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


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.


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.


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.

174 Responses to “How to Grow Turmeric”

  1. Cony  Says:

    I am in Normandy, France.9a USDA hardiness zone.
    I started a plant in early spring 2016 from rhizomes bought in a organic food store for cooking, I had some left, so I just planted one in special soil for tropical plants, and kept it in a small conservatory, it took longer than a month to start sprouting, when it had a couple of leaves I transplanted it to a larger pot and fertilized it with a tropical plants fertilizer, in June I transplanted it outdoors, I fertilized it with compost and later in the season with organic fertilizer for vegetables. At the beginning the plant look healthy, when it started to be hot in the conservatory, the leaves had dry borders, and they stayed like that during the whole summer, only in September they started to look healthy again. I kept the plant well watered but not in excess.
    I’m waiting for the leaves to turn yellow to harvest some rhizomes.
    Does anybody know why the borders of the leaves become dry?

  2. Troy  Says:

    Cony, I would guess the borders become dry due to dry air – it would prefer high humidity like the tropics. I haven’t grown turmeric indoors yet, but I tried ginger once and it failed. How is your plant doing now?

  3. Greg Richardson  Says:

    Hi, My tumeric has started to send up long leaves and the pot is too small. Can I separate while its in the growing season or do I wait ?

  4. Tamar A. C.  Says:

    Hi Greg, It has been a long time since your post and maybe you have decided already what to do, in any case if you dig the turmeric roots+leaves like they are in a glass and the earth is tight around them you can transplant it. Prepare a “friendly” environment for the transplanted plant, good aired soil where water can stay and pass through, not a windy place and lots of sun. This will help the transplanted plant to get acquainted with the new place and develop well. Good luck!

  5. Comfort  Says:

    Thank you for an excellent article with invaluable information.
    Please clarify that the root should not receive any water until the shoots appear.

    I do not have clarity on this. Is it to just keep the soil moist or =not water at all until the shoots appear

  6. Ida snow  Says:

    I was wondering about growing it in Nova Scotia Canada I guess i have some idea now.but I am not sure what zone this is.

  7. Dorji  Says:

    I live in southern Bhutan which boarders the state of Assam in India. The summer temperature (from March till end of October is well above 65F but winter (November to end February) may drop down to a minimum low of 48F especially at night. The summer season (From June till end of September)can be very wet with heavy rainfall. However the area is found to be suitable for growing ginger. Can i grow turmeric under such climatic condition?
    Turmeric is a plant that is seldom bothered by insects or disease. can we assume the same thing about wild animals- especially wild boars and elephants?

    Further is the tumeric plant

  8. Ming  Says:

    I start my turmeric in plates on my kitchen counter, under lights. Put the roots on the plate. Add purified water (not distilled) to the plate until it comes 1/4 up the side of the root. Don’t ever let it dry out. It takes a few weeks for it to sprout. Once the sprouts are 1/2 inch tall, plant it in a pot outside in the sun. Use organic compost and sand well mixed. Plant 2 inches deep with sprouts pointing up. Don’t let it dry out. Fertilize every week with Schultz Liquid Plant Food,Plus Micronutrients 10-15-10. It’s very concentrated. Seven drops per quart of water. Plant in spring. Harvest in 8 to 10 months
    when leaves start to die.

  9. KKBonwit  Says:

    I live in Palm Beach Fl . We found out turmeric doesn’t like our strong hot sun, so we planted it in dapple shade. We planted it all over the garden and found that’s where it grew best Also we planted in Oct, nothing happened, then June it topped out of the ground. One piece of turmeric grew into 32 pieces. Now we planted those to get a good crop started.

  10. nora sy  Says:

    i planted a turmeric last yr,..and all the leaves r gone i thought its dead. now i dig the soil and found a kilo of turmeric ..but the turmeric roots are not big i want to plant and develope well
    thanks for your excellent article,a big help for us

  11. Margaret Spruill  Says:

    I just got my roots and am beginning to start them. Some in pots and a few in water as the person above did. Thank you for the article it is very informative.


  12. Daniel  Says:

    It might sound a bit presumptuous, but do believe if turmeric is planted in a bale of hay (or straw), it can make it through most weather conditions.

  13. Daniel  Says:

    Without sounding too presumptuous,
    it would probably work for most non-native countries with a simple bale of hay (or straw).

    Puncture a hole in the bale, put some good ground and there we go!

    Can we place a bet on that?

  14. Kma  Says:

    I tried Turmeric a couple of times and so far not successful. I planted rhizomes I bought on Amazon 3 years ago and out of 1 pound of roots NOTHING sprouted. These were planted directly in the ground in February, which in SW Florida is an OK time to get this going. Well the second time is middle of June of 2017 and maybe it is too soon to tell, but I planted about 6 turmeric roots I bought from an Amish grocer, and a week later planted 2 POUNDS of turmeric I bought from Amazon once again. Nothing is sprouting this time either and this is the perfect hot and wet weather for everything to grow down here. I tried this time sowing directly in ground as well as containers. I also grow Ginger and once ginger roots starting sprouting that’s when I planted my turmeric this year. Very disappointed as I love turmeric for it’s health benefits and like the look of the plant itself.

  15. Christina  Says:

    I’m wondering if anyone knows whether it’s ok to eat fresh tumeric roots before they are ripe?

  16. Loretta Quiring  Says:

    I live in zone 9 and have two plants 2 and 3 foot high in small pot. Debating on repotting for the house or planting in the garden. Are they too big to transplant?

  17. Mary Beth  Says:

    When the leaves start curbing downwards towards the middle thing or I giving it too much water or too Little water

  18. tina  Says:

    I didn’t know much about growing turmeric but I planted some roots since I use it a lot. After about 7 or 8 months I harvested, wao! I was so encouraged and am doing it big time.

  19. Buffalo Don  Says:

    I just planted some outdoors in a large pot today. Fingers crossed I hope they sprout!

  20. George  Says:

    I live in The Woodlands, TX (USA zone 9a) I bought some turmeric rhizomes at a Farmers Market this past spring and planted it right away. It started leaves in about 3 weeks and continued to grow nicely throughout the summer. About a month ago it started shooting up additional sprouts. Right now, in addition to the main plant, there are 8 or 10 small sprouts. The weather is getting chilly here (56ºF right now) and I’m wondering if I should harvest it….the leaves are still green and healthy looking.

  21. Nigel Morris  Says:

    I live in Northern Ireland. I planted four tubers in a 20cm pot, about 6 months ago, and put it in a window that gets “full” sun for about four hours a day (or all the sun that we get here). The room is a pretty constant 18C year round, maybe going to 16C overnight in winter and 20C in parts of summer.
    It took about three weeks for the tubers to shoot, but all four did. They grew well with fairly deep green leaves to about 70 cm high.
    Over the last month or so (November) the leaves have become paler and dying off more quickly than new leaves are forming.
    I keep the soil moist and have used Tomato liquid fertiliser occasionally. But the air is likely quite dry.
    Any suggestions about why it seems to be struggling?

  22. Kyle  Says:

    I planted a large pot (about 14-16′ diameter) with lots of roots spaced apart a few inches and about 3′ deep. Finally after 3 weeks two tiny sprouts appeared. I had to move (and the winter is brutal here) and despite my efforts those two sprouts shriveled up and died off. Will these re-sprout again? And, if the roots are rotting, how can I know? Do I have to dig these up to investigate? I want to do everything I can to ensure they will try sprouting once more.

  23. FEBLIN JAWRO  Says:

    I am quite satisfied with the presentation here and I will not hesitate to give a trial at growing this indispensable plant.

  24. Greg Richardson  Says:


    I have 2 distinct types of turmeric plants. One is bright/pale yellow and the other is deep orange. I am trying to find out what one is best and information about each, however on the internet they only seem to talk about white vs orange or white vs yellow, as if the orange and yellow are the same. No comparison orange vs yellow. Mine are definitely different from each other. I am so curious. Thanks Greg

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