Tips for Growing Turmeric Indoors

download-6Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a tropical plant that is used as food as well as a beautiful addition to any garden. It can be argued that the rhizome of a turmeric plant is one of the healthiest foods that is widely available, leading nutritionists to call it a miracle drug. Interestingly, while it is commonly known that the rhizomes are edible, most people discard the leaves, stem, and flowers. In reality, the entire plant is edible and can be used as a good source of nutrition.

While buying turmeric powder from the market is easy, the fresh, raw, rhizomes offer a lot more potential benefits and versatility in usage. In such cases, growing your own turmeric plant is your best option. Doing this is not very difficult. Although the plant is best grown in a garden, one can also grow it indoors, in a large pot. It is a hardy plant that tolerates changes in weather to a large extent. It can also provide a lush green addition to the indoor environment. Let us now look at the things you need to know while creating an indoor turmeric garden in your home.

How to Grow Turmeric Plant in a Pot

  1. Soil: Get a few large and deep pots, at least a 1 ½ foot wide in diameter, for growing the turmeric plants. Fill the pots with rich organic loamy soil, which is lightly moist but well drained. The ideal pH should range from 4.5 to 7.5
  2. Planting Season: Dig the soil around 3-5 inches deep and bury large pieces of store-bought rhizomes with nodes on them. Pick only those rhizomes that are firm, and avoid diseased or rotting ones. Ideally, you should plant the rhizomes in the month of March, as it takes around 8 months for the plant to fully mature. So, you will get your harvest in winter, just before the frost sets in. In warmer regions, you can plant turmeric at any time of the year. Use the same process if you are using seeds instead of the rhizomes.
  3. Mulching and Fertilizing: Put in a mix of organic fertilizer and manure on top of the soil. On top of this, spread a ½-inch layer of mulch to protect the plant from the cold. Fertilizers should be replenished every 6- 7 months.
  4. Climate requirements: Ideally, the turmeric plant grows well in areas with a temperate summer with good humidity, and will eventually fade in winter. Place the pots in an area that receives bright, warm, indirect sunlight. The plants can also survive in full sunlight, as long as watering is increased. Your plant will need artificial warming if the temperature falls below 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
  5. Watering: The soil of the turmeric plant should always be moist, but not too wet. Ideally, watering once in 2-3 days is good for the growth of the plant. However, check the soil for moisture before every watering session. A daily misting session with a spray bottle will also help the plant stay healthy.
  6. Harvesting: At the end of the season, the foliage starts to wilt and die. It is usually assumed that at this time, the turmeric is ready to harvest. It is best if you take out all the rhizomes in the soil at the same time. You will get approximately 500 grams of fresh roots from each plant.

Pruning
After the saplings have grown into full-fledged pleated leaves, you will soon see them grow to around 4 feet tall. Eventually, during the summer, you will find that the plant has white and green cones surrounding yellow flowers, between the leaves. You will need to cut the plant to the ground to encourage the growing turmeric root to bloom even more. The foliage will grow again and wilt for a final time just before winter begins, signaling the time for harvest.

Pests and Diseases
Turmeric plants are highly resilient against pests and diseases, except a few varieties of aphids and mites. Keep a watch for these insects and wash them off with a spray of water if you find any. The plants can also be affected by leaf spot. This condition can be cured with appropriate fungicides.

Turmeric Plant Life Cycle
To help you understand how a turmeric plant grows, it is important for us to understand, the process of reproduction in the plant. In the following paragraphs, we will describe the process in which the reproduction occurs asexually, in the same flower, to form seeds by meiosis and mitosis.

Life Cycle of a Turmeric Plant
In the flower of the turmeric plant, the ovary and the anther start a process of maturing cells. The single-celled microspores filled in the microsporangium of the anther, carry out a cell division process of meiosis and mitosis to form a pollen grain.
By a similar process of cell division, the ovary forms many embryos filled with fertile eggs.
When the pollen grain reaches the ovary, a pollen tube extends out to transport the sperm to the egg for fertilization.
The fertilized ovary now matures into turmeric seeds, while the flower deteriorates.
Eventually the seed falls off the plant, and begins the process of germination to form a new plant.

Other Tips
When handling turmeric, it is advisable to wear gloves, as the roots can stain your hands yellow.
To create turmeric powder from the rhizomes, boil them for 45 minutes in water, and dry them in the shade for a week till they turn hard. You can now grind them to a powder, with a food processor or a mortar and pestle.
After harvesting the roots, store them in a cool and dark place, till the time you use them.
Do not over-water the plant as this slows down its growth.
So you see, growing turmeric is very easy. You can try growing ginger in a similar fashion, and enjoy the benefits of all the herbal goodness.