Curcuma or Turmeric is a well known spice originating from Southeast Asia. It is used in food coloring due to its nice yellow color. It is also used to give a bitter taste to foods, it is widely used in curries. Curcuma plant belongs to the ginger family.
Historically, curcuma has also been used as a medicinal plant. In some countries, it is possible to buy turmeric tablets as a food supplement, although there is no evidence that consuming curcuma can help against any diseases.
If you are interested in growing your own turmeric, look no further! In this article, we explain how to grow curcuma plant, where you can grow it, how often you should water it, what pests and diseases to look out for and more.
Types of Turmeric
There are a few cultivars of turmeric available, we made a list of five different cultivars you can grow:
- Curcuma Amada – aka the Mango Ginger, is pale yellow on the inside and even lighter color outside.
- Curcuma Angustifolia – a perennial flowering plant with bracts shaped like boats that encase the entire perianth of the flower.
- Curcuma Aromatica – also known as Wild Turmeric is a pretty and aromatic ginger with stout underground rhizomes, the flowers appear in early spring from the base of the rhizome.
- Curcuma Zedoaria – a perennial herb found in tropical countries, many parts of the plant can be used in medicine.
Mostly the plant will thrive if it gets morning sun and a little bit of afternoon shade. If you wish to grow them in a spot where the plant gets sunlight all day long, it is very much possible, just make sure the plant is kept moist. Curcuma will need at least six hours of full sun daily.
Because this plant thrives on moisture and humidity watering is a very important part of taking care of your Curcuma plant. This plant needs consistent watering, meaning you can’t let the soil dry out in between watering. If the plant goes dormant keep the soil dry. Make sure to regularly mulch to help with the moisture and keep the rhizomes warm in colder climates.
Curcuma plant is native to Southeast Asia, therefore the temperatures should be between 68 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit (20 to 30 degrees Celsius). Turmeric matures in seven to ten months, so growing it in colder climates might be very difficult. The spice can easily be grown indoors, as long as it gets enough light.
Soil & Fertilizer
This plant will need a well-drained but moist soil of loam, sand, chalk, or clay. The soil pH level should be less than 7, meaning acidic, greater than 7, meaning alkaline, or exactly 7, meaning neutral.
Fertilizing your plant will help the blooming of your plant. The best time to fertilize your Curcuma would be in the spring when new growth appears. To help the Curcuma get the nutrients it needs you can also feed the plant manure or compost. You should apply a tablespoon of fertilizer per square foot (0.09 m² ) to where your plant grows.
Repotting is necessary when the soil it is planted in starts to lack the nutrients the plant needs. The plant should be repotted every two years because the rhizomes grow thick and wide at a rapid pace. An ideal pot size would be 12 inches tall and 18 inches wide (30 cm tall and 45 cm wide).
When the foliage dies back, in the autumn, you should prune it. This will help your plant to look tidy and fresh. Removing old flowers can be done but it is not necessary. The Curcuma plant will still bloom and thrive without pruning, so this step is not necessary.
Propagation should be done in the spring:
- Do this just before new leaf growth.
- Dig around the rhizome, carefully.
- Brake the rhizome apart.
- Make sure each piece contains one growth node and a portion of a crown.
- Plant the new parts down into the recommended soil and make sure to keep the soil moist.
The most common diseases include rhizome rot, leaf spot, and leaf blotch. Keep an eye on your plan to discover the disease early for easy treatment. Curcuma can also be severely affected by soil-borne diseases. Make sure to use fungicides made for this specific plant.
The most common pests you might encounter when caring for the Curcuma plant are the shoot borer and scale, which can cause an infestation on your plant. These pests will lay eggs and they will hatch in a week. Keep an eye on your plant to spot the pests early for easy removal. Use insecticides specific to this plant to treat your Curcuma from pests.
Growing curcuma can be very rewarding, provided that you enjoy the taste. Even though growing turmeric is quite easy, remember: do not let your curcuma plant dry out, give it enough light and follow our thorough guide.
Many varieties of Curcuma are quite rare so growing this in your garden will help you rise in the gardening world.