and Adeniums (Desert Roses).Average 10-20 nights below 32 F, This 6th year on August 1 all top branches were cut back leaving 8 inch stubs with leaves to increase trunk diameter. Aug 15 trunk diameter at base 9.5 inches and 4 inches at
4 feet. Total height after topping 6 feet. I live in Zone 8b South of Austin Texas USA.
Will the baobab tree live in the desert ?
I received “Baobab Chagall du Sengal” and planted it- it started to produce leaves and after about ten leaves they started to yellow and fall off! I am panicking as it was a precious gift. I had admired the plant in pictures from Senegal and it was brought to NY for me, a plant lover. My apartment is plant filled. What can I do to save it. Its indoors on a west facing windowsill with full afternoon sun but its getting cold here now. Thanks for any information.
The African baobab is a remarkable species. Not only because of it’s size and lifespan but also in the special way it grows multiple fused stems. In the space between these stems (called false cavities) bark grows, which is unique to the baobab.
Thanks for posting an awesome article on the growth of a baobab tree! I have always been curious about these trees and how to grow them. Your article was very enlightening. It would be great to chat more about this topic with someone who is very knowledgeable (and you seem like that person). Thanks for your time, it’s much appreciated :)
I have a little tree I bought in the nursery in Skukuza last year and this year its growing rather fast I must repot it At the moment it sits on my stoep in the sun , But my worry is winter WE have a lot of rain as I am in Cape Town .Must I bring it under the shelter or leave it in the rain.. In the shelter I can always move it into the sun when the sun is shining . Hope fully one day I will be able to plant it into my garden