Clove seedling mortality in the field was highest during the two dry seasons of the first year after planting. Survival after planting and growth in the first few years in the field were significantly improved by mulching. A coconut husk mulch was more effective than the previously recommended mulch of banana pseudostems. Mulching with coconut husks reduced weed growth, increased soil water and reduced the maximum daytime soil temperature around mulched seedlings. Seedling survival was also significantly increased by the use of banana or cassava shade crops. In a comparison of clove seedling survival amongst grass, kudzu, bananas and cassava, cassava resulted in significantly better clove seedling survival and growth than the other plants. Kudzu apparently caused excessive competition for soil moisture and resulted in the worst clove seedling survival and growth.