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How to Grow Your Own Soapberry Tree

by Michael Koh

Imagine yourself growing your own soap in your backyard!

Soapberry, or soap nut, trees give fruit to a berry which contains a natural, soap-like surfactant called saponins. These berries have been used for hundreds of years by many cultures, if you’d like to learn more about the origins of the soapberry, you can read our article The Origin of Soapberry.  


Soapberry seeds

Soapberry trees are more commonly found in warm temperate climates, as well as tropical regions. They can be found in places like India, China, Hawaii and Florida. Soap nut trees are perennial plants, which means they live for more than two years, and they grow to about 20-30 feet.


Soapberry tree


If you want to nurture yourself (and your family) or put your green thumb to use, follow these easy-to-follow steps to grow your own soapberry tree:

1. First, you must prepare the seed of the soap nut and weaken its coat. Rub the surface of it with fine-grit general purpose sandpaper, then soak it in warm water for 24 hours. The soapberry mala in our store can actually be used for this fun project.


Soapberry mala



2. While you wait, you can begin preparing the pot you will plant the seed in. Keep in mind that this plant grows in warmer climates. Fill your pot with germinating soil, and plant the seed about an inch deep in the soil. We recommend you plant one seed per pot.

3. Make sure to maintain the soil moist, but don’t overdo it. Let the soil dry between each time you water the plant.

4. It usually takes about 1-3  months for the seedlings to germinate in warmer climates. Once the seedling has sprouted, remove the seedling’s root ball from the pot. Choose a spot in your yard where you’d like to plant the seedling and dig a hole deep to spread out its roots with your fingers.

5. Mix the potting soil with the ground soil and saturate the soil with water to reduce any air pockets.

6. To make sure your soapberry sapling stays healthy, you can use fertilizer, being sure to follow the manufacturer’s care instructions. After being planted, it takes about 9-10 years to produce soapberries.




Once your soapberry tree produces the soapberries, you can collect them and leave them out to dry in the sun on a canvas. Before storing or using the berry, remove the seed.


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I have a big soapberry tree in a pot. It’s about 5 years old. We just bought a house and need to plant it. It’s been outside each winter and done well through all the freezes. I think I am in zone 8. I’m in Kerrville Texas.


Hello guys..I live in Australia..I managed to sprout Indian soapberry..but my leaves are dropped completely..I don’t know what is it because of winter?please reply me


For anyone looking to grow one of these in the US, the soap berries from China/India are sub-tropical zones 9-11? The good news is there is some local soap berries that grow here. Particularly the Western Soapberry Tree is suppose to be rather cold hardy and can be grown up to zone 6. Its berries have a similar lather from what I have red and I also read somewhere that it has a closer PH to our natural skin than some of the other varieties.


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