How to Grow Turmeric Root

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Turmeric adds a distinctive yellow color to cuisine.
Turmeric adds a distinctive yellow color to cuisine. (Image: Zedcor Wholly Owned/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images)

No herb garden is complete without a turmeric plant. This plant spices up curries, sauces, rice dishes, chicken dishes and vegetables. Cooks commonly use it for Middle Eastern or African cuisine. The turmeric root thrives in warm or tropical climates. If you live in an area that develops frost in colder months, grow your turmeric indoors. To harvest roots from your mature plant, dig into the soil carefully and slice off a chunk of root. Grate the root to use it fresh, or let it dry and then powder it.

Things You'll Need

  • Seed compost
  • Grit
  • Seed tray
  • Plastic bag
  • Potting soil
  • Fertilizer

Propagation

Find the turmeric roots at your local grocery store. They look similar to ginger roots; however, they tend to form long “fingers,” rather than knobby clumps. Select plump, fresh roots that have a bud on at least one side. Avoid any that look shriveled, moldy or smell musty.

Scatter a mixture of 50 percent seed compost and 50 percent grit on a seed tray. Apply just enough to cover the tray.

Position your turmeric roots on the seed tray with the bud facing up.

Apply just enough of the grit and seed-compost mixture to cover the turmeric rhizomes.

Seal the tray inside a plastic bag. Place it in a warm place -- at least 68 degrees -- for the next three weeks.

Check on the roots after three weeks. If they show no signs of sprouting, keep them sealed in the bag. When you notice small shoots growing, remove the bag.

Dampen the tray and place it in an area where it receives indirect sunlight. Add just enough water to keep it damp but not soaking wet.

Planting and Maintenance

Wait for the shoots to grow to about 2 inches high.

Transfer the roots to individual, shallow pots. Fill the pots about halfway with an all-purpose potting soil. Add the roots, sprout side up, and cover them with more soil. Do not cover the sprouts.

Water your turmeric plants just enough to keep the soil slightly damp. During dormant months, reduce watering so that the soil is mostly dry.

Mist the leaves lightly with water every day in the growing season. This helps prevent pests, such as the red spider mite.

Apply an all-purpose liquid fertilizer to each pot once a week during the growing season.

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