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Cultivating Cloves
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Cultivating Cloves

Cultivating Cloves

Cultivation

Syzygium aromaticum is an evergreen tree that can grow more than eight meters high. Usually the cultivated varieties only grow to around 5 meters that is still 2-3 times the height of a human. It is native to Indonesia and as a mature tree is a a smooth blueish bark with a grayish-yellow and green foliage color. The trees blossom twice a year starting in July and then again in November. Clove tress can live over a hundred years and are known to be slow growers.  The clove tree has beautiful blooms and will add color to your garden while also attracting bees and polinators with the amazing aroma. 

Open Clove Flower

Can I Grow My Own Cloves?

The clove tree requires very warm weather which never falls below 50° F (10° C). This is why cloves are grown in humid tropical and subtropical climate zones. The tree will die in a cold climate however it is possible to grow a clove tree in a pot if you take special precautions in the winter time. 

CLove buds on their tree

Propagation

When growing cloves from seed be sure to get moist pollinated seeds and plant them before they dry out as dried out seeds are not viable and will not germinate. So plant seeds immediately right on top of the soil. It isn’t needed but it’s ok to dust the seeds with a little soil.  Use rich and loamy soil with lots of organic matter. Good drainage is preferred and your tree will require much watering especially when in the seedling and sapling stages.  After a while you will see lots of little seedlings sprout and start adjusting to the soil. Once they start sprouting quickly and are larger than one inch in height, transfer them to a new large pot that they can grow up into. 

Then water the soil and cover the tray or pot with plastic to keep the germination area moist. Clove Tree grows best in humid environments so always keep this in mind. It prefers a tropical climate and a semi-shaded sun exposure.

It can tolerate brief frosts but temperatures below 32 F can kill the plant. Be careful and cover or bring in the plant when it is too cold. 

Do not over-water. It’s a balancing act getting the water right so pay attention to how the plant react to your watering. Frequent small waterings are best and misting the plant will be highly beneficial. Keep the air humid as much as possible. 

Clove trees require a minimum of 50 inches of rainfall annually and temperatures that never get freezing. However you can replicate this environment if you grow indoors. Do not attempt to grow a clove tree outdoors if you live in a temperate zone. 

Cloves enjoy aged manure and compost and bone and fish meals yearly. In native areas the fertilizer is usually applied around the plant before it begins to rain. You can also use, urea, superphosphate, muriate of potash and potassium sulfate. 

Be careful of rot and wilting and watch out for mealybugs, stem boers, and scales. 

Harvesting

When you get cloves from the store they are dried unopened flowers buds that were harvesting in a timely fashion. It takes six years for a clove tree to start flowering if it’s healthy and enjoying it’s climate and conditions. But the full bearing stage takes 15-20 years. 

The opened buds are picked before they turn pink normally because this is the best way to use the buds as a spice or in other extracts. Be careful not to damage the branches as you cut the unopened flowers from the plant. Once you pick the buds you must dry them until they have lost at least half of their weight. The color of the bud will darken to light and dark browns.

Enjoy!

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