How to grow your own cinnamon in a small pot at home
Who doesn’t love spicing up their meals or drinks with some cinnamon? This spice, known for its flavour, is extremely versatile and can be added to just about anything: meat, eggplant (sautéed with soy sauce and cinnamon, yum!), oatmeal, coffee, hot chocolate, pancake mix, even water – and much more.
What’s more, cinnamon is jam packed with a number of health benefits:
- Reduces risk of heart disease
- Has anti-inflammatory effects
- Lower blood sugar levels
- Fights bacterial and fungal infections
- Helps prevent cancer
- Delays the effects of Alzheimer’s Disease
Not many people think to make their own culinary spices. But cinnamon is incredibly easy to grow. Follow these steps to learn how to plant and maintain your own cinnamon tree.
Getting to Know Your Plant
Cinnamon originates from Sri Lanka, Madagascar and southwest India. Cinnamon trees belong to the plant family, Lauraceae, and bloom during the spring and summer seasons. The actual cinnamon is obtained from the bark of the tree. Cinnamon trees can grow to be as small as 3 feet or as tall as 8 feet, depending on how often it is pruned and the size of the pot it is grown in.
Cinnamon trees need to be kept in an area where it can get full to partial sunlight. The soil should be well-drained and made up of an acidic potting mix that consists of half sphagnum moss and half perlite. The plant needs to be kept in a room whose temperature won’t reach below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Because cinnamon is a tropical plant, it is best grown in warmer climates. As the tree grows, it will produce dark green leaves with a leathery feel. Small white flowers may also bud in summer.
As long as the soil is kept slightly dry, a potted cinnamon plant can blossom for years without special care. Cinnamon trees are a moderate feeder and thus, they often need good drainage and moisture-holding mulch more than they need fertilizer. Regardless, your cinnamon tree should still be fertilized weekly or biweekly during the active months only (late winter to fall). Pruning can be done at any time to prevent your plant from growing too tall or wide.
Caution: The leaf edges may turn brown if the salt levels from the fertilizer get too high. Cinnamon trees are also susceptible to root rot if they become too moist. Be sure to keep your plant on the dry side.
Gathering Your Sticks
Cinnamon sticks are are nothing more than dried bark from a mature cinnamon plant. The ones you see in stores are cut into uniform lengths and graded according to thickness, aroma, and appearance. The stems on cinnamon trees are continually cut back to stimulate new stem growth for harvesting. You can gather your cinnamon sticks from either mature wood or young whips (stems). Young whips tend to be more fragrant and seem to hold their aromatic properties better than the older wood, but you can use either.
When harvesting cinnamon stick from young whips, cut the whips into 3-inch segments. Lightly cut the bark lengthwise from end to end, cutting just deep enough to loosen the bark. As you peel off the bark, it should curl naturally. Sticks need to be dried in an open, airy, warm spot such as a kitchen counter. After they’re dry, shave the sticks to obtain the spice.
Harvesting from mature wood is a similar process. These should also be cut into 3-inch segments. Make a lengthwise slice halfway into the stem, but do not cut all the way through. The bark will not peel as easily as it does from a younger stem. Instead, scrape out the core and inner lining, then allow the remaining bark to dry completely.
If your cinnamon tree produces seeds, which they occasionally do, these can also be picked and planted. However, they must be picked when they’re ripe (black in color) and planted right away as its viability is limited .