How to Grow Cinnamon
Growing a cinnamon tree (Cinnamomum zeylanicum) takes the concept of edible landscaping to a whole new level. This exotic tree, which comes from Southwest India, is the source of the spice cinnamon. The spice comes from its aromatic bark. Cinnamon trees grow outside year-round in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10 through 12. In colder regions, it grows well as a potted tree, outside in summer and inside through the winter.
Grow cinnamon trees in full sun, ideally in a spot that gets a full 12 hours of direct sun daily. This moisture-sensitive tree needs fast-draining soil. Sand or sandy loam works best. In wet areas or clay soil, the roots are prone to rotting. Space cinnamon trees at least 10 feet apart and 10 feet from other landscape trees, buildings and structures.
Fertilizer and Watering
Fertilize cinnamon trees every four to six weeks from spring through fall with 8-3-9 fertilizer. Use 1/4 cups of fertilizer for each 15 square feet of root zone area.
The root zone starts at the base of the cinnamon tree extending past the canopy spread. It is 1 1/2 times the total diameter of the canopy. To see where the potential root zone is, stand under the outermost branches, then walk out half again the diameter of the canopy. This is the root zone. Measure the area and multiply the length by the width to get the square-foot measurement. For example, a cinnamon tree with a 4-foot-diameter canopy will have a root zone extending 6 feet from the trunk in all directions.
Spread the fertilizer from the drip line -- under the outer branches -- to the edge of the root zone. This concentrates the fertilizer on the feeder roots.
Allow the soil to dry out 2 inches deep between waterings. Then water until the area is damp at least 12 inches deep from the base of the trunk out to the outer root zone area.
Cinnamon trees are frost tender, but that doesn't mean you can't grow them outside of the hardiness zone. In containers, cinnamon remains compact, growing 3 to 8 feet tall. Keep them outdoors in the summer and overwinter the trees as houseplants. You can also grow cinnamon trees in patio planters outdoors all year in USDA hardiness zones 10 through 12.
Grow cinnamon trees in a 12- to 24-inch-diameter planter. A deep pot, 20 inches tall, works well.
Make sure the planter has at least one hole in the bottom for drainage. Cinnamon trees are particularly sensitive to moisture and will rot in a waterlogged pot.
Pot cinnamon in a fast-draining potting mix, such as a mix of equal parts sphagnum peat moss and perlite.
Fertilize every 10 to 12 weeks from later winter through summer and early fall. Select a granular 8-3-9 fertilizer. Use 2 1/2 tablespoons for each 10 inches of pot diameter.
Overwintering Container-Grown Trees
Move cinnamon trees indoors to a bright room in late fall and keep the trees growing in a 60-degree Fahrenheit environment through the winter. Treat cinnamon as an indoor houseplant through the winter. Keep the soil moist by watering when the top 2 inches dry out, but discontinue fertilizing from fall through early winter.
Make sure cinnamon trees are inside before temperatures fall below 40 F because low temperatures can damage these cold-sensitive plants.
Eulalia Palomo has been a professional writer since 2009. Prior to taking up writing full time she has worked as a landscape artist and organic gardener. Palomo holds a Bachelor of Arts in liberal studies from Boston University. She travels widely and has spent over six years living abroad.