How to grow cardamom

Binomial Name: Elettaria cardamomum

Cardamom is among the more popular aromatic herbs used today, with the seeds adding a uniquely sweet quality to many popular commercial beverages and other products. More traditionally, this botanical has been enjoyed in its native India for thousands of years in a wide array of dishes, deserts and teas. Cardamom was so revered in Scandinavia that following the opening of trade routes between the two regions, it quickly came to define the flavor of many traditional Nordic breads and sweets.

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Perennial (zones 10-13)

14 days at 75° F

Rich, mildly acidic, loamy

Steady, low intensity

Growing Guide
Elettaria cardamomum is native to tropic regions, and can grow to heights of 10′ or more, with the tall stems showing long, alternate leaves.

Cardamom is native to tropical regions, and should only be grown outdoors in hardiness zones 10-13, where minimum temperatures approximately 35 degrees or higher. It can be grown with care indoors or in a greeenhouse in zones 9 and lower, or overwintered carefully if grown in a large, deep container that can be moved indoors as needed.

Cardamom can reach heights of ten feet or more by the third year.

Prefers a rich, loamy, slightly acidic soil with a pH approximately 6.1-6.6. For best results, fertilize or amend soil with minerals phosphorus and potassium.

To sow, the smaller seeds should be sown in a light but rich starting medium buried shallowly beneath the surface of the soil (approximately 1/8")

Cardamom requires a steady supply of moisture and will not tolerate drought. If growing in a greenhouse, it should be kept humid and maintained carefully. Cardamom is not tolerant of cold, but should be kept in a location with many hours of partially occluded sunlight.

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How to grow cardamom

Cardamom is a plant in the ginger family. It is native to tropical regions, and the seeds are often used in Indian cooking. In order to grow cardamom, its native tropical environment should be duplicated as closely as possible. The plant needs moist soil in a warm environment with filtered sunlight. Cardamom plants will not survive in cool environments, but they are easily adapted to growing in containers placed in warm locations. Specific fertilizers also encourage growth.

These plants do best in locations with temperatures at a constant 72 degrees Fahrenheit (22 degrees Celsius). They can survive in slightly warmer temperatures, but they do not tolerate cooler environments. In order to grow a cardamom in cooler locales, it should be planted in a container that is kept indoors. An ideal location for a cardamom plant is in a bathroom, where it will benefit from the warmth and high humidity.

Cardamom plants can grow up to 12 feet (3.6 meters), so any container used to grow them needs to be able to handle a large plant. The container should be placed in an area that receives filtered or indirect sunlight as cardamom plants will not thrive in direct sun. When planting a cardamom outdoors, it needs a location that is constantly shaded. The best soil in which to grow a cardamom is a rich soil that holds moisture as these plants like their roots to be constantly wet. The soil should be mildly to strongly acidic.

Cuttings or seedlings should be planted in the soil at the same depth they were previously grown. Seeds should be planted 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) deep. The soil should be thoroughly moistened after planting. Cardamom seeds are very slow to germinate and may take up to two months to sprout.

Once planted, the soil around the cardamom plant needs to be watered often. The soil should never be allowed to become dry. Foliage growth can be encouraged by fertilizing the plant with a high-nitrogen, low-potassium fertilizer. Indoor plants should be fertilized less often than outdoor plants.

The leaves, sometimes used for wrapping foods, can be harvested at any time. Cardamom seeds are used as a spice in cooking. The cardamom plants must be three years old before they begin producing their signature seed pods. The seeds are removed from the pods after the pods have dried. The pods can be left on the plant to dry or removed and placed on paper towels to dry more quickly.

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Discussion Comments

Thanks for the detailed post. One of my favorite spices is Cardamom. It can be used in both sweet and spicy dishes and adds a lot of flavor to them.

I recently purchased a jar of cardamon seeds but once I got them home I realized I didn’t really know what to do with them. Is anyone out there a cardamon expert? Do I use them whole or am I supposed to crush them up? And if I do crush them up, what is the easiest way to do that? Thanks! whiteplane August 25, 2011

I have a good friend who has a large atrium right in the center of her house. She has four different cardamon plants growing in her atrium and all of them are over 10 feet tall.

This is a striking sight but more than that it gives her entire house the aroma of cardamon. I personally think it is kind of overpowering but she swears she loves it. I guess you would have to to keep that many plants around. backdraft August 24, 2011

I love to cook Indian food and I’ve found that I get the best flavor and value by growing my own cardamon seeds.

It took me a while before I was able to get a successful crop. I live in the south and assumed it would be warm enough but I still have to grow mine indoors.

I lost a few plants in the beginning trying to get the soil composition right and the watering schedules.

But once I got the hang of it it started growing like crazy and now it produces far more seeds than I can use in my cooking. I have found that these are a lot more aromatic than anything you can find in the store and I don’t pay a thing.

How to grow cardamom

Growing cardamom takes time and patience, as plants take 3 years to reach maturity for harvest and can be finicky to grow. Grow more quickly and easily using rhizomes, or sow germinated seeds shallowly in your garden in fertile soil and partial shade. Keep cardamom plants watered thoroughly, misting plants as needed to replicate their natural, forest environment.

Harvest cardamom flowers for oils when seed capsules turn green, and harvest the seed capsules when they are dry and break easily. Gently remove seeds from broken capsules and store them in an airtight container in a dry, cool, dark place.

What is Cardamom Used For?

Cardamom is an has both culinary and medicinal uses. It’s an Indian-native shrub with relation to ginger, and is known as the “Queen of the Spices” to its Indian people. The black seeds of cardamom are used a spice that can be difficult to describe, but one thing is for sure: it provides an exceptionally unique taste to dishes.

The seeds can also be used as a palate cleanser between meal courses or as an after-meal mouth freshener. Arab-speaking nations use the seeds to grind to make a unique-tasting coffee, and it has become a traditional addition to many Nordic breads and sweets.

Cardamom has notable medicinal properties, making its oil one of the most popular. Its oils have valuable anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic properties that can curb common body aches and pains and aid in the digestive processes. It can also help treat ailments like bad breath, heart disease, sinusitis, constipation or diarrhea, and more.

Growing Cardamom from Seed or Rhizome

Cardamom can be grown from seed or rhizome, which are the root-like pieces of the cardamom plant that grow underground.

Balcony Garden Web suggests growing cardamom from rhizome, as it is usually easier than growing from seed. You can do this by using a sharp knife to cut the rhizome from the harvested cardamom plant. Ensure that the rhizome isn’t affected by disease from the mother plant, or it can transfer to the new plant. Only use rhizomes that have at least two growing stems.

Seeds take two to three months to germinate, and if not cared for properly, may never do so. To grow from seeds, first wash the seeds thoroughly in warm water to remove the coating. Allow them to dry fully, but keep them out of the sun.

Place an empty glass jar on a tray with a few inches of cold water. Put the seeds in the jar and allow the jar to sit in the cold water until it’s cold to the touch. Pour a nitric solution of 2.5% over the seeds and stir. Allow to sit for a couple of minutes, and drain the solution.

Rinse the seeds thoroughly in warm water in a strainer, then put them in a bowl with lukewarm water overnight. Make sure your garden area is prepared so you can plant them directly into your garden the following morning.

Preparing Your Garden and Planting Cardamom

Cardamom is a finicky plant, and needs the right conditions to thrive. The plants grow best in outdoor tropical conditions: humid, hot, and partially sunny. You may be able to grow cardamom indoors if you have a proper lighting and heat set up, or you can grow it in a greenhouse.

Cardamom needs partial shade or filtered sunlight, as it grows best under the shade of taller trees in its natural environment. Prepare a spot with rich, well-draining soil with a slightly acidic pH of 6.1 to 6.6.

Place seeds slightly below the surface of the soil, several inches apart. You can place a few seeds in each hole for better chance at germination, and thin out plants later, if needed. Water thoroughly after planting.

Caring for Cardamom

WildFilmsIndia shows how cardamom is cultivated in its native land:

Cardamom takes more care than many other things in your garden, especially in terms of watering. Keep plants well-watered, and mist the plants if needed to keep them slightly cooled.

If you live in a location with cold winters, you’ll want to plant cardamom in containers so you can move them indoors for the winter, as they won’t tolerate cold temperatures or freeze. Make sure they are in a location where they’ll receive at least 6 to 8 hours of filtered sunlight, like that from partially-opened window blinds or shades.

The Spice Series suggests feeding your cardamom plants bi-weekly with fish emulsion or phosphorus and potassium as needed. These help provide optimal nutrients for your cardamom to thrive.

Common Diseases

Since cardamom is finicky with its water and sunlight needs, it can be difficult not to overwater the plants or give them too little sun. In these conditions, though, cardamom can develop several diseases caused by bacteria and fungi that reproduce in warm, watery conditions.

Capsule rot causes lesions on cardamom plants, making the plant wilt and producing a pungent odor. A fungus caused by overwatered, poorly draining soil lays dormant until it activates in optimal warm, wet weather conditions. If your plants suffer from capsule rot, give the plants less shade and more sun, and bump down the watering schedule slightly.

Damping-off, or rhizome rot, can also kill off your cardamom plants by the fungus that thrives in similar conditions as capsule rot. Remove any infected plants and rhizomes, and treat the garden area with a fungicide.

Harvesting and Storing Cardamom

Cardamom can take about three years to grow to maturity, producing its seed-containing capsules. You can harvest the flower buds when the seed capsules turn green to dry or extract oils from. Dry them on screens for 7 to 10 days, turning them frequently.

Once seed capsules dry out and break easily, you can harvest them from the plant. Carefully break open the seed capsules and shake them on a screen to remove the seeds over a bowl. You can store the seeds in an airtight container in a dry, cool location away from sunlight.

How to grow cardamom

Aromatic species of the Zingiberaceae, or ginger, family produce a coveted fruit known as cardamom. Cardamoms grow naturally on Asian jungle floors but in the United States, you can raise this “queen of the spices” indoors. Growing cardamom from a cutting requires some effort — growing this fussy spice takes skill. Cardamoms like everything in moderation, except humidity; the higher the better. Grow cardamom in a hothouse or a draft-free humid corner indoors.

Fill a 10-inch planter with all-purpose potting soil. Use a planter with several drain holes. Place the planter over a pebble-filled saucer. Spray the pebbles with water.

Swirl the center of the soil with your finger and place the plant in the hole. Scoop the dirt up around the base of the plant.

Water the plant with distilled water after planting, then once daily. Keep the soil moist but not dripping wet. Spray the cardamom with a mister to add humidity. Cut back on water in the winter; only water every other day.

Position the planter in a warm spot out of direct sunlight. Cardamoms prefer shade. Choose a temperature-controlled room away from windows and doors. The ideal temperature for this plant is 80 degrees Fahrenheit but 72 to 80 F is acceptable.

Fertilize the plant twice a month using a high-nitrogen, low-potassium houseplant fertilizer.

How to grow cardamom

Cardamoms are aromatic seeds used as a seasoning in drinks, confectionary, cakes, desserts, pickles, and sauces. Since you can use cardamom on a variety of food items, cardamom is one of the widely used spices. Cardamom originally belongs to India, however, now it can be grown almost everywhere. You can grow cardamom from the seedling that germinates from the root of adult cardamom plant or from the seeds of cardamom. If you want to grow cardamom from seeds, here is an easy to follow process.

You have two options for seeds, one, you take out seeds from the pods and plant these seeds; two, you buy seeds from agro center online or offline. In terms of germination, store-bought seeds are better compared to the seeds you take out from cardamom from your kitchen cabinet. You don’t know how old the cardamom you bought from the grocery store is. You bought these cardamoms as a spice and they are good as a spice and might have low or no germination. Furthermore, grocery bought cardamom is also processed or chemically treated, thus, they have poor germination. Therefore, if you want to grow cardamom, you better buy seeds from agro store. Having said that it is still ok to try growing cardamom from your grocery bought cardamoms.

Choose cardamoms that have tight pods. Take out seeds and separate seeds. Choose bigger and darker seeds. Smaller and lighter seeds may not germinate.

Cardamom seeds are coated with hard and sticky material. Due to this outer layer, cardamom seeds have low germination. You need to remove the outer layer in cardamom seeds while planting. You can remove this outer layer in two different ways, one, you soak the seeds in washroom cleaner for 10-15 minutes; two, you rub seeds on sandpaper until the inner white layer is exposed. If you are choosing the second method to remove the outer layer of the seed, you will also have t soak the seeds in water for 10-15 minutes. By the way, you can still plant the seeds without removing the outer layer but you have to soak seeds for 10-15 minutes before planting.

Fill seedling tray with coco peat. Alternatively, you can also use gardening soil. However, when you are using coco peat germination is faster as the coco peat retains moisture for longer duration. Plant one seed on one hole and cover the seeds with a thin layer of coco peat or soil. In case you have treated the seeds with washroom cleaner, rinse with water before planting. If you have bought seeds from agro store, you can soak the seeds in water for 10-15 minutes and then plant directly. You do not have to remove the layer from the seeds.

After planting the seeds, water the seedling tray and place the seedling tray where it gets warm temperature and bright light. Cardamom seeds need warm temperature and bight light to grow well.

It takes almost 30-35 days for cardamom seeds to germinate. Once the seeds sprouts, you will have to wait 45-50 more days for the seedling to be transferred to your garden or pots. Before cardamom seeds are ready to be transplanted or repotted, you will have to add liquid fertilizer and water time to time. You will have to wait until the seedlings are 5-6 inches tall before you can plant the seedling in your garden or transfer to a container.

When you pluck seedling from the seedling tray, you will see a bulb like thing on the area that separates the root and shoot. This bulb like structure will regenerate another cardamom plant once the plant becomes adult. You can then separate the seedling and plant it somewhere else.

After you pull seedlings from the seedling tray, plant them in your garden or in containers. When you are planting in your garden, choose an area that gets good sunlight and also has a good drainage. If you are planting in a container, keep the container outdoor so that it gets warm temperature and bright light.

A culinary spice native to India and Sri Lanka, cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum) makes clumps of stalks that grow from 6 to 15 feet tall in their native habitat. Those plants produce lance-shaped leaves and 1 1/2-inch flowers with green upper petals and white lips striped with purple veins. They are followed by green pods containing seeds which are ground to make the spice. Hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10 to 13, the herb can flourish as a shorter nonflowering houseplant too, but attempts to grow it from grocery store seeds are likely to fail.

Selecting Cardamom

Grocery store cardamom seeds are often harvested before their pods break open, so some of the seeds will be too immature to germinate. Also, their viability begins to decline about two weeks after they are picked, and they may have been fumigated with irradiation, ethylene oxide or steam, which could adversely affect germination as well. For the best results, therefore, you should acquire fresh and untreated cardamom seeds from a seed seller rather than from your grocery store.

Sowing Cardamom

After placing the seeds in a clean container, poor hot water over them. Allow them to soak in that water for one to two days before planting them. Fill a pot that contains drainage holes with a combination of one part seed-starting mix and one part sand. Sow your seeds on the surface of that mix, about 3/4-inch apart and cover them with 1/4 inch of damp sand. You can then top the pot with plastic wrap, to keep the mix and sand moist, placing it in an area where temperatures remain between 70 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

Sprouting Cardamom

Cardamom seeds usually are slow to germinate, so you probably won’t see sprouts until about a month later. However, their emergence can occur at any point from two weeks to three months after the seeds were planted. At that point, move them to a windowsill where they will receive sun for only part of the day or bright, indirect light. Alternatively, you can place them under a grow light, preferably near one of the ends, where the illumination is dimmer than in the center.

Supporting Cardamom

As your seedlings grow, keep their soil damp and feed them once every two weeks with a liquid kelp plant food such as 0-0-1, adding 2 tablespoons of it to each 1 gallon of water. After about five or six months, when the seedlings each have four leaves, transplant them into individual 4-inch pots of potting soil.

Cardamom plant at their native place grow up to height of 3 to 4 Feet with the canopy of leaves over the plant and the flower with white color looks beautiful with the strip of red or yellow, they grow very well over the time and produce the cardamom after the flower get dry in form of capsules and then the cardamom seeds are being consumed by us in form of spices, meanwhile we can grow cardamom from seeds if they are freshly harvested.

How to Grow Cardamom form seeds :

1) Soil to grow Cardamom from seeds :

Soil must be loose enough to let water go from top to bottom as every root must get water to maintain health of plant.

Soil mixture must include Sand in certain ratio so that roots get enough aeration and water drainage is on a fast process and does not hold water for longer period to get better development of roots and non formation of fungus which can destroy the new roots.

2) Sunlight :

3) watering :

Grow Cardamom plant from seeds love maintain moisture in soil for development of leaves which can grow very long and which give energy to cardamom plant for their overall development so if plant is kept on the dry side then leaves will clearly show the sign of burning and falling of or look dull.

If excess water is given then cardamom plant will shed leaves and cannot survive so maintain water is to be given to cardamom plant or seeds germination in pot

4) Propagation :

5) Fertilizer :

6) Insecticides :

Generally the cardamom plant doesn’t get attack of insects but in certain condition it can be damage by root rot problem so one must spray fungicide on cardamom plant and also in the roots system, as cardamom roots store lots of water in it so fungus is main problem always try to handle plant very delicately and try to keep on dry side of soil.

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How to grow cardamom

Sprouted seeds have a much higher vitamin content than unsprouted seeds. Sprouts are also easy to grow at home, even during winter. Cardamom is a popular spice with a somewhat peppery but not hot flavor. It has small seeds, which are edible and delicious as sprouts. Sprout cardamom seeds in a jar or on damp paper towels. The paper towel method requires fewer materials, but seeds grown with this method are more likely to have mildew problems if not eaten immediately after they sprout.

Sprouting in a Jar

Purchase clean cardamom seeds to ensure safe sprout production; most cardamom seeds are clean when they are sold as a spice. Ask if the seeds are safe for consumption and whether they have been treated with any toxic chemicals.

Put about 1/4 cup of cardamom seeds in the bottom of a mason jar. Black cardamom seeds are larger than green cardamom seeds, so a larger volume of black seeds will produce the same amount of spouts as a smaller volume of green seeds. If you’re using green cardamom or a smaller jar, you might only need a tablespoon of seeds. Adjust the quantity so that an even layer of seeds covers the bottom of the jar.

Cover the top of the jar with fine cheesecloth, mesh screen, or a piece of nylon stocking. Make sure the screen or fabric is fine enough to function as a strainer for the seeds. Use a rubber band to secure the covering to the mouth of the jar.

Soak the seeds in lukewarm water for 12 to 24 hours.

Pour the water out through the screen or fabric on the top of the jar, keeping the seeds in the jar.

Rinse the seeds twice with cool water.

Tip the jar on its side or upside down so that the water can drain freely.

Rinse the seeds daily with room temperature water to keep them from fermenting or becoming mildewed.

Sprouting on Paper Towels

Line a plastic container with a damp paper towel.

Spread a thin layer of cardamom seeds on the paper towel.

Cover with a second damp paper towel.

Sprinkle water on the seeds whenever they seem dry.

Eat the sprouts when they are very young to prevent them from sitting around for long enough to become mildewed.