Lately, I’ve had several people tell me that they don’t think they can grow spices where they live. I happen to know that’s simply not true.
You can grow many spices anywhere if you put in a little effort to create ideal growing conditions. That’s why spices like coriander have literally been grown on all 7 continents, including Antarctica.
Here are a few resources I’ve created that might help you get started growing spices even if you are a skeptic! Also, at the end of the post, I’ll give you a few suggestions on which spices are best for various environments.
General Information on Growing Spices
Spices to Grow Anywhere!
Now, I promised you a list of spice you can grow anywhere. So, here we go!
Indoors with Limited Space
You won’t get huge quantities of spice from a small indoor space. But you can still grow spices for fun, beauty, to improve your gardening skills, and to taste the difference when they are homegrown and harvested and preserved by you!
Here are some my favorites for small indoor spaces.
- Nigella sativa
- Peppercorn (kept compact with multiple vines)
- Baby ginger
Large Indoor Gardens or in Heated Greenhouses
If you have a big indoor garden — such as in a sunroom, conservatory, or dedicated grow room or a large heated greenhouse — you can grow all of the above plus these.
- Cardamom (3-4 feet wide, 6-10 feet tall)
- Ginger for large rhizome production
- Kaffir Lime
- Bay Laurel
- Cinnamon (for whips)
- Allspice (preferably a clone of a proven self-fertile plant, or grow 3 plants from seed, if sex is unknown)
- Peppercorn (allowed to vine extensively for heavier production)
- Paprika or Spanish-style Pimenton
Outdoors your climate will determine which spices you can successful grow. But here are some ideas to get you started.
In temperate climates, seed plants like coriander, cumin, dill, fennel, caraway, celery, mustard, poppy, and anise can grow well. Plus, you can likely grow saffron, garlic, horseradish, chicory, and licorice with proper care. Juniper berries are another easy option, though they can often be wild foraged too. Wasabi may also be possible if your winters aren’t too cold and you have a cool, shady, boggy but not stagnant area to grow in.
In Mediterranean climates you can probably grow all of the temperate climate plants plus a few more. Capers, bay leaf, and culinary sumac (Rhus coriaria) can also live outdoor year round in a Mediterranean climate whereas in temperate climates you’ll need to take them indoors in winter.
In subtropical and tropical climates, you can grow much of what is listed in the temperate and Mediterranean climates. But you may have to use some tricks like refrigerating potted plants at night to trigger flowering for saffron, caraway, and celery. You may also need to cold treat garlic prior to planting in warm climates to trigger leafing.
Expect some humidity challenges as well. To compensate, perhaps you’ll have to grow some plants in fall and winter instead of spring. Or maybe you’ll choose a windy location and grow in a sandy soil mix to encourage drier conditions.
In tropical climates you can also plant large spices like star anise, nutmeg, or clove that really prefer to live in the ground not in containers. You can even grow cinnamon to coppice for larger harvests.
Everyone Can Grow Spices Anywhere
It’s unlikely that you can grow all spices no matter where you live. But no matter where you live, you can grow some spices at home — even indoors.
Now (December/January) is the time to place your orders for spring. Spice plants are hard to find and seeds sell out fast.
Here are some of the places I’ve had good luck. Also, if you know other sources for spice plants or seeds, feel free to include them in the comments.
- Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co.
- Sow True Seeds
- Strictly Medicinal
- Seeds of Italy
- Hawaii Clean Seeds (ginger, turmeric)
- Fast Growing Trees
- Companion Plants
P.S. If you want detailed growing instructions, fun stories about these plants, and medicinal uses, plus some gorgeous illustrations, please check out my book Grow Your Own Spices: Harvest homegrown ginger, turmeric, saffron, wasabi, vanilla, cardamom, and other incredible spices — no matter where you live! It’s available from all your favorite booksellers, just ask or search for it!
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