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How To Grow Cardamom from Seeds at Home | Growing Cardamom In Pot

This article will show you how to grow cardamom from seeds in a pot at home in easy way. Growing cardamom at home is not difficult if you follow this detailed guide on growing cardamom at home.

Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum), known as green cardamom or true cardamom belongs to the ginger family. It is one of the most expensive spices in the world.
Cardamom Elettaria cardamomum
Elettaria Cardamomum

Cardamom is native to tropical regions where it grows in very warm and humid climate. It is cultivated in India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam, Guatemala, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Papua New Guinea, Tanzania and in USDA Hardiness Zones 10 and 13 - South Florida, Hawaii and Puerto Rico [1,2].

Guatemala is the largest producer of cardamom in the world, followed by India.
Cardamom is known by several names including Green Cardamom, Indian Cardamom, illaichi, Ceylon Cardamom, small cardamom, Kardamom, Huile Essentielle de Cardamome, etc.

Cardamom is a perennial plant with stems 2 to 4 meters high and erect aromatic leaves. The cardamom rhizomes can live for 10-15 years. The overall plant looks very attractive with beautiful aromatic leaves, so you can have a cardamom plant in your home garden, even if you are unable to grow cardamom flowers seed pods. I am growing cardamom in a pot in Sydney, Australia for the last 3 years.

Types of Cardamom

There are two types of cardamom, green cardamom or true cardamom (genus Elettaria) and the other false cardamom or the black cardamom (genus Amomum costatum). The green cardamom is more aromatic and used in desserts. Both the cardamom types are used as spices.

Growing Cardamom at Home

Cardamom Plant
Cardamom Plant

The true cardamom can be grown in the home garden in areas with tropical climates and elsewhere can be grown as a container plant and moved indoors when the temperature drops.

Cardamom Growing Conditions

Cardamom needs tropical, hot and humid or very humid climates for its proper growth. It needs a temperature between 18 to 35°C [64.4 to 95°F, the annual mean temperature 22°C (71.6°F)], and humidity level near 75%.

The plant will not grow below 17°C (62.6°F).

In cool temperature climates, you can grow cardamom in a pot, which you can move to a greenhouse or indoors when it becomes cold.

Cardamom Propagation


Cardamom can be grown from seeds or from rhizomes.

Cardamom Propagation From seeds: Grow Cardamom from Seeds

  1. You can grow cardamom from seeds, but you will need seeds as fresh as possible, as the seeds are viable for about two years. You may buy green cardamom seeds from a seed store or try from grocery store.
  2. Soak the cardamom seeds in water for 1-2 days. Discard the floating seeds.
  3. Sow the seeds in rich soil about 1/8 inch deep. They will germinate in 2 to 4 weeks.

Cardamom Propagation From Rhizomes or Sucker

Cardamom Rhizome or Sucker
Cardamom Rhizome or Sucker
The easiest way to propagate cardamom is from the division of cardamom rhizomes. For this, cut the rhizome with a sharp disinfected knife and carefully separate it from the plant. It is important to use disease and pest free rhizome.

Position: Where to grow Cardamom

  1. Plant cardamom in a location with partial shade or filtered sunlight under the canopy of a high tree.
  2. Too much sun will cause brown spots on the leaves.
  3. I am growing cardamom in a large pot, which I move when it is sunny or too cold.

Soil For Growing Cardamom

  1. One of the important thing to grow cardamom is the right soil mixture, which should be nutrition rich and should always remain moist, and at the same time water should drain out easily.
  2. Cardamom needs a very rich sandy, loamy and slightly acidic soil (pH 6 – 6.8).  I make the soil mixture as following:
Potting Mix for General Purpose : 30%
Potting Mix for Acidic Plants : 20%
River sand or Perlite: 20%
Compost or cow manure: 30%
Fish and bone powder: A hand full
Please note that the water-clogging clay soil may kill the plant.

Mulching

Apply a thick layer of organic mulch to contain the moisture in the soil and also prevent weeds. I use sugarcane mulch.

Watering: How to water Cardamom Plant

  1. Cardamom plant needs moist soil at all the times. Don’t let the soil to dry out ever, will not tolerate drought.
  2. Increase watering in summer. I water my plant 2 times a day in hot summer.
  3. Misting the leaves is also important in hot summer as it grows under high humid conditions. Spray water on leaves 2-3 times a day in summer.
  4. A low humid environment or underwatering will cause the cardamom plant to change its leaf tips to brown.
  5. In such case increase the water and spray the foliage to increase the humidity.
  6. Do not overwater to avoid root rot. The plant will wilt due to overwatering or water clogging. That is why the proper soil mixture is important.

Fertilizer For Cardamom Plant

Both organic and inorganic fertilizers are good for cardamom.

Apply a fertilizer high in potash (N:P:K = 1:1:2; potassium 2 times of nitrogen and phosphorus) and aged cow manure or compost during the growing season. I mix some fish and bone powder in the soil at the time of planting to grow stronger roots.

Insects and Diseases on Cardamom Plant

Cardamom plants are generally not attacked by pests. However, some of the pests and diseases are:
  1. The pests like thrips, shoot borers and root grubs cause stunted and discoloration leaves and decrease the plant growth and vigour [3]. Use insecticides.
  2. Nematodes cause stunted yellowing leaves and galls on roots and reduction in plant vigor. Check roots for symptoms and if it indicates nematodes, then solarizing soil can reduce nematode population.
  3. Rhizomes rot: Rhizome rot due to fungal disease causes yellowing of plant, discoloration and decay of the rhizome leading to the death of plant. Remove all the infected clumps and rhizomes destroy them. It can be caused by high planting density that prevents aeration or by waterlogged soil.
  4. Cardamom mosaic virus causes pale green stripes on leaves. This disease is transmitted by aphids, remove and destroy affected plants.
  5. Yellowing of leaves indicates sign of low fertilization.

Cardamom Flowering and Harvesting
Cardamom Flower and Pods
Cardamom Flower and Pods

  1. Cardamom starts to bear flower in Spring and fruit after 3 year after planting. The cardamom flowers are tiny white with yellow or red color.
  2. The plant forms long bracts of flowers at the base of the stalks, which form seed pods (fruits).
  3. The seed pods may be harvested in the fall by hand when the pods turn green, dry and easy to break; after 40-45 days after flowering.
  4. Harvest the pods just before they are fully ripe. The ripe pods will easily break from stem.
  5. Begin harvesting at the base of the stem as they will mature first.

Cardamom Storing

  1. Dry the pods for 5 – 7 days after harvesting.
  2. Store the pods in an airtight container in a cool, dry and dark place to be preserved for a long time.

Growing Cardamom in a Container

  1. Cardamom can be grown in a large deep container. However, when the cardamom plants become root bound, divide them because root bound cardamom plants may not be blooming.
  2. Care of Cardamom in Winter
    1. The advantage of growing cardamom in a pot is that you can bring it indoors when temperature drop below 10°C (50°F).
    2. Place the pot indoors in a place where you get about 6 hours of bright indirect light.
    3. You can place the pot in bathroom where the humidity is generally high. Mist them daily in the dry cold months or run a humidifier.
    4. It is better to put the pot on a water filled plate over pebbles. Do not put the pot directly on water-filled tray.

    Watch YouTube Videos on Growing Cardamom from seeds

    how to grow cardamom from seeds youtube video

    References

    1. Nair, K. P. Prabhakaran (2011). Agronomy and Economy of Black Pepper and Cardamom: The "King" and "Queen" of Spices. Elsevier. ISBN 978-0-12-391865-9.
    2. Milian, Spencer L. (29 June 2014), Cardamom – The 3Gs – Green Gold of Guatemala, pdf
3. Nair,M.R.G.K. 1975, Insects and mites of crops in India, Indian Council of Agricultural Research, New Delhi, 404 pp.