Elettaria cardamomum

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


Edible Fruits and Nuts

Tropicals and Tender Perennials

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Partial to Full Shade


Grown for foliage




Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


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)

Where to Grow:

Suitable for growing in containers



Bloom Color:

White/Near White

Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Mid Spring

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

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


This plant is said to grow outdoors 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

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Jan 6, 2019, Gazooby from Bloomington, IN wrote:

I'm assuming I have an alpinia nutans based on the description of others. It was sold at an average garden center as Cardamom. It spent the summer outdoors on a west-facing sunny slope in average Indiana soil (mildly acidic). I gave it a little extra water but didn't find it picky about needing high moisture as some have pointed out. It thrived, tripling in size (to 3'). Brought it inside before first hard frost. It's wintering over indoors and looks very happy. Leaves are very aromatic and prompt a lot of comments from guests.


On Nov 5, 2017, RekhaMangnani from Delhi,
India wrote:

Can you please explain in detail, a step by step process to grow the plants.

I came across this article, and found it quite helpful.
[[email protected]]
All the details missing from your page are covered here in details.

But I did came up with an article that talks about false Cardamom which is missing in both the articles. Can you put some light on that topic as well?


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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 cu... read more


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.


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.


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.


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).


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!


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 ... read more