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Growing Catha edulis [khat]


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#1 llamabox

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Posted 30 July 2006 - 01:25 PM

I found a couple items on the web which may help some of you.
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Growing Catha edulis
Ghat, Khat, Qat
Posted Image Natural Growing Conditions
Khat is a large, slow growing, evergreen shrub, reaching a height of between 1 and 5 metres, in equatorial regions it may reach a height of 10 metres. It is native to East Africa and Arabia, but is now cultivated in many countries throughout Africa. It grows in arid environments, and once established thrives in full sun at a temperature range of 5-35°C. It will not usually tolerate frosts, and overwatering will cause it to drop leaves and die. In certain areas it is often grown with coffee plants and in irrigated terraces.
Growing from Seed
It has been said that Khat is a difficult plant to grow from seed, but I have not experienced any problems germinating this species. Seeds should be planted in either, horticultural sand, cactus compost, vermiculite, or any mix of these three media. It is important that the choice of growing media is very free draining, as Khat seedlings are prone to damping off fungus, which will quickly kill small seedlings. Plant the seeds about 5mm deep in pots or seed pans, mist the surface until slightly moist, and place in a warm bright place, out of direct sunlight. Mist the surface whenever the soil dries completely. In Summer this may be every day, in Spring it could be every 3 to 5 days. Alternatively, you can water them a bit more thoroughly, and apply Cheshunt Compound with every watering to prevent mould. With both methods, the seeds will probably germinate within a week, if not they may need more/less water, or warmer conditions, or maybe they might just need more time. Once the seeds have germinated avoid direct sunlight. Turn the pots regularly as the seedlings will grow towards the light. Once the seedlings are a 5-10cm tall, they can be transplanted into individual pots.
Potting / Re-potting
I use an equal mix of general purpose house-plant compost and perlite as my potting mix. Perlite provides excellent drainage whilst retaining enough moisture to keep the plant happy. Also, I put a 2cm layer of gravel or broken crocks (terracotta pots) in the base of the pot for extra drainage, and a 1cm layer of cactus top dressing or fish tank gravel on the surface. This helps to prevent the perlite from floating to the surface, cuts down on excessive evaporation, prevents the soil compacting when watering from above, and it looks nice too.
Cuttings
Cuttings are fairly straightforeward, although rarely 100% successful. Cut a 5-20cm length from the tip of the branch. It should be the current years growth, green and pliable, not too woody. Place the cuttings in pots or seed pans, and treat either as freshly germinated seedlings, or freshly transplanted seedlings; with one notable exception. They must be kept dry. If they are kept in a propagator they will not wilt. Water very infrequently. Overwatering will cause mould or stem rot, both of which will quickly kill the cuttings. Keep the cuttings out of direct sunlight until after they show signs of new growth. New growth may take several months.
General Care
Often the young plants will be rather top heavy, with slender stems, so they may bend under their own weight. This can be partly remedied by providing a small cane, or other support. It is important to keep Khat on the dry side, as overwatering will harm these plants. They will quickly loose all their leaves if overwatered, cessation of water will usually remedy this problem. Also, as mentioned above, a free draining soil is essential. Compacted or too rich a soil mix will promote root rot.
Although these plants like to be on the dry side, when young they do need regular water. On average, I'd say I water mine about once a week. The progression from slightly wilting to bone dry leaves is quite rapid with Khat, especially in warm weather. When you see the leaves wilting or looking slightly crisp and dry the plant will need watering immediately.
Generally Khat makes an excellent house-plant. It prefers full sun, but will grow happily in partial shade, and it likes warm, dry conditions - something which our centrally heated houses provide in abundance. It is slow growing, so could be kept for several years as a smallish indoor shrub.
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<dl><dt> Khat cultivation: </dt>
<dd> Try to replicate the conditions of high altitude Ethiopia !
I have had great difficulty growing Khat from seed, however once you have a plant growing it is easy to take cuttings.
Catha edulis is adapted to a wide range of soil conditions (near Harar, where most of the Khat is grown, the soil is said to be neutral to slightly acidic despite being high in calcium and low in nitrogen) - it is suggested that water supply is more important than soil type, particularly in the early growing period.
Catha edulis does not tolerate poor drainage and will not grow well in wet soils.
It will grow in full sun, partial sun, or even shade.
In Ethiopia Khat is not grown from seed, but is vegetatively propagated from 12" suckers or branches near the ground level, and sometimes by cuttings taken from branches (although these do not root so readily).
Plants are set out when the rainy season begins.
The top parts will be cut back by frost but Khat plants will grow back from the roots - unless they are frozen too. Catha edulis is adapted to a wide range of soil conditions, ranging from light, sandy to heavy black. Water supply, however, seems to be more important than soil type, particularly in the early growing period.
The entire area of Alemaya, Combolcha, Harar and the eastern extremity of the Chercher Highlands is hilly, and erosion is severe, so chat is grown on the hillsides, which are usually terraced, while lower lands are devoted to sorghum, corn, vegetables and grazing.
Granite is the prevailing parent material, along with limestone and sandstone. The soils are red or reddish-brown, neutral to slightly acidic, and high in calcium and low in nitrogen. A good response in plant growth is realised from fertiliser applications. Nitrogen applications increase the vegetative growth of chat, and thus increase the yield.
Chat can be grown in dry areas provided there is irrigation, but it does not tolerate poor drainage and does not do well in wet soils.
Sorghum, corn and sweet potatoes are generally intercropped with chat; this is possible as the chat trees are so spaced that they leave much area between plants. The preparation of the seed bed for intercropping is in a sense a cultivation of the chat field, so the chat benefits.
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#2 Hippie3

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Posted 30 July 2006 - 04:13 PM

thx
very timely

#3 Guest_durban_poison_*

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Posted 30 July 2006 - 06:02 PM

i have gone through 50+ khat seeds to no avail. i have given up on starting from seeds. im hoping to find a cutting eventually.

#4 Bobcat

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Posted 30 July 2006 - 11:08 PM

Are C. edulis seeds illegal in the US?

Thats probably a dumb a question since the plant is (right?).

#5 llamabox

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Posted 31 July 2006 - 07:15 AM

Maybe not because BBB and Basement S sells seeds of this plant.

#6 Guest_durban_poison_*

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Posted 31 July 2006 - 01:04 PM

mine were from BBB, maybe i will try the basement although there seeds probably come from the same place.

#7 SharkieJones

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Posted 31 July 2006 - 01:40 PM

So according to the article rooting out in water is out? What do they mean by don't get wet?

#8 llamabox

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Posted 31 July 2006 - 03:53 PM

It is a woody stemed plant, so it will drown in water. So probably use a well draining cactus type mix, or high perlite soillless mix. But I would stay away from peat based soil as they tend to hold alot of water.

"Granite is the prevailing parent material, along with limestone and sandstone. The soils are red or reddish-brown, neutral to slightly acidic, and high in calcium and low in nitrogen. A good response in plant growth is realised from fertiliser applications. Nitrogen applications increase the vegetative growth of chat, and thus increase the yield.
Chat can be grown in dry areas provided there is irrigation, but it does not tolerate poor drainage and does not do well in wet soils."

#9 golly

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Posted 31 July 2006 - 04:22 PM

Good stuff llama...i maybe tempted to give some seeds a try...
The description of the effects are quite appealing to me , especially as i couldn't grow enough to become dependent on it....

#10 SharkieJones

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Posted 31 July 2006 - 09:38 PM

So would you suggest moistening some cactus mix and putting the cutting in that?

#11 Hippie3

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Posted 31 July 2006 - 09:50 PM

one would think a non-rooted cutting would wilt pretty quickly if treated like a cactus

#12 llamabox

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Posted 31 July 2006 - 09:55 PM

Correct Hip, I just spray my hardwood cuttings a couple times a day with a mister of water.

#13 SharkieJones

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Posted 01 August 2006 - 01:43 PM

Can you describe the misting process that you use for your cuttings Llama?

#14 Hippie3

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Posted 01 August 2006 - 01:45 PM

underside of leaves often best spot

#15 llamabox

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Posted 01 August 2006 - 01:54 PM

Hip has got it. The under side will (transpire more or absorb more?). But this is the best area.

I use a tray with a clear dome for small cuttings/seedlings, and a 10gal aquarium for large cuttings and grafts.
I mist the inside of the clear dome and place over the tray. The cuttings need some ventilation so a couple of small holes in the dome will usually work.

I remove the dome and mist the cuttings 2 - 3 times a day. This keeps the cuttings from drying out and also changes the air under the dome. I keep cuttings between 72 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. To hot or cold will inhibit root growth.

I have seen people convert old Marthas to clone closets as well.

#16 SharkieJones

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Posted 01 August 2006 - 01:55 PM

What about lighting? Full or partial sunlight? Also are the cuttings in any kind of growing medium?Would a seed mat work for the temps? Are the cuttings just sitting in the tray?

#17 llamabox

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Posted 01 August 2006 - 02:07 PM

Posted Image

I use trays like this. Or 4"X4" pots with zipp-lock bags over the top. And a soil mix of compost/topsoil/perlite.
My cuttings sit in a south/east bay window untill roots are seen growing out of the bottom, or they start stretching quite a bit. Then they are placed outside in shade and slowley moved into more sun depending on their needs.
The seed heat mat will help with rooting yes. As well as a rooting gell/hormone.

#18 SharkieJones

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Posted 02 August 2006 - 05:06 PM

I got my cutting today. However the cuttings are taller than the dome. I have them in some moist cactus mix under a garbage bag. In partial sunlight in a stifling house. Any advice?

#19 Hippie3

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Posted 02 August 2006 - 05:13 PM

cut a 2 liter bottle for a dome ?

#20 SharkieJones

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Posted 02 August 2006 - 05:19 PM

Yeah I might do that. Or I can finally put together that greenhouse that I won back in March and use it.




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