In our latitudes, the tropical plant turmeric grows best indoors. Here, the turmeric plant finds the constant warmth it needs. How to plant turmeric, care for it and harvest the roots.
Today, turmeric, also called turmeric or saffron root, is more popular than ever. We use the roots, called rhizomes, fresh or dried as a powder because of turmeric’s proven healthy effects. How to grow, care for, overwinter and successfully harvest the tropical plant yourself for a long time.
Planting turmeric correctly
Turmeric can be planted all year round. However, the best time is in early spring.
What you need
As a houseplant or potted plant, turmeric is planted in larger, preferably shallow pots. This allows the rhizome – the rootstock – to spread out nicely. For planting, a 5 cm end piece of the tuber is already sufficient, preferably in organic quality. Ideal: when the tuber is already clearly turning green or even sprouting. But this is not a condition.
For planting, fresh potting soil is suitable, which should be sufficiently stable and permeable. You can achieve the latter by adding about 30 percent gravel or grit to the humus used – often you can buy potting soil that already has such a composition.
This is how it is done
Now fill the pot with the soil. The root is placed crosswise and only lightly covered with soil. Then lightly moisten the substrate with water and keep it moist, but not wet, and place it at 20 degrees or a little more. Tip: A film pulled over the pot or a transparent lid will keep the humidity constant.
Since the tropical plant likes it cozy and warm, it can go outside in the summer. But then, similar to its original location, please semi-shade or off-sun. If you don’t have a garden or shady balcony, no big deal, because in a conservatory (heated in winter) or on a windowsill, the spice plant feels just as comfortable. Before it gets really cold again, bring the plant indoors.
Good to know: The plant grows between 40 to 80 cm tall. Diseases and pests are usually no problem for the tropical plant.
Optimal care of the turmeric plant
The care of the turmeric plant ideally requires a constant ambient temperature of about 18 degrees Celsius. The humidity should ideally be around 80 percent. You can create conditions suitable for the plant in conservatories or in rooms with large windows, for example. If the temperature and 12 degrees Celsius drops, then the leaves die.
When caring for a turmeric plant during the spring and summer months, it is recommended to keep the substrate moist but not wet, preferably with lime-free water. Let the soil dry out sufficiently in the meantime to allow oxygenation through the roots.
You can start fertilizing when the first plant leaves sprout (in spring or early summer). Depending on the growth and size of the turmeric plant, a 2 to 4 monthly application of liquid fertilizer is recommended. After September you should stop fertilizing.
With a little luck you can enjoy the white, sometimes purple, flowers around August. Because then it may be that the plant forms its spikey inflorescences under ideal conditions.
As a rule, the spice plant does not require pruning. It is enough if you regularly remove dried leaves, especially in autumn or winter.
Proper wintering of the turmeric plant
If you want to overwinter a turmeric plant, this is possible even in low-light conditions. This is because only the roots of the turmeric plant overwinter, while the leaves wither completely. It is important, however, that you ensure a constant ambient temperature of about 18 °C during the winter months (the plant can also survive temperatures of up to 3 °C for a short time during the care of the turmeric plant).
While you overwinter a turmeric plant, the plant needs much less water – too much wetness can lead to root rot.
Harvesting the tubers
If you do not want to keep turmeric as a long-term plant, but want to harvest it regularly, then about nine months after planting is the right time.
Then the rhizome has grown sufficiently. For harvesting, carefully dig up the rhizome. You can now process the whole rhizome of the plant fresh or dried, store part of it in dry sand as needed, replant part of it right away (end pieces) or put all parts of the rhizome back into the ground for propagation.
Healthy effects of turmeric at a glance
It is really worthwhile to grow the plant yourself and use it fresh for the preparation of dishes or, for example, golden milk. Because:
- The spice has an anti-inflammatory effect.
- Clinical studies on osteoarthritis patients have shown that it reduces their pain and increases their ability to move. Its effect is comparable to painkillers such as ibuprofen.
- Turmeric stimulates detoxification by activating liver and bile activity.
- It is good for beautiful skin.
- It even helps to lose weight.
- Even in larger quantities, the ingredient curcumin is said to be free of side effects. However, if you have bile problems or blood clotting disorders, you should ask your doctor or pharmacist.
Learn more about the healthy effects of turmeric here.
Bioavailability of curcumin
Curcumin is poorly soluble in water, which makes bioavailability, i.e. absorption in the body, more difficult. When heated or in oil or fatty foods, it is increased. With fresh black pepper (contains the active ingredient piperine), the positive effect of curcumin is further enhanced.
Cultivation and cultivation in Asia
Turmeric (bot. Curcuma longa) has been cultivated in China and India as a spice and medicinal plant for more than 5000 years. The plant has numerous other names, such as curcuma, Indian turmeric or simply turmeric, curcume, yellow ginger or Indian saffron.
Curcuma longa is a plant of the ginger family and was first brought to Europe in the 13th century. Its name comes from Arabic, where the plant is called “al-krukum”, which means saffron. The spice got this name because of the deceptively similar color of the rhizome, even though the plant is not at all related to the saffron-giving crocus.
The spice powder extracted from the root has been a component of curry mixtures since time immemorial and has always been used in Ayurvedic medicine as a medicinal plant. By the way, its healing power has been proven by scientists in recent years. It has been proven that the rhizome of the plant has antiviral and anti-inflammatory effects, even protects the cells of our body. Responsible for this are the essential oils and curcumin contained.