How to Grow Turmeric



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Days to germination: Started by root cuttings, not seeds
Days to harvest: 250 days or more (8 to 10 months)
Light requirements: Full sun, or slight shade
Water requirements: Regular watering
Soil: Well-drained soil
Container: Necessary for most climates

Introduction

Turmeric is likely best known as a pungent and bright yellow spice in Indian cuisine. It’s a tropical plant, and can only be grown outdoors if you live in zones 9 or warmer. Your plants won’t be able to tolerate any climate colder than 65F.

Turmeric is different from most herbs in that you are not going to be harvesting the leaves, but the roots instead. The plant grows an underground tuber, or rhizome much like ginger does. It can take up to 10 months for a new crop of roots to develop, and it’s not a plant that you can harvest in small pieces through the season.

It’s closely related to ginger, and has a similar strong taste that is a little hard to describe. Turmeric is the main ingredient in most Indian curry powders. It sometimes goes by the name of Indian saffron but is not related to saffron at all.

Aside from its power as a seasoning, there is growing evidence of the health benefits from this herb. It’s high in anti-oxidants and may have anti-inflammatory or even anti-caner properties.

Starting from Seed

You won’t be planting seeds to start your turmeric plants, but using roots instead. It’s not just a matter of convenience, the plant doesn’t produce seeds for propagation.

If you have a market nearby where you can buy fresh turmeric roots, you may be able to use those to sprout a plant. Otherwise, you will have to find a local nursery or online store that carries them. Turmeric isn’t the most common of household plants so it may take some looking. If you have access to a supermarket that carries it, purchase 2 or 3 because they probably won’t all sprout.

Once you have a fresh rhizome or root, all you need to do is plant it. A large root will have several branches or fingers to it. You can cut these apart and start more than one plant if you wish. The easiest way to get it to sprout is to just bury the root under 2 inches of loose potting soil. If there are any knobs or buds on the root, turn it so they are facing upwards.

Keep it damp but not sopping wet or the root may rot. In a month or so, you should see sprouts come up.

If you are going to grow turmeric outside, you can transplant it out in the late fall. For indoor plants, you can do this anytime.

Transplanting

Though you could always just plant your pieces of root directly outside, it’s usually safer to keep them indoors until they have started to sprout.

If you are growing more than one, plant each seedling about 12 to 16 inches apart. A sunny location is best but a little bit of afternoon shade shouldn’t hurt either.

Growing Instructions

Once your plants are established and growing well, they will need very little care from you. During winter months, turmeric needs less water but once the growing season starts you will want to water fairly frequently to keep the soil moist.

Bi-monthly or even weekly feedings with a liquid fertilizer is ideal.

If you see your plant going to flower, there is nothing to worry about. It won’t have any effect on your later root harvest, and the flowers don’t actually produce any seeds.

Containers

The majority of people who are going to grow turmeric will have to do so indoors, and it does grow fine in pots.

It will likely grow too large for a windowsill but can thrive in a sunny room. Choose a container that is at least 12 inches across and the same in depth to give your plants room to grow.

Water potted turmeric regularly to keep the soil damp, and weekly feedings with mild or diluted fertilizer are very beneficial.

Pests and Diseases

Turmeric is a plant that is seldom bothered by insects or disease. Your plant may develop leaf blotch or leaf spot, which is a fungus infection that will start out as brown patches on the leaves. The leaves will eventually turn yellow and drop off. Bordeaux fungicide can help control it if you catch it soon enough.

If you are growing turmeric outside of Asia, there are not many insects interested in the plant. Aphids and mites sometimes cluster on the leaves, but they can easily be washed off with a spritz of water or a spray of insecticidal soap.

Harvest and Storage

As mentioned, you don’t usually harvest turmeric through the season like you do with leafy herbs. You will have to take care of your plant for 8 to 10 months before harvest time. Eventually, the plant will start to turn yellow and the leaves will start to dry out. That’s when your turmeric is ready to dig up.

Just dig up the plant and cut the rhizomes away from the stems. Wash off the dirt and it’s ready to use. For more turmeric, take one or two pieces of root and start another plant. If you are careful, it is possible to harvest a few root pieces without having to dig up the entire plant.

To use, you will have to peel the root first. Wear gloves, or you will have yellow-stained fingers for quite a few days.

For storage, just keep the unpeeled roots in an air-tight container. Keep it in a cool dark place and your roots should still be in great shape for up to 6 months. It’s not practical for home growers to try drying turmeric in order to make a ground powder. The roots are just used sliced or minced instead.

If you are used to cooking with dry and ground turmeric from the store, take care when using fresh. It’s much stronger in taste and you will only need a small amount to really add its peppery zest to a meal.

143 Responses to “How to Grow Turmeric”

  1. Al Hall  Says:

    My daughter brought a root back from Thailand about four years ago. I tossed it into the veg rack fully intending to use it, but never really got round to it. This year, I picked up the shrivelled little tuber, and feeling rather guilty wondered if by some stretch of the imagination it would grow. After years of total neglect I lovingly planted it, but didn’t hold out much hope…..well to my amazement and utter relief it did and is looking good in the greenhouse, but will bring it in over winter – can’t bear to lose it now. What a plant!!

  2. Sara  Says:

    Please can anyone let me know where in South Africa I can buy a turmeric root or plant. I live near Kimberley in the Northern Cape, South Africa. Thank you

  3. karen  Says:

    I harvested my turmeric and it was very bitter compared to store bought, the one I harvested is a medium yellow not the orange of the store bought. Is the bitterness from the particular species, or did I harvest too late (we had a cold snap and the leaves turned yellow and brown)?

  4. Patricia  Says:

    This is the time of year that turmeric is harvested in much warmer countries. I buy organic rhizomes from a local supermarket that has organics. If you live in a colder climate and lower than zone 9 you will need to be sure you can put the plants in a greenhouse OR move some to the greenhouse when the temps dip below say 60-65F. It freezes very well for cooking (or your morning shake!) 1 teaspoon of dried spice is equal to 3 teaspoons — 1 tablespoon — of fresh. 2 inches of fresh turmeric root will give you 1 tablespoon of freshly grated spice.

  5. Winnie Chew  Says:

    Good day,

    I have home grown turmeric plant for hobby.If you are interest I can sell it to you. Just send me your address to place order. AUD $22/= per kilo.

  6. israel gonzalez  Says:

    Harvested a bunch of beautiful, large turmeric from maybe 5 or 6 skinny rhizomes I planted. Curious: one plant has given a white, longish rhizome hanging from a long string. Seems unusual, but could be the result of being next to arrowroot ? Cross pollination ? Replanted white one to see what happens, so have not tasted it.

  7. Ben  Says:

    Israel: Keep track of the whitish one. There are several types of Turmeric. One of them is the Madras turmeric that is whitish. The other is Allepey that is darker. But there is a type called Zedoaria which is also called White Turmeric which totally different properties. I do not think it is Sedoaria for they were planted from the same source. There is no cross pollination in turmeric for they do not reproduce by seeds.

  8. mike  Says:

    To Sara
    you can occasionally purchase rhizomes from Thrupps Retail Grocery Store in Illovo,Johannesburg

  9. janama  Says:

    I planted some and it grew to a full plant then died in late autumn. I then traveled overseas for a couple of years and when I returned it has popped up much larger and it now has 4 flowers. So far I haven’t harvested any tubers.
    What I recently noticed was what looks like a shoot coming up around 6 foot away from the parent. Does anyone know if it sends out runners?

  10. Sandy  Says:

    Hi, For those requesting info about turmeric rhizomes in Ontario Canada….I located some at B.J. Supermarket – 1449 Gerrard Street East, Toronto. Not listed as being organic. I am about to try planting indoors.

  11. Jessie Hopkins  Says:

    I will be getting some at whole foods to grow, thx for all the tips. I recently had a severe case of poison oak (same irritating oil as poison ivy and poison sumac) and found that a paste of lemon juice and turmeric is the only thing that stops the itching for more than an hour or two. It has stopped my itching for over eight hours per application. There might be a small sting /itch at first, for about 10 mins, then stinging and itching stops and you get sweet relief for hours, though stains the skin yellow through several showers. Careful that any fabric you touch with the paste may get stained.

  12. Rampe  Says:

    i bought a potted turmeric plant about 18cm tall from seller at the craft market in Yarra Glen for $6.00. Next market day 5th Apr. 3rd May and 7th Jun 2015. Address Yarra Glen Race Course, entry via Armstrong Grove, off Healsville- Yarra Glen Road, Yarra Glen.Victoria. I am also successfully growing ginger from sprouting sections of ginger purchased for cooking purposes.
    Melway ref. 275B1.

  13. Dian  Says:

    I planted turmeric because of the leaves…I can’t find turmeric leave here in the US. I plant turmeric successfully every year and use the leaves for rendang (beef in coconut milk) and sour and spicy fish.

  14. Roman  Says:

    Great to meet so many turmeric fans!

    At Indian stores turmeric is called yellow haldi. There is also just a plain old haldi, which is whitish so I assume it isn’t as good for you.

    I have a juicer and juice turmeric with cauliflower, red cabbage, ginger, and kohlrabi. I also mix a tablespoon and a half with 8 oz. of low-sodium V8 and a tablespoon of Bragg vinegar for another daily health drink.

    I’ve seen turmeric at Whole Foods for $8.99 a pound, but Indian supermarkets have it for $4.99-$5.99, and better quality. I’ve found one place online that ships organic turmeric — http://www.hawaiianretreat.com/josannas-organics/ — and including postage it works out to around $9 a pound.

    Came here for planting instructions since it’s finally spring in New York. Here’s hoping turmeric helps keep us all healthy! It’s worked for me for years.

  15. jennie  Says:

    Hey there, Jennie from Eastern Texas. Here, it gets down to about 18 degrees a couple times a year. The average winter temperature is around 40-45 degrees. Im wanting to plant my turmeric in the ground outside so i can get it out of this pot and have a higher yield, but afraid to kill it. Thinking of just laying the mulch on thick and putting a blanket over it on the real cold nights. Also was wondering what about when it consistently gets to be in the 90’s? Anyone know how it holds up? Anyhow, I ordered mine not too long ago on Ebay. I ordered organically grown turmeric and i received it, planted them about a month later when i thought it was too late. Finally, two months later, they all sprouted and are now flourishing. I think it only cost 7 dollars for about 6 rhizomes.

  16. Barara Goodlett  Says:

    I live in small town in North AR and received my turmeric years ago from an Asian friend. They should be found in Asian stores. i grow mine outside in pots and bring in during winter.

    In the past I’ve sliced, dehydrated, powdered them in The Bullet, then put in capsules to take daily. Now being very regular at taking them as well as using other spices etc.,I have no way to be sure as to whether the turmeric has helped my arthritis pain.

    But now that I’ve read it’s not very bio-available as is. Suggested, was to add pepper for its Bioperin in it. But “Bioperin can interfere with some medicines” and other products being “very expensive” what is one to do with their turmeric now, to make sure the turmeric is bio-available?

    Is it true that it’s much better for our bodies to eat it raw, maybe frozen in pieces for use later in year, than to dry it? An if so, would one need to use the pepper along with it to make it more available for our bodies to use?

    Can anyone answer these questions that i have not seen addressed in earlier responses. Does anyone know websites that address this issue in deepth? Thank you

  17. Vidyut  Says:

    Turmeric leaves can be used in cooking. They also have medicinal properties (like the root) and are excellent nutrition as well as taste. There should be recipes on the internet, or I could share some (I’m an ad hoc cook, not much for recipes).

  18. Jenni  Says:

    anyone grow turmeric in Geelong area?

  19. Jean  Says:

    I live in Sydney and found some turmeric in the supermarket a couple of years ago. I planted one in the garden and it grew and was able to harvest quite a lot. I froze most but wasn’t too happy with that. Now a lot more has grown up from a piece I must have missed and am about to harvest much more. I will try storing some in a teatowel left in a dark place and will also try drying some. My husband has Parkinson’s Disease and we have read that turmeric can help reverse the symptoms. He eats it raw in his salad every day so we are interested in seeing the results.

  20. Jacquie Becker  Says:

    I am growing it on the Big Island of Hawaii. If anyone would like a starter you can email me??

  21. carolyn  Says:

    I just received a tumeric plant. Its growing so well,about 2 ft. tall. I want to know when is it time to harvest the root and be able to use it for juicing?

  22. Rachel  Says:

    You can use the leaves of Turmeric as well as the root. Wrap chicken or fish in a leaf or part leaf if large, and cook in your usual way. The flavor is more delicate than the root. I grow it in pots in the South of France a few miles inland from CANNES. The temperature is very hot at the moment, up to 40 degrees Celsius. Last winter I let the plants dry and placed them between the windows and the shutters. They have restarted and are thriving, hoping that they will flower, the ginger too.

  23. Carole  Says:

    Does anyone grow turmeric in NZ?

  24. Ingvor lowes  Says:

    i bought fresh turmeric roots in Barbados last March, and ate one every day.they started sprouting in April in Sweden, and I planted 15 in a pot.all came up and are now 5 inches tall.
    Keep them inside in cold Sweden, will now give them more space.hopefully they are ready for harvest for Xmas! Cross u fingers for me please!

  25. sandy  Says:

    Following to learn how to grow.

  26. Janet Miles  Says:

    Is it ok to plant a piece of turmeric root in a pot and have it grow—-someone mentioned about buying some but that the “buds” had been cut off.

    Please explain.

  27. allan chan  Says:

    I also try to grow some tumeric out door in september this year in b. c. canada, the weather is unusually warm. we had very little rain in the summer.If they sprouted , I will cover it with a thick layer of card boards and hays.I will see if it will survive the next spring?

  28. Bee Kaye  Says:

    I planted some turmeric root that I bought at an Indian store early in the summer. It outgrew the planter so I just dug it up. The growing tips are very pale in color, then it gets darker closer to the center but overall is only light orange-yellow. It smells and tastes like turmeric but I think of turmeric as very strongly colored, are there varieties like this?

  29. carmen montufar  Says:

    Amazone sells fresh turmeric

    QUESTION: can I freeze turmeric? if so, the whole root or can I blend it? thank you

  30. Grace  Says:

    Thanks for the information. Trying to grow mine in UK. May I add that actually you can indeed harvest the leaves. Many Indonesian and Malaysian use the leaves for culinary purposes. Adding turmeric leaves to curries and rending. In the UK it’s easy to buy the rhizomes in Asian shops. But not the leaves. Hence me growing my own.

  31. B K  Says:

    Jean in June 2015 Give him raw turmeric in everything and 500 mg capsules. In all the miles of documents I have read you cannot get too much. I have been taking the capsules for years and since last year eating the raw in almost everything. Shakes,fried steaks, spagetti,chili, fish, stir fries. Just use all you can.

    I have severe Arthritus and last year Doctors wanted to operate on my spine but I increased my Turmeric & Magnesium & so far the damage hasn’t changed.

    I grow turmeric in a wading pool in South Georgia and it gets to 26 degrees sometimes and I cover it with straw,an old blanket, piece of plastic (it would stay too damp here in winter)& I plant it in November to December in zone 8b. As for Temp. it gets to 100 degrees here and you just add more water and I got my start from Amazon from a man in India.

  32. gail  Says:

    My sister brought me some turmeric from BC.By the time it got to me, it wasn’t looking very healthy–starting to shrink w/some mold. Instead of using it, I decided to plant it indoors. So far it has several large leaves with several more sprouts coming along. I loosened the soil around the root to see what was happening with it and see that it is looking pretty healthy and new looking, but the root is WHITE– original was orange. Is this just because it’s the new growth; will it eventually turn orange as it matures.

  33. Hal Hollingsworth  Says:

    I just harvested 30 lbs of of organically grown turmeric. I live in Miami and my garden in in Hialeah, Fl. If anyone wants some just get in touch. (305) 713-9813.

  34. kareen Haskin  Says:

    I have been growing organic ginger and tumeric in Hawaii and ship to people on the east coast of the US. We ship first of March. Most people pre sprout and when it warms up to 55- 65
    F. soil temp they set out plants 16″ apart. Go to paradispureseedginger.com to order or you can email me at kareen_haskin@yahoo.com

  35. Tammy  Says:

    I ordered turmeric root off of Amazon and it came quickly and in very good condition. They have it in different quantities and is ready to consume or plant. I ordered 2# for $14.95 and was well pleased with the condition and value. Two pounds is quite a lot of turmeric root so I am planting some and sharing with my sister and mother.

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00T1MWYA2?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_detailpage_o09_s00

  36. hans v rooyen  Says:

    Can anybody help me to aquire a plant or live roots somewhere in South Africa

  37. Gary Davis  Says:

    Approx 5 years ago I purchased five rhizomes of turmeric from a Florida source. Each rhizome was reported t be a different variety. I planted each in a separate clay pot keeping them inside, as our planting zone is 8B in SE Louisiana. Each eventually produced viable leafy plants and over the years they thrived outdoors in both patio pots and raised beds. Freezing winters did seemingly kill off the roots, but in the spring they all came back. Some has flowers, but all were a lush addition to our pool ares. One broken pot left me with an abundance of rhizomes which I planted in a 16’x 2″ raised bed in the fenced in area of my old chicken coop. In this location they proliferated. Recently I removed several roots and small rhizomes and peeled them with a vegetable peeler. Using a mandolin , I cut them into thin strips and placed them in a dehydrator where they dried in less than a day. An electric coffee grinder pulverized the lot into a fine powder, the color and consistency of commercial products. The yield was approx. 2oz of powdered turmeric. Nol a lot of work, although in future I would harvest the main roots which are the size of a small sweet potato and easier to peel than the mall rhizomes. I saw no need to boil the rhizomes, as they cut smoothly on the mandolin much the same as cutting potatoes. I saw no point in boiling, unless there are concerns with molds etc. Washing and rincing prior to slicing along with the heat from the dehydrator would seem to be sufficient, but I am open to suggestions. By the way, I lost my info re the source for my rhizomes, but I think her name was Kat Ford out of Gainsville, FL area At the time she had no web site.

  38. Debbie Brennan  Says:

    I regularly order my Tumeric roots on Amazon. They are beautiful! I use about a pound every 3-4 weeks. Several roots have sprouted and those are the ones I’ll plant. I also grew my own Ginger last year and from only about 6 plants, I had enough to last all winter. The root clusters were HUGE! I’m in southern Alabama and just put them out in a flower bed with mostly full sun. They did great! I’m going to do my Tumeric the same way and see how it does. I always have better luck with a plant in the ground. Mother Nature does a better self regulating job than I do. Everyone should be eating Tumeric everyday! I make a tea out of it. My aches and pains are non-existent now and if I go out of town for a week or so and don’t have it, I get sick! Nuts. I take about 1 1/2″ of chopped Tumeric and 1″ of Ginger and boil it in my tea kettle for about 10 min. I add pepper and cinnamon to the teapot and 3 bags of Red Zinger Tea. After it cools to almost body temp., I add 5 bags of Numi Gunpowder Green Tea and steep just for 5- 10 min. maybe. People generally make the mistake of boiling green tea( and too long). It makes it bitter. Normally I’ll add enough water for my 2 liter pitcher…add some “Nu-Stevia” to sweeten. I drink it all day. It’s slightly peppery and tastes great! It’s the best way to get my water in and apparently, this is full of whatever my body needs! Read up on the benefits of Tumeric. It’s amazing.

  39. Carol Smith  Says:

    I’ve had the same Tumeric in pots outside for over 3 years not knowing what to do with it. This site has really helped. The last post by Debbie Brennan really helped. I have so much pain in my feet. Maybe trying her tea will help.
    I am in Houston and found Tumeric at the Chinese Hong Kong market on Bellaire Blvd. Don’t know if they have it at this time so call first.
    So easy to grow. My ginger is planted in mostly shade which I read about before planting. Every year we harvest our ginger. Also, so easy to grow.

  40. David Harvey  Says:

    I started taking Turmeric in Mid March 2016 after I was told by my consultant that the migrain i have had was due to my spinal arth Hritis, since taking Turmeric I was releived of my migrains instantly, my arthritis has all but gone.
    The recipe that I use is:.
    A mug of full fat milk into a pan on a low light, I stir in 2 teaspoons of organic Turmeric, along with an 1/8 of a teaspoon of Black Pepper and a teaspoon of runny Honey for taste.
    The B/Pepper is essential as the curcumin in the Turmeric is only 2 to 4% and the Piperine in the Pepper increases it’s bio-availability by 1000%.
    I have straight after my breakfast every morning.
    It worked wonders for my health.
    I live in Devon in southern England.

  41. J C  Says:

    Organic turmeric now at Walmart here in Ontario! Ours here in Fort Erie has some right in with the organic garlic: in fact most of the turmeric packs were buried under the garlic. So dig around your local Walmart and you might find some!
    I just had fresh turmeric for the first time this evening. Wow. Much nicer than the powdered!

  42. David M  Says:

    First introduced turmeric through newspaper article which advised was good for Arthritis, made up Turmeric milk and took it daily, some 6 months later I am without Arthritis in my back, this subsequantly got rid of my agonising Migrains and now find my Acid Reflux is waining.
    I bought some rhyzomes off Amazon 2 months ago, put them in a bag of dry vermiculite and left them for 2 months, on opening the drawer I find they have all sprouted so have had to plant up, they are growing in pots indoors until it’s time outside.
    I am from Devon England, will update later on how they are doing.

  43. Mohan  Says:

    Hai friends ….
    I Mohan from India doing turmeric farming in south india , just I’m interested to (export )supply turmeric rhizomes ( turmeric finger or turmeric bulb for seedling purpose) in huge quantity .if any one of you can help me regarding …. Mail me mhnsomu@gmail.com

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