How to Grow Turmeric Herb Plants

Tree Branch

About Growing Turmeric Plants in Your Herb Garden

Turmeric plants are tropical herbs. It is grown for its rhizome or root. Turmeric herb is a pungent, yellow spice. Closely related to the ginger family, Turmeric is native to South and Southeast Asia, where it has been used for thousands of years for both culinary and medicinal purposes.  When growing Turmeric, place this tall plant at the back of your herb garden.

Note: While Turmeric is grown primarily for its roots, the leaves and flowers are also edible.

Turmeric has attractive foliage and is easy to grow. This plant grows up to 4 feet tall. The root has a rich, deep orange color. The plants need a  7 to 10-month frost-free growing period to produce a good crop of roots for harvesting. The plant produces beautiful, large, green and white flowers.

Did You Know? Turmeric is also called “Indian Saffron”, as it is sometimes used in recipes as a replacement for the more expensive Saffron.

Flowers Bloom: Summer

Flower Colors: Burgundy, pink, white, yellow-green, and bicolor.

Plant height: 3 to 4 feet tall.

Hardiness Zones: 5 – 9

Curcuma longa

Medicinal and Culinary Uses

Medicinal Uses:

There are a wide variety of medicinal applications, including:

  • Anti-inflammatory

  • Liver disease

  • Cystic fibrosis

  • Gastric ulcer

  • Cancer of the breast, prostate, and intestines

  • Lowers Cholesterol

  • Arthritis

  • Joint pain

Culinary Uses:

Turmeric is one of the world’s healthiest foods. It is very popular in Indian and Thai cuisine.

Tea Time Anyone? To make a healthy Turmeric Tea, simmer 2 teaspoons of turmeric in 4 cups of water for 10 minutes, then strain the tea through a cheesecloth. You can add lemon honey or stevia for flavoring and sweetening.

Other Uses:

It is also used as a cosmetic, most notably skin lightening.

How to Propagate Turmeric Plants

Turmeric is grown from rhizomes (roots). You can start them indoors, in a large container or pot. You can also plant them directly into the garden in zone 9 or warmer. Cut the roots, leaving 2 to 3 buds on each piece. Plant the piece of rhizome 2 to 3 inches deep, with the bud pointed up, on top of the rhizome. The plants will sprout in about a month.

If started indoors, transplant them after the last frost. Space plants 12 to 16 inches apart.

Note: You can also grow the plant in a container or pot indoors, or on your patio or deck. Use a 14-inch or larger container.

The flowers on the plants will not produce seeds.

Final Plant Spacing:  Space seedlings, or thin plants 3 to 4 feet apart.

Days to Maturity: 7 to 10 months

How to Grow Turmeric Herb Plants

Turmeric plants are easy to grow. They need a long, 7-10 month growing season. They grow best in hot and humid tropical areas with plenty of rainfall, similar to their native area. Low temperatures should not go below 65° Fahrenheit.

Plant them in a location that receives full sun to light, partial shade. The plants prefer moist, not wet soil that is well-drained. The soil should be rich with plenty of nutrients.

Fertilize plants regularly, every other week, with a balanced fertilizer.

Weed around young plants. Add a thick layer of mulch, to help retain soil moisture and to keep weeds down.

Water plants regularly and deeply.

Ideal pH: 5.0- 9.0

Harvesting and Drying Turmeric Leaves

As previously mentioned, Turmeric plants need a 7 to 10-month growing season, to allow them to produce a good crop of roots. Harvest the roots when the plant’s leaves and stems being to turn brown and dry-looking.

Boil Turmeric roots for 45 minutes. Next, dry and peel them. Then, ground the roots into a fine yellow powder. They can be sun-dried, or with a food dehydrator. Use Turmeric powder as a spice, or as a medicine.

Store raw roots can for up to 6 months in the refrigerator, or a cool, dark place.

Insect and Plant Disease Problems

Turmeric plants are seldom bothered by insects of plant disease.

On occasion, aphids or spider mites may infest the plants. Use insecticides only as needed.

Leaf spots may occur. This is a fungal infection that can be treated with fungicide.

Also see: 

Plant Problems – causes and cures

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