Turmeric is a spice, usually sold as a powder, obtained from the root of the ginger-related plant turmeric Curcuma longa.
Turmeric root has been used in medicine for thousands of years. It’s beneficial for preventing and relieving health problems, and in Chinese culture, turmeric is known as one of the best superfoods. The medicinal ingredient of turmeric Curcuma longa is ‘curcumin,’ which gives turmeric its characteristic yellow color and is a powerful antioxidant.
You can grow this superfood in your garden or even indoors using pots; if you want to learn precisely how to grow turmeric, check our guide below.
Where Can You Grow Turmeric?
Turmeric is a tropical plant, so if you live in USDA Hardiness zones 8 to 11, you can grow turmeric outside in your garden. But don’t worry, if you live in zones 7 or lower, you can still grow Tumeric, only you’ll have to put a bit more work in and grow them indoors in pots.
Keep in mind that if you do go for growing turmeric in containers or pots, it’ll require extra vigilance as the soil in pots will dry much quicker than in the garden and ground. They also grow roughly 3 feet tall, so make sure you have enough space.
A Step-by-Step Guide on How To Grow Turmeric
Turmeric grows in a tropical climate, so as mentioned above, if you live in zone 7 or below, planting turmeric plants outside is not a good idea. In most parts of the US, turmeric root will flourish best if you plant it indoors in late winter. You can still move it into your garden once the chance of frost is minimal and the weather becomes warm enough.
If you’re from zones 8 and higher, you can grow it completely outdoors.
Here is our guide on how to grow turmeric in pots indoors and in your garden as well.
Step 1: Prepare and Calculate When To Plant
The turmeric plant takes around 7 to 10 months to grow after planting. The best way to calculate the perfect growing season to plant turmeric is to count back 10 months from when the first frost starts in your area.
If your sunny seasons are longer, or you have a bright spot in your house all year round, you don’t need to worry much about timing. You’ll still probably get the best results if you start growing in late winter.
Step 2: Pick the Right Turmeric Rhizomes
To grow turmeric, you’ll need a fresh rhizome or an already established plant, the same way you would plant ginger or potatoes. You can get rhizomes in your local store, but be careful when you’re picking the roots; not all will sprout as a lot of them are treated with growth retardant, preventing them from sprouting in the store.
If you can’t find fresh rhizomes in your local supermarket, try finding them in any health and fresh food stores or Indian and Asian food stores. They usually have fresh rhizomes in stock, or at least can order some for you.
Pick the juicy and plump rhizomes with lots of bumps and knobs that are slightly green at the ends. This is a good sign that they haven’t been treated and are ready to sprout.
Step 3: It’s Time To Plant
Soil for turmeric plants should be organically rich; you can mix in some compost to add the needed nutrients for better plant growth. Make sure the soil drains well; otherwise, the rhizome can easily rot.
Get several large pots measuring 10 to 15 inches and fill them with rich organic potting soil. Make sure the pots have drainage holes.
Cut your rhizomes into three smaller pieces; each piece should have at least 2 to 3 buds. Lay each rhizome piece in their own pot, laying flat on the soil, and then cover with approximately 1 inch of soil. After you’re finished, water them and find the sunniest and warmest place in your garden or house.
Ideally, the temperature should be around 85 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Sprouting at a lower temperature than recommended will be very slow and may cause the roots to rot. If you can’t find an optimal location and find your house too cold, you can buy a small germination chamber.
Step 4: Caring for Growing Turmeric
After you’ve finished planting, cover the container or pot with a plastic bag for up to three weeks; this will help the roots sprout faster. When you see your turmeric plant has started to sprout and has outgrown the plastic bag, you can remove it. If needed, you can transplant your turmeric plant into a bigger pot or container.
Temperature and Light
The best temperature range for growing turmeric is between 68 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature drops below, the plant will suffer and will grow slower or even rot. So you have to be very careful about maintaining the temperature in the location where you have turmeric plants.
Turmeric grows well in the sunlight but can be sensitive, and the leaves may get scorched. It’ll grow well in full sun or partial shade.
If you’re growing it outdoors, take care on the hottest days of summer when the temperatures reach over 90 degrees Fahrenheit, as this could be too hot for turmeric. It will benefit from some afternoon shade more than direct sunlight.
Check your plant daily and water it as needed. Well-drained potting soil should always be moist but not too wet or soggy. You can mist the leaves with water one or two times per day once they start growing as turmeric is, after all, a tropical plant and likes humidity. Don’t let your soil dry out at any point, as this could result in a reduced harvest.
Pests and Diseases
If you’re growing turmeric indoors, you don’t need to worry that much about pests. If you provide good potting soil that’s new and well-drained, it’ll be unlikely for you to have problems with things such as root-knot nematodes or burrowing nematodes.
If your plants are weak, they may become an easy target for pests like spider mites and aphids. You can remove these pests with insecticidal sprays, and if you have a large outbreak of pests, pyrethrin spray will work wonders at reducing their numbers and getting rid of them.
Also, turmeric is mildly susceptible to root rot, which’s caused by pythium. It’s important to keep the soil moist but not too soggy and wet, as this may lead to rotting of the roots.
When your plants start to outgrow their pots, usually when they reach around 6 to 7 inches in height, it’s time to transplant them into larger pots. At this point, they’re not so sensitive to lower temperatures, so you can easily leave them at 68 degrees.
If the chances of frost have passed, you can also move your turmeric plant outside to your garden to continue growing. If it’s quite hot in your area, find a place in your garden that has a partial shade, as the leaves are tender and can easily get scorched.
Turmeric is a heavy feeder, so once the turmeric plant is actively growing, you should add additional nutrients every few weeks. You can use organic liquid fertilizer, compost tea, or you can even apply fertilizers that are otherwise recommended for potatoes and other root crops.
You may notice that some of the outer leaves of your turmeric plant are turning brown. If this happens at the beginning or middle of growth, it may mean that you’re growing your turmeric in too much sun and heat, so move it to another place with less sunlight and prune off the brown leaves.
If the brown leaves start to occur towards the end of the growing, at around 9 or 10 months after planting, when your plant is approximately 3 feet tall, this is completely normal and means it’s almost time to harvest. You don’t need to prune off any brown leaves at this stage.
Step 5: Harvesting
If your climate resembles turmeric’s natural tropical growing conditions, it might start flowering. The flowers are white, with some pink and purple tips. But even if it’s flowering, this doesn’t mean that your turmeric plant is ready to harvest. This will usually occur in late spring or early summer.
So how do you know when to harvest turmeric? First, check the date you planted your turmeric; if it’s been 9 or 10 months since you first started growing turmeric, then this is a good indicator that it’s ready to harvest. You’ll also notice that the leaves have begun to turn brown and die back. Your plant should be around 3 feet tall.
Pull out the plants and shake the soil off the turmeric root. Cut off the stems and wash the rhizomes well underwater. If you find them hard to pull out, you can also use a digging fork, but be careful not to stab or damage the fresh turmeric rhizomes.
If you’ve used pots for growing turmeric, then you don’t need to pull them out; you can just simply turn the pot on the side and gently dump out the soil, and remove the rhizomes by hand.
Storage of Turmeric
You can store fresh turmeric in airtight bags or containers and put them in the fridge. They’ll stay fresh in the fridge for up to 6 weeks. If you want to store them for longer, you can put them in the freezer. We recommend that you use fresh turmeric, rather than freezing it, as this may reduce the taste a bit.
You can also turn your fresh turmeric into powder and store it in a glass jar or container. Ground turmeric should last up to 6 months.
Prepare Your Own Turmeric Powder
Turmeric powder is the most common form of turmeric and is made out of dry turmeric rhizomes. If you want to prepare turmeric powder, cut the roots into small pieces and put them in water to boil them. When you can easily pierce them with a fork, they’re ready.
Put the boiled rhizomes in the sun or a food dehydrator. When they’re ready, you should be able to snap them with your fingers easily.
Alternatively, you can peel the turmeric roots and cut them into thin slices of equal sizes. Place the pieces on a baking tray and preheat your oven at 212 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake for 2 hours, checking after an hour and a half or so, until your turmeric is dry.
When your turmeric roots are dehydrated and dry enough, use a blender, spice mill, or pestle and mortar to grind them well and make turmeric powder for cooking. Don’t forget to wear gloves when you grind turmeric because the rhizomes will leave a bright orange color on your fingers, and that won’t wash off easily.
Different Ways You Can Use Turmeric Powder for Cooking
- Add a little turmeric powder into your morning scrambled eggs. This will give your eggs a bit of extra taste.
- Add the powder into the rice; it’ll make your meal a bit more colorful and tasty.
- Use it in soups. A bowl of chicken soup will taste even better with a bit of turmeric added.
- Mix turmeric with some coconut milk and honey. This will make a delicious beverage, called “the Golden Milk.”
Health Benefits of Turmeric
The taste of turmeric is slightly spicy and a little bitter, like ginger and orange. It contains iron, vitamin B6, a lot of fiber, and potassium. It has many different health benefits, according to research.
The benefits include:
- Decreasing the chances of heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease.
- Natural anti-inflammatory properties.
- Improves symptoms of depression.
- Improves symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
- Helping with the treatment of diabetes.
- Rich in antioxidants, helping to improve skin problems such as acne, atopic dermatitis, and psoriasis.
- One teaspoon of turmeric with hot milk can relieve a sore throat.
- Yogurt mixed with turmeric will help with digestive problems.
How Much Turmeric Can You Eat Per Day?
If you’re taking turmeric for health reasons or as an anti-inflammatory, you should take between 500–1000 mg of turmeric per day. For example, one teaspoon of turmeric powder contains around 200 mg of curcumin, which is the main, health beneficial ingredient.
Consuming large amounts of turmeric is not recommended as it can, in some cases, cause problems such as an upset stomach, nausea, and dizziness.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can You Grow Turmeric From Store Bought?
Yes, you can. You can buy turmeric rhizomes in a store. However, it can be quite hard to find a rhizome that hasn’t been treated with a growth retardant, as most of the stores will do this to prevent it from sprouting on the shelf.
If you’re buying from your local grocery store, make sure it has green knobs on the sides, this will be a good indicator that it wasn’t treated and is ready to sprout. If you can’t find the right rhizomes in your local grocery store, you can check with any health and fresh food stores or Asian and Indian food stores.
Is Turmeric an Annual or Perennial?
Turmeric is a perennial tropical herb, but it can also be harvested on an annual cycle.
How Do You Grow Turmeric and Ginger?
Both turmeric and fresh ginger are grown from rhizomes and not from seeds like most other plants. You can grow them both together and plant them in the ground or one large pot.
Are Turmeric Leaves Edible?
Turmeric is usually known for its root, but all parts of the plant are edible. If you chew on turmeric leaves, it will release a distinctive tart flavor, with some notes of grass and mint. If the turmeric leaves are cooked, they will release a slightly floral flavor with a slight bitterness like ginger.
How To Grow Turmeric in Your Backyard?
As mentioned above, not all climates are suitable for growing turmeric outdoors. If you live in zones 8 and above, you can easily grow turmeric outside, in your backyard all year round. But if you’re in zones 7 or lower you, won’t be able to do so, at least not until your area gets warmer. You can still transplant a turmeric plant pot to your garden when the chance of frost is over, and the temperatures are high enough.
Turmeric is considered a superfood and is sometimes referred to as “Yellow Miracle” because of the many health benefits.
It’s very easy to grow by yourself at home and doesn’t need much care after you’ve planted it, but it does take quite a long time until it’s ready to harvest. You can even save some of the turmeric rhizomes after harvest and plant them again for the next growing season.
If you follow our guide, you really can’t go wrong with successfully growing your own turmeric. Just remember to always keep the soil moist but not too soggy, and don’t let it dry out, as turmeric is highly susceptible to rot root. Keep the temperatures as recommended, and you’ll have your very own homegrown turmeric in about 9 to 10 months after planting.