Native to southeast Asia and Australia, the Indian mulberry bush (Morinda citrifolia) is an evergreen shrub now commonly referred to by its Hawaiian moniker, “noni.” Noni has naturalized in many warm climates and is now found throughout the tropics and in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 11 through 12. Noni can be propagated from seed or by cuttings. Cuttings take less time to produce a viable plant but the resulting offspring may not be as disease-resistant as plants grown from seed. Seed propagation takes more time but produces the healthiest offspring.
Propagating From Seed
Collect a ripe fruit that has fallen from the tree for seed collection. Ripe fruit is soft and translucent white in color. Choose fruit from a healthy tree that bears large fruit or has other desirable characteristics.
Break up the ripe fruit and place it in a household blender. Pulse the blender several times, allowing it to run for only a few seconds a time. This breaks up most of the pulp on the fruit and scarifies the seeds at the same time.
Place the contents of the blender on a screen with holes that are smaller than the seeds and place the screen in the sink. Run water over the seeds while rubbing them against the screen to remove the remaining pulp.
Sow the seeds in a seed starting tray filled with a potting medium that is half perlite and half peat moss. You can also use a mix that is two parts perlite, one part vermiculite and one part potting soil. Sprinkle the seeds on top of the soil and then cover them with a 1/2-inch layer of the growing medium.
Water the seeds gently immediately after planting and place them in a location where they receive light shade or full sun. Maintain a soil temperature of 105 degrees Fahrenheit using an under-tray heat mat.
Transplant the seedlings into small containers as soon as they have germinated and sprouted four leaves. Germination of scarified seeds typically takes between three and four week but can take significantly longer. Use containers that are at least 5 inches deep and filled with a heavier growing medium comprising 3 parts potting mix and 1 part perlite or vermiculite. Keep the young seedlings partially shaded for one to two months and then move them to full sun.
Feed seedlings once a month with a balanced, rapid-release fertilizer, such as 14-14-14. Begin fertilizing after the plants have been transplanted from the seed starting tray and into their own containers.
Plant the young noni seedlings outdoors in full sun when they have stems have become woody. Noni is usually ready for outdoor plating nine to 12 months after germinating if desired.The plant can also be container grown if you prefer or live in a cool climate.
Propagating from Cuttings
Cut a healthy stem that is 8 to 16 inches long from a healthy noni plant. Check the wound to make sure there is sap flowing from the cut. If not, discard the cutting and take a new one from a different plant or a different location on the parent plant.
Plant the cutting in a pot that is at least 5 inches deep and filled with a soil mix consisting of three parts potting mix and one part vermiculite or perlite. If desired, dip the tip of the cutting in rooting hormone first. Rooting compound is not crucial but encourages the plant to root more quickly. Water the cutting immediately after planting.
Place the cutting in a partially shaded location an use a heat mat to maintain a soil temperature between 100 and 105 degrees Fahrenheit.
Move the cutting into full sun once it has rooted and begin fertilizing it monthly with a 14-14-14 rapid-release granular fertilizer.
Transplant the noni into your garden when it has begun to develop a woody stem or continue growing as a container plant, if desired..