House cardamom has been called nothing short of a major competitor to indoor bamboos. This unconventional plant is distinguished by its special beauty of greenery and completely inimitable character. Modern, bold, bright, it deserves much more popularity and a completely different status. Especially since it is not difficult to grow cardamom, and only laurel can be more fragrant than it. Its belonging to the rare exotics is even more surprising, because the plant is quite inexpensive, grows quickly and unpretentious in care.
Real cardamom and its legendary aroma
Growing, which all lovers of non-standard indoor plants and medicinal potted plants know as true cardamom, actually belongs to the genus Elettaria (Elettaria). The amazing herbaceous perennials of the Gingeria (Zingibiraceae) are represented in nature by several dozen plants. But as an ornamental consider a single species - the very Real Cardamom, or Elettaria cardamomum (Elettaria cardamomum).
The evergreen perennial among medicinal and spicy plants is famous for the beauty of its stems and leaves. The rhizome of Elettaria cardamomum is fleshy. The height of indoor cardamoms is limited to 40-60 cm, but the plant does not seem miniature at all. Bushy, powerful, developing in the form of a turf of numerous vertical shoots, it really reminds of true bamboos by its silhouettes.
It looks like stems, false shoots, stretching upwards and covered with leaves, while the real shoots remain almost invisible: leafless and creeping, they are hidden from curious eyes and are only visible close up. But it is the true second stem of the cardamom, not the false shoots, that produce flowers.
The leaves - pointed, large, lanceolate-narrow - are in wonderful harmony with the shoots. They first curl into a tube and interestingly unfold, opening to their full length. The cardamom leaves sit on fairly long, graceful stalks and can grow to 60 cm long and 8 cm wide at the most. The rich dark green color is very attractive. But it's not just the beauty of the leaves that's important.
It's a unique houseplant with leaves that are not just fragrant but medicinal as well. They can be used as an alternative to tea and brewed in drinks or herbal infusions. The subtle and surprisingly exotic halftones of the cinnamon and cardamom scents mesmerize and invigorate. The full tart-spicy charm of cardamom can only be appreciated by rubbing the leaves between your fingers.
Well, it is not the leaves, but the fruits that make cardamom famous for its fragrance. Its flowering is a most unusual sight. The flowers of Elettaria cardamomum appear on a creeping true shoot and are gathered in clusters. They would not look very pretty if it were not for one distinctive snow-white petal with bright purple streaks that contrasts so strikingly with the lettuce and small petals of the rest.
After flowering, the original three-necked bolls of fruits up to 2 cm long develop in place of the ovary of cardamom, hiding those richly aromatic, ribbed black seeds, which have become one of the world's most popular spices. Cardamom's flowering cannot be called spectacular, but because of the unusual arrangement of the flowers - under the main above-ground parts at the base of the turf of false shoots - and the unusual fruits, it is more than original.
Care of cardamom in home conditions
House cardamom is rightly considered an unpretentious plant. A cool wintering for it is not necessary, but only desirable. Even inexperienced growers will have no trouble with cardamom, and for those who have an unstable work schedule or like to travel it will be a godsend. It easily tolerates short droughts and missed watering. But the better it is cared for, the more beautiful the cardamom becomes. And if you keep the soil evenly moist, the amazing foliage of Elettaria cardamomum will unfurl in full splendor.
Lighting for Elettaria
This is one of the most undemanding crops for lighting, capable of adapting and maintaining ornamentality in radically different conditions. In principle, cardamoms can be grown in any light from bright sunny sites to deep shade. But there is one big "but" in such loyalty: It all depends on the conditions to which the plant is accustomed "from childhood".
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If your Elettarian was grown as an ordinary room plant and it is used to diffused light, then it should continue to be grown in the same conditions even in winter. If the cardamom was grown as a shade-loving perennial and was adapted to more sparse light at a young age, it will be pleasantly shade-tolerant in the future. Therefore, when buying a plant, you should definitely clarify what kind of light the cardamom is used to.
Most modern varieties that can be found in flower shops are light-loving, accustomed to diffuse light and protection from direct sunlight.
Comfortable temperature regime
The ideal maintenance regime of cardamom present involves warm period of active vegetation and a cool resting phase. From spring to the end of autumn the plant will be content with normal room temperature, the cardamom will be comfortable in any living area. A temperature range of 20 to 25 degrees is considered optimal. But the wintering of cardamomum ellettaria directly affects flowering and fruiting.
If you provide cool temperatures, you can harvest your own crop of aromatic seeds. If the plant stays in the heat, its attractiveness will not suffer, but it will lose its ability to flower abundantly. For the wintering of cardamom the conditions of 12 to 15 degrees are most suitable.
Pouring and humidity
Elettaria can well withstand a short-term drought. This plant reacts worse not to drying out of the ground ball, but to its overwatering. Stagnant water should not be allowed in any case. The more even the moisture content of the soil, the more attractive this plant will look. Regular watering of cardamom after drying out the upper layer of substrate during spring and summer allows to stabilize growing conditions. But excessive dryness of the soil is better to avoid even when wintering in the cool.
Like almost all plants of tropical origin, cardamom prefers high humidity. Measures to increase humidity are not considered vital, the plant does not need to be displayed in flower display cases or by special humidifier devices. But on the spraying of elettaria responds with gratitude, the procedures have a positive effect on the attractiveness of its leaves. If you can spray daily, your cardamom will benefit from it.
The leaves always have to be dusted off as part of the care. This is best done with a damp sponge, gently rubbing the greens and shoots. You can also resort to showering, especially if the air temperature exceeds 25 degrees.
Leaves and shoots in cardamom damaged by drying, injury or losing their attractiveness from old age, it is better to remove regularly, cutting to the base.
Fertilizers for cardamom
Real cardamom prefers regular standard feedings. Fertilizers for this plant are applied at a frequency of once every 2 weeks from spring through fall. For elettaria it is desirable to use either universal fertilizers or special mixtures for potted vegetable crops, which will increase the fruitfulness of cardamom.
Potting cardamom, containers and substrate
Elettaria is similar to bamboos not only in appearance, but also very fast, aggressive sprawl. With normal care plant for the year fully develops a container, so regardless of age indoor cardamom replanting yearly.
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For Alettaria use wide containers with a depth of less than the diameter. The wider and lower the container, the better. It is desirable to provide the plant with large holes for water drainage.
Substrate for cardamom is selected from among simple, universal earths with good indicators of water and air permeability. You can use a purchased substrate (universal or for ornamental and deciduous plants) or make your own soil from humus and turf soil with sand (ratio of 2 to 2 and 1, respectively). Elettaria is not afraid of contact with the roots, but if possible, it is better to carry out the transplanting procedure as accurately as possible. At the bottom lay a high layer of drainage. The soil is compacted as little as possible. After transplanting, the plant is shaded for a few days, if possible increase air humidity.
Diseases and pests of cardamom
Elettaria cardamomum is considered a stable indoor plant. It can suffer only from specific viral infections (when the plant is bought already infected, it is necessary to fight the problems with systemic fungicides) and from pests. Of insects, under conditions of dry air, negligent care and neighborhood with infected plants, cardamom is threatened by spider mites and scales. It can be fought by mechanical washing, by correcting conditions, and by treatment with insecticides.
Propagation of indoor cardamom
Elettaria can be obtained both from seed and by vegetative methods.
The easiest way is to propagate cardamom by dividing adult plants. At the time of annual transplanting, the turf can be divided into pieces with at least two roots and buds. The cuts are necessarily treated, but this is the end of the difficulty. Plants are simply planted as independent cultures according to the usual transplanting technology.
It is also possible to obtain new specimens of cardamom from cuttings. The tops of the shoots are easily rooted in a greenhouse at a temperature of 20 to 25 degrees, especially if you treat the cuts with a growth stimulant or rooting agent. A standard substrate is used.
Getting cardamom from seeds is a bit more difficult. The seeds are sown exactly to a depth equal to their double width, watered only after sowing, and even then creating a slightly moist environment. Germinate the seeds in the heat, at 25 to 28 degrees, with very bright light, under glass or film. Sprouts are fragile, but quickly become hardy and actively develop. Dive cardamom after the appearance of the second leaf into individual small pots. For young plants, transplant as needed.
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