When it comes to baking, there are very few ingredients (besides maybe flour and sugar, of course) that I find as beneficial and as integral as cinnamon. It’s a versatile spice that can be used in everything from quick bread to cookies, pies to pastries, and everything in between.
There are even some savory dishes that do well with a dash of cinnamon!
However, did you know that cinnamon has benefits outside of the kitchen as well?
Cinnamon can be used in many practical gardening applications. Although cinnamon can be admittedly a bit expensive compared to other natural home treatments you can apply in your garden (like vinegar or baking soda), there are plenty of ways you can put this spice to work on your veggies or flowers.
Here are a few examples.
Cinnamon is an easy to find spice that you can pick up at just about any grocery store or convenience store. Although it’s not the cheapest spice, it’s not the most expensive – and when compared to many other garden treatments, like rooting hormones, it’s downright affordable.
The major benefit of using cinnamon in the garden is its accessibility. You don’t have to live near a fancy garden supply store or order from a catalog and wait seven days for a product to arrive in the mail to be able to use it in your garden plants. You have everything you need right in your very own kitchen!
One thing to keep in mind, though – when I write about using cinnamon in the garden, I am referring to powdered cinnamon and not cinnamon sticks. Cinnamon sticks, though lovely to look at, simply aren’t as effective for many of the uses that I’ll detail below.
Uses for Cinnamon in the Garden
1. Rooting Agent
If you’ve been spending money on things like hormone rooting powder, you can stop doing so immediately. Cinnamon to the rescue.
According to many gardeners, cinnamon is just as effective when applied to a plant’s stem when you plant the cutting. It can stimulate root development in just about every kind of plant that you grow in this fashion and you only have to apply it once.
To use cinnamon as a rooting agent, simply dump a spoonful of cinnamon on a paper towel. Dampen the stem ends, then roll them into the paper towel. Plant your cuttings in potting soil. The cinnamon will encourage new growth – and it will perform one other vital role, which I’ll address next.
2. Prevent Damping Off Disease
When applied to a plant cutting, cinnamon can also help to prevent damping off disease. This frustrating disease is a fungus that attacks small seedlings just as they start to grow. Cinnamon kills the fungus before it has a chance to get started on your vulnerable seedlings.
It is effective at preventing and treating other kinds of fungal diseases, too. For example, it can help get rid of slime mold. To use it as a fungicide on older plants, you can mix a spoonful or two of cinnamon into the water and let it steep overnight.
Strain it through a coffee filter or piece of cheesecloth, then put the mixture into a spray bottle. Spray the leaves, stems, or other parts of the plant that are affected. You can also spritz the soil if soil-borne fungi are an issue.
3. Ant Removal
Cinnamon is effective at removing and preventing a large array of common garden pests. One of the most significant? Ants.
Ants are common garden pests both in the greenhouse, the garden plot, and even around houseplants. Cinnamon helps deter ants and other tiny pests by producing a barrier that they don’t like to cross. To use cinnamon, all you need to do is sprinkle a bit like a border wherever ants tend to be a problem.
You can use cinnamon both inside and outside of your house. The most effective way to use it indoors is to find the entry point of the ants and then sprinkle a layer of cinnamon in the path. It won’t kill the ants but it will stop them from coming indoors.
4. Deters Mushrooms
Mushrooms are great – but only when they’re growing exactly where you want them to (usually, that’s in your garden!). By adding cinnamon to your garden mulch, you can help deter mushroom growth without having to worry about hurting your plants.
5. Prevents Rust
Rust is another fungal infection that’s common on many garden plants, like calendula. This soil-borne disease is spread by spores from the fungus Puccinia distincta. The frustrating thing about rust is that it tends to affect all parts of the plant, including the flowers.
If you’re growing calendula or similar plants (like daisies or cineraria) for medicinal use, you cannot use them when the flowers have been plagued by rust.
Therefore, it’s important that you know how to remove and prevent rust in your garden. While good garden hygiene measures like crop rotation can help, it can be another challenge to get rid of rust once it’s appeared. Cinnamon can help.
All you need to do is sprinkle a bit of cinnamon in the soil when you plant. Often, this is all it takes to discourage rust from taking over the garden. As a powerful antifungal agent, cinnamon is best when used in conjunction with other smart measures, like spacing out your plants and following good watering hygiene.
6. Heals Plant Wounds
You’re probably already aware of the importance of pruning your plants. However, overzealous pruning can cause problems as it makes it harder for your plants to bounce back and put on fresh growth. Another common problem that can arise is when you use dirty tools to trim plants – and spread infections from plant to plant.
Sometimes, you may even accidentally hit a plant with the pruning shears or weed whacker without intending to. This can lead to a whole host of problems, but fortunately, cinnamon can help. Cinnamon, when applied to a fresh plant wound, can encourage healing and prevent fungal infections from developing or worsening.
7. Deters Furry Pests
If furry pests, like mice, rabbits, squirrels, and other rodents are problematic in your garden, you may have to consider using some cinnamon. As you probably know, cinnamon is a very strongly scented spice. Its strong-smelling oils often confuse the scent instincts of animals that run low to the ground, causing them to avoid an area entirely.
If you find that these pests are consistently plaguing your garden, a spoonful of cinnamon sprinkled around the perimeter of your garden might be just what the doctor ordered.
8. Prevents Mosquitoes
Mosquitoes are probably the most annoying creatures that exist – particularly during the warmest days of summer. You can get rid of them by applying a bit of cinnamon around the garden. Although it’s not the most effective insect repellent out there (citronella still has my vote), it can be helpful when used in combination with other agents.
9. Can Even Be Used on Houseplants
Even indoor-grown plants can benefit from a bit of cinnamon. Cinnamon is most effective in greenhouses, where it can be used to kill spider mites, whiteflies, and other common pests. All you have to do is sprinkle cinnamon on the surface of the soil around your plants. You can also use this remedy on indoor house plants, too.
Another use for cinnamon when it comes to houseplants? It can get rid of gnats, which aren’t necessarily harmful to plants but can be aggravating to you, as the indoor gardener. Cinnamon is also effective at getting rid of mildew and mold on houseplants.
What to Keep in Mind When Using Cinnamon
Cinnamon holds the solution to many common garden problems, though it certainly isn’t a panacea or an end-all, be-all. Many of the uses for cinnamon as described above are based on anecdotal evidence, meaning there might not be a lot of science to back them up.
That said, none of them will harm your plants, particularly when used in combination with other good gardening practices like rotating your crops, watering first thing in the morning rather than late in the afternoon, and fertilizing regularly. Avoid using large amounts of cinnamon in the garden, though – if for no other reason than it’s going to get expensive.
Oh – and because you don’t want to run out when it’s time to make your famous snickerdoodle cookies!