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How to Grow a Clove Plant

Giroflier et clous de girofle image by Frédéric LEVIEZ from

Clove trees are tropical evergreens native to the Moluccas Islands of Indonesia, where vast clove forests were sustained by the local natives’ custom of planting a clove sapling at the birth of every new child. Their aromatic dried flower buds have been prized as a spice for more than 2000 years. Clove trees grow up to 60 feet tall and begin to bear eight to 10 years after planting, but will not reach full bearing for 20 to 30 years. They require warm temperatures, rich, moist soil, ample moisture and can be propagated from short-lived seeds in late summer.

Soak ripe, red clove fruit in tap water for 24 hours, and then rub the fruit vigorously with sand to remove the outer skin. Remove the fresh seeds from the fruit, rinse off any pulp and soak them in tap water for three days, changing the water daily.

Drain and sow seeds immediately, spaced 2 inches apart and about 1/2 an inch deep, in 4-inch pots filled with well draining potting mix. Plant at least three times as many seeds as you want plants because germination rates are generally low.

Water the pots thoroughly at planting time, and place them in a warm, shaded place. Keep the soil consistently moist until sprouts appear, in four to five weeks.

Transfer the seedlings to 2-gallon pots filled with organic potting mix when they are 6 inches tall. Grow them in a partially shaded place and continue watering regularly.

Plant your clove saplings outdoors in rich, well drained, fertile soil in sun or partial shade when they are 3 to 4 feet tall. Irrigate regularly, especially in the summer months.

Dig a 6-inch deep, circular well around the planting hole, about 5 feet away from the trunk. Apply 10 to 20 lbs.of composted manure in mid-summer to each tree and irrigate well. Work in 1/2 oz. of potash and 2 oz. of phosphorous to each tree in May and again in September.


Avoid planting clove trees in wet soggy soils because this causes them to bear poorly.

Spread a thick layer of organic mulch beneath clove trees to reduce weeds and retain moisture.

Harvest mature, but unopened clove buds and dry them in the sun for four days until the flower stem turns dark brown to use them as a spice.

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