Cardamom (Elaichi) Plantation/Cultivation and Production in India

The introduction of Cardamom/Elaichi:

Cardamom/Elaichi  is one of the oldest known spices in the world. Evergreen forests of Western Ghats of South India are considered as the centre of origin as well as natural habitat of cardamom. Cardamom is commercially cultivated for its dried fruits(capsules), which is also referred as cardamom of commerce.



Scientific Name:

Elettaria cardamomum.


Based on adaptability, nature of panicle, shape and size of capsules, the cultivars are categorized into Malabar, Mysore and Vazhukka. The cultivar Malabar with a prostrate panicle (panicles spreading on ground) is widely grown in Karnataka, while the cultivar Mysore, characterized with erect panicles is extensively cultivated in Kerala and parts of Tamil Nadu. Whereas, the cultivar Vazhukka, a natural hybrid between Malabar and Mysore types with a distinct semi-erect (pendent) panicle, is the most popular cultivar in Kerala.

Climate and soil for growing Cardamom:

The crop thrives well in regions which receive a well-distributed annual rainfall of 1500-2500 mm with a mean temperature of 15°C to 35°C, relative humidity of 75-90% and 600-1200 m above MSL. Cardamom grows luxuriantly in forest loam soils, which are generally acidic in nature with a pH range of 5.5-6.5. Growth of cardamom/elaichi is enhanced, when planted in humus rich soils with low to medium available phosphorus and medium to high available potassium.

High Yielding Cardamom Varieties:

Released varieties/selections of cardamom with high yield potential and superior capsule characters from different research organizations are given in Table 1. Apart from these, farmers varieties like Njallani green gold, Vander cardamom, Panikulangara No. 1, Palakuzhi selection and Valley green bold are also grown in cardamom growing tracts of the country.


Propagation by vegetative means through suckers is considered to be the most preferred method. Production of planting materials from seeds and through tissue culture are alternative methods of propagation. Seedling propagated plants may not be true to its parent.

Released cardamom varieties/ selections:

Selection/ Variety


Important features

Area of adaptability

Average yield


ICAR-Indian Institute of Spices Research, Regional Station, Appangala-571 201, Dist. Kodagu, Karnataka
Appangala-1 Malabar Suitable for intensive cultivation both under All cardamom growing tracts of
monocrop and mixed crop conditions. Early Karnataka and Wayanad of Kerala 745
maturing variety, highly adaptive and
produces 89% bold capsules. (Potential yield
1322 kg dry capsules/ha).
Appangala-2 Malabar High yielding and resistant to Cardamom All cardamom growing tracts of
mosaic virus/Katte Karnataka and Wayanad of Kerala 927
IISR Avinash Malabar Rhizome rot resistant, high yielder and Suited for hotspots of rhizome
suitable for planting in valleys. Produces rot prone areas.
51% bold, dark green capsules. (Potential yield
1483 kg dry capsules/ha).
IISR Vijetha Malabar Cardamom mosaic virus resistant (Katte) Suitable for Kodagu, Hassan,
selection, recommended for moderate to high Chikmagalur and North Wayanad.
shaded mosaic disease prone areas. Suitable for Katte prone areas.
(Potential yield 979 kg dry Adapted to moderate rainfall and
capsules per ha). moderate to high shade areas.
Indian Cardamom Research Institute (ICRI), Myladumpara-685 553, Dist. Idukki, Kerala
ICRI 1 Malabar Early maturing, dark green bold capsules South zone of Idukki, Kerala 656
ICRI 2 Mysore Tolerant to Azhukal disease Vandanmedu and Nelliyampathy of
Kerala and Anamalai, Meghamalai
of Tamil Nadu 766
ICRI 3 Malabar Tolerant to rhizome rot Cardamom growing tracts of
Karnataka 599
Indian Cardamom Research Institute (ICRI), Myladumpara-685 553, Dist. Idukki, Kerala
ICRI 4 Malabar Suitable for low regions Adapted to lower Palani hills 961
ICRI 5 Malabar Hybrid with high oil content Kerala and parts of Tamil Nadu 1543
ICRI 6 Malabar Moderately tolerant to rot, thrips,
borer and drought Kerala and parts of Tamil Nadu 1900
Cardamom Research Station (Kerala Agricultural University), Pampadumpara-685 553, Dist. Idukki, Kerala
PV 1 Malabar Early maturing variety with elongated capsules All cardamom growing tracts of
Kerala and parts of Tamil Nadu 500
PV 2 Vazhukka Green bold capsules Cardamom Hill Reserves of Idukki 982
Regional Horticultural Research and Extension Centre, University of Agricultural and Horticultural Sciences,
Mudigere-577132, Dist. Chikkamagaluru, Karnataka
Mudigere 1 Malabar Tolerant to shoot borer and thrips Traditional cardamom growing
Malanad areas of Karnataka, under
rainfed conditions 275
Mudigere 2 Malabar Suited for cultivation in valleys Cardamom growing tracts of
Karnataka 475
Mudigere 3 Malabar Tolerant to thrips and borers Cardamom growing tracts of
Karnataka 400


Clonal nursery:

Establishment of clonal nursery is essential for large-scale multiplication of high yielding varieties/selections. The planting unit consists of a grown-up tiller with a portion of the rhizome and a developing shoot. Sucker multiplication can be taken up from the first week of March to September. The site selected should be in open, well-drained areas adjacent to a perennial water source. Trenches with a width and depth of 45 cm and convenient length are prepared and filled with humus rich top soil, sand and well decomposed compost. The planting units are planted at a spacing of 1.8 m x 0.6 m in the trenches. To protect the planting units from direct sunlight and desiccation, overhead shade/pandal need to be provided. For

To protect the planting units from direct sunlight and desiccation, overhead shade/pandal need to be provided. For better establishment of the suckers, irrigation may be given once in a fortnight. Apply fertilizers @ 48:48:96 g NPK per sucker in 2-3 splits starting from two months after planting. Neem cake @ 100-150 g/ plant may also be applied alongwith the fertilizers. On an average, 15-20 good quality planting units could be produced from a mother clump within ten months of planting.


Cardamom/Elaichi seedlings are raised in primary and secondary nurseries.

Primary nursery:

The nursery site is selected in open, well-drained areas, near a water source. Prepare the area by removing existing vegetation, stumps, stubbles and stones and dig to a depth of 30 cm. In the prepared area, beds of size 6 m x 1 m x 0.2 m are made and a thin layer of humus rich forest soil is uniformly spread over the beds.

Fully ripened bold capsules from high yielding, disease-free mother clumps are collected from second and third harvests during the month of September. One kg fresh capsules comprising of about 500-800 fruits is sufficient to produce 3000-5000 seedlings. The seeds are extracted by gently pressing the capsules and then washed 3-4 times in cold water to remove the mucilage adhering to the seeds. The washed seeds are drained, mixed with wood ash and dried under shade. To ensure early and uniform germination, seeds should be sown immediately after extraction, preferably within 15 days since viability of the seed is lost during storage. The ideal season for sowing is September in Karnataka and November-January in Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

Acid scarification with 25% nitric acid increases the germination percentage. For this, wrap the extracted seeds in nylon net, tie it loosely and

then immerse in 25% nitric acid for 10 minutes. After treatment, the seeds are removed and washed repeatedly in cold water to remove traces of acid.

Sow the seeds in rows spaced at 10 cm and 1-2 cm apart within the row. The seed rate for 6 m x 1 m sized bed is 30-50 g. After sowing, the beds are covered with a thin layer of sand and mulched with grass or paddy straw to a thickness of 2 cm over which tree twigs are laid. Water the beds regularly to maintain sufficient moisture and to promote germination. Germination commences in about 20-25 days and may continue for a month or two. Once sprouting is observed, remove existing mulch and maintain thin mulch material between the rows. Protect the seedlings by providing overhead shade. Transplant the seedlings at 3-4 leaf stage to the secondary nursery.


Secondary nursery:

Seedlings are raised in the secondary nursery by two methods.


  • Bed nursery


The beds are prepared as described in primary nursery. Spread a layer of compost on the bed and mix thoroughly with soil. Seedlings with 3-4 leaves are transplanted at a distance of 20 to 25 cm. Mulching and watering should be done immediately after transplanting.

In Kerala and Tamil Nadu, transplanting is carried out during June-July, whereas in Karnataka it is undertaken during the months of November-January. Apply 90:60:120 g NPK per bed of 6 m × 1 m size, in three equal splits at an interval of 45 days. First dose of fertilizer may be applied at 30 days after transplanting. Earthing up need to be undertaken after each fertilizer application and hand weeding is done once in 20-25 days. One month before uprooting, the shade should be removed to encourage better tillering. The seedlings will be ready for transplanting after 8-10 months of planting.


  • Polybag nursery


Polythene bags of size 20 cm × 20 cm and 100 gauge thickness are filled with potting mixture consisting of forest top soil, cow dung and sand (ratio 3:1:1). Provide sufficient holes at the base of polybags to ensure good drainage. Seedlings at 3-4 leaf stages are transplanted into each bag (one seedling/bag). Seedlings raised in the polybags have a uniform growth and nursery period could be reduced by 5-6 months.


Planting and cultural practices of cardamom:

In Karnataka, 10 month old seedlings are preferred for planting in the main field, while in Kerala and Tamil Nadu 18 month old seedlings are commonly used.

On slopes, prepare the land by contour terracing and in open areas like marshy valleys and grasslands, raise shade trees before planting cardamom seedlings. Plant fast growing shade trees like Dadap (Erythrina lithosperma), Albizia, Karuna (Vernonia arborea), Corangati (Acrocarpus fraxinifolius), Chandana Viambu (Toona ciliata), Njaval (Syzygium cumini), Jack tree (Atrocarpus heterophyllus) etc. to protect the seedlings from direct sunlight. Clear the ground for planting in new areas and for replanting areas, remove the old plants.

Shade regulation, terracing and preparation of planting pits should be done during summer months in the areas identified for fresh planting.

In newly planted areas, shade regulation is undertaken during the months of March-April by pruning branches of shade trees to provide 40 – 60% filtered light. To ensure a balanced canopy, lopping of branches is carried out on all sides of the shade trees. Preferably, South-Western slopes should be provided with more shade than North-Eastern slopes.

For planting, pits of required size are prepared before commencement of the monsoon season (April-May). For planting Malabar types, pits of size 45 cm x 45 cm x 45 cm are prepared and for Mysore and Vazhukka types, 90 cm × 90 cm × 45 cm or 90 cm × 90 × 90 cm are recommended. The pits are filled to one third with topsoil. Application of well decomposed farmyard manure or compost or leaf litter and 100 g of rock phosphate alongwith the topsoil will help in proper establishment and quick growth of suckers.

Planting is normally done during June-July with the commencement of monsoon. Ideal time for planting in the low-lying areas would be after the cessation of heavy monsoon showers.

Ten to 18 month old cardamom seedlings are selected for planting in the pits. While planting, 15 g of carbofuran (banned in Kerala) or 50 g neem cake and rock phosphate (50 g) are applied to the pit. Deep planting should be avoided, as it results in suppression of the growth of new shoots and might result in death of the plants. Stakes may be provided to avoid the damage caused by wind and the plant base need to be covered with suitable mulching material.

Planting diagonally to the slopes helps to prevent run off. Trench system of planting (60 cm × 30 cm) with a spacing of 2 m × 1 m is generally preferred over pit system, as it results in better establishment of the plants, higher yield and greater moisture retention. In sloppy lands, contour terraces need to be prepared and pits are taken along the contours at 2m × 1 m spacing. Based on slope, terraces are made at 2-3 m between the contours.

For Mysore and Vazhukka cultivars, plant to plant distance can be 3 m × 3 m (1111 plants/hectare) and 2.4 m × 2.4 m (1736 plants/hectare) respectively. A spacing of 1.8 m × 1.8 m or 2.0 m × 2.0 m is ideal for Malabar types in Karnataka (2500-3000 plants/ha).

Irrigation of Cardamom:

Cardamom/Elaichi is essential to irrigate the crop during January to May. Plants may be irrigated at an interval of 10-15 days till the onset of monsoon, by adopting a convenient method of irrigation either by hose/ sprinkler/mini-sprinkler/drip. In case of drip irrigation, it needs to be supplemented with sprinkler irrigation once in a month.

On gentle sloppy areas, opening of rectangular silt pits (1.0 m × 0.5 m × 0.6 m) between four plants will help in soil and water conservation. If the slope is steep, construct stone pitching walls at 10 to 20 m interval across the slope and erecting water collecting trenches along drainage channels would strengthen soil and water conservation measures.

Intercultural Operations-

Weeding :

Cardamom/Elaichi being a surface feeder, in the first year of planting, weeding at frequent intervals is necessary. Later, depending on the intensity of weed growth, 2-3 rounds of hand weeding at the plant base during May, September and December/January and slash weeding in the interspaces are recommended. Mechanical weed cutters can be used for weeding.


Entire plantation and particularly the plant bases should be mulched at 5-10 cm thickness using fallen leaves of the shade trees, except during periods of heavy monsoon (June-September). To facilitate honey bee movement, remove mulch during May-June after the receipt of pre-monsoon showers. Areas, where soil has become compact and hard, forking the plant base to a distance up to 90 cm and to a depth of 9-12 cm, promotes better root penetration. Forking could be done with the cessation of North-East monsoon during November/December with least damage to the root system.


Thrashing may be carried out once in a year with the onset of monsoon under rainfed conditions and 2-3 times in high-density plantation provided with irrigation facilities. Trashing from November onwards may be avoided, due to summer. Pruning may be done during January and September which coincides with peak thrips population.

Earthing up of the plant base and root zone with topsoil is recommended during October-December. In valleys and high rainfall areas with medium slopes, suitable drains (45 cm depth and 30 cm width) are provided in between two rows of cardamom. To provide adequate light during monsoon, shade regulation may be taken up before the commencement of rainy season (May).

The principal pollinating agent in cardamom is honey bee (Apis cerana indica). Maintaining four bee colonies per hectare during the flowering season is recommended to increase pollination, promoting fruit set and production of more number of capsules.

To maintain higher productivity, undertake replanting once in 8-10 years. Replanting may also be taken up, once the yield starts declining below the economic level.


Apply one-third of the recommended dose of fertilizers during the first year of planting both under rainfed and irrigated conditions.

Best Fertilizer for cardamom:

Soil application


Time of application

NPK (kg/ha)




75:75:150 NPK 37.5:37.5:75 kg/ha May/June/ September/
(rainfed and Urea(2.5%). Single September/ November/
– two splits) super phosphate (0.75%) October/ January
Muriate of potash (1.0%) December/
125:125:250 January
(irrigated- three


During the second year, increase the dose to one-half and apply full dose of fertilizers from third year onwards.

Before applying fertilizer, the plant basin is demulched and the panicles are coiled. Fertilizer is applied in a circular band of width 15 cm, leaving 30 cm from the plant basin and thoroughly mixed with top 5-7 cm of surface soil. After fertilizer application, the basin is mulched.

For yielding plants, soil-cum-foliar application will be an effective method of fertilizer application. Spray the solution containing fertilizers to the foliage covering both sides of the leaves.

Apply agricultural lime @ 1 kg/plant/year for soils with pH below 5.0 in one or two splits during May and September. Fertilizers shall be applied only after 15-20 days of lime application.

Organic manures like cowdung/compost @ 5 kg/plant may be applied during May/June along with rock phosphate and muriate of potash. Under irrigated condition, manuring can be done in two splits (May and September). Application of neem cake, bone meal or vermicompost @ 1 kg/plant improves root proliferation and plant growth.

Foliar spray of zinc (Zinc sulphate @ 250 g/100 litres of water) during April/May and September/October enhance growth, yield and quality of the produce. Zinc should be applied alone and not to be mixed with any insecticide/fungicide. Soil application of boron in two splits along with NPK fertilizers (Borax @ 7.5 kg/ha) is also recommended. Foliar application of micronutrient mixture developed by ICAR-IISR specific to cardamom is also recommended (dosage @ 5 g/L) twice, in May – June and September-October, for higher yield.

Cardamom Pests and Diseases:



Damage to leaves, shoots, inflorescence, thrips affected capsules fetch lower price.

  • Control-  Regulate shade in thickly shaded area, spray monocrotophos 0.025% during March to September.


 2.Shoot, panicle, capsule/borer:

Larvae bore the unopened leaf buds, panicles causing drying or feed on young seeds causing the capsules empty.

  • Control-Spraying monocrotophos or fenthion 0.075% at early stage of infection.


Nymphs and adults suck the sap and act as vector of the mosaic or ‘Katte’ Virus.

  • Control-Spray 0.05% dimethoate.

4.Parasitic nematodes:

Poor germination and establishment in the nurseries, stunted and poor growth of plants, shedding of immature capsules in the main field.

  • Control-

    Treat the plants in the nursery with carbofuran 3 g @ 5 kg a.i/ha or in the main field with carbofurna 5 g a.i./clump and apply 0.5 kg of neem cake per clump twice a year.


1.Katte diseases:

Spindle shaped, slender chlorotic flecks appear on youngest leaves, later these develop into pale green discontinuous stripes ass leaves mature. Infected clumps are stunted, smaller in size, with slender tillers and shorter panicles.

  • Control -Use healthy seedling. Rogue the infected plants.

2.Capsule rot:

Affected capsules turn brownish black in colour, often rotting extends to tillers and rhizomes also.

  • Control-Do trashing, remove infected and dead plants etc. during premonsoon months, spray 1% Bordeaux mixture during May and repeat again in August.

3.Damping or rhizome rot:

Infected seedlings collapse at collar region and die in patches, entire clump dies in grown up plants.

  • Control-Pre treat the nursery with 1:50 formaldehyde, drench the soil after germination with 0.2% copper oxychloride.

Harvesting and processing technique of Cardamom-

Cardamom plants normally start bearing two years after planting. In most of the areas the peak period of harvest is during October-November. Picking is carried out at an interval of 15-25 days. Ripe capsules are harvested in order to get maximum green color during curing.

After harvest, capsules are dried either in fuel kiln or electrical drier or in the sun. It has been found that soaking the freshly harvested green cardamom capsules in 2% washing soda solution for 10 minutes prior to drying helps to retain the green color during drying. When drier is used, it should be dried at 45-50o C for 14-18 hours, while for kiln, over night drying at 50-60 o C is required. The capsules kept for drying are spread thinly and stirred frequently to ensure uniform drying. The dried capsules are rubbed with hands or coir mat or wire mesh and winnowed to remove any foreign matter. They are then sorted out according to size and color, and stored in black polythene lined gunny bags to retain the green colour during storage.



  • Indian Institute of Spices Research.
  • India
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