How to Cultivate Curcuma Longa

Written by kimberly johnson
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How to Cultivate Curcuma Longa
Saffron is an herb used in many Indian recipes. (Saffron image by Aleksander Reshetnik from

Curcuma longa is more commonly called turmeric or saffron and is part of the ginger family of plants. The herb is a perennial native to the rainforests of southeast Asia. The plant's roots, called rhizomes, are dug up, dried and ground into a fine powder that is sold as a spice. In the United States, gardeners can only grow Curcuma longa indoors or in a greenhouse due to the plant's sensitivity to cold.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Seed tray
  • Bucket
  • Compost
  • Sand
  • Garden spade
  • Cling film
  • 6-inch diameter plant pots
  • Liquid fertiliser
  • Water
  • Disposable gloves

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  1. 1

    Purchase turmeric roots from a garden supply store or from a supermarket. Choose roots that are as large as possible and that are moist to the touch. In addition, look for roots that have white, hairlike projections.

  2. 2

    Fill a bucket with half compost and half sand. Mix the substances well using a garden spade and fill a seed tray half full of the mixture.

  3. 3

    Lay the turmeric roots on top of the soil with the white projections facing upward. Spread additional soil mixture on top of the roots until they are completely covered.

  4. 4

    Cover the top of the tray with cling film and set the tray in a location that maintains a constant temperature of at least 20 degrees Celsius. Leave the tray in the location for approximately three weeks.

  5. 5

    Examine the tray to see if shoots have grown through the soil. If so, remove the cling film and discard it. Water the soil until it is completely damp. Move the tray to a brightly lit location, but keep it out of direct sunlight.

  6. 6

    When the shoots are approximately 5 inches tall, fill several 6-inch diameter plant pots with the same type of soil mixture you originally used. Dig a hole in the centre of each pot and insert one turmeric plant, covering all of the roots with soil. Make sure that the entire green part of the plant is above the soil line.

  7. 7

    Apply a liquid-based plant fertiliser to the soil around the plants using the mixing instructions located on the fertiliser bottle. Reapply the fertiliser once a month from spring until fall.

  8. 8

    Place the pots in a semi-shady indoor location and continue watering every one to two days to keep the soil moist.

Tips and warnings

  • You may want to wear disposable gloves when handling the roots during planting since they ooze a yellow substance that stains the skin.
  • You can harvest the roots nine to 10 months after the initial planting.

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