How To Grow Cumin

How To Grow Cumin

The scientific name of cumin is Cuminum Cyminum. Cumin is popularly used in food throughout the world. Cumin is found in the same family as parsley. Cumin has a slightly bitter, earthy, and warm flavor used to enhance different foods. An interesting fact about cumin is that it is the second most popular spice after black peppercorn.

Cumin seeds are oblong-shaped and yellowish-brown in color. Different varieties of cumin exist, with the most popular ones being green and black cumin.

Cumin is usually grown for its seeds and can be used ground or whole. Cumin has both culinary and medicinal uses, which explains why it is very popular throughout the world. Cumin is normally used to flavor Indian, Mexican, Middle Eastern, and Asian foods.

It is grown for commercial use in West Asia and North Africa. India is the largest producer and consumer of cumin. Cumin is perfect for growing in a mixed vegetable garden. Before producing aromatic cumin seeds, predator insects are attracted to its flowers and help control pests.

There are three main types of cumin seeds. They are black, brown and white. They all provide different flavors, with brown and black being the most commonly used in dishes. Brown cumin is used in Indian-style dishes. The black cumin has a sweeter flavor and aroma compared to the white one.

Process of Growing Cumin


The seeds should be planted 5mm(0.25”) deep. Sow the seeds in a potting mix and ensure the soil is kept moist, misting regularly till sprouts appear. They should be transplanted at a spacing of 10cm(4”).


Cumin usually needs long hot seasons to produce seeds and is not frost tolerant.

If you live in colder areas, cumins should be planted indoors for four to eight weeks before the last frost date. Cumin grown indoors should be placed near a window facing the sun as they need direct sunshine for most of the day. This ensures the cumin plants are getting enough sunshine even though they are grown indoors.

They are then transplanted outside when temperatures get above 60°F. The ideal germination temperature is between 68-86°F. The seeds normally sprout in 7 to 14 days. You are recommended to soak cumin seeds for around 8 hours before sowing to ensure better germination rates. Germination begins when the seeds are soaked.

In warmer temperatures, where you have at least four months free of frost weather, you can sow the cumin seeds directly outside. This eliminates transplant shock risk.

How To Grow Cumin


Cumin is not grown in home gardens or sold in nurseries because it is grown for its seed rather than its foliage. Even though cumin is a drought-tolerant plant, it can also do well in areas with frequent rainfall as long as the soil drains well.

The seeds need around 120 days to mature from the planting date to produce usable seeds. Cumin produces flowers that are very irresistible to beneficial garden insect predators. Flowering usually begins around summer.

The cumin branch has around three sub-branches that normally grow to the same height, making the plant a uniform canopy. The stems are normally green or grey. The leaves of the cumin plant are pinnate or bipinnate with lengths of around 2-4 inches, and they have leaflets like threads.

Cumin benefits from being planted in clumps and being a little overcrowded. Cumin grows up to 2 feet tall, and it produces umbels of fragrant white or pink flowers, which can be added to salads. Cumin does well in both damp conditions and hot weather. Cumin plants are prone to frosting during fall and spring.

Cumin thrives in areas with low humidity. High humid areas make the cumin plants prone to fungal diseases.


Cumin is harvested by hand. The seeds are harvested when they are brown. The cumin seeds closely resemble the caraway seeds. Similar to many other herbs, cumin should be harvested in the morning when it is at its height. Because the pods don’t all dry at once, the trick to harvesting them is harvesting the pods when the first ones are about to spill their seeds.

When harvesting, cut the cumin seed heads and leave them indoors to dry as much as possible or as soon as seeds fall from the seed heads. You could also rub them to remove the seeds once they are dry. You can cut and hang the stem upside down into a bag to collect the seeds.

Once harvested, you can leave your cumin seed out in the sun to dry then you can separate the seed from the pods. You can thrash the stems against a hard surface or roll the pods between your fingers. Gently winnow any debris, dirt, or chaff from the remaining seeds before storing them.

The harvesting process should be done quickly to avoid the speed pods from opening up, especially if you don’t want to lose your produce.

Fresh leaves can be harvested from mature plants to flavor soups or as a herb garnish in stews and soups. Store the leaves in a refrigerator for a few days once harvested.

How To Grow Cumin


Store cumin seeds whole in airtight containers. The cumin seeds have a seed life of up to 2 years when properly stored. Cumin seeds can be grounded into fine powder or used whole. It is important to note that aroma and freshness deteriorate quickly when cumin seeds are grounded.

To retain the aroma and freshness of the cumin seeds, store the seeds whole and toast them gently before grinding. Don’t keep the cumin for too long.

Seed life

Cumin seeds have a seed life of 2 years.

Growing Cultures

You can plant your cumin in hydroponics, containers, or outside.

Preferred pH Range

Cumin should be grown in an area with a pH of between 6.8(Mildly acidic) and 8.3(Alkaline). The ideal pH range for growing cumin is between 7.0 and 7.5.

Number of cumin seeds per gram

There are around 30 cumin seeds per gram.

Ideal Soil for Cumin

Cumin thrives in well-drained loamy soil to fertile sandy loam. It can also grow in different types of soil. Cumin should be planted in fertile soil that drains fast. The garden soil should be amended with plenty of compost manure to improve drainage and fertility.

Lighting and Sun Requirements for Growing Cumin

Some of the lighting and sun requirements for growing cumin seeds include:

  • Keeping compact and high output fluorescents roughly one foot above the plants and HID lights around 2 to 4 feet above the plants. This is dependent on the wattage of the fluorescent and the lights.
  • Cumin grown outside will require full sunlight.
  • Stir seedlings gently with an oscillating fan at least 2 hours daily to stimulate studier and a more compact plant habit.
  • Cumin grown indoors will grow well under compact fluorescents, high output T5 fluorescent, and High-intensity plant growing lights.
How To Grow Cumin

Water and Humidity

It would be best to water your cumin seeds regularly, at least 1 to 3 times a week but make sure that you don’t overwater them. Allow the soil to dry between waterings, then water properly.

Add light mulches like straw, shredded leaves, or grass clippings. These will help maintain the levels of moisture during hot weather.

You can mist your cumin plants to provide encompassing humidity without the risk of root rot. It is recommended you water using a watering can or hand water using a can and keep it light when the seed heads and flowers begin turning brown. You can mist your plants at least once a week by spaying the roots, tips, and stalks.

Note that cumin planted in containers will require more watering than those growing from the ground. Ensure that you don’t overwater your plants at any given time so that they don't get root rot or mildew. Other than watering, cumin plants are considered very low maintenance plants.


You can add organic soil conditioner yearly before sowing. You should also feed the cumin plants with balanced organic liquid fertilizers as soon as the flowering stems start developing. Avoid using fertilizers that are high in nitrogen as they will reduce the aroma and fragrance of the harvested seed. Natural compost tea should be used to fertilize cumin plants during the growing season.


Since cumin is an annual plant that is grown for its seeds, it doesn’t require pruning. Diseased and damaged leaves should be removed to prevent the problems from spreading to the undamaged leaves.

If you want mature cumin seed, ensure that you leave the flower heads on the plant. Once you have harvested the seed pods, the plant remains should be composted.

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How To Grow Cumin

Potential Plant Diseases and Pests

Cumin plants are prone to aphids, cutworms, and thrips. They can also be prone to root rot if kept too wet. Some of the diseases cumin are prone to include fusarium wilt that causes the leaves to wilt and turn yellow, powdery mildew that appears as a whitish deposit on top of the leaves, and Alternaria blight during the flowering season when the conditions are too humid.

Cumin attracts beneficial insects to the garden. Predatory wasps, ladybugs, and lacewings flock to cumin flowers, and they eat caterpillars or insects that might bother the garden.

You can use natural remedies to eliminate aphids, like placing garlic or onion around your cumin plants. You could also spray them with a garden hose. You could also mix around five drops of thyme, clove, peppermint, and rosemary essential oils into a spray bottle filled with water, then spray the cumin plants thoroughly.

Nutritional Value of Cumin

A single tablespoon of cumin seeds contains 1.07g of protein, 2.56g of carbohydrates with 0.14g of sugar and 0.6g of fiber, and 22 calories. The single tablespoon also provides 5.60% of calcium, 0.25% of vitamin K, 0.56% of vitamin C, and 49.75% iron.

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How To Grow Cumin

Health Benefits of Cumin

Some of the health benefits of cumin include:

  • Cumin helps in improving digestion. Cumin may increase the digestive enzyme activity, which would then speed the process of digestion.
  • Cumin can also be used to help fight stress by working as an antioxidant.
  • Cumin contains nine different antioxidants: Beta Carotene, Manganese, Vitamin E, Zinc, Vitamin B9, Selenium, Lutein, Copper, and Vitamin C. These possess antiparasitic and antimicrobial properties that are effective in curing fever.
  • Cumin also acts as a detoxifying blood cleanser.
  • Cumin also increases metabolism hence promoting weight loss. Concentrated cumin supplements have helped promote weight loss.
  • Cumin has antibacterial properties that help in reducing the risk of food-borne infections.
  • Cumin can also be used to start menstruation and increase sexual desire as an aphrodisiac.
  • Cumin helps with bloating, flatulence, and minimizing gas.
  • Cumin has been said to treat lung and chest disorders like coughs and pneumonia.
  • Cumin seeds are rich in iron, essential in the transportation of oxygen to blood cells throughout the body. Cumin makes for a good iron source even when used in small amounts in food.
  • Cumin helps the body in absorbing nutrients efficiently.
  • Cumin contains a lot of plant compounds that are considered to have health benefits.
  • Some of the components contained in cumin are said to help in treating diabetes.
  • Cumin may help with dependence on drugs. Cumin is said to have components that help reduce withdrawal symptoms and addictive behavior.
  • Cumin may also help in lowering the levels of cholesterol.
  • Cumin is said to have chemopreventive properties that help in balancing the metabolism of carcinogens.
  • Cumin can also be used to treat muscle cramps.
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How To Grow Cumin

Culinary Uses of Cumin

Some of the culinary uses of cumin include:

  • Ground cumin is an important spice used in curry powder. It is found in Thai, Indian, and Vietnamese foods.
  • Cumin seeds can be ground or whole in some pastries like muffins or bread.
  • Cumin can be fried with onions and used to flavor lentils.
  • Cumin can be used as a rub for pork or lamb.
  • Cumin can be added to rice for an exotic flavor.
  • Cumin can be used in spicy salads.
  • Cumin can be mixed with olive oil and poured over stir-fried vegetables.
  • Cumin is used to season grilled corn on the cob when mixed with salt, chili powder, and garlic.
  • Cumin is used for making dessert and savory dishes.
  • Cumin is used to enhance the taste of legumes and vegetable soup, which is why it is a favorite among vegetarians.
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Fun Facts about Cumin

Some interesting fun facts of cumin include:

  • Cumins are propagated by the seed and they have a short vegetative season. Harvest is done 120 days after planting.
  • Cumins are a basic ingredient in chilli and curry powders.
  • Cumins have bipinnate and pinnate elongated green leaves.
  • Cumin fruit, called a dry achene, is single-seeded.
  • Cumins have earthy, warm, and strong aromas.
  • Cumin seeds are usually yellow-brown colored, oblong-shaped, and have eight ridges on the surface.
  • Essential oils that have been extracted from cumin are beneficial to human health. The oils have immunogenic, anti-tumor, and anti-bacterial properties. Cumins also contain certain substances that stimulate the activity of the intestinal enzymes and the secretion of saliva, which help with digestion.
  • In the middle ages, it was believed that cumin kept lovers and chicken from running away.
  • Cumin was used to pay taxes in the olden days.
  • Cumin grows up to 20 inches tall and has smooth and slender stems that can be green or gray. These stems usually produce several branches that grow to the same height.
  • Cumin seeds are usually used to treat edema, poor appetite, vomiting, fever, hart disease, and diarrhea.
  • Cumin completes its life cycle in a year, meaning it is an annual plant.
  • Cumin is the second most popular spice in the world.


Some of the flavors that go well with cumin are thyme, red pepper, turmeric, oregano, and cinnamon. When you want to grow cumin, some things to note are that each plant produces a small number of seeds. You will need to know how much space you will need to produce an adequate crop if you wish to grow large quantities of cumin. It is important to note that cumin is not recommended for pregnant and breastfeeding women.