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Growing Cumin in Pots (Jeera) – a Full Guide

Introduction to growing Cumin (Jeera) plant in pots

Cumin is also called Jeera or Jira in India. Cumin is an herb and the seeds of the plant are used to make medicine. Cumin is a warm-season annual in the Apiaceae family. It is grown for its seeds that are used whole or ground. To harvest Cumin seeds, allow the pod to ripen and turn brown.  Remove from the plant and dry. Rub pods to remove the seeds and the whole stem can be cut and hung upside down in a bag to collect the seeds. Use fresh or store in an airtight container. Cumin is an herbaceous annual plant that grows to a height of around 1 foot tall. In this article we also discuss below topics;

  • How long does Cumin plant take to grow
  • Cumin plant propagation
  • Cumin plant care
  • Growing Cumin from seed
  • How do you germinate Cumin seeds
  • Cumin seed germination temperature
  • How do you germinate Cumin seeds
  • How long does Cumin seed take to germinate
  • Process for germinating Cumin seeds
  • Cumin seed germination period

A step by step guide to growing Cumin plants in pots

Cumin plants easily grow both indoors and outdoors and they need watering every 1-3 days. Cumin seeds are yellowish-brown in color, oblong in shape, resembling a caraway seed.

A guide to growing Cumin plants in pots.
A guide to growing Cumin plants in pots.

The botanical name of Cumin is Cuminum cyminum. Cumin seeds are extensively used in various ayurvedic medicines also particularly for conditions like obesity, stomach pain, and dyspesia. The nutritional value of cumin seeds is 17.7% protein, 23.8% fat, 35.5% carbohydrate, and 7.7% minerals.

Types of Cumin

There are mainly three main types of cumin seeds. They are white, brown, and black. Each one provides a different flavor, with black or brown being the most commonly used in many dishes. Black tends to have a sweeter aroma and flavor than white cumin, and brown cumin is used in Indian-style dishes.

The best soil for growing cumin in pots

Cumin plant prefers a well-drained, fertile sandy loam to loamy soil but will tolerate a diverse range of soil types. Plant cumin in fertile soil that drains fast and amend garden soil with plenty of mature compost to improve fertility and also drainage. Cumin plants will grow in a relatively wide pH range between 6.8 (mildly acidic) and 8.3 (alkaline), with an ideal range between 7.0 and 7.5.

Pick the best location for growing cumin in pots

Cumin needs a spot in a garden that receives long periods of full sunlight each day. Remember that this plant loves hot weather, so it needs 6 to 8 hours of sunlight, at a minimum.

Cumin plant spacing

Cumin plants must be spaced between 4 and 8 inches (20 and 30 cm) apart in the row, while rows should be spaced 18 inches apart.

Propagation of Cumin for growing in pots

Sow cumin seeds indoors about 8 weeks before your final frost date. After frost danger has passed, plant cumin seedlings 4 inches apart in your chosen garden area. You want to plant the seedlings close together, so they will support each other during harvest time.

Cumin plant requires a pretty long growing season, as it takes about 4 months to mature, so if you live in an area with a short growing season, you will want to start them indoors.  Transplant your cumin plants outdoors when temperature lows reach 15°C. Cumin can be grown indoor as well as outdoor from seeds and seedlings. Buying seedlings from a nursery is expensive than growing cumin from seeds.

Seed germination period of Cumin

Cumin seeds will germinate in the soil in about 7 to 14 days but can germinate in as few as 5 or 6 days in dedicated propagation media such as Oasis Rootcubes, Rapid Rooters, and Grodan Stone wool. It is recommended to soak the seeds for about 8 hours before the sowing of Cumin seeds for better germination rates.

Sowing the Cumin seeds

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Cumin Seeds.
Cumin Seeds.

Because cumin doesn’t transplant well, start the cumin seeds in large pots that are about 6 inches across and 4 inches deep. If you plan on transplanting cumin outside, then use biodegradable pots so you don’t have to remove the seedling. Fill the pots up until a 3/4 inch from the top with moist, sterile, and seed-starting mix. Sow three seeds at a depth of about 1/4 inch in each pot. Put each container in a plastic bag to promote soil-moisture retention.

Process of Cumin seed germination for growing in pots

To germinate cumin seeds, expose the seeds to a temperature of 18°C. Then, remove the pots from the plastic bags every day to aerate them and to check the soil moisture. You want the medium to stay moist, not wet throughout the Cumin seed germination period. If needed, then use a water-filled spray bottle to moisten the soil before placing the pots back in the plastic bags. Cumin can take anywhere from 7 to 14 days to germinate.

Process of growing the Cumin from seed in pots

Start Cumin seeds inside 6 to 8 weeks before average last frost.  Start outside 1 to 2 weeks after average last frost and when the temperature ranges are warm. Plant a group of 4 seeds at a depth of about ¼ inch every 4 to 8 inches.  When seedlings are 2 inches tall, thin to 1 plant every 4 to 8 inches and the seed should germinate in 7 to 14 days.

Plant your seeds in containers 2 to 3 ft wide. Then, get a large container or pot so you can fit several cumin plants inside of it. Choose a pot with at least 2 holes so the soil can properly drain. Cumin plants can easily grow indoors, even though growing outdoors is the optimal method.

The moment the Cumin seeds sprout they need light. Without enough light, the cumin seedlings can grow spindly and weak. After removing the pots from the plastic bags, locate them in a sunny south-facing window and rotate them periodically so the seedlings grow upright. Alternatively, suspend two, cool-white, 40-watt fluorescent lamps about 6 inches above the pots or containers. Keep the lamps on for about 16 hours a day and move them up as the seedlings grow so they’re always 6 inches above the pots.

Thin the seedlings so there’s only one strong seedling left in each pot and continue growing Cumin plants indoors. If you want to transplant them outside, wait until after the frost, when the plants are about 2 inches tall and the temperature is at least 15°C. Space the transplants 1 foot apart in a sunny area of the garden with well-drained and fertile soil. Although cumin plant is tolerant to drought, it benefits from moderate water during dry, hot spells.

Cumin plant care

Cumin plant care requires a long, hot summer of about 3 to 4 months with a temp of around 29°C during the day. Cumin is sown in the spring from seed in rows about 2 feet apart in fertile, well-draining soil or, in cooler climates; start seed indoors four weeks before the last spring frost. Sow shallowly, ¼-inch below the soil surface. Keep the Cumin seeds moist during germination. Transplant outdoors when temperatures routinely exceed 16°C or higher. Cumin seed is harvested by hand after the bloom of the small white or pink color flowers. Cumin seeds are harvested when they brown about 120 days and are then dried and ground. The strong aroma and then the distinct flavor of cumin is due to its essential oils. Like all herbs, it is at its height in the morning and must be harvested at that time.

Maintenance of Cumin plants

Water your cumin plants well in dry weather and about 4 months later; then you will be ready to harvest.  Cumin plant likes damp soil and the real problem is that the plant is intolerant of long periods of dry heat. Other than watering, there is little maintenance to do for these easy-going plants. Water your plants 1 to 3 times a week to keep the soil damp. Using your hose or a watering can, give your plants water regularly and water the plants for about 30-60 seconds. Be careful not to overwater cumin plants.

Mist your Cumin plants with a spray bottle if it is very hot or dry outside. Plants do not like long periods of dry heat, so it is important to keep them hydrated. In the summer months, it can get very dry and arid, so fill up a spray bottle with water and saturate your plants. Do this as needed or about 1 time a week. You can spray the tips, stalks, and roots.

Avoid overwatering your Cumin plants so they do not get mildew or root rot. Before you water plants again, wait until the soil is almost dry before you water it. Then, soak the soil thoroughly. If you continue to water wet soil, your Cumin plants can grow mildew or start to rot.

Treat your Cumin plants with a natural pesticide if aphids appear. Aphids are a common threat to plants. Fortunately, there are several natural remedies to get rid of them. You can try spraying them with a garden hose or place onions or garlic around your Cumin plants as a natural deterrent. Also, you can mix 4 to 5 drops of thyme, peppermint, clove, and rosemary essential oils into a spray bottle filled with water. Then, spray the infested Cumin plants thoroughly.

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Common pests and diseases for cumin plants

Not only does cumin taste great in dishes, but it also attracts beneficial insects to the garden. Ladybugs, lacewings, and predatory wasps all flock to the fragrant cumin flowers, eating the caterpillars and other insects that might bother the garden. Though, it’s susceptible to some pests and fungal diseases. Let’s take a look at a few that might bother your plant.


Aphids are little pests that attach to the foliage on Cumin plants, sucking the sap out of the leaves. They cause the most damage to younger plants and seedlings by causing stunted growth, yellowing foliage, and curling leaves.

To get rid of aphids, then you can try a blast of water from your hose. Only do this on the warm season, sunny days. For serious cases, then you might need to try an insecticidal soap. Typically, mixing a small amount of dish soap with water works perfectly.

Powdery Mildew

One of the most common fungal infections in the Cumin plant is powdery mildew, which looks like a white, powdery film on the foliage of plants. This fungus can stop seed formation and cause the seeds to be small and discolored. If you notice powdery mildew on your Cumin plants, it’s best to remove and dispose of the affected leaves as soon as you can to stop the fungus from spreading.

As for possible treatments for powdery mildew, then you can try applying neem oil, which helps stop the fungus from spreading. Another option is to use a homemade spray formed with baking soda, oil, and soap.

Alternaria Blight

This is a fungus that appears when the temperature ranges become warm and humidity increases in the area during the flowering stages of the plant. Alternaria blight stops the Cumin seeds from fully maturing, so they shrivel up and blow away.

One way to prevent this fungus is by weeding regularly among cumin plants to improve air circulation. Also, using drip irrigation will help to stop water from landing on the leaves and also helps stops you from overwatering the plants.

Fusarium Wilt

Fusarium wilt is a fungal disease the causes the wilting and discoloration of the foliage on your plants. This fungus lives in both seeds and soil, making it quite easy to spread. It spreads through the soil, water, and wind.

Make sure that you harvest the seeds off of the Cumin plant quickly. Doing so helps reduce the risk of spreading and contracting the infection.

Harvesting and drying cumin

Cumin takes about 120 days to reach full maturity after it is planted from seed. You can begin to harvest the plants within 21 days after they reach full maturity. You’ll notice the Cumin seeds begin to change color to the type of cumin seeds you planted. Once they begin this procedure, you’ll want to harvest quickly to avoid the seed pods splitting open and losing your seeds.

Pick the seed pods and then remove the stems. Place a few of them in a brown paper bag and hang the bag upside down in a warm and dry place, away from sunlight. In about a week, the seed pods will be dried. You can gently rub each seed pod between the palms of hands to reveal the seeds. Use the Cumin seeds immediately or store them in an airtight plastic container or jar in a dark location.

Commonly asked questions about growing cumin in pots

How long does cumin take to grow?

Cumin plant care requires a long, hot summer of about 3 to 4 months with a temperature of around 29°C during the day.

Is cumin a perennial?

Cumin belongs to the Apiaceae family. Cumin plant is an annual, unlike others in that family which tend to be biennial or perennial.

Is Jeera the same as cumin?

Jeera and Cumin seeds are the same. Jeera is used in Indian cooking lot as it is very beneficial, it helps digestion and a good source of Iron.

How long does it take for cumin seeds to germinate?

Cumin seeds should germinate in 7 to 14 days.

Is cumin an antiviral?

Cumin seeds have umpteen antiviral properties and antibacterial properties that can keep mild flu, cold, and cough at bay.

Are cumin and fennel the same?

Fennel seeds come from the Foeniculum vulgare plant, and cumin seeds come from the Cuminum cyminum plant. Both of them belong to the same family Apiaceae. The cumin seeds are brownish whereas seeds of fennel are greenish.

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