How to grow a tamarind tree

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Native to tropical Africa, the tamarind tree thrives in warm humid climates. It is grown throughout most of the tropical world for its pods that are filled with a sweet sticky edible substance. In tropical regions, the tamarind tree grows up to 80 feet tall with a graceful spreading canopy.

This tree will grow in the southern regions of the United States where temperatures do not frequently drop below 28F, though growth is usually limited to 25 feet tall.

Dig a hole that is twice as large than the root ball of your tamarind sapling. Select a location that gets full sun and has loamy soil with adequate drainage.

Lay the tamarind sapling on its side next to the hole and, grasping the trunk with one hand, gently work the nursery pot away from the root ball with the other.

Prune off any roots that look damaged or diseased and remove roots that are twisted around the root ball. Rough up the soil on the outside of the root ball with the flat of your hand.

Place the root ball into the hole, keeping the base of the trunk about one inch above the soil line. Add or remove soil from under the root ball until the tamarind sapling is sitting at the right level in the hole.

Push the extra soil back into the hole around the root ball, pressing it down as you go. Smooth out the area and pat it down with the flat of your hand. Add water until the ground is soaked all around the planting hole.

Fertilise once in the spring and again in midsummer using 1/4 of a pound of 6-6-3 fertiliser. Check the package to determine the right application method because it varies from one product to another.

Water young saplings during dry weather when the top four inches of soil feels dry to the touch. Once established, tamarind trees can withstand periods of dry weather without experiencing negative affects.

Spread a four-inch layer of mulch under the tree. Hold the mulch layer back two to four inches from the base of the trunk and extend it out to 12 inches past the tips of the outer branches.

Prune to remove dead wood and any wood that looks damaged. Prune in the spring or fall.