Curcuma domestica, or Turmeric, is a robust, rhizomatous, perennial herb native to Tropical Asia. The rhizomes are short and tuberous with a yellow flesh. It is from these rhizomes that we get the spice Turmeric. The rhizomes are dried and ground to yield the spice. Plants will reach up to 3 feet (0.9 m) tall. The dark to medium green leaves reach about 1.5 feet (0.45 m) long by 8 inches (20.3 cm) wide. They are attractive plants that do very well in containers. The plants are hardy in the landscape in USDA zones 8-11.
Blooming: In the greenhouse the plants bloom in late summer to early fall. The flowers are in terminal inflorescences to 7 inches (17.8 cm) long.
Culture: Curcuma domestica need a rich moist soil with full sun to partial shade. In the greenhouse we use a soil mix consisting of 2 parts peat moss to 1 part loam to 1 part sand. To each 0.01 cu yards of soil mix we add 14-14-14 Osmocote slow release fertilizer. The plants are kept on the moist side, but not overly wet. Conditions that are too wet will cause the rhizomes to rot. Plants are fertilized monthly during the growing season with a balanced fertilizer. During the winter months in the greenhouse, the rhizomes are rested. In late fall after flowering, we let the soil mix dry out completely and the rhizomes are lifted and stored in vermiculite for the winter.
Propagation: Curcuma domestica is propagated by division of the rhizome in the spring before new growth starts.
Curcuma domestica was featured as Plant of the Week August 10-16, 2007.
Guide to Past Plants-of-the-Week:
Cal's Plant of the Week was provided as a service by the University of Oklahoma Department of Microbiology & Plant Biology and specifically the late Cal Lemke, who used to be OU's botany greenhouse grower and an avid gardener at home as well. If the above links don't work, then try the overview site. You may also like to look at the thumbnail index. ©1998-2012 All rights reserved.