Where do cloves grow?

What Are Clove Tree Uses: Clove Tree Information And Growing Tips

Clove trees (Syzygium aromaticum) produce the cloves you use to spice up your cooking. Can you grow a clove tree? According to clove tree information, it’s not hard to grow these trees if you can provide ideal growing conditions. If you are wondering what it takes to grow this tree or about clove tree uses, read on.

Clove Tree Information

The clove tree is native to Indonesia, but clove tree information suggests that it has naturalized in many warm countries. These include Mexico, Kenya and Sri Lanka. The plant has been cultivated since 200 B.C. to produce the cloves.

The most important of clove tree uses is, of course, the plant’s aromatic dried buds, or cloves. The name cloves comes from Latin “clavus,” meaning nail, as cloves often look like small nails.

Clove trees are evergreens that grow to some 40 feet tall. Their bark is smooth and gray, and their long, 5-inch leaves look like bay leaves. Blossoms are tiny – about ½

inch long – and gather in clusters at branch tips. The entire plant is fragrant and aromatic.

Clove Tree Growing Conditions

Can you grow a clove tree? You can, but it’s hard for most gardeners to replicate ideal clove tree growing conditions. Clove tree information tells you that the tree is native to wet, tropical areas of the world. Therefore, the trees grow best in a hot and wet region.

Ideal growing conditions include at least 50 to 70 inches of rainfall annually. The minimum temperature for clove trees is 59 degrees Fahrenheit (15 C.). Most commercial clove producers locate their plantations within 10 degrees of the equator.

Clove Tree Care

If you happen to live in such an area, and near the ocean, you probably won’t have much trouble growing clove trees. Plant the seeds in well-drained, fertile loam, then follow good practices for their care.

One part of clove tree care is to install shade plants to protect the young seedlings for the first few years. Banana plants work well to provide this temporary shade.

Clove trees are not a short-term project. The trees regularly live a century and sometimes live for over 300 years. More pertinent to the average gardener, you’ll have to wait at least 20 years for the tree to produce a full crop.

Clove Tree Uses

Many Americans use cloves for cooking. They are popular spices for baked hams and pumpkin pie. But clove tree uses are much broader than this globally. In Indonesia, cloves are used to make popular clove aromatized cigarettes.

Other clove tree uses are medicinal. Extracted clove oil is also used as an essential oil that is used medicinally. Some people also make tea from cloves that is considered to help with stomach upsets, chills and impotence.

Learn How to Grow Cloves in this Clove Cultivation guide. Growing Cloves is similar to other tropical spices and requires a hot and humid climate.

USDA Zones–9b-12

Difficulty— Moderate to Hard

Family— Myrtaceae

Other Names— Syzygium aromaticum (Scientific name), Bourgeon Floral de Clou de Girofle, Bouton Floral de Clou de Girofle, Caryophylli Flos, Caryophyllum, Caryophyllus aromaticus, Clavo de Olor, Clous de Girolfe, Clove Flower, Clove Flowerbud, Clove Leaf, Clove Oil, Clove Stem, Cloves, Cloves Bud, Ding Xiang, Eugenia aromatica, Eugenia caryophyllata, Eugenia caryophyllus, Feuille de Clou de Girofle, Fleur de Clou de Girofle, Flores Caryophylli, Flores Caryophyllum, Gewurznelken Nagelein, Girofle, Giroflier, Huile de Clou de Girofle, Kreteks, Laung, Lavang, Lavanga, Oil of Clove, Syzygium aromaticum, Tige de Clou de Girofle.

It is an evergreen tree, and in favorable climates, it grows up to more than 8 meters high, while the cultivated varieties are of a smaller height of around 5 meters.
The clove tree trunk has smooth bark with green and grayish-yellow aromatic foliage. It is a slow-growing but a long-lived tree and can exceed 100 years of age easily.

How to Grow Cloves

Clove Cultivation

Growing cloves require humid tropical or subtropical climate. Constant temperature above 50 F (10 C) is essential; the optimum temperature for growing clove tree is around 70-85 F (20-30 C). You can not grow it outdoors in a cold climate. However, growing clove tree in a pot is possible with proper care in winters.


Growing cloves from seeds and cuttings is possible. For seed propagation, buy seeds that are recently harvested and not dried out completely as wholly dried out seeds are not viable and do not germinate.

Plant seeds as soon as you get them. The seeds don’t need to be covered with soil and should be placed on top of the soil. If you like, shower just a bit of soil over them briskly. Cover the pot or seed tray with the plastic sheet to increase the humidity.

Requirements for Growing Cloves


For healthy and strong growth, it needs a tropical climate. The Clove prefers a semi-shaded exposure similar to black pepper. It can not withstand winter temperatures below 32 F (0 C). So do not plant it outside in an area with cold and harsh winters. However, it can tolerate occasional brief frosts.


Soil should be rich and loamy with good drainage and a lot of organic matter.


Clove tree grows in wet tropics. It requires regular watering, especially when the plant is young (first 3-4 years). Overwatering must be avoided.


Apply 50 kg aged manure or compost and bone meal or fish meal 2-4 kg per year around the plants. Usually, organic fertilizer is applied at the beginning of the rainy season in the regions where cloves are cultivated. Once the plant starts to grow, apply 40-gram urea, 110-gram superphosphate, and 80-gram MOP, instead of MOP, you can also use potassium sulfate.
The dosage must be increased and for the tree that is mature and older than 15 years, apply 600 gm urea, 1560 gm superphosphate and 1250 gm MOP per year. The fertilizer must be applied in equal split doses in shallow trenches dug around the plant after the end of summer.

Pests and Diseases

In diseases, it suffers from seedling wilt, leaf rot, leaf spot, and bud shedding. Stem borer, scales, and mealybugs are the pests that attack it.


The cloves you use as a spice is actually the result of the harvest of dried, unopened flower buds. A Clove tree starts to flower after 6 years of its planting if grown in favorable conditions. However, it takes at least 15-20 years to reach the full bearing stage.

Because opened flowers are not valued as a spice, the unopened buds are picked before they turn pink and when they are rounded and plump. At that time, they are less than 2 cm long. Harvesting must be done carefully without damaging the branches.

The buds once picked are dried in the sun or the hot air chambers until they have lost two-thirds of their original weight and the color of the bud stem has darkened to dark brown and rest of the bud in slight brown color.

Properties and Benefits of Cloves

  • Clove is used in ancient Chinese medicines and traditional Ayurvedic medicines for its antiseptic and anti-fermentation properties.
  • Clove is used as a disinfectant in the oral cavity and teeth. The action of clove covers micro-organisms, including viruses, bacteria, and fungi. It also has analgesic or anesthetic properties.
  • Additionally, it treats digestive disorders such as diarrhea, abdominal pain of spastic origin, bloating, and dyspepsia. Since it is an antiseptic, it can also be used in a sore throat.

Other Clove Uses

The essential oil is widely used for its aroma and the preparation of toothpaste, soaps, detergents, creams, perfumes, and mouthwashes due to its antiseptic properties. Also, because of its aromatic and preservative properties, it is used in alcoholic beverages, soft drinks as well as a condiment for meat, delicious cuisines and various sauces. In Indonesia, it is used in the preparation of Indonesian cigarettes which is made from the mixture of tobacco, cloves, and mint.

Also Read: Amazing Clove Uses In The Garden





Cloves are the dried, unopened, nail-shaped flower buds of the evergreen Syzygium aromaticum. They are reddish-brown in color and have a strong, aromatic flavor and aroma.”


Cloves are an important ingredient in the spice blends of Sri Lanka and North India. They are used in garam masala, biryanis, and pickles. In the U.S., cloves are used in meats, salad dressings, and desserts. Clove is a key flavor contributor to ketchup and Worchestershire sauce seasoning blends. Chinese and German seasonings also depend on Cloves to flavor meats and cookies.


Cloves are believed to be native to the Molucca Islands of Indonesia. Although Indonesia is the largest producer of Cloves, Zanzibar and Madagascar are the major exporters, where Clove trees cover thousands of acres of the islands. Historically, Cloves originating from Madagascar have been considered superior.


The name Cloves comes from the French “clou”, meaning nail. The first references to Cloves are found in Oriental literature in the Han period in China under the name “chicken-tongue spice”. From the 8th Century on, Cloves became one of the major spices in European commerce. When the Clove forests were first discovered in Indonesia, all were enchanted with the fragrance and beauty of this tropical evergreen tree which “must always see the sea” in order to thrive. Cloves were extremely costly and played an important part in world history. Wars were fought to secure exclusive rights to the profitable Clove business. In the Moluccas, where Cloves were first found, parents planted a Clove tree when a child was born.

Quick Facts

Cloves Whole Cloves Ground


Bright, uniform, reddish-brown

Flavor & Aroma

Pungent and aromatic

Sensory Profile

The flavor of Cloves are strong, pungent, sweet–almost hot. They are one of the most penetrating of all spices and their bitter, astringent flavor flavor leaves a numbing sensation in the mouth.

The history of cloves is similar to that of nutmeg and mace. The clove tree (Syzgium aromaticum, or Eugenia caryophyllis) is also indigenous to the Moluccas, and they were probably imported from the Spice Islands into China more than 2000 years ago. From the 8th century, cloves became increasingly popular in Europe, and along with nutmeg, the importation of this coveted spice helped the enterprising Venetians become extraordinarily wealthy. The lure of cloves and nutmeg attracted the Portuguese to the Spice Islands in 1514; they were followed by the Dutch in 1605, and they retained control over the trade until late in the 18th century, at which time the exotic spices of the Moluccas were starting to be grown elsewhere in the world, and they lost their incredible attraction. Currently, clove trees are grown in such places as Zanzibar, Madagascar and Mauritius, as well as in Ternate, Tidore and a couple of other of the northern Spice Islands and in Indonesia. Cloves are used in kreteks; these crackly, aromatic cigarettes are favored by Indonesians to such a degree that the country has to import cloves from Africa to supplement its own indigenous crop.
The word clove comes from the Latin word clavus, meaning nail, since the shaft and head of the clove bud resembles a nail. It is used to flavor meats, including ham, and is incorporated in Indian curries and rice dishes such as vindaloo; it is used in pickles and sauces (e.g. Worcestershire sauce) and some European spice cakes. However, its value as a flavor has declined considerably since the time of Magellan. It should be remembered that Magellan’s fateful circumnavigation of the world (1519-1522) started off with five ships and over 250 men. Although only one ship and 18 men returned to Spain, nevertheless its cargo of about 50 tons of cloves and nutmeg were considered to have made the expedition a financial success. Cloves and nutmeg were among the most precious of items of Europe of the 16th and 17th centuries, and they were worth more than their weight in gold.
Fortunes were made in the East Indian and Spice Island trade, since precious spices brought huge rewards to successful importers. The glittering wealth of the Portuguese and Spanish courts, of Italian port cities, Dutch trading firms, German bankers and British speculators was followed by the extraordinarily successful entry in 1672 of the United States into the spice trade. Competitive sailing boats helped make Salem the capital of spices in the first half of the 19th century. A certain Elihu Yale, who was born in 1649 in Boston, made his fortune as a spice merchant in India; he gave material support from his family home in Wales to help build up the institution that was to become Yale University. This is, interestingly, located in Connecticut, which was nicknamed the Nutmeg State, since enterprising merchants were able to sell fake nutmegs made of wood to unsuspecting purchasers who valued the spice. See a list of spices by Taste and Hotness.

The dry, unopened floral bud of Eugenia caryophyllus looks like a reddish brown wooden nail, and so, as early as the Roman Empire, it was given the Latin name clove, or “nail.” Its pungent but sweet flavor has been described as “intense enough to burn the palate,” though many also find it to be a good oral anesthetic and an aphrodisiac.

Along with pepper, nutmeg, and mace, the cloves of the Moluccas played an important role in the history of world trade. The earliest records of their use in China come from the Han dynasty early in the second century BCE. It appears that the Chinese first received cloves through several cultural intermediaries, including Nusantao seafarers, who are among the putative ancestors of today’s Filipinos. The spice reached India around the second century CE, where it was given the Sanskrit name kalika-phala, which diffused into Arabic-speaking lands as karanful.

Cloves had made it into both Greek and Egyptian markets by the first century, and over the next two centuries, Phoenician traders delivered cloves to all parts of the Mediterranean. Later, Radhanite Jewish traders assured their distribution through Europe.

It took until the publication of the journals of Marco Polo around 1300 for Europeans to become aware of the origin of cloves. The book describes how, on his way back to Europe, the Venetian learned about cloves in Hui Muslim and Han Chinese ports on the East China Sea. By 1421, the Hui Muslim naval commander Zheng He had cultivated the collaboration of Moluccan spice traders, who had already converted to Islam in order to renew links among Muslim traders who moved cloves along various trade routes. The Portuguese were latecomers to the spice trade, but by the early sixteenth century, they had developed a monopoly on the valuable spice, which lasted for about a century. Following the Portuguese, Dutch middlemen controlled clove commerce until 1662, when King Charles II forvid the purchase of cloves by Englishmen unless they came directly from the producers.

by Matt Gibson

Ready to grow your own clove? The clove plant is cultivated around the globe as a spice and medicinal herb. Due to the clove plant’s popularity with gardeners from such a wide variety of cultures, it also has a list of names that is far too long for us to list here. For the purposes of this article, we will only refer to the plant as the clove plant or clove tree—or by its scientific name, Syzygium aromaticum.

The clove tree is native to Indonesia, but clove has been cultivated in many countries where the climate is especially warm, such as Mexico, Sri Lanka, and Kenya. The trees can grow as high as 40 feet tall and are easy to pick out in a crowded forest or garden due to their unique blueish-gray bark. The clove tree’s large, shiny, aromatic dark green leaves grow up to five inches long (they resemble bay leaves) and grow in pairs. From July to October and again from November to January, the boughs bear tiny, inch-long red blossoms that gather in clusters near the branch tips. The fragrance of the blooms will do more than simply adding a splash of color—they’ll also help to attract bees and other pollinators to your garden.

Clove is known in the culinary and fragrance world for its distinctive aroma and flavor, both of which are pleasing and unique. Clove has a sweet-and-spicy scent and taste that’s commonly used in holiday dishes such as wassail and in candles meant to evoke the holiday season. They have a very strong and distinctive flavor so in most cases, they are used sparingly in culinary applications. It may surprise you to learn that cloves are used in the production of ketchup and Worcestershire sauce.

The spice is also widely used for its versatile medicinal properties and high nutritional content. Considering them as a food, cloves contain vitamins, minerals, and water. A teaspoon of cloves has just 21 calories but comes along with one gram of fiber, one gram of carbs, 30 percent of the manganese you need daily, and small amounts of the vitamins C and K. Cloves are high in antioxidants, have antibacterial properties, and historically have been used as a treatment to soothe stomach ulcers, improve bone health, regulate blood sugar, improve liver health, fight cancer cells, and more.

Instead of taking cloves as a supplement for their benefits, try growing them fresh and see how delicious they are sprinkled into spicy curry dishes, stirred into potent chutneys and dusted over delicious desserts. You can also boil whole cloves for five to seven minutes for a warming cup of clove tea.

Growing Conditions for Cloves

Clove trees cannot be grown in cool climate areas. Is it possible to grow a clove tree outdoors where you live? Well, that really will depend mostly on the climate of your area. The real crux of the matter is whether your yard has what it will take to keep a clove tree happy. If you meet the plant’s recommended growing conditions and live in a hot, humid, and relatively wet area, such as a tropical region, or are lucky enough to make your home in a rainforest or jungle, you’re in luck.

Clove trees require a minimum of 50 to 70 inches of annual rainfall per year as well as a temperature range that never drops below 59 degrees Fahrenheit. Do not attempt to grow a clove tree outdoors in temperate zones.

However, you can replicate the clove tree’s natural environment indoors and grow your clove tree as a houseplant, as doing so will keep the tree sheltered from the elements during any extreme instances of heat or cold the weather may bring. (After all, unlike with a container garden, you can’t simply grab your clove tree and find a sunny spot for it indoors when the weather threatens to go outside its acceptable range.)

How to Plant Clove

The clove tree is most often grown from seed. Plant clove seeds in well drained and fertile loam and water, then feed them regularly. The soil you should use for planting clove should be similar to what you would use for orchids. Take care to place your seedlings in an area where they will be shaded by larger plants for the first couple of years of their tender young lives.

Purchase clove seeds from a reputable source, and wet the soil before planting. Make sure the seeds you purchase are pollinated (which is why simply planting a few buds from the bottle in your spice rack won’t do). Keep the soil where clove is growing wet but not waterlogged.

Place clove seeds directly on the surface of the ground. The seeds do not need to be buried under the soil to put down roots and start adjusting to their new homes. After just a bit of time has passed, you’ll see the clove tree seedlings start sprouting up like crazy. Transfer your clove seedlings into a larger pot when they have reached one inch in height.

Care of Cloves

Make sure to water your clove plants regularly, especially during periods of drought or excessive heat for your region. Clove trees prefer to grow in a rich soil that has good drainage, is loamy, and is chock-full of organic matter.

More than anything, gardeners who are considering adding clove to their gardens should be aware that clove tree cultivation is a long term project that involves its share of long term work—but it also comes along with long term rewards. Do not expect to get any usable buds from your clove tree until the branches have started producing a full array of flower clusters, which will take at least six years before the first possible harvest, starting from the time you planted the seeds.

A delicate balance must be achieved when it comes to watering your clove trees. Light watering and frequent misting are recommended treatment options to replicate the humidity of the clove plant’s native tropical conditions if your environment doesn’t quite match up.

Apply an organic fertilizer, such as compost, bone meal, or fish meal, at the beginning of any rainy season. Once the plant starts to grow, switch to using a superphosphate MOP (muriate of potash) or potassium sulfate plant food. Increase the amount of fertilizer to double when it’s used to feed a clove tree that’s more than 15 years of age. Until the harsh summer ends, apply the fertilizer in split doses by pouring it into trenches that you’ve dug outside of the plant.

Harvesting Cloves

The clove spice consists of the unopened flower buds of the tropical clove tree, which are collected and dried in the sun. Buds must be picked early and dried before they are technically a mature clove. The highest quality cloves are reddish brown. When pressed with a fingernail or sharp object, clove buds will exude oil.

It may take a while to get the first full harvest of cloves out of your clove tree. In fact, unless you sowed seeds with years and years to spare, you may not see a complete clove harvest any time in the near future. You’ll start to see full yields from caring from a clove tree around the twentieth year of its life. If you can wait that long to get your first complete harvest, you won’t be disappointed by its yield.

To harvest cloves, pick the unopened buds before they begin to turn pink, when they are rounded and plump and no more than two centimeters in length. Dry the clove buds in the sunlight or in an airtight Mason jar until they have lost two thirds of their weight and the color of the bud stem has turned dark brown. Dried cloves don’t have a long shelf life, unfortunately, as they tend to lose flavor very quickly. Store in an airtight container out of direct sunlight, and use or replace them within a one-year period.

Cloves are also used to make kretek cigarettes, which were popularized in Indonesia but have spread across the globe. In the United States, they are known simply as clove cigarettes. To make these, the dried clove buds are mixed with the usual tobacco leaves at a ratio of two parts tobacco to one part clove.

Garden Pests and Diseases

There are no issues for gardeners to be aware of that clove trees face when it comes to garden pests, but these trees are susceptible to a few diseases—especially when they’re kept in the wrong growing conditions. Clove plants do occasionally suffer from seedling wilt, root rot, leaf spot, bug shedding, scales and mealy bugs.

Check under the leaves of your clove tree at least twice a week for insects or signs of disease, then hit any affected areas with a big blast of water to knock any tiny pest bugs you’ve spotted off of the plant and send them flying in the other direction. This strategy may not be a permanent deterrent, but it will knock the bugs for a loop each time you do it and discourage them taking up residence near your clove trees.

Want to learn more about growing clove? See these videos.

Check out this video on clove fruit and seeds:

Check out this video on the history, benefits and how to use cloves:

Want to read more on how to grow clove?

Don’t miss these helpful articles:
Balcony Garden Web covers How to Grow Cloves: Cultivation and Growing Cloves
Garden Guides covers How to Grow Clove Trees
Gardening Know How covers What Are Clove Tree Uses: Clove Tree Information And Growing Tips

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *