Grow your own cloves with a clove tree

February 26, 2016

The buds of dried clove flowers give us cloves. They are rich in eugenol, a volatile oil that gives them their unusual flavour, and methyl salicylate, an analgesic substance. Find out more about this fascinating, delicious plant.

Grow your own cloves with a clove tree

Physical description

  • The clove is a small bushy tree, three to five meters (10-16 feet) high, with bright evergreen leaves, 8-13 centimetres (three to five inches) long.
  • Its pale pink buds are two centimetres (0.8 inches) long, and lose their petals when they open. It is difficult to grow outside the tropics, because it needs temperatures of around 22 ° C and high humidity throughout the year.


  • The flower buds are the part of the plant that's useful. Cloves and clove oil are very useful to treat small everyday problems.
  • An infusion of cloves can relieve colic and bloating. It is antibacterial and, as such, is an effective mouthwash after tooth extraction or gum infection.
  • Clove oil is a known remedy against toothache. Apply it with a cotton swab; its analgesic properties will dull the pain for a while. Do not exceed quantities used in cooking if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, except on medical advice.


  • Besides cloves, several related varieties are valued for their edible fruit. For example, there is the delicious Syzygium Jambos or rose apple, which comes from tropical Asia, and Syzygium paniculatum, used as hedges in California.
  • Some of these varieties are cultivated, and make beautiful potted greenhouse plants.


  • The clove tree likes well-drained soil, in full sun.


  • Sow as soon as possible after the fruit has ripened, and keep at a minimum temperature of 25 ° C.
  • Take cuttings in summer and plant them in a mini greenhouse — they need heat and humidity.


  • Water regularly and fertilize every month during the growing season.
  • Put in pots or in the ground in spring.

Pests and diseases

  • Potted plants can be attacked by scaled insects or mealy bugs.
  • Look for suspicious signs such as sooty mold on leaves.

Harvest and conservation

  • Harvested for commercial purposes, cloves are dried in the sun every day, as soon as the closed buds have reached the right size.
  • Dried cloves keep well in glass jars.
  • Once ground, they spoil quickly.

In the home

  • Cloves repel insects.
  • In Zanzibar, a clove braid is used to ward off insects in the home.
  • They are used in pot-pourri and pomanders.

In the kitchen

  • Cloves are one of the mix of four spices often used in baking cakes and making jams and chutneys.
  • They are also added to the broth before cooking a ham, or they can be used to stud the ham before roasting.
  • Finally, cloves go perfectly in apple compote and are essential for the sauce to go with the Christmas turkey.
  • Remember to remove them before serving.

Although it can be difficult to grow cloves on northern latitudes, it can be done inside or in a greenhouse. You, yourself, could grow the spices that flavour your meals!

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