Turmeric is one of our favorite herbs and is an interesting and distinctly tropical looking plant that can be grown in the ground year-round as far north as zone 8b, in the right situation. It will even clean your soil of harmful pathogens and many pest insects.
You are not purchasing a simple rhizome. This is a live plant that has already been fully established in its pot – you will not have to germinate this. Simply transplant into your tropical landscape or into a large pot upon its arrival. These are not bare-rooted, either. You receive the pot and the rich, homemade organic soil the plant has been in since germination.
Common name: Turmeric
Botanical name: Curcuma longa
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Hardiness: The foliage is not frost tolerant but as long as a heavy mulch is laid, root will over-winter in temperate gardens of zone 7b or higher. Most growers dig up and over-winter rhizomes in a cool dark place, then replant in the spring. As one does this, one can snip off a good bit of root for consumption and/or multiplication of plant stock.
Sun requirements: Loves morning sun best, dabbled sun thereafter. The leaves will wilt in the hottest hours if in full sun, but springs back beautifully after shade hits it.
Water requirements: Moderate.
Final spacing: 18 inches to 2 feet
Final height/spread: Up to five feet tall and two feet wide in one growing season
Companion plants: Turmeric grows well with most plants. I would avoid growing turmeric near fennel though, simply because fennel only likes to be planted with dill nearby. Picky thing! I highly recommend planting turmeric next to plants that are susceptible to fungus, soil-borne diseases/pathogens such as heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, roses, fruit trees (apples especially), and melons. Avoid planting too close to root crops that would encroach on their allotted space. Because turmeric has the same antibacterial thing going like garlic, it cleans the soil and repels fungal issues – the soil ends up cleaner. A personal observation is that turmeric as a companion plant helps prevent blight – especially with heirlooms.
Pest and disease resistance/susceptibility: Much of this is covered in the section above, Companion Plants. Turmeric has many health and disease inhibiting compounds for humans and plants alike. As such, turmeric is resistant to most soil-borne diseases and pest insects except root rot and gophers, which is easily avoided by not drowning them and not having gophers! The soil turmeric is grown in becomes infused with its disease-fighting and pest-repelling compounds, which are many. We have been growing turmeric for several years in NC, and have not had any pests on it.