Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum) hails from tropical India, Nepal and South Asia. What is cardamom? It is a sweet aromatic herb not only employed in cooking but also part of traditional medicine and tea.
The cardamom plant is a 5 to 10 foot (1.5-3 m.) tall tropical plant that thrives in partial shade. The leaves are lance shaped and may grow up to two feet (0.5 m.) in length. Stems are rigid and erect, forming an inverted skirt around the plant. The flowers are tiny, but pretty, in either white with yellow or red but another form of the plant may also produce black, white, or red pods. The pods are crushed open to reveal tiny black seeds, the source of cardamom spice.
Cardamom prefers humus rich soil, slightly on the acidic side. Sow seeds approximately 1/8 under fine soil and keep the medium evenly moist. Transplant to pots when you see two pairs of true leaves. Grow on outdoors in summer or year round in warm regions. Cardamom needs to stay moist and does not tolerate drought. In hot, arid regions, provide extra humidity through the leaves. Cardamom may flower 3 years after planting and the rhizomes can live for decades with good care.
Move plants indoors at the end of summer in areas with freezing weather. Place indoor plants where they receive 6 to 8 hours of bright but filtered light. Transplant older plants every few years to prevent root binding. Cardamom is fairly easy to grow indoors but remember that mature plants can achieve up to 10 feet (3 m.), so choose a location with plenty of space for the plant to stretch out into.