If you want to use your own organic soap, then Growing Soap Nuts is the best approach! Here is everything you need to know about its cultivation and care!
The soap nuts are valued for their berries that have saponin compound, and thanks to its cleansing properties, they are extensively used in soaps, shampoos, and detergents. There are different types of soap nuts, but in India, the most famous one is Sapindus mukorossi, and here’s all the information you need on Growing Soap Nuts!
Botanical Name: Sapindus mukorossi
Other Names: Soapnuts, Soapberries, Soap Nut Shells, Wash Nuts, Reetha, Aritha, Dodan, Doadni
Check out our article on growing Sacred Lotus here
How to Grow Soap Nuts
- Loosen the outer coating of the seeds by rubbing them against sandpaper or any gritty material like a concrete wall.
- Soak the seeds overnight in lukewarm water to ensure better germination.
- Now, fill a pot with a potting mix and plant the seeds an inch deep.
- Keep the plant in the bright but indirect sunlight and water regularly.
- The seeds will germinate in 30-60 days; as the new shoots start appearing, you can re-pot them in a bigger container.
- Choose a sunny spot in your garden and amend the soil using manure.
- Now, dig a hole and plant the seedling along with the rootball.
- It will take 8-9 years for the tree to bear the berries, so you have to be patient!
Note: To get down the time, you can get a 2-3 feet plant from a nursery.
Growing Requirements for Soap Nuts
The tree appreciates full sun to dappled sunlight for optimal growth. But, the saplings should be kept in bright but indirect sunlight initially.
The plant belongs to the subtropical climates, hence prefers slightly moist soil. Once the tree gets mature, it’ll care of its watering needs on its own.
Though it can grow in any soil ranging from clay to loamy, the plant prefers a well-draining, deep and moist soil. You should use a potting mix for starting the seeds or DIY it by mixing equal parts of perlite and peat moss.
Soap Nuts Care
You can fertilize the plant in the growth years using a balanced fertilizer or cow dung manure. For dosage, check the instructions on the label.
Though it doesn’t require much attention, the young tree can be pruned for the shape of your liking.
Uses of Soap Nuts
- Thanks to its insecticidal and detergent properties, soap nuts are used in soaps, shampoos and for removing lice from the scalps.
- The fruit has been used for ages in Ayurveda for treating ailments like migraine, eczema, pimples, epilepsy, and chlorosis.
- The powdered seeds help treat oily skin, skin tan, dental decay, arthritis, and constipation.
- In ancient times, the jewelers used the berries to restore the glittering and removing tarnish from the ornaments.
- The fruit can be further used as an organic surfactant in the oil recovery technique.
How to Use Soapnuts
You can harvest the berries during winters. Remove the seeds and let the shells dry in the full sun. Then, simmer 100g of soapberry shell in 8-10 cups of water for half an hour. Then, after cooling, strain the liquid into a bottle. You can use the liquid after diluting with water as a laundry detergent, hair washing shampoo, and bathing soap.