How to grow Cumin

To grow cumin, plant the seeds in well-drained soil in a sunny location, water the plants regularly, and harvest the seeds when they turn brown and begin to dry out.

How to grow cumin

What is Cumin

Cumin (Cuminum cyminum) is a spice commonly used in cooking and native to the Mediterranean and Southwest Asia. It is a tiny, oblong-shaped seed from a plant in the parsley family. The seeds are typically brownish-yellow in color and have a distinctive, warm, earthy flavor with a slightly bitter taste.

Cumin is used in a variety of cuisines around the world, including Indian, Mexican, Middle Eastern, and North African cuisine. It is often used to season meat dishes, stews, soups, and vegetables and is also a key ingredient in many spice blends, such as curry powder and garam masala.

In addition to its culinary uses, cumin has also been used for medicinal purposes and is believed to have various health benefits.

Botanical nameCuminum cyminum.
Name (Common)Cumin
Native toEastern Mediterranean region, including Egypt, Iran, and the eastern Mediterranean island
Sun levelsFull sun
USDA zones USDA hardiness zones 5-11
SoilSlightly alkaline pH between 6.0 and 7.5.
Plant sizeTypically grow to a height of about 30-50 cm (12-20 inches) and a width of about 20-30 cm (8-12 inches)


Propagation of cumin is typically done by directly sowing seeds in the field, as cumin plants do not transplant well; the seeds should be sown in well-drained soil in a sunny location, and the plants should be watered regularly to promote growth and prevent drought stress. After the plants reach maturity, the seeds can be harvested and dried for cooking and other applications.

How to grow Cumin

To grow cumin, follow these steps:

Choose a sunny location: Cumin requires full sun to grow, so choose a spot in your garden with at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight daily.

Prepare the soil: Cumin prefers well-drained, slightly alkaline soil. Amend your soil with compost or well-rotted manure to improve its structure and fertility.

Sow the seeds: Directly sow cumin seeds in the garden bed in early spring after the last frost. Plant the seeds about 1/4 inch deep and 6-8 inches apart.

Water the plants: Keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. Water the plants regularly, especially during hot and dry weather.

Thin the plants: When the seedlings reach about 3-4 inches tall, thin them out to a distance of 4-6 inches apart to give each plant enough space to grow.

Harvest the seeds: Cumin plants will produce small white or pink flowers in late summer. The seeds will mature and turn brown in late fall. Harvest the seeds by cutting the seed heads and hanging them upside down in a warm, dry place to dry out. Once the seeds are completely dry, remove them from the seed heads and store them in an airtight container.

Purchasing seeds

You can purchase cumin seeds from many reputable seed suppliers online. Here are some options:

  1. Johnny’s Selected Seeds: Johnny’s Selected Seeds offers cumin seeds for purchase on their website. They are a well-respected seed supplier known for their high-quality products.
  2. Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds: Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds also offers cumin seeds for purchase on their website. They specialize in heirloom seeds and have a large selection of unique and hard-to-find varieties.
  3. Seed Savers Exchange: Seed Savers Exchange is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving heirloom seeds. They offer cumin seeds for purchase on their website, along with a wide selection of other vegetable seeds.
  4. Mountain Rose Herbs: Mountain Rose Herbs is a company that specializes in organic herbs and spices. They offer organic cumin seeds for purchase on their website, which can be used for both culinary and medicinal purposes.


Cumin plants prefer well-drained soils that are moderately fertile and have a pH between 6.5 and 8.3. They can grow in various soil types as long as the soil is well-drained and not soggy. However, cumin tends to grow best in sandy loam or sandy clay loam soils.

Sandy loam soils have good sand, silt, and clay balance, allowing for good drainage and aeration. In addition, sandy clay loam soils have a slightly higher clay content, which can help to retain moisture and nutrients.

It’s important to note that cumin is a drought-tolerant plant and can withstand dry conditions. However, the plants require regular watering during the early stages of growth and during periods of drought to ensure proper development.

If you are growing cumin in containers, using a well-draining potting mix rich in organic matter is essential. Adding perlite or vermiculite to the mix can also improve drainage and aeration.


Cumin plants require regular watering during the early stages of growth, but once established, they are quite drought-tolerant. The amount of water needed will depend on the soil type, weather conditions, and growth stage.

During germination and early growth stages, keeping the soil consistently moist but not soggy is essential. The soil should be watered lightly and frequently to keep the top inch of the soil moist.
Once the plants have established and developed a deep root system, they can be watered less frequently. However, overwatering can lead to root rot and other problems, so doing just what is necessary is essential.

In general, cumin plants should be watered deeply but infrequently. Giving them a good soaking once a week rather than a light watering every day is better. This encourages the roots to grow deeper in search of water, which makes the plant more drought-tolerant.

Monitoring the soil moisture level regularly is vital to avoid underwatering and overwatering. A simple way to do this is to stick your finger into the soil to about an inch depth. If the ground feels dry at this depth, it’s time to water the plant.


Cumin plants prefer full sun and require at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight daily. Cumin plants may benefit from some shade during the hottest part of the day in areas with hot summers.

If you are growing cumin indoors, placing the plants in a sunny window or under grow lights that provide full-spectrum light is essential. Cumin plants require bright light to grow properly, so getting enough light is crucial to thriving.

If you are growing cumin outdoors, choose a location with full sun and well-drained soil. Cumin plants do not tolerate shade well and may become leggy and weak if they do not receive enough sunlight.

Cumin plants are generally adaptable and can tolerate a wide range of growing conditions. However, providing them with the proper amount of sunlight is essential for healthy growth and good yields.

Pest and disease control

Cumin plants can be susceptible to a few pests and diseases, but with proper care and attention, these problems can be minimized. Here are some tips for pest and disease control for cumin:

  1. Aphids: Aphids are small, soft-bodied insects that can cluster on the leaves and stems of cumin plants, sucking sap and causing yellowing and distortion of the leaves. They can be controlled by spraying the plants with a strong jet of water, using insecticidal soap, or introducing natural predators like ladybugs.
  2. Leaf spot: Leaf spot is a fungal disease that can cause brown or black spots on the leaves of cumin plants, eventually causing the leaves to turn yellow and fall off. To control leaf spots, remove and dispose of infected leaves, avoid overhead watering, and apply a fungicide if necessary.
  3. Powdery mildew: Powdery mildew is a fungal disease that can cause a white or grayish coating on cumin plants’ leaves, stems, and flowers. To control powdery mildew, improve air circulation by spacing plants properly, remove weeds, avoid overhead watering, and apply a fungicide if necessary.
  4. Root rot is a fungal disease caused by overwatering, poorly drained soil, or fungal infections. To prevent root rot, ensure the soil is well-drained and avoid overwatering.
  5. Cumin weevils: Cumin weevils can damage the seeds of cumin plants, reducing yields. To control cumin weevils, store harvested seeds in a cool, dry place and consider treating the seeds with diatomaceous earth or other natural insecticides before planting.


Cumin seeds

Cumin is ready to harvest when the seeds turn brown and start to split open. Depending on growing conditions, this usually occurs 4-5 months after planting.

To harvest cumin:

  1. Cut the plants to ground level with a sharp knife or pruning shears.
  2. Tie the plants into bundles and hang them upside down in a dry, well-ventilated area out of direct sunlight.
  3. Allow the plants to dry completely, taking 1-2 weeks.

Once the plants are dry, thresh the bundles to remove the seeds. This can be done by hitting the bundles against a hard surface or rubbing them between your hands. Once the seeds are separated from the plants, winnow them to remove any remaining plant debris or chaff.

To winnow, pour the seeds from one container to another in a light breeze, allowing the lighter chaff to blow away. Repeat this process until the seeds are clean and free of debris.

Store the harvested cumin seeds in an airtight container in a cool, dry place to preserve their flavor and aroma. Freshly harvested cumin seeds have a more intense flavor than older seeds, so try to use them within a year of harvesting for the best results.

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