Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Cardamom
Elettaria cardamomum

Family: Zingiberaceae
Genus: Elettaria (el-eh-TAR-ee-uh) (Info)
Species: cardamomum (kar-duh-MO-mum) (Info)

4 vendors have this plant for sale.

42 members have or want this plant for trade.

Edible Fruits and Nuts
Tropicals and Tender Perennials

36-48 in. (90-120 cm)
4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)
6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)
8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)

Unknown - Tell us

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Partial to Full Shade


Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Mid Spring

Grown for foliage

Other details:
This plant is suitable for growing indoors

Soil pH requirements:
5.1 to 5.5 (strongly acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing the rootball

Seed Collecting:
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds
Seed does not store well; sow as soon as possible

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By henryr10
Thumbnail #1 of Elettaria cardamomum by henryr10

By labama
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By ceejaytown
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By passiflora07
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By palmbob
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9 positives
3 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive freddy0808 On Dec 22, 2013, freddy0808 from Pepeekeo, HI wrote:

I got a few fresh pods at a seed exchange. It took several weeks for the seeds to germinate, at least 90%, and I have just potted them up. At least for sure, I know they are the real thing!
The seedlings are very attractive, even cute.
I suspect it is necessary to obtain FRESH seed in order to propagate them successfully.

Neutral laurellily On Jun 29, 2013, laurellily from Davis, CA wrote:

A few years ago, I managed to grow green cardamom from seeds that I had purchased for cooking. I knew it was a long shot, but I figured that using culinary seeds was the only way I would be sure I had the right plant. Out of few dozen pods worth of seeds, four finally germinated (6-12 months)!

I kept the plants in ceramic self-watering African violet pots for about three years and they grew to be about two feet tall, although they were never robust. They were outside in the summer, and inside during the winter. I don't have any pictures but they looked a lot like the picture posted by palmbob, and had a velvety, delicately fuzzy feel on the underside of the leaves. I almost cried when they died after I moved here!

I am about to try growing them again.

Neutral KanapahaLEW On Dec 17, 2012, KanapahaLEW from Alachua, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

Tom Wood, a noted Zingiber authority, told me that if the leaves are fragrant, you don't have Elettaria. I obtained one a few years ago by mail-order from a nursery in Hawaii. In Florida I have never seen anything except Alpinia nutans offered for sale as "true" cardamom. Alpinia nutans is considered a type of amomum (see the DG article, whose seeds do indeed have a culinary use for their flavor, but it's not the same flavor as Elettaria.

Positive pgcarroll On Mar 21, 2010, pgcarroll from Belleair, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

Our four-year-old plant is about 3' tall and has spread to about 5' in diameter. I whittled it back into shape last fall (this was not difficult at all). Last year was the first year we had the pods containing cardamom seeds; just a few pods, but they contained at least 20 seeds that I ground with a mortar and pestle and used in cookies. Despite the comment that says this is not cardamom, the seeds sure tasted like cardamom. The leaves, which are aromatic when crushed, are long and glossy green. It has the appearance of a ginger, but much shorter.

Positive deserthackberry On Feb 5, 2007, deserthackberry from Tucson, AZ (Zone 9b) wrote:

I've had the same plant for over twenty years, re-potting it from time to time. In Tucson outdoors, it does ok in the heat and usually struggles a bit more in a cold winter. Brought it inside this year with the coldest temps in a very long time. It has gotten quite lovely in a sunny eastern window, but still under 12 ". How can we get a definitive id and correct the listing if it is indeed incorrect? When bought, I was given the info from (Richter's?) that it would probably never bloom. dh

Neutral ineedacupoftea On Oct 28, 2006, ineedacupoftea from Denver, CO wrote:


If you bought a plant with a tag that says "Cardamom: Elettaria cardamomum," chances are great that

Perhaps the widest misidentification in horticulture, the majority of cardamom plants sold in the US, are, in fact the Cinnomon Ginger, Alpinia nutans.
Don't feel bad, I've lived under this misconception for years, giving away numerous starts of mis-tagged plants!

The differences are obvious and easy to see:
>Alpinia nutans: Glossy, aromatic leaves on 3' or smaller plants. Rarely blooms, but flowers are on the end of a leafy stalk. Easy-going plant.

>Elettaria cardamomum: Fuzzy, up to 10' tall plants with flowers on short stalks along the ground. Fairly rare in ornamental cultivation.

Positive ceejaytown On Feb 24, 2006, ceejaytown from The Woodlands, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

I have been growing cardamom ginger since 1997, starting out with one small plant. I now have several cardamom gingers, and have given many away. Mine grow in full sun and shade. It doesn't seem to matter. Lots of water, little water - again, it doesn't seem to matter. They grow quickly from small plants to large plants - within a season or two. Mine have never bloomed, but I love their mounding form, and the fragrance of the leaves. Their leaves sustain freeze burn damage at 32 degrees, and I have to clean them up after, but they don't miss a beat in coming back.

Positive hwylo On Dec 17, 2005, hwylo from Wilmington, NC wrote:

Bought this at a sale several years ago and didnt expect it to make through our winters here but it has, though it has died back after a frost. It has returned each summer, though never growing as large as specimens in more tropical regions. I love the fragrance, which is powerful, and wish I could find another source for it as I've had no luck propagating it.

Positive tcfromky On Oct 3, 2004, tcfromky from Mercer, PA (Zone 5a) wrote:

Excellent aromatic plant that can take heavy shade. White flowers striped pink. The spicy seeds are used in cooking and the leaves are superb chopped and simmered into tea or chutney. Needs moist or wet soil and can grow submerged 2-4''. Grows very easily indoors in very low light.

Positive labama On May 14, 2004, labama from Fairhope, AL wrote:

I found this site to be very helpful, and interesting. I would like to add that I have had this plant for over seven years and this is the first time it has bloomed.(May 10, 2004).

Positive suncatcheracres On Nov 10, 2003, suncatcheracres from Old Town, FL wrote:

I grew Cardamon as a houseplant in a large pot in St. Petersburg, Florida for several years, until I moved and had to get rid of most of my plant collection. My Cardamon spent summers on a shady patio, under a large, spreading Chinaberry tree, and was always attractive, as it didn't seem to be ever bothered by pests. St. Petersburg is USDA Zone 9b, so this very tender plant had to come inside in the winter.

I like jungle-looking plants like this because I tend to overwater, and I don't think you can overwater this plant!

Positive henryr10 On Nov 9, 2003, henryr10 from Cincinnati, OH (Zone 6b) wrote:

I saw plants 6' tall or taller in Florida. It flowers on horizontal stalks at the base and the seed pods are the source of Cardamom, the third most expensive spice in the world.

Native to the mountain regions of Indian, this understory plant receives 150" of rain/year so keep it moist but not boggy. (VERY loamy free-draining soil is the key.) Not at all fussy, left out in nighttime temperatures near 35F. It makes a nice attractive houseplant or summer container plant. If you rub the stem it releases the wonderful odor of cardamom.

I over-wintered in front of a South facing window and it thrived.
Easily doubling in size from the Fall photo.
Watered once a week early and twice a week thru March/April.
It actually sat in water for a few hours then rapidly absorbed all the moisture.

Even the dead dried leaves, of which there were few, are fragrant when crushed.

Am glad a flowering photo has been added, Thanks.
I was growing it for foliage but the flowers WOW!


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

El Macero, California
Bokeelia, Florida
Clearwater, Florida
Fort Myers, Florida
Gainesville, Florida
Green Cove Springs, Florida
Saint Petersburg, Florida
Venice, Florida
Honolulu, Hawaii
Kealakekua, Hawaii
Pepeekeo, Hawaii
Wilmington, North Carolina
Cincinnati, Ohio
Houston, Texas
Spring, Texas

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