This exotic tree, which comes from Southwest India, is the source of the spice cinnamon. Used since ancient times, people use cinnamon both for culinary and medical purposes. This wonderful spice comes from the internal auburn coat of the evergreen cinnamon. Only a few Cinnamomum species are grown commercially for spice. Cinnamomum verum is sometimes considered to be “true cinnamon”, but most cinnamon in international commerce is derived from related species, also referred to as “cassia”. People use cinnamon when treating colds and flu since it has anti-bacterial warming qualities. It is a powerful antioxidant, and prevents various diseases.
Cinnamon trees grow outside year-round in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10 through 12. In colder regions, it grows well as a potted tree, outside in summer and inside through the winter. It’s easy to grow, however. As long as the soil is kept slightly dry, a potted cinnamon plant can thrive for years without special care. You can keep the plants as small as 3 feet by pruning regularly, or you can repot them over time into a 12- to 14- inch pot and allow them to reach up to 8 feet tall. The inner bark of the cinnamon tree is the source of the spice. It is dried and then ground or grated for use. The tree produces a drupe, or cluster of tiny fruits, that becomes the seed. The fruit ripens six months after flowering.
Cinnamon tree likes the sun, so it will thrive under full and partial sunshine. In zones 9 and higher, it is possible to plant cinnamon tree outdoors, but in that case it will need fertilized sandy soil. This moisture-sensitive tree needs fast-draining soil. Sand or sandy loam works best. In wet areas or clay soil, the roots are prone to rotting. Space cinnamon trees at least 10 feet apart and 10 feet from other landscape trees, buildings and structures.
Plant the Seeds
You can find the seeds inside the berry fruits which are covered with the pulp. You need to collect them, clean and dry them. Plant them in a nursery right away. The seeds will need around 3 weeks to germinate. You should transfer them into a pot in 4 months and then transplant them again outside or in a bigger container. The size of the cinnamon tree depends on the size of the pot after you transfer it. On occasion, cinnamon produces seeds, which can be picked and planted. These seeds must be picked when ripe (black in color) and planted right away because seed viability is limited.
How to Maintain
It requires just a little care and it will be grateful if you do a monthly care by pouring a liquid fertilizer when it is actively growing. Fertilize cinnamon trees every four to six weeks from spring through fall with 8-3-9 fertilizer. Use 1/4 cups of fertilizer for each 15 square feet of root zone area. Spread the fertilizer from the drip line, under the outer branches, to the edge of the root zone. This concentrates the fertilizer on the feeder roots. Prune at any time for harvest or to prevent plants from becoming too tall or wide. Give your cinnamon tree a minimum of 2 years before you harvest the bark.
Cinnamon sticks are simply dried bark from a mature cinnamon plant. If you please to bark from immature whips, try cutting them onto 3-inch pieces. Make a slice from end to end and peel if you want to loosen the rind. It will curl and that is totally normal. Dry in an open, airy, warm spot such as on a kitchen counter. For harvesting outer bark of mature wood, cut stems into 3-inch segments. Make a lengthwise slice halfway into the stem, but do not go all the way through. The bark will not peel as easily as it does from a younger stem. Instead, scrape out the core and pithy inner lining, then allow the remaining bark to dry completely. Keep it in a dry and cool indoor location in tightly closed containers.