Cloves: Cultivation and Health Benefits
Cloves, a synonym for strong aroma and sweet and bitter taste, which flavor foods, curries, and meats, are found in almost everyone’s kitchen. But did you know that cloves are the flower buds of a tree?
And, the tree is Syzygium aromaticum belonging to the family Myrtaceae.
The name Clove comes from the French “cloud,” meaning nail.
Clove (Syzygium aromaticum) is a tropical evergreen tree belonging to the family Myrtaceae.
Cloves were one of the important spices in the earliest spice trade.
It is the reddish-brown flower buds that are used as a spice. These flower buds, cloves, are used to flavor foods, curries, and meats as they permit a strong aroma, hot and pungent taste.
Although, cloves are available throughout the year owing to different harvest seasons in different countries.
They are believed to be native to the Spice Islands, Indonesia.
Prof. Chen Hualin, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons
The clove flower buds ultimately transition to a bright red color from a pale hue that turns gradually green.
The buds consist of a long calyx having 4 isolated sepals, 4 unopened petals resembling a ball in the center.
The crown of the clove secretes oil glands consisting of all 4 whorls of a flower.
Cloves are generally plucked when they are 1.5-2 cm in length.
Tropical soil does wonders in clove plants.
Cloves thrive in well-drained loamy soil rich in organic matter like peat moss and compost.
Potting mix including sand, clay, and slit does well too.
In addition, deep black soil with high humus content (higher the organic matter content, darker the soil), especially like soil available in the forest region, is best suited for this cultivation.
Since the clove plant is native to tropical regions, it is best to cultivate it in light watering and frequent misting conditions.
Overwatering might result in root rotting.
Climate and Environment
Clove requires a humid climate with a temperature ranging from 20 to 30 degrees Celsius.
Along with humid environmental conditions, annual rainfall of around 150 – 250 cm is also one of its environmental requirements.
Where should I plant my clove?
West or south-facing rooms receive plenty of sunlight which is best suited for cloves cultivation. Besides, places receiving partial shade are also suited for clove cultivation. But the difference is, we have to use twice the seed rate for cultivating in partial shade than in full sunlight conditions.
A good light exposure results in a prayer plant with prosperous green stems and colorful leaves. If the stem becomes unusually long, the plant needs more light. So, if the plant is leggy, move it to an area with the optimum light condition and prune off the leggy stems.
How to plant Cloves?
The part which is used as a spice is what is used as seed. But, it should be used for propagation immediately or within one week after harvest.
Firstly, place the clove seeds directly on the ground surface. The seeds should not be buried under the soil.
After about 10-15 days, the clove seedlings start sprouting.
When the plant is about 9inches tall, transfer it to a pot of 12 inches height where it should be grown for about 6 months.
Again after 6 months, transfer the young plant to a bigger pot to grow for another year.
Finally, you can transplant it outside after about 18-months to 24 months of growing it in a pot.
Syzygium trees start flowering after 6 years of planting when grown in favorable conditions.
To reach the full bearing stage, it will take around 15-20 years.
Insects and Disease:
- Seedling wilt
Symptom: Nearly 5-40% of the seeds tend to die if seedling wilting occurs. The leaves get rid of natural shine, turn pale and ultimately wither before defoliating. The root and collar region show decaying symptoms.
Control: Horticultural oils can be used on perennial and woody ornamentals during the summer but avoid spraying on flowers, which can be damaged.
- Scales and Mealybugs
Symptom: Leaves stunting, chlorosis, defoliation, and wilting.
Control: Spray the mixture of 70% or less solution of isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol and water.
- Root rot
Symptom: Browning and softening of roots occur. If the entire root has become mushy, it is already late to save the plant.
Control: Avoid planting in standing water for a long time. Gently wash the diseased roots and remove the brown-colored parts along with the soft parts with scissors. Spray fungicide like Karathene in the infected areas.
- Leaf spot
Symptom: The spots are brown and tan and present in the foliage region of the plant. Stunting, chlorosis, defoliation, and wilting occur. At times, concentric rings are present.
Control: Remove high soil aeration and over drainage of water should not be done as well. Do not over-fertilize with nitrogen. Avoid over-wetting the leaves and high humidity. If possible, increase the movement of leaves to avoid standing air film wrapping the leaves.
Uses of Cloves
Buds and seeds of cloves can be used as a spice while cooking or garnishing the food with or without crushing.
Besides, drinking water by soaking two cloves overnight can have immense health benefits.
Health Benefits of Cloves
- Rich in anti-oxidants.
- Rich in anti-cancerous chemicals.
- Good in reduction of osteoporosis.
- Better as a bactericide.
- It helps in maintaining blood sugar levels.
- Reduce the risk of liver diseases.
Side effects of cloves
- Ingestion of clove oil in large amounts causes a burning sensation and may impact intestinal microflora.
- Cloves in any form should not be used during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
- Uncontrolled use of large amounts of cloves may cause breathing problems and lung problems.
I hope you have gained insight into things to be considered while growing cloves in your garden. Feel free to share your thoughts and experience of growing cloves in the comment section below. Happy Gardening!