Nutmeg Tree: Growing Two Tropical Spices


When autumn comes within the Americas, spice is the secret. Baked items, coffees, and heat dishes sport autumn spice blends everyone knows and love. Mace and the spice nutmeg accompany others in a number of varieties. But do you know that these spices each develop on a nutmeg tree?

Nutmeg and mace come from the tropical tree, Myristica fragrans. Nutmeg timber originate within the Spice Islands, an archipelago of the jap a part of Indonesia. This area was one of many predominant stations of the spice commerce amongst European colonists way back to the sixteenth century BCE. 

Although it took a very long time for nutmeg timber to make their technique to the Americas, they’re right here! And you’ll be able to domesticate that particular pungent perfume that nutmeg seed brings wherever it’s added. In this information, we’ll speak about how one can develop your individual nutmeg timber at house. 

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Quick Care Guide

The nutmeg tree cover itself is usually a attractive tropical shade. Source: wallygrom
Common Name(s) Common nutmeg, aromatic nutmeg, true nutmeg, mace
Scientific Name Myristica fragrans
Days to Harvest 150 to 180 days (from planting a mature tree)
Light Part solar
Water Up to 2 inches per week
Soil Fertile, well-draining
Fertilizer Composted cattle manure or occasional liquid fertilizer
Pests Cocoa weevil
Diseases Anthracnose leaf spot, thread blight

All About The Nutmeg Tree

Nutmegs splitting on tree
Ripe produce will break up on the tree, revealing the twin spice inside. Source: Jenny Mackness

Nutmeg timber (identified scientifically as Myristica fragrans) produce each nutmeg and the spice generally known as mace. Fragrant nutmeg and mace are frequent names related to nutmeg timber. The timber are the origin of the nutmeg Americans know and love. 

Nutmeg timber are native to the Spice Islands of Indonesia. It’s right here that Portuguese colonists acquired information of the plant from the West Indies and took it again with them to Europe within the sixteenth century. It wasn’t till the nineteenth century that this tropical tree was cultivated outdoors the Maluku Islands. 

Nutmeg timber are evergreen with clean aromatic, darkish inexperienced leaves that resemble that of magnolia. Female timber have 3 to 4 lobed petal-less flowers. Male timber have as much as 20 stamens per flower. Fully mature nutmeg timber develop wherever from 30 to 60 toes tall. 

Through the method of pollination between female and male flowers, usually carried out by a nocturnal beetle, nutmeg vegetation bear fruit in a teardrop type of inexperienced to yellow tender flesh. Inside, the seeds are grayish-brown ovals with furrowed surfaces and a tough red-colored aril seed coat. Home cultivators who’re within the for the lengthy haul develop each a female and male tree and hand pollinate them to provide nutmeg seed. Trees produce nutmegs round age 5, and the overall lifespan of a tree is as much as 60 years.

Fresh nutmeg pulp may be eliminated to reveal the seed kernels that turn out to be dried nutmegs. Grated nutmeg turns into nutmeg powder, used as a spice internationally. The crimson-colored aril that exists atop the seed’s arduous floor is separated, dried step by step, and used because the spice mace. Although these timber are particularly tropical, they’re straightforward to domesticate in the best situations. Growers with greenhouses in cooler areas of the world can have simply as a lot success as these in hotter areas. 

The fruit itself is edible and you may make nutmeg juice from that fruit, which is a delicacy extensively served in espresso retailers in its native area. Those who’ve unfold the good thing about this beneficiant species of their culinary follow have described it as startling and stunning outdoors of the American context most of us know spices like nutmeg for.


When you buy nutmeg timber, wait till the roots fill the nursery pot earlier than transplanting. Unless you reside in tropical areas, plant your timber in a container. As progress happens, step by step switch the timber into containers with 2 extra inches of width and depth because the final, ensuring the roots aren’t circling across the pot. Eventually, plant your timber in 5-gallon pots. Once the roots fill this space, plant them of their ultimate resting place — both in a container or in-ground. 

Make certain to permit at the least 30 to 40 toes between nutmeg vegetation grown within the earth. Those grown in containers will just do advantageous so long as they’re in good situation. Because these are tropical vegetation, they shouldn’t be planted or transplanted in cool climate. Make certain they’re in a sunny space with good, constant humidity. Avoid areas with excessive winds, or chilly, dry air. Give the plant fertile soil with good drainage. 


Mace arils on nutmeg kernel
The arils we check with as mace type across the nutmeg kernel. Source: bebopeloula

Nutmeg does nice as soon as it’s established after planting. Let’s focus on the framework for efficiently rising nutmeg. 

Sun and Temperature

Nutmeg loves areas that get full solar to partial shade to full daylight at 4 to six hours every day. They thrive in USDA zones 10 and 11. Again, it’s attainable to develop this tree outdoors that vary, simply in containers. The optimum temperature vary for a nutmeg tree is 77 to 86 levels Fahrenheit. Therefore, it’s finest to domesticate this tree outside in an space that has sizzling summers and delicate winters, and to usher in container-grown timber in climates outdoors that vary.

Too a lot solar will scorch the leaves of your tree, whereas an excessive amount of shade will starve nutmeg of vitamins. Additionally, an excessive amount of chilly will simply kill nutmeg, particularly under 30 levels Fahrenheit. If you backyard this tree in USDA zones outdoors of the perfect vary, be sure to have a greenhouse or indoor area to shelter your plant from climate extremes. Outside the optimum temperature vary, a nutmeg tree will cease flowering and drop fruit. Pollination presently turns into harder. Keep it in that vary, and also you’re set!

Water and Humidity

Water nutmeg within the morning when the floor 2 inches of soil is dry. In containers, water the tree extra usually following the identical rule. Containers are inclined to dry out soil sooner. 

In the backyard mattress or yard, a very good 2 to 3-inch layer of mulch will assist preserve the soil moist. Set a drip irrigation line across the base of your tree, away from the trunk. If your tree is uncovered to prolonged intervals of rain, keep away from watering till the highest layer of your planting medium turns into dry once more. Do not permit the soil to dry out. Nutmeg is native to areas which have persistently moist soil, so give it the identical to achieve success.

If you reside in an space with lower than 85% humidity, repeatedly mist your tree to the purpose the place water swimming pools on the leaves however doesn’t drip off. Do this as much as 2 instances every day if wanted. 


Use a extremely fertile soil sort with good drainage for planting this tree in your backyard. Most skilled nutmeg growers use a well-draining soil base with well-rotted manure (usually cow manure) and a bit little bit of sand combined in. If planting instantly within the soil, work in a very good quantity of composted manure previous to planting. Although nutmeg can survive in poor soil, it wants greater than that to pollinate and fruit. In basic, flippantly acidic soil is finest. Test your soil for a pH vary between 5.5 and seven.0. 


Because nutmeg grows in massive quantities of well-rotted manure, it doesn’t want a lot extraneous nutrient content material. However, a month-to-month liquid utility of a diluted natural fertilizer with a 20-18-50 base NPK doesn’t harm. Gradually enhance this quantity every year because the tree grows. Alternately, unfold extra composted manure across the tree yearly.

Do not fertilize when it’s too sizzling or too chilly. This may both promote rot in your nutmeg roots or burn the plant. 


In younger timber, prune off branches that develop inward towards the trunk. As nutmeg ages, branches on the backside of the tree ought to be pruned to carry the crown and provide you with area under. Some say extra branches imply extra fruits, whereas others say pruning promotes fruits and flowers. You’ll have loads of time to mess around with this and see what works finest for you.

As the tree will get bigger, have somebody spot you when pruning high-up branches. Alternatively, rent an arborist that will help you form nutmeg. When the fruits are ripe, they may break up and fall to the earth. It can be picked off the tree simply earlier than the flesh splits if you wish to use the flesh as effectively. Because nutmeg is evergreen, it doesn’t drop its leaves and isn’t deciduous. 


As nutmegs fall to the bottom after they’re ripe, they may find yourself within the optimum shade and moist soil and propagate on their very own. Simply dig up the seedling with its new progress and transplant it right into a gallon container with the identical soil you’d give to your mature tree. 

Alternately, take away and plant seeds your self. As the fruit and seeds drop, place the seeds in an envelope or paper bag and put them within the fridge. They’ll stay viable for as much as 45 days. Soak them for at the least 24 hours in clear water, after which plant them in 5-inch starter pots 1 inch deep. Keep the soil moist and in six to eight weeks you’ll have a sprouted nutmeg.  

Recently, work has been achieved in grafting male nutmegs onto feminine nutmeg. This is a technique to produce a tree that self-pollinates. If you could have a mature feminine nutmeg, you’ll be able to graft a male department onto a wholesome feminine tree. 

Harvesting and Storing

Unripe and ripe nutmegs
The variations between ripe and unripe nutmegs may be seen right here. Source: Leticia L

So you’ve achieved the planting, soil upkeep, and also you’re effectively in your technique to having your individual floor spice nutmeg. Let’s discuss in regards to the technique of eradicating seed, processing, and storing nutmeg. You’ll have a heat dry taste of those spices in any dish you want. 


As the fruit opens and exposes the seed, nutmegs are prepared to reap. Either look forward to nutmegs to drop within the space your tree is planted, or take away them with an extended pole. Remember that you simply gained’t see ripe fruit till at the least 5 years of wholesome progress.

Separate the purple aril from the seed casing. The seed casing will must be separated from the seed as soon as the seed dries out absolutely. The casing may be composted or discarded. The aril ought to be dried for two weeks in direct daylight. Then it may be floor in a mortar and pestle into powder.

To dry nutmeg, permit it to take a seat in daylight for six to eight weeks till the nutmeg shrinks and the kernels rattle inside. It’s this kernel that’s the nutmeg we all know and love, so crack the outer casing and extract your prize. The kernel itself may be floor with a microplane grater or nutmeg grater. Note the flavour of freshly floor nutmeg will likely be a lot stronger than saved powder. Use your sense of scent and style to find out if you might want to reduce on powder in your sauces, drinks, desserts, and meats.   


Whole nutmeg (and its flavour) may be saved in a dry hermetic container at room temperature for as much as 5 years. Ground nutmeg retains this fashion as much as 3 years. 

Mace ought to be saved in a cool darkish place in an hermetic container as effectively. It will final for 1 yr however will start to lose its efficiency after 6 to eight months. 

Having fresh-ground nutmeg and mace for greens (like potatoes), meat, or to unfold round numerous dishes is actually pretty.


Teardrop shaped nutmegs
Fruit is spherical to teardrop-shaped and really seen in opposition to the leaves. Source: joegoauk73

Growing nutmeg may be tough when situations aren’t proper. Here are some things to pay attention to. 

Growing Problems

If you develop nutmeg in soil that isn’t fertile or soil that isn’t moist sufficient, it could not flower or fruit. By yr 7, if the flowers haven’t grown, fertilize just a bit greater than you probably did final yr. 

Nutmeg wants a little bit of shade. With too little shade, the leaves can singe and nutmeg drops from the tree. At the identical time, too little solar will make them unable to synthesize their vitamins. 

If you plant your tree in a gap that’s too deep or a gap that’s too shallow, it could not take root correctly. Replant deeper quickly after when you discover uncovered roots.

Make certain you allow a small hole between any mulch and the trunk of the tree. This hole prevents potential fungal or mould injury to the trunk.


Cocoa weevil digs a round gap by means of the casing into the nutshell and eats the kernel. If you discover your nutmeg has a gap in it, deal with your tree instantly to forestall whole kernel loss. Weevils is not going to solely eat the kernel however lay eggs within the gap permitting larva to proliferate. These are sometimes handled with natural fumigants utilized to kernels. Plant vegetation that encourage their pure predators, like mantises, birds, and ladybugs, or introduce these useful predators to your backyard. Organic spinosad spray is an efficient pesticide alternative for weevils.


Anthracnose leaf spot is brought on by the fungus Colletotrichum gloeosporioides, and presents as spots with yellow halos on the leaves of your tree. To deal with leaf spot, use a 1% Bordeaux combination (a mix of copper sulfate, hydrated lime, and water) in liquid type and spray your leaves. For a neater, off-the-shelf therapy, a liquid copper fungicide can also be efficient.

Thread blight can also be brought on by a fungus. Corticium spp. is the pathogen on this case. It both produces white or black silky threads that type an irregular community on stems and leaves. This can also be treatable utilizing a liquid copper fungicide or a 1% Bordeaux combination.

Frequently Asked Questions

Nutmeg fruit cluster
A cluster of unripe fruit on the tree. Source: Lee Edwin Coursey

Q: Can I develop a nutmeg tree?

A: Yes! It will take time, however as soon as you identify this plant you’ll be so glad you probably did. 

Q: Can you eat the nutmeg fruit?

A: The pulp across the fruit is reputed to be fairly candy and popularly juiced in Asian nations. It has a distinct taste than the spice however could be very tasty!

Q: How lengthy does a nutmeg tree take to develop?

A: Nutmeg produces fruit after at the least 5 years of wholesome progress and correct pollination.

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