Tamarind can only be grown indoors in the UK when it is young, but it will live in a pot for several years and is easy to grow as a houseplant. You will not be able to harvest tamarind pods from your plant, as it rarely fruits when immature.
Perennial. Only suitable for indoors or a heated greenhouse, even in hot summers. Minimum temperature 18°C.
Seeds from dried tamarind blocks, or from fresh tamarind usually grow, but sow more than you want as germination can sometimes be poor. Steep the seed in tepid water for a few hours before sowing.
Sow in a shallow pot contaning a mixture of seed compost and grit, just cover the seeds and keep warm, preferably with bottom heat, at 20°C for at least 3 weeks.When shoots emerge, keep damp, in a warm light place but not in direct sunlight.
Tamarind can also be increased by taking cuttings of young shoots in the summer in a heated frame.
Pot on the seedlings when big enough to handle. Keep them damp and warm, in a slightly shaded position at first, then move to a sunnier position. Use a third extra grit or silver sand mixed with the potting compost.
As the plants grow, move into bigger pots and top-dress with pine bark or leafmould. If you need to prune your tamarind, do it in the spring and summer.
Ideally keep plants at 20-27°C during the growing season, water heavily and mist daily: during the autumn reduce watering, and keep the plants fairly dry over winter, at a temperature of 18-20°C, when they will need more light.
Red spider mite can be an occasional problem in older plants: regular misting and keeping the leaves well-washed will reduce this.
Asian and Caribbean shops often sell fresh tamarind or tamarind pulp in blocks.