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How To Grow Cumin

Cuminum cyminum

Cumin plant and seeds.

Cumin (Cuminum cyminum), is a warm season annual in the family Apiaceae. Cumin is grown for its seeds that are used whole or ground. This pungent herb is commonly used to spice Mexican, Asian, Indian and Middle Eastern foods. Cumin has medicinal and culinary uses.

To harvest seeds, allow pod to ripen and turn brown.  Remove from the plant and dry.  Rub pods to remove the seeds. 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.

Growing the Herb Cumin

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

Growing Cultures

Outdoors, containers, and hydroponics.

Plant Height

Cumin grows to heights between 6 and 24 inches (15-60cm).

Plant Spacing

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

Preferred pH Range

Cumin 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.


From seed. Direct sow outdoors well after last frost when soil has warmed. Or start seeds in propagation starter cubes or plugs indoors between four and six weeks before planting outdoors after soil has warmed.

Seed Germination Period

Cumin seeds will germinate in soil in approximately 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, or Grodan Stonewool. It is recommended to soak the seeds for approximately 8 hours prior to sowing for better germination rates.

Number of Seeds per Gram

There are approximately 30 cumin seeds per gram.

Soil Requirements

Cumin prefers a well-drained, fertile sandy loam to loamy soil but will tolerate a diverse range of soil types.

Alternative Growing Media

Soilless potting mixes (Pro-Mix, Sunshine Mix, etc.), perlite, vermiculite, rockwool, coco peat, Oasis Rootcubes.

Time From Seed to Saleable Plant

Cumin plants begin producing seed approximately 120 days after planting.

Sun & Lighting Requirements

Cumin grown outdoors prefers full sun.

Cumin will grow indoors satisfactorily under high output T5 fluorescent plant lights, compact fluorescent, and especially well under high intensity discharge (metal halide or high pressure sodium) plant growing lights.

Keep high output and compact fluorescents approximately one foot above the plants, and HID lights between 2 and 4 feet above the plants, depending on wattage.

Have an oscillating fan gently stir seedlings for at least 2 hours per day to stimulate a more compact, and sturdier plant habit.

USDA Hardiness

Zones 5 - 10.

Water Requirements

Water regularly, being careful not to overwater. Allow soil to go almost dry between watering, then soak thoroughly.

Potential Plant Pests and Diseases

Cumin plants can be susceptible to aphids. They may also be susceptible to wilt, blight, powdery mildew, and root rot if kept too wet.

Special Notes

Cumin plants are known to attract beneficial insects. Plants are not frost hardy.