How to Grow Calamus

Learn how to grow calamus with our comprehensive guide, covering variety selection, soil preparation, planting, harvesting.

How to Grow Calamus
How to Grow Calamus

If you're interested in learning how to grow calamus, you've come to the right place. Acorus calamus, also known as sweet flag, is a popular plant among young adults for its recreational uses and unique properties. In this blog post, we'll provide detailed instructions on cultivating your own acorus calamus plants from start to finish.

Choosing the best variety of calamus for your needs is essential to successful cultivation. Next, we will delve into preparing the soil and planting techniques that are essential for healthy growth. We will then explore proper watering and fertilizing methods tailored specifically for acorus calamus.

Additionally, we'll cover effective strategies for controlling weeds and pests that may threaten your plants' health. Finally, our guide will explain when and how to harvest your matured calamus roots along with tips on storing them safely after harvesting.

By following these steps outlined in our comprehensive guide on how to grow calamus, you can successfully cultivate this fascinating plant at home with ease.

Table of Contents:

1. Choosing the Right Calamus Variety

Growing calamus can be an exciting and rewarding experience, especially if you're interested in exploring its potential benefits and uses. However, before diving into the world of calamus cultivation, it's essential to choose the right variety for your needs. There are multiple types of calamus available, each with its own distinct features.


The Americanus, also known as Sweet Flag or simply American Calamus, is native to North America and has a milder aroma compared to other varieties. This type is often used for medicinal purposes due to its lower levels of asarone a compound that may have toxic effects when consumed in large quantities.


Asiaticus, commonly referred to as Asian Sweet Flag or Indian Jatamansi, originates from Asia and has a stronger scent than its American counterpart. It contains higher concentrations of asarone but offers more potent psychoactive properties sought after by some enthusiasts.

Factors To Consider When Choosing A Variety:

  • Purpose: Determine whether you intend to use calamus primarily for recreational or medicinal purposes; this will help guide your decision-making process regarding which variety best suits your needs.
  • Climatic Conditions: Consider the climate in your area, as some varieties may fare better under specific conditions. For example, American Calamus tends to thrive in cooler climates with ample moisture, while Asiaticus prefers warmer environments.
  • Legal Restrictions: Be aware of any legal restrictions surrounding calamus cultivation and use in your region. While it's generally legal to grow calamus for personal use, certain countries or states may have regulations regarding its consumption or sale.

In conclusion, choosing the right variety of calamus is crucial for a successful growing experience. Consider factors such as purpose, climatic conditions and legality when making your decision. By selecting the appropriate type that aligns with your needs and preferences, you'll be well on your way to cultivating this fascinating plant.

When choosing the right calamus variety, it is important to consider factors such as climate and soil type. Now that the type has been selected, it's time to ready the earth for sowing.

2. Preparing the Soil

Before you start planting your calamus, it's essential to prepare the soil properly to ensure optimal growth and a healthy plant. For optimal growth, calamus requires soil with a slightly acidic pH level between 5.5 and 6.5 that is able to hold moisture while allowing excess water to drain away easily.

Selecting the Right Soil Type

The best type of soil for growing calamus is loamy or sandy-loam soil that retains moisture but also allows excess water to drain away easily. You can test your garden's existing soil by conducting a simple at-home test, or purchasing an inexpensive testing kit from your local gardening store.

Amending Your Soil

If your current garden bed doesn't meet these requirements, don't worry. You can still amend the existing soil by adding organic matter such as compost, peat moss, or aged manure which will improve both its structure and nutrient content:

  • Compost: Rich in nutrients and beneficial microorganisms, compost helps improve drainage while retaining moisture for healthier root development.
  • Peat Moss: This lightweight material increases acidity levels while enhancing water retention capabilities without becoming overly saturated.
  • Aged Manure:An excellent source of slow-release nutrients like nitrogen that promote lush foliage growth on calamus plants.

Fertilizing Your Calamus Bed

In addition to amending the soil with organic materials mentioned above, you'll want to provide additional fertilization throughout the growing season using either chemical-based or natural fertilizers. A balanced, slow-release fertilizer with a ratio of 10-10-10 (Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium) is ideal for promoting healthy calamus growth.

Alternatively, you can opt for natural fertilizers like bone meal, which provides phosphorus to encourage root development or fish emulsion as a source of nitrogen that promotes lush foliage. Apply your chosen fertilizer according to the manufacturer's instructions or recommended guidelines for organic options.

With your soil properly prepared and amended, you're now ready to plant your calamus rhizomes and begin nurturing them into thriving plants.

Making ready the ground is an indispensable action for successfully cultivating calamus, since it supplies necessary sustenance to help the plant flourish. Planting Calamus involves carefully placing and spacing out each root ball so that they can grow properly and receive adequate light and water.

3. Planting Calamus

Planting calamus is an exciting and rewarding process that requires careful attention to detail. Once you have determined the ideal spot for your calamus, it's time to get started on planting it - including how deep to bury the roots.

Selecting a Location

The first step in planting calamus is selecting the perfect location for your new addition. Calamus plants thrive in wet or marshy areas with plenty of sunlight; therefore, choose a spot near water sources like ponds or streams if possible. If you don't have access to such locations, consider creating a bog garden specifically designed for moisture-loving plants like calamus.

When to Plant

The best time to plant calamus is during early spring when temperatures are consistently above freezing but before summer heat sets in. This allows the plant ample time to establish its root system before winter arrives again.

Digging Holes and Preparing Roots

  1. Dig holes: Begin by digging holes about 6 inches (15 cm) deep and wide enough so that there's room for spreading out the roots without crowding them together.
  2. Clean roots: Gently remove any dirt from around your calamus rhizomes (root-like structures), taking care not to damage them while doing so.
  3. Treat with fungicide: To prevent fungal infections during growth, consider treating your rhizomes with a natural fungicide like neem oil before planting.

Planting the Rhizomes

Now that your holes are dug and rhizomes prepared, it's time to plant. Follow these steps for successful calamus planting:

  1. Place rhizome in hole: Gently place the cleaned and treated rhizome into the hole with its growing tips facing upwards.
  2. Cover with soil: Carefully cover the rhizome with soil, ensuring that it is completely buried but not too deep - about 2-4 inches (5-10 cm) of soil should be sufficient.
  3. Firmly press down on soil: Firmly press down on the surrounding soil to remove any air pockets and ensure good contact between roots and earth.
  4. Water generously: Thoroughly water your newly planted calamus immediately after planting to help settle the roots in their new environment. Continue watering regularly as needed throughout its growth cycle (Gardening Know How).

You've now successfully planted your calamus. With proper care, you'll soon have a thriving plant ready for harvest when the time comes.

Planting Calamus is a relatively simple process that requires minimal effort and can be done in any location with the right environment. With proper care, your calamus will thrive.

4. Watering and Fertilizing

Proper watering and fertilization are essential for the healthy growth of your calamus plants. This guide will show you when to water, which fertilizer is best, and when it should be applied for optimal calamus growth.

Watering Calamus Plants

Calamus thrives in moist environments, so ensuring that the soil remains consistently damp is crucial. In general, it's best to water your calamus plants once or twice a week during dry periods. Nevertheless, your watering schedule may need to be adjusted depending on the local climate and weather conditions.

  • Monitor Soil Moisture: Check the moisture level by sticking your finger about an inch into the soil near the base of the plant; if it feels dry at that depth, it's time to water.
  • Mulching: Applying a layer of mulch around your calamus plants can help retain moisture in the soil while also preventing weed growth.
  • Avoid Overwatering: While calamus loves moisture-rich conditions, overwatering can lead to root rot - so make sure not to let standing water accumulate around their roots for extended periods.

Fertilizing Your Calamus Plants

To ensure optimal growth and health for your calamus plants, proper fertilization is key. Here are some tips on choosing and applying fertilizer:

  • Type of Fertilizer: Use a balanced slow-release granular fertilizer with a ratio of 10-10-10 (N-P-K). This will provide the necessary nutrients for your calamus plants to thrive.
  • Application Frequency: Fertilize your calamus plants once in early spring and again in midsummer. Steer clear of over-fertilizing, which can result in too much growth and a weaker plant structure.
  • Fertilizer Application Method: Apply the fertilizer according to the package instructions, usually by sprinkling it around the base of each plant. Be sure not to let any granules come into direct contact with the stems or leaves, as this may cause burning.

Incorporating these watering and fertilization techniques into your calamus care routine will help ensure that you have healthy, vibrant plants ready for harvest when the time comes.

Proper watering and fertilizing of calamus is essential for optimal growth. Moving on, controlling weeds and pests can be a challenge in the cultivation process.

5. Controlling Weeds and Pests

Maintaining a healthy calamus plant requires effective control of weeds and pests that may hinder its growth or cause damage to the plant. In this section, we'll explore various approaches to keeping weeds and pests at bay in order to ensure the optimal growth of your calamus plant.

A. Mulching

Mulching is an excellent way to suppress weed growth around your calamus plants. By covering the soil with a layer of organic material such as straw, wood chips, or leaves, you can prevent sunlight from reaching weed seeds and inhibit their germination. Additionally, mulches help retain moisture in the soil and regulate temperature fluctuations during hot summer days or cold winter nights.

B. Hand Weeding

If weeds do manage to sprout around your calamus plants despite mulching efforts, it's essential to remove them by hand before they become too established or compete with your plants for nutrients and water resources. Be sure to pull out weeds gently so as not to disturb the roots of your calamus plants.

C. Natural Predators

Incorporating beneficial insects into your garden can be an effective method for controlling pests that may attack your calamus plants without resorting to chemical pesticides which could harm both humans consuming harvested parts of the plant as well as beneficial organisms living in surrounding ecosystems.

  • Ladybugs: These helpful beetles are known for their voracious appetite for aphids - common pests on many types of plants, including calamus. Introducing ladybugs to your garden can help keep aphid populations in check.
  • Praying Mantises: These fascinating insects are natural predators of various pests such as caterpillars, flies, and even small rodents. Adding praying mantises to your garden can be an effective way to control a wide range of potential threats to your calamus plants.

D. Organic Pesticides

If you find that natural predators aren't enough to control pests on your calamus plants or if you prefer not to introduce new species into your garden ecosystem, consider using organic pesticides like neem oil or insecticidal soap sprays which have minimal impact on the environment and human health compared with synthetic chemical alternatives. Remember always read product labels carefully before applying any pesticide treatment - whether organic or conventional - ensuring proper dosage rates and application methods for maximum effectiveness while minimizing risks associated with overuse or misuse.

Controlling weeds and pests is an important step in growing calamus, as it can help ensure a healthy crop. To maximize your harvest, the next step is to learn how to properly harvest calamus.

6. Harvesting Calamus

Growing calamus can be a rewarding experience, especially when it comes time to harvest the plant and enjoy its various benefits. When harvesting calamus, it is important to know which parts of the plant are edible and which should be discarded.

When to Harvest

The ideal time for harvesting calamus is during late summer or early fall, typically around August or September. This is when the rhizomes have had enough time to mature and develop their full flavor profile. To ensure you're harvesting at the right time, look for signs such as yellowing leaves or a strong sweet aroma coming from your plants.

How to Harvest

  1. Gather necessary tools: Before starting your harvest process, make sure you have all required tools on hand like gloves (to protect your hands), a sharp knife or pruning shears (for cutting through roots), and a container (to collect harvested rhizomes).
  2. Carefully dig up plants: Using a garden fork or spade, gently loosen soil around each calamus plant without damaging its root system. Carefully lift out entire plants along with attached rhizomes.
  3. Separate rhizomes from foliage: Once you've removed plants from soil, use your knife or pruning shears to cut away any green stems above ground level while leaving behind underground portions containing valuable rhizome material.
  4. Clean harvested rhizomes: Rinse off dirt using water before allowing them air dry completely in an area protected from direct sunlight but with good airflow circulation like under shade cloth outdoors .

Edible Parts and Discarding

The primary edible part of the calamus plant is its rhizome, which can be consumed fresh or dried. The leaves and stems are not typically used for consumption due to their bitter taste and potential toxicity when ingested in large quantities. It's important to discard any damaged or rotten rhizomes during your harvest process, as these may negatively impact the overall quality of your yield.

Uses for Harvested Calamus

Once you've successfully harvested your calamus plants, there are several ways you can utilize them:

  • Chewing on fresh rhizomes: This can help alleviate toothaches, sore throats, or even act as a natural breath freshener.
  • Drying: Dried calamus root has various uses such as making tea blends or grinding into powder form for use in recipes like soups and stews.
  • Tinctures: You can also create a tincture by soaking cleaned and chopped rhizomes in alcohol (like vodka) for several weeks before straining out solids. Tinctures made from calamus root have been employed for centuries to aid in digestion and alleviate abdominal discomfort.

Growing and harvesting calamus at home provides an opportunity to explore this versatile plant's many benefits while ensuring that you're using only high-quality material free from contaminants often found in commercially sourced products. Happy harvesting.

Gathering Calamus is a critical part of the cultivation process, requiring close consideration to attain optimum outcomes. With proper storage techniques, your calamus will remain fresh for longer periods of time, making it easier to enjoy its many benefits.

7. Storing Calamus

After successfully harvesting your calamus, it's essential to store it properly in order to preserve its freshness and flavor for future use. In this section, we'll discuss various storage techniques such as drying or freezing that can help you make the most out of your harvested calamus.

Drying Calamus

Drying is one of the most popular methods for storing calamus, as it helps retain its potency while extending shelf life. To dry your freshly harvested calamus:

  1. Thoroughly rinse the roots in running water to clean them, and take out any dirt or debris.
  2. Cut the roots into small pieces (about half an inch) to facilitate faster drying.
  3. Spread the root pieces evenly on a clean surface like a baking sheet or dehydrator tray, ensuring they don't overlap.
  4. Set the temperature between 95-115°F (35-46°C) and run your dehydrator for up to 24 hours until the root pieces are fully dried. Place the pieces in an airy area that's not exposed to direct sunlight for a few days until totally dry.

You can also consider hanging whole stems with leaves attached in bundles upside down in a dark room with good airflow; however, this method may take longer than other options mentioned above.

Freezing Calamus

Freezing, another effective storage technique for preserving fresh flavors and aromas of calamus without losing much potency over time:

  1. Clean the roots as described in the drying section.
  2. Blanch the cleaned roots by boiling them for 1-2 minutes, then immediately submerging them in ice-cold water to stop cooking. This step helps preserve color and flavor during freezing.
  3. Drain and pat dry with a clean towel or paper towels before placing into freezer-safe containers or bags, ensuring minimal air exposure.
  4.  Store your frozen calamus at temperatures below 0°F (-18°C) for up to six months.

Proper storage techniques are crucial when it comes to preserving calamus's potency and freshness. By following these guidelines on drying or freezing your harvest, you can enjoy its unique flavors and benefits long after harvesting season has passed.

Frequently Asked Questions How to Grow Calamus

How do you grow calamus?

To grow calamus, choose the right variety, prepare the soil with a mix of sand and loam, plant rhizomes or seeds in shallow trenches about 1 inch deep. Keep the plants well-watered and fertilize regularly. Control weeds and pests by using organic methods like mulching or introducing beneficial insects. Harvest when leaves turn yellowish-green.

Why was calamus banned?

Calamus was banned in some countries due to its content of beta-asarone, which is considered potentially toxic and carcinogenic. The FDA has classified it as unsafe for human consumption; however, not all varieties contain high levels of beta-asarone. Traditional use suggests that moderate consumption may be safe.

How do you grow calamus from seed?

Growing calamus from seed requires stratification: place seeds in moist peat moss inside a plastic bag and refrigerate for two months before planting outdoors in springtime. Sow seeds on prepared soil surface without burying them completely; keep moist until germination occurs within 2-4 weeks.

What is calamus called today?

Calamus is commonly known as sweet flag (Acorus Calamus) or simply "calamus." It's an aromatic perennial herb native to Asia but now found worldwide near wetlands areas such as marshes, swamps, riverbanks, etc., where it thrives under damp conditions.


Having acquired the knowledge to cultivate calamus, it is time to apply that wisdom. Remember to choose the right variety, prepare the soil properly, and water and fertilize regularly. Keep watch for weeds and bugs so they don't harm your vegetation.

When the time for reaping arrives, take care to store your calamus correctly so that it remains fresh for a prolonged period. With a little patience and care, you can enjoy the benefits of this versatile plant in no time!