cloves

Do you want to grow cloves in the garden yourself? With us, you will find useful tips for using, planting and caring for an unusual clove tree. Everyone knows the taste of cloves for Christmas. But how can you cultivate carnation wood in the garden yourself? We present you this special plant and reveal the best tips for planting and care.

Carnation: flowering, origin and characteristics

Dried flower buds of cloves (Syzygium aromaticum) are necessary for the most important spices when making various delicacies. The carnation tree belongs to the myrtle family (Myrtaceae) and originates from the famous Moluccas, an Indonesian archipelago in western New Guinea, also known as spice islands. In Europe, dried cloves have been used since the early Middle Ages, but due to climatic conditions, cultivation is possible only to a minimal extent. Today, cloves are grown in tropical regions, with a mostly oceanic climate that provides good growing conditions. There is no relationship with the carnation flower (Dianthus), which belongs to the carnation family (Caryophyllaceae).

An evergreen tree can reach a height of over 10 meters in good conditions. If the clove tree grows in a bucket, it remains much smaller due to the limited space for roots. The cloves are leathery and lush green. They are also egg-shaped and have oil glands through which essential oil is released. When the carnation tree blooms, you can admire many small flowers. The flowers have four short fleshy petals and are hermaphrodites. The fruits take on a dark purple to a dark red color as they ripen. Inside the approximately 2 cm large stones, there is a core through which the clove tree can spread. The famous cloves are obtained if the flower buds are harvested and dried before they bloom. Their strong smell and strong taste are an indispensable part of many cuisines worldwide.

Grow cloves yourself

Clove wood

Due to their tropical origin and high demands, it is tough to grow carnation trees. High temperatures and constant high humidity can rarely be guaranteed throughout the year. For most of the year, it is possible to grow this plant in a tub in a heated winter garden, heated greenhouse, or bright living room in our latitudes. The plant can reach a height of up to 2 meters and develops proportionally. During the warm summer months from May or June to the end of August or the beginning of September, you can also take cloves outdoors. Unfortunately, cloves do not tolerate large temperature fluctuations very well.

In addition to external requirements, it is also essential that the clove plant is constantly supplied with water without causing excessive immersion. Too wet or too dry soil would damage the clove tree’s fine roots.

Tip: It is best to spray the plant with a little water every day for high humidity levels. That way, the plant feels comfortable and thrives. Little tricks can also help the plant achieve high humidity: Fill a pot with expanded clay or gravel balls, put a pot on it and fill the plate with water – this creates a constant supply of moist air around the plant. You can also choose a bright bathroom as a place where the humidity is often high.

Water-permeable soil rich in nutrients is ideal as a substrate, but at the same time, has a large water storage capacity. It is best to mix high-quality soil with a lot of powdered clay (bentonite) to increase the storage capacity of water.  Thanks to the clay content it contains, it already has a large capacity for storing water – but you can use another addition with clove wood. 

Care: You need to pay attention to this

For clove wood to be successfully processed, you must meet its temperature requirements. The ideal temperature during the vegetation is between 20 and 25 °C; temperatures below 10 °C are tolerated only for a short time. The temperature must never fall below the limit of 5 °C. Otherwise. The damage will occur.

A constant water supply to the plant is necessary for healthy growth; the root area must not be too wet or too dry. Due to its tropical origin, the carnation tree can withstand heavy rains, which is why it can easily withstand heavy watering.

During the vegetation phase between April and September, the clove tree should occasionally be slightly fertilized. A complete fertilizer is suitable for this. When used as granules, the nutrients required by the plant are slowly released into the soil solution, thus preventing the roots from becoming salty and having a longer-term effect than liquid fertilizers—enough one to a maximum of two fertilizers per year. The best time for fertilization is at the beginning of the spring’s vegetation period. The ideal amount of fertilizer varies between 80 and 120 grams, depending on the tub and the plant’s size. You can apply the fertilizer directly to the rough surface of the soil. Then the soil surface should be covered with decorative gravel or expanded clay before the plant is abundantly watered.

Clove grows slowly in a bucket, but it should be transplanted every two to three years to give the root more space. The best time for that is in April, before the beginning of the vegetation. The new bucket should be about 2 to 3 cm larger than the old one. The plant can be removed from an old bucket and remove excess soil. You should place a layer of expanded clay on the bottom of the bucket to avoid under watering. Then the cloves can be put in a new bucket and covered with earth.

Is clove wood durable?

Clove is not durable. This is mainly due to its tropical origin and the constantly high temperatures throughout the year. In our latitudes, it is important to have a carnation tree in the winter at about 20 °C so that the plant does not suffer damage from the cold.

If the carnation tree is grown indoors, there is no need to move it during the cold winter months. If it is outside during the summer, it should move to the winter quarters by mid-September at the latest. Heated conservatories, heated greenhouses, or bright living rooms are suitable for this and at the location in the house. If the temperatures are warm again in summer, the clove tree can move outside again. This is usually possible after the last frost in May.

Clove: effects and use

Clove buds have a healing effect. They were considered healthy brains, liver, and stomachs in the Middle Ages. Above all, the stunning effect when you chew them made cloves a remedy for toothache. The fact that they also positively affect bad breath was an important effect. Today, we also know that cloves are rich in antioxidants and speed up fats’ digestion.

Flower buds are picked before they bloom as soon as their color changes from green to light pink. Then they dry, which makes them brown and hard.

Tip: You can recognize a high-quality clove by its slightly oily surface if you squeeze it lightly. Another indicator is the water’s behavior: If the cloves are sinking in the water and if they do not float on the surface, they are greasy and therefore of high quality.

Use of herbal parts and ingredients of cloves

Medically used herbal parts of cloves are the fruits and oil of cloves (essential oil). In medical and pharmaceutical terminology, cloves are called cariophilli flos. Clove oil is known as Cariophilli Floris aetheroleum. Carnation flowers are hand-picked and subsequently dried flower buds. Clove oil is obtained from these flower buds by steam distillation.

It regulates the quality requirements of cloves and clove oil European Pharmacopoeia (PhEur).

Eugenol is the best essential oil with 85 to 95% cloves, and cloves contain flavonoids, phytosterols, and tannins.

On the other hand, clove oil consists exclusively of essential oils. It consists mainly of eugenol (75 to 88%) and contains 4 to 15% eugenol and 5 to 14% b-caryophyllene.

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