Growing Tasty Tropical Cinnamon

Grow your own healing cinnamon with these expert tips.

| January 24, 2011

Excerpted from Growing Tasty Tropical Plants in Any Home, Anywhere, by Laurelynn G. Martin and Byron E. Martin, with permissions from Storey Publishing (c) 2010. The following excerpt can be found on Pages 118 to 119. To read the main article about growing other tropical wonders, visit Growing Tasty Tropical Herbs.

• Cinnamomum zeylanicum
• sin-uh-MOH-mum zey-LAN-ee-kum

Cinnamon is well known for its culinary uses, yet it is hardly ever grown in ordinary home settings. 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 leathery, rich reddish bronze juvenile growth provides a nice contrast to the dark green mature leaves. (However, mature leaves will remain light green if plants are kept in high light.) Sprays of small white flowers appear in summer. The purplish black berries are inedible; it’s the bark that is harvested for its culinary qualities.

Both the stem and bark are highly aromatic, and it’s the inner bark that is used as a spice. Even small stems can be scratched to release a rich cinnamon fragrance. True cinnamon is often confused with cassia, also known as Chinese or Vietnamese cinnamon (Cinnamomum cassia). Although the latter is more common in the United States as a spice and is often offered for sale as true cinnamon, it’s not as aromatic, and it has a stronger, more assertive flavor. True cinnamon (C. zeylanicum) can be grown from seed, vegetative cuttings, or grafts, but it is more difficult to propagate vegetatively than cassia.

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.

11/18/2014 9:22:30 AM

I read that the berries are inedible, which squashed my dreams of growing this plant. I grow orchids and thought I could grow a cinnamon plant, but now I'm afraid the kitty cat mafia would pick,digest, and have to go to the vet for a visit with poison control. sigh..............................

Michael Williams
3/22/2013 2:46:00 AM

I found some last year at a local plant place and it grew great in a pot on my patio. It even flowered and had seed pods that I took and layed out on a cookie sheet and let them dry out. After that I took the pods and put them on a plastic bag and kind of worked to break them up to release the seeds. I have already planted some inside this year and they are starting to grow. I so can not wait for them to get big again. Just the smell from rubbing a leaf it great.

Alice Tan
3/2/2013 2:01:44 PM

I like to sprinkle some cinnamon powder to tea with's taste good

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