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The genus Curcuma is very vast: it includes about 50 species of herbaceous perennials with fleshy roots; the leaves can be from strictly ovate to oblong. The inflorescences are terminal, similar to cones and composed of bracts in some cases very colorful (as in the species alismatifolia, elata, petiolata rubescens, roscoeana, used as ornamental). The tubular flowers, very small and composed of three petals, are almost always not very evident because they are hidden by the bracts.
These lively animals originate from Asia and Oceania, in particular those areas characterized by a tropical and monsoon climate, where extremely dry seasons alternate with others of heavy rain.
The spice is obtained in particular from the root of the species C. longa, native to India, but today cultivated extensively in Japan, Indonesia and Africa; the powder obtained from the roots is also used to color the fabrics. Sprouts, flowers and leaves are also consumed in the Far East

Cultivation of Curcuma alismatifolia

We can to grow turmeric in the garden or in the apartment, the important thing is that the rhizomes enjoy a mild climate during the period of vegetative rest, with minimum temperatures above 10-12 ° C. So in general the plant is cultivated in the garden until the end of summer, and when it begins to decay, the rhizomes are unearthed and placed in a jute sack, with sand, in a cool, dry and dark place, until spring.
At home instead the plant is cultivated in pots, and when it begins to dry out, in autumn, the waterings are suspended, the container is moved to a sheltered place, and it is resumed growing in the spring.
These are tropical plants, who love well-lit places, also wanting direct sunlight, as long as the plant is allowed to gradually get used to sunlight. A good universal soil mixed with sand is used to increase drainage, and to avoid water stagnation, which could quickly lead to the rotting of the rhizomes, negating our efforts to cultivate the plant.

Turmeric in a nutshell


Gender Turmeric
Type of plant Rhizomatous herbaceous perennial from flowers, aromatic and medicinal
Origin Asia and Australia
Foliage caduco
Habit erected
Use Houseplant, cultivable outside in the spring-summer period. Greenhouse or veranda. Outside only in regions where the climate is mild even in winter.
Height at maturity From 0.60 to 1 m
Growth rate rapid
Diseases and pests Aphids and parasites that attack leaves and flowers.
Temperature Temperatures not less than 17 ° C, even in winter. Ideal temperatures between 20 ° C and 35 ° C.

Repotting Curcuma

To repot the rhizome, prepare a vase by placing some balls of expanded clay on the bottom so as to avoid water stagnation. Plant the rhizome at a depth of 5-6 cm with the shoots upwards, avoiding to bury it too much. If you plant it in the garden, leave at least 20 cm between two rhizomes.

Soil and watering

For turmeric, a soft and light soil based on peat, garden soil and sand is used, which ensures good drainage.
The rhizome is placed on the ground avoiding to bury it too much, it is better to leave the upper part exposed to the air; when you begin to see the first shoots you start to water, trying to keep the soil slightly damp, but not soaked in water; the best way to decide when to water is to test the earth with your fingers: if your fingers are moist, we avoid watering, but if they are dry we water them abundantly. Every 10-12 days we dissolve fertilizer for flowering plants in the water.
When you begin to see the first shoots, water regularly, trying to keep the soil always slightly damp, but not soaked with water. The best way to decide when to water is to test the earth with your fingers: if they are moist, we avoid watering, but if they are dry, let's water abundantly avoiding water stagnation, which could quickly lead to the rotting of the rhizomes.
If we grow the plant indoors, or in a very hot and dry climate, let's remember to vaporize the foliage frequently, to increase the environmental humidity.
During the spring-summer period water the plant every 2-3 days, leaving the soil slightly damp, but avoid water stagnation that would damage the plant because it would cause the rhizome to rot. Turmeric being a plant of the tropical regions, it prefers a moist environment, therefore you spray water around the foliage. In autumn, when the leaves turn yellow, suspend the waterings until the vegetative restart.
The flowers can also be cut, and used for pots or bouquets, since they resist many days even if detached from the plant.
When the foliage begins to turn yellow in autumn, we suspend the watering completely and place the pot in a cool, sheltered place.
If the plant is grown in a pot, cut the dried leaves and place the pot in a cool, sheltered place, with temperatures above 17 ° C.
If you keep the plant in the garden, unearth the rhizome, let it dry and place it in a hermetic box of wood or cardboard, sheltered, in a place with at least 17 ° C. You will plant it again in spring.

Variety of Curcuma

Curcuma alismatifolia
Also called "Thai tulip" it can reach 70 cm in height; It is the most widespread as ornamental as it is interesting for the foliage and for the flowering. Moreover it is the most adaptable from the climatic point of view.
The leaves are a nice bright light green, lace-up, up to 10 cm wide. Between June and September it produces beautiful inflorescences with bracts in shades of pink (but there are also cultivars that have white and purple). It can be used as a pot plant, but in good weather it also grows well outdoors, in flower beds or borders.
Curcuma elata
It has leaves ranging from ovate to elliptical about 60 cm long, light green with darker veins and a dark red central grain. The inflorescences, which appear before the leaves, have the upper bracts pink and purple that create a nice contrast with the lower ones, light green. The bright yellow color of the flowers is also worth mentioning. It is a very demanding plant as far as climate is concerned and therefore it is rarely cultivated by us.
Curcuma petiolata
It is a plant native to Thailand. It can grow up to 90 cm in height and its inflorescences, produced between June and August, are composed of golden, pink, purple or white bracts. The leaves are about 35 cm long and 13 wide and have veins in evidence. In tropical areas it is very widespread as an ornamental plant, also in the variegated leaf cultivars.
Roscoeana turmeric
Also known as "Jewel of Burma", it is widespread throughout the world both as a pot plant and as a cut flower. It is lively and can exceed one meter in height. The leaves, about 30 cm long, are from ovate to elliptical, light yellow with darker veins. The inflorescences are composed of yellow flowers and light orange to red bracts.
Curcuma longa
It is a rhizomatous perennial herb that can reach 1 meter in height. The leaves are oblong, dark green the upper page, light green the lower one. They are 20 to 45 cm long, petiolate. The inflorescences are composed of green bracts in the lower part which, as they ascend, become first white and then purple (but there are many different varieties and cultivars). The flowers, which appear between the bracts, are bright yellow and are almost always sterile.
Curcuma xanthorrhiza
Very similar to the previous one, but less valuable, it is widespread especially in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines. It is traditionally used as a flavoring for food or for the preparation of refreshing drinks

Temperature and watering

Turmeric is usually grown in apartments or in the garden, but only during the summer or if you live in the Mediterranean regions.
Turmeric vegetative activity begins in spring and continues throughout the summer.
At the beginning of autumn the plant loses its leaves and enters the vegetative rest phase. During this time, if the plant is grown outdoors, it is advisable to dig up the rhizomes and let them dry. After a few days, shake the soil and place them in a box keeping them in a cool, dry and dark place, with a temperature of at least 17 ° C, until the following spring.
If, on the other hand, the plant is grown in a pot, inside the house, when it begins to dry out, in autumn, watering is suspended and the container is moved to a sheltered place, where it will remain until the following spring. When you see the first leaves, it will start to water it again and fertilize it.

Curcuma fertilization

When the first sprouts begin to sprout, it is necessary to start fertilizing regularly every three weeks-1 month, using a liquid fertilizer for flowering plants based on nitrogen and potassium to favor foliage development and abundant flowering.
When the leaves turn yellow, stop administering fertilizer.


Turmeric is a tropical plant that loves very bright places, but not direct exposure to sunlight. The lack of light causes a decrease in the vigor of the plant and the slipping of the colors of leaves and flowers.


The multiplication of turmeric takes place in spring, at the time of repotting, starting from the rhizome. Small portions are removed from the rhizome, each with some leaves and roots, and placed in a vase to create new plants. The cut part, before being buried, must be treated with a fungicide. If the plant is kept indoors, the rhizome can be planted throughout the year, but it is advisable to plant it in the spring, when temperatures are higher.

Turmeric cultivation


Medium difficulty
Maintenance Normal
Exposure Luminous position, but not directly exposed to sunlight.
Ground Light, well-drained and rich in organic substances
Cleaning / Pruning It is not pruned, the dried leaves and the damaged parts are removed to avoid that they infect the healthy parts of the plant.
Water needs Low, but frequent. Avoid water stagnation.
Soil moisture Always slightly damp
Composting Fertilizing the soil before planting and fertilizer diluted in water regularly every 20-30 days in the vegetative period.
Multiplication Division of rhizomes

Pests and diseases

Turmeric can be attacked by aphids, small easily identifiable yellowish-white insects, or from cochineal insects, which leave thin whitish webs on the back of the affected leaves. In the warm months and in the absence of humidity, turmeric can undergo the attack of red spider: you will notice if you see that the leaves begin to turn yellow, crumple and then fall.
If you don't want to use plant insecticides, you can try natural remedies. Clean the leaves with a cotton ball soaked in alcohol or wash the leaves with water and Marseille soap, and then rinse them to remove the soap. Repeat these operations every 2 or 3 days.
If the entire plant is infested, it is recommended to eradicate it and burn it to avoid contamination of other plants.
Especially in winter, due to excessive humidity and water stagnation, root rot may occur. If it is not too late and the root system is only slightly affected, it is advisable to change the infested soil, wash the pots and use antifungal products.

The turmeric calendar


From February in the apartment or April and May in the garden
Flowering Generally June, July and August.

Turmeric, a spice with infinite properties

From the fleshy rhizome of curcuma longa, boiled, dried and finely ground turmeric is obtained, a spice with a bright orange color, a peppery and extremely aromatic taste, widely used in Indian cuisine and among the main ingredients of curry.
Turmeric is also an excellent natural dye, in fact the robes of Buddhist monks have long been dyed with turmeric.
Today turmeric is cultivated not only in tropical Asia and Japan, but also in Africa and on the island of Réunion.
Medicinal virtues
Turmeric has a number of medicinal virtues. It is one of the most effective natural anti-inflammatories and does not present the contraindications of normal anti-inflammatory drugs. It also has antioxidant and detoxifying properties. In India it is used as an antiseptic to treat wounds or skin diseases.
How to take it?
Turmeric is normally taken by adding it to different foods or sauces. To facilitate absorption, since turmeric is fat soluble, it is advisable to take it raw together with olive oil or butter or another fat to dress salads, vegetables or other dishes. For example, you can add to yogurt: a dusting and go!
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