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How to Grow Turmeric at Home for Its Flavor & Beauty

  • Bob Styer
  • Herbs
Growing Turmeric At Home In Pots With Roots And Leaves

Have you ever wanted a fresh supply of “The Golden Spice” anytime you needed it?  This herb isn’t only healthy; it also produces beautiful flowers that liven up your home.  We’ll show you how to grow turmeric root at home, no matter where you live.  And if you live in southern Zones 8 – 11, you can also grow it in your garden or raised beds year-round.  We’ll also cover the different types of turmeric, how to harvest turmeric, and how to dry it.  With all this information available, let’s start this adventure now!

Purple turmeric flowers.
Purple turmeric flowers

What is Turmeric?

This plant is native to India and Southeast Asia and grows from a rhizome like ginger.  A rhizome looks like a root but is an underground horizontal stem.  The rhizome sends roots downward and shoots that grow upward.  Other names for rhizomes include “rootstalks” and “creeping rootstalks.”

Even though it’s a stem, we’re accustomed to calling rhizomes “roots” instead.  That’s how we get terms like ginger root and turmeric root.  The turmeric rhizomes grow from the original rhizome like fingers on a hand.

Turmeric and ginger are in the same family, Zingiberaceae.  Some other members of this family are cardamom and galangal.  This family has plants that are important for foods, dyes, medicines, and decorations.

The main active ingredient in turmeric, curcumin, is medically recognized as an anti-inflammatory. It also has other essential benefits. One delicious way to get these benefits is by drinking turmeric milk, also known as golden milk.

Turmeric alone has over 100 species, and almost all are edible.  The inedible varieties are popular as decorative plants.

The rhizomes are the edible part used most often.  They’re eaten raw, pickled, or cooked depending on the variety.  Rhizomes are also dried and ground into powder, which is a spice.

Would you like to learn about other herbs? Check out our post “The Complete Guides to Growing Culinary Herbs” for links to those articles.

Types of Turmeric

Over 100 species of turmeric plants end up in dyes, foods, curry powder, medicines, or vitamins.  Many of them are grown as decorative plants because of their leaves and flowers.

The height of turmeric ranges from 30 inches to seven feet, and the width from 3 – 4 feet.  The leaves range from 5 – 6 inches wide and 18 – 40 inches long.  Here are a few of the different types of turmeric:

Common Turmeric (Curcuma longa)

This is the turmeric that’s used most often.  Here are the most common varieties:

  • Common Orange Turmeric.  This is the variety most found fresh in grocery stores and powdered in spice racks.  The rhizomes are medium-sized and can range from orange to brown.  The brightest orange or red types have the greatest curcumin content.  When the conditions are right, the plants will produce white flowers in the second year.
  • Yellow Turmeric.  These rhizomes are medium-sized but can be plumper than other varieties.  The rhizomes have a light orange to bright yellow color inside, and the flowers are white.
  • Green Turmeric.  The medium-sized rhizomes are light green to light yellow.  When the sprouts first emerge from the soil, they can be pink or purple.  The stem will also turn purple with a purple stripe down the center of the leaves.
  • Red Hawaiian Turmeric.  These medium-sized rhizomes have a bright orange-red color even when dried.  This plant won’t flower until the second year and won’t flower at all if the conditions aren’t right.  The flower buds are yellow, and the white blooms have purple and green tips.

Mango Ginger (Curcuma amada)

This type is also known as white turmeric; the rhizomes are long, thin, and cream-colored inside.  The flowers are large and pink.  This ginger grows four feet tall and is hardier than most varieties.  The rhizome isn’t ground into powder but is often eaten pickled or cooked.

White Spicy Turmeric (Curcuma zedoaria)

Also known as zedoary turmeric, the rhizomes are medium-sized, plump, and white inside.  The sprouts are deep red or pink and stay that color while the plant grows.  The stems have a deeper hue than any other variety of turmeric.  The flowers look like stacked tulips and have white to pink colors.

Blue Turmeric (Curcuma caesia)

The rhizomes are medium-sized and colored light gray to light blue.  The stems turn reddish-purple, and the leaves develop a deep purple stripe down the middle.

Curcuma caesia also comes as black turmeric with long, thin rhizomes.  The rhizomes have a blue to gray color.  The stems and leaf stripes are usually darker purple than the ones on blue turmeric.  And if the conditions are right, the purple flowers bloom in the second year.

Turmeric Roots and Live Plants to Help You Get Started

Fresh Yellow Turmeric Root - 2 Lbs
Fresh Yellow Turmeric Root - 2 Lbs
$17.85
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2024-07-18
Fresh Yellow Turmeric Root - 1lb
Fresh Yellow Turmeric Root - 1lb
$13.99
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2024-07-18
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No products found.
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Tulip Turmeric Plant Live, Dwarf Curcuma Pink Ginger Live Plant 6-8 Inc Tall, in 3 Inc Pot
Tulip Turmeric Plant Live, Dwarf Curcuma Pink Ginger Live Plant 6-8 Inc Tall, in 3 Inc Pot
Price not available
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2024-07-18
Yellow Tumeric 'Curcuma longa' Includes Four (4) Plants
Yellow Tumeric "Curcuma longa" Includes Four (4) Plants
Price not available
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2024-07-18
FRESH WILD TURMERIC FROM FIJI BY NINESHANI 1LB (3)
FRESH WILD TURMERIC FROM FIJI BY NINESHANI 1LB (3)
$25.99
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2024-07-18

What Should I Know Before Growing Turmeric at Home?

You can grow turmeric at home anywhere, as long as you follow these guidelines:

How to Select Turmeric Root for Growing

As with ginger, you could get fresh turmeric root from the supermarket or grocery.  But that turmeric is often treated with a chemical to prevent sprouting.  If you buy organic turmeric, you can be sure it doesn’t have chemicals.

Organic roots are available at natural food stores, garden centers, and Amazon.  Turmeric doesn’t produce viable seeds, so it’s only propagated using rhizomes.

If you see “turmeric seeds” advertised, you’ll find out they’re selling rhizomes for planting.  Seed rhizomes are like seed potatoes.  You don’t get actual “seeds,” but you’ll get a root or tuber that will grow into a new plant.

VIVOSUN 48' x 20.75' Seedling Heat Mat and Digital Thermostat Combo Set, UL & MET-Certified Warm Hydroponic Heating Pad for Germination, Indoor Gardening, Greenhouse
VIVOSUN 48" x 20.75" Seedling Heat Mat and Digital Thermostat Combo Set, UL & MET-Certified Warm Hydroponic Heating Pad for Germination, Indoor Gardening, Greenhouse
$54.36
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2024-07-18
ZOUTOG 3'' Peat Pots, 100 Pack Round Plant Starter Pots Seedling Trays, Bonus 100 Plant Labels
ZOUTOG 3'' Peat Pots, 100 Pack Round Plant Starter Pots Seedling Trays, Bonus 100 Plant Labels
$9.99
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2024-07-18
The HC Companies 20 Inch Round Classic Planter - Large Plastic Plant Pot for Indoor Outdoor Plants Flowers Herbs, Chocolate
The HC Companies 20 Inch Round Classic Planter - Large Plastic Plant Pot for Indoor Outdoor Plants Flowers Herbs, Chocolate
$47.96
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2024-07-18

How to Grow Turmeric Indoors

Growing turmeric in pots indoors provides a good crop of rhizomes.  It also becomes a striking decorative plant when the flowers bloom.  A healthy plant will grow over three feet tall with large green leaves.  As the plant matures, it will send up a spike containing the flowers.

Indoors, the plants should be in an area that’s warm and has sun exposure.

Growing Turmeric in Pots

Pots are an excellent way to grow turmeric in any hardiness zone.  During warm summers, move the pots outside so the plants can get fresh air and sunshine.  When outdoors, the plants shouldn’t always be in full sun.  They prefer partial shade.

Here are the steps to prepare turmeric root for growing in pots:

  • Start the turmeric ten months before the first fall frost.  For example, suppose the first frost in your area is around mid-October.  That means you can start between mid-December and mid-March.
  • Cut the rhizomes into sections so each has 2 or 3 growth buds.
  • Let the cut sections dry out for a day, and they’ll form a callus to protect the cut ends.
  • Put each section (with buds up) in a 3-inch pot that’s half-full of potting mix.
  • Cover the sections with more potting mix and water them well.
  • Cover the pots with clear plastic bags.  The bags will help hold the humidity like a tiny greenhouse.
  • Put the pots in a warm area (85o – 95o F) for the shortest sprouting time.  Cooler temperatures will delay or even prevent sprouting.  You can make an excellent sprouting area with a box or picnic cooler.
  • Add a heating pad or a small lighting fixture with an incandescent bulb, and you’re ready to go.
  • Check the temperature with a thermometer to ensure the temperature is right.  Don’t worry about having your plants in the dark at this stage.

After the Plants Sprout in Small Pots

Once the plants sprout, follow these steps:

  • Take a look at the pots every few days, and once you see sprouts popping up, move the pots to a sunny area or use a grow light.  The plants like to have a cozy 77o – 86o F at this point.
  • If your house doesn’t have a warm enough area, put the pots on a heating pad.  The pots should be at about 83o F.
  • Remove the plastic covers when the plants get too big.
  • Water the plants after removing the covers.  The soil must stay moist but not soggy since too much water will cause rot.
  • Mist the leaves with water to maintain high humidity.

How to Transplant Turmeric to Larger Pots

Transplant the plants to larger pots when they are 6 – 8 inches tall.  A pot 16 – 20 inches wide and 10 – 12 inches deep is an ideal permanent home for turmeric.

If you use a smaller pot, you’ll eventually have to transplant the turmeric to a larger pot.  This is because the plant will send out more shoots and get top-heavy.

Fill the pots with potting mix or three parts potting soil mixed with one part compost.  Also, add one part of perlite or vermiculite to the potting soil for good drainage.

Potting soil used by itself becomes too dense in containers, and water won’t be able to drain.  That’s why mixing compost and perlite or vermiculite is essential.  Potting mix is already designed for good drainage.

The plants need more warmth, so keep the pots on the heating pad.  Turn down the heat every week until it’s at 70o.  You can remove the heating pad if your home averages about 68o.  If your average temperature is cooler, keep using the heating pad.

Move the plants outside when there’s no chance of frost, and there will be a long period of warm nights.  Keep the plants in partial shade for a few days to let the leaves get hardened to the outdoors.

Be sure to keep watering to keep the soil moist.  Add organic fertilizer or compost every few weeks to feed the plants.

Growing Turmeric Outdoors

Don’t plant turmeric outdoors unless you live in Zones 8 – 11.

How to Prepare the Soil

  • Turmeric prefers well-drained soil with warm, humid conditions.
  • It likes fertile soil, so mix the top six inches of soil with compost or organic fertilizer.
  • The soil pH range should be 6 – 8.
  • The soil temperature should be at least 55o F, and the daytime air temperature should be at least 70o F.
  • It will grow well in full sun or partial shade but will need more shade when the temperature is 90o F or more.  Use shade cloth if you don’t have any other options.
  • Cut the turmeric rhizomes as described in the “Growing Turmeric in Pots” section.
  • Plant the cut rhizomes 2 – 4 inches deep and 4 – 6 inches apart.  Try to keep the buds pointing up.
  • Keep the soil moist while the turmeric is growing.  If the soil has too much water or water pools on the surface, the plants could get root rot.  Adding compost or organic matter to the soil is essential for good drainage.

Turmeric takes a long time to sprout and a long time to grow.  In Zones 8 – 11, you’ll plant in February or March, but you won’t see sprouts until July or August.

Waiting that long and thinking your turmeric won’t grow at all can be frustrating!  When the turmeric sprouts, add compost or organic fertilizer every few weeks.

Harvesting Turmeric

Harvesting turmeric occurs about 7 – 10 months after planting.  The marker for harvesting is when the leaves and stems turn dry and brown.

You can also harvest small amounts of turmeric 3 – 4 months after planting, but don’t disturb the rest of the plant.  Turmeric growing in pots usually has a partial harvest to keep it growing as a decorative plant.

Here are the steps for harvesting turmeric rhizomes:

  • Dig around the turmeric in a wide pattern, but be careful not to damage any rhizomes.
  • Once the soil is loose, pick up the rhizomes from below or pull up on the stalks.
  • Shake off the loose dirt, cut off the stalks about an inch above the rhizome, then wash the rhizomes.

Any rhizomes you leave in the soil when you harvest turmeric will go dormant and sprout again next year.  Turmeric has no cold hardiness, so frost at any time will kill the rhizome.

After every growing season, put fresh soil and compost in the pots and replant the turmeric.  Like most perennial herbs, turmeric rhizomes left on their own will clump year over year.  Break up the clumps every 3 – 4 years and transplant the loose rhizomes.

Harvesting turmeric showing the rhizomes
Harvested turmeric showing the rhizome fingers

Storing Turmeric Root

Use fresh turmeric within a few weeks, but you can store it for up to three months in the refrigerator.  Clean the rhizomes and put them in a Ziploc bag or air-tight container first.  Rhizomes will keep up to six months if they’re put in freezer bags and put in the freezer.

Extra rhizomes are also good to replant later.  Store the rhizomes you want to replant in a cool, dark area to give them a head start on sprouting.

How to Dry Turmeric for Storing

Preparing the Rhizomes for Drying

Some websites recommend boiling the rhizomes first until they’re soft. Then they’re cut into pieces and dried.  This method isn’t necessary, and boiling can remove nutrients.  The following technique works well and avoids boiling the rhizomes:

  • Wash the rhizomes.
  • Peeling the rhizomes is a personal choice.   The skin on turmeric root is so thin that it won’t be a problem.
  • Slice the rhizomes into thin pieces.  The pieces should be as thin as possible for the best and quickest results.
  • The slices are dry if crisp and snap apart when broken.  If the slices bend before they break, they’re not dry enough.

Methods for Drying the Slices

Air Drying Turmeric

  • Put the slices on trays or plates covered with paper towels.
  • The slices should be in a single layer.
  • Put the trays in direct sunlight or a sunny, well-ventilated area.
  • Turn the slices daily so they dry evenly.
  • The slices will shrivel and should dry in a week.

Drying Turmeric in a Dehydrator

  • Lay the slices in a single layer on the dehydrator trays.
  • Set the dehydrator at 130o F.
  • Drying time will depend on the dehydrator and the thickness of the slices.

How to Dry Turmeric in an Oven

  • Place the slices in a single layer on a baking tray covered with parchment paper.
  • Set the oven to the lowest temperature.  This will vary depending on the oven model.
  • Turn the trays occasionally to ensure even drying.
  • Drying time will depend on the oven temperature and the thickness of the slices.  It could take a whole day.

Drying Turmeric in a Microwave

  • Place the pieces in a single layer on a microwave-safe plate or tray.
  • Run the microwave on high for one minute.
  • If the slices aren’t crispy, continue microwaving at 20-second intervals until dry.

How to Make Turmeric Powder

  • Grind the dried turmeric slices with a coffee grinder, spice mill, or food processor.
  • Run the powder through a fine strainer.  Any large pieces left in the strainer can return to the grinder to get turned into powder.
  • Store the powder in air-tight jars or containers.  It will store for up to three years, but the flavor will degrade.

GOOD ADVICE.  Wear gloves and old work clothes when handling turmeric rhizomes or powder.  They will dye almost anything a permanent bright orange color.  Remove stains on the skin by rubbing them with salt or oil.

Turmeric powder in a bowl alongside turmeric roots.
Turmeric powder ready to use

Turmeric Companion Plants

  • Turmeric plants like nitrogen, so plant them with beans, peas, or peanuts.
  • Eggplant, peppers, and tomatoes compete for the same nutrients as turmeric.  Don’t plant them together.
  • Ginger and turmeric grow well together in the garden or pots.
  • Turmeric grows well with tall plants that give it shade.  Corn is an exception since turmeric doesn’t grow well near it.
  • Marigolds repel nematodes from turmeric rhizomes.
  • Turmeric repels pests from fruit trees.  And the fruit trees provide shade for the turmeric.
  • Turmeric releases allelochemicals, which kill or repel many insect pests.
  • You can plant turmeric next to the onion family, lemongrass, and cilantro.  The onion family repels aphids, mites, and maggots from the turmeric.  They also keep away rabbits and deer.
  • Invasive herbs like the mint family can choke out turmeric and ginger.
  • Nut trees like walnuts and pecans release juglones.  These chemicals inhibit the growth of other plants, including turmeric.

Pests and Diseases of Turmeric

Turmeric and ginger have some pests and diseases that are native to Asia.  Of course, these won’t be a problem in the United States.

In this country, nematodes can bore into the rhizomes and cause stunted growth.  The leaves will also turn yellow and die.  Another effect of the nematodes is that they cause the rhizomes to rot.

To fight nematodes, dig up any infested plants and throw them in the trash.  Repel the nematodes by planting marigolds as a companion.  Mixing neem cake with the soil is another way to control nematodes and other soil pests.

Neem cake is also effective against soil fungi.  See our article “How to Save Your Plants With Neem Oil and Neem Cake” for further information.

Root rot can occur if the soil is too wet.  The solutions are to avoid overwatering and grow the turmeric in well-draining soil.

Final Thoughts

Turmeric is a beautiful herb used in many foods and drinks.  There are many recipes online that you can explore.  Besides its food value, it has many health benefits due to its active ingredient, curcumin.

Turmeric comes in red, orange, yellow, and white varieties.  To get the most significant health benefits, grow bright orange turmeric.  The brighter the orange, the greater the amount of curcumin.

Last update on 2024-07-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Bob Styer

As a child, I hated gardening. That was mainly because Dad expected us to work in the garden every so often even though we thought play was more important. Over the years, though, I've developed a real appreciation for growing things. Whether you're growing plants for food or to enjoy their beauty, gardening can make your life better. Seize the moment!

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