The culinary and medicinal herb known as cloves are harvested from tropical evergreen clove trees (Syzygium aromaticum). Immature, unopened flower buds are harvested from clove trees and dried. Once dried, the seed pod/flower bud is removed and the small immature seed pod within is used as a spice for food or in herbal remedies. While this spice is technically the plant’s seed, you cannot buy a jar of cloves at the grocery store and plant them to grow a clove tree of your own. If you would like to know how to propagate a clove tree, read on for clove propagation methods and tips.
Clove Tree Propagation Tips
Clove trees grow in wet, tropical regions. They require consistent temperatures of 70-85 F. (21-30 C.) that do not dip below 50 F. (10 C.). Clove trees can grow in full sun to part shade. Commercially, they are grown in regions within 10 degrees of the equator, where companion trees such as jacaranda and mango can provide them with some shade.
Common clove trees grow approximately 25 feet (8 m.) tall, but hybrid cultivars usually only grow to 15 feet (5 m.) tall. With regular trimming, clove trees can also be grown in pots indoors or on the patio, like ficus or dwarf fruit trees.
Methods for Propagating Clove Trees
The most common method of propagating cloves trees is by seed. Cuttings can also be taken in midsummer, though this is not frequently done. Under the right conditions, clove trees grow best from seed propagation. However, it is important to note that a clove tree planted from seed will not start to produce blooms for 5-10 years, and they do not reach their maximum bloom until they are 15-20 years old.
It is also very important to note that dried out clove seeds are not viable and will not germinate. It is recommended that clove seeds be planted immediately or within one week of their harvest. Seeds that are not planted right away should be left in the flower bud until they can be planted, this helps them remain moist and viable.
Clove seeds should be lightly scattered on the surface of a moist, rich potting mix. Do not bury the seeds; they will germinate right on the soil surface. Seed tray or pots should then be covered will a clear lid or clear plastic to retain the proper moisture and humidity.
For germination, daytime temperatures should remain steadily around 85 F. (30 C.), with nighttime temperatures no lower than 60 F. (15 C.). In these conditions, seeds should germinate in 6-8 weeks. It is important to maintain these conditions until the seedlings are ready for transplant. Clove tree seedlings shouldn’t be transplanted for at least 6 months.