So, you want to grow some turmeric inside your kitchen so you can easily harvest it for your tea, curry, smoothie, or powder.
Did you know a real turmeric plant grows up to 3 feet tall? And wide?
And did you know that they’re relatively easy to grow so you never have to pay for them in the grocery store again?
How about growing them organically?
Let’s dive in and learn about how to grow and care for C. longa indoors.
Is turmeric easy to grow?
Turmeric is expensive. Growing it on your own provides many benefits other than saved expenses.
You can grow it organically and know exactly what goes into it. You can also have a plentiful supply for smoothies, tea, or even golden milk!
Thankfully, turmeric is easy to grow if you have the right conditions.
You don’t have to get gauged every time you’re at the supermarket for those ridiculous prices only for a tidbit of powder (or capsule, if that’s your thing).
You’d be surprised at how easy it is to propagate and wonder why you didn’t do this earlier.
Let’s go over what these “conditions” are and what you’ll need to grow your turmeric at home.
So, what do I need to grow turmeric?
The keyword is location. Turmeric grows best if you plant it indoors and then transplant it outdoors after the winter season.
If you plan to keep it indoors in a pot the entire time, it’s possible, but you won’t get the best yield.
So it’s up to you if you want to move it outside later on. Turmeric grows all over the US and can tolerate zones as low as 5-7 with proper winter protection.
But if you’re in a warmer zone, such as 8 through 11, you can grow it outdoors all year round. The mild winters won’t harm it and you can just let it do its thing without care.
However, for those in lower zones where it gets cold in the winter, you’ll need to start it indoors.
You can move it outdoors during the summer if you grow it in a pot. But when the winter rolls around once more, you’ll have to move it back inside.
This guide is aimed at growing it indoors for those in zones 8+.
But I’ll have a section for those that are in lower USDA hardiness zones and what to do for the wintertime so we’re all turmeric bound!
C. longa has roots similar to ginger or potato, so it’s commonly planted alongside these other edibles.
Colder zones will need to bring the plant back indoors or you can use a layer of mulch to protect the roots in the winter season.
Other than location, turmeric will need some TLC to produce a good yield.
Don’t worry. It’s not going to take up all your time or anything.
But it’s also not some plant you can just ignore. It’ll require a small investment of your time to get the best possible yield.
This means regular watering, monitoring for pests, and supplementing with plant food.
When’s the best time to plant turmeric?
Turmeric takes a long time to harvest. Expect the seedlings to grow for at least 7 months from the time you plant until the time you harvest.
For this reason, you should count backward from your first harvest to figure the ideal month to plant it. The point is to avoid the first frost so it doesn’t kill your plant.
You want to harvest it before the frost comes, not after (because there won’t be anything left to harvest). To find out when your first frost is in your zone, use this site. Then count backward 10 months for good measure.
For example, if your first frost is in November, you’d plant in January. Remember that this depends largely on where you’re situated.
Warmer zones have longer growing seasons so you’re flexible. If you’re in a higher zone, you don’t need to worry about timing as much and you’re free to do it anytime.
Colder zones will need to consider this so the first frost doesn’t kill your harvest.
Typically, you’ll plant in late winter through late spring. This is between December and March. Turmeric will grow large leaves that can grow up to 36 inches tall and 24 inches wide or greater. The plant forms big rhizomes that stem into tubers.
In August, the buds will begin to blossom and the flowers come out. The leaves are light yellow/green while the flowers range from white to yellow.
Some may be pink.
Next, we’ll have to discuss how to actually plant your turmeric.
You gotta start from something, right?
You have a few options when it comes to starter plants, but I suggest using a rhizome. Technically, you CAN start from seed but that’s more work than you may have the patience for.
So we’ll cover that another time.
This guide will focus on starting from rhizomes since that’s:
- Easily accessible for most people
- Doesn’t take forever to grow
If you’re hands-off, just get a grown turmeric plant and transplant it. You’re done.
How do I get a turmeric rhizome?
The rhizome is the long, fleshy part that grows under the soil. You can buy it from international supermarkets.
But depending on where you live, this may not be accessible. If this is the case, buy fresh rhizomes online and have them delivered.
If you are in a metro area, you should have international markets nearby. Get some fresh turmeric rhizomes, which likely are sold during the winter. Do NOT get dried ones.
Get fresh, large, and bumpy rhizomes for the best results. The larger rhizomes are more established.
Plus, they have more buds which allow successful propagation. Established rhizomes are generally resilient to transplant and will do fine compared to a younger one in my opinion.
Look for rhizomes that are established. Get the ones that have “fingers” sticking out of them. These are big and ready to propagate.
You can get many pieces from one rhizome. If your store charges by the piece, that’s even a nicer benefit! Get organic ones if possible.
Choosing a container for turmeric
For small rhizomes when you’re just planting them for the first time, you can get away with smaller containers.
The plastic cheapo ones work okay, so don’t worry about it. Drill drainage holes if they don’t have them already. Drill multiple so it can drain if one gets backed up.
While you’re shopping for containers, you can also research your future one and save it somewhere in your bookmarks so you don’t need to research it again later on. Buy as many containers as you need per each rhizome you have.
Turmeric will need a larger container so it can develop strong roots and produce a good yield.
Choose a pot that has at least 12 inches diameter per 6 inches of a rhizome. Use this measurement gauge to see how big of a pot you’ll need.
The larger the pot, the less you’ll have to upgrade in the future. It should also be deep as well. Since these are pricier, you can defer buying them until you need them.
Planting turmeric rhizomes
And now the fun part. Planting! This momentous occasion will be the start of your turmeric smoothies.
See? I told you it wasn’t too bad to grow it at home. Turmeric is easy.
Get your pots and fill them up with substrate. They don’t need to be full. Leave space for soil when you plant the rhizomes.
Take your rhizomes and lay them out on a clean surface. You’ll want to keep things as sterile as possible to prevent rot or mold or fungus from getting into them.
- Get a pair of scissors and clean them with some rubbing alcohol. Put on gloves.
- Cut the rhizome into sections.
- Depending on how large it is, you may cut it into 3-4 pieces. Each section should have a bit of everything- the main thing being that each piece has a bud. These will allow roots to come out.
- Place each piece on a clean surface and inspect it for mold or fungus. Clean off any debris or dirt.
- Place each rhizome onto the top of the soil surface. Lay them down evenly. It’s one rhizome per container.
- Fill with soil. You only need less than an inch or so.
- Water generously the first time around. This will help establish water pathways in the substrate. It should be draining out of the bottom of the pot within a minute.
- Get some saran wrap and cover the pot to lock in humidity.
- Place the containers next to a sunny window where temperatures are above 86F. The warmer the environment, the quicker to sprout.
- Colder areas will take a long time for it to sprout so you should avoid this before you lose your patience.
- If you’re situated somewhere where it rarely gets hot enough, you can make a germination chamber using DIY materials at home. Here are some ideas:
- Germination chambers are also sold online.
- Keep the pots moist, but never wet. If covered, you should rarely have to water it.
- Lighting isn’t important at this part, so don’t fret over it. When they sprout and begin to photosynthesize, then it matters.
- Keep watch of any mold or fungus.
- Sit back and enjoy.
- Remove the wrap when they sprout so they get hardened.
How to care for turmeric seedlings
Here’s everything else you need to know to successfully propagate your rhizomes.
Soil for turmeric should be a high-quality substrate. Use organic if possible and get a well-draining potting mix.
It should be loamy and loose. There should be no large rocks or clumping. Turmeric is a tropical plant so it likes moisture.
That’s why you need soil that drains so it doesn’t get buildup.
It likes acidic pH to slightly alkaline levels. Keep pH between the values between 4-7 if possible. You can use special amendments for your soil to bring the pH down if it’s overly alkaline.
Use a soil earth tester to find out your exact pH. Compost can help improve the drainage and keep it water retaining.
When they finally sprout, all your hard work is paying off.
The seedlings will be sensitive to cold at first, so you’ll need to provide them ample warmth. Move the pots to a window if you haven’t already.
Turmeric likes full sun so it gets ample heat. But don’t burn the plant. Excess sunlight will evaporate water quickly and this is why you should mist daily to keep it moist. Monitor water levels using a soil meter or your finger.
When planting outside, keep it in full sun but watch out for scorching. It’s sensitive to sunlight when placed under extremely hot climates.
Partial shade works best for those in hot zones.
It’ll benefit from some afternoon shade if the climate is overbearingly hot.
Keep temperatures under 86F if possible. Temperatures over 90F will scorch the plant.
Keep the temperature between 80-86F. If your home is in a warmer zone, you shouldn’t have any trouble doing so.
But if it’s too cold, you’ll need a source of artificial warmth like a heating pad or grow light. Don’t let it get too hot. Move it indoors if needed.
Temperatures above 90F will burn it. It’s a tropical plant (think water, humid, hot). Not a desert succulent like aloe vera.
Turmeric likes high humidity. Mist once or twice daily on hot days to keep the ambient humidity high.
If you’re growing it indoors, it’s easy to place it near a source of water to keep it going. You can make your humidity dish or use a plastic bag to cover it to trap the humidity.
With the amount of water turmeric drinks, the humidity will be high because of constant watering.
Water is critical to large, healthy yields.
After you’ve sown the seeds and the mini turmeric seedlings sprout, water regularly.
The goal is to keep the soil moist at all times, but never wet. They don’t like soggy or wet feet. The leaves can also be misted daily to help increase the humidity. Turmeric likes moist and humid environments.
They like warmth and heat. You can emulate this by using artificial means if necessary. Hydroponic systems achieve this by providing the right amount of moisture and light to grow plants indoors.
Some blogs may say to let the top inch of soil dry before watering. Do NOT do this. This will reduce your yield.
Keep it moist at all times. No soggy conditions, but use ample water. The key is that it should drain well in your soil and the sunlight will evaporate it.
Use fertilizer to help increase your yield. Growing turmeric will appreciate plant food for root crops like potatoes.
You can also use compost tea or other organic composts to nourish your plant. Use as directed. It doesn’t need a whole lot, but it’s a heavy feeder and needs routine-based feedings.
Every few weeks is good enough during the growing season. The fertilizer can be poultry-based.
It appreciated fertilizers with high nitrogen content. Turmeric grows quickly so it needs to be fed constantly during the season. Liquid fertilizer works well.
Provide a constant supply of nutrients for the best yield. A well-balanced, slow-release granular plant food also works.
When your seedlings grow up, you’ll need to move them to bigger pots.
As mentioned earlier in this guide, you should aim for a container that provides them plenty of space to grow- both in width and in depth.
Your plants can be transplanted after they establish roots, which are usually around 8 inches in height. Move them by gently uprooting the rhizome. Remove the dirt surrounding the rhizome first.
Then take it out and move it to a larger pot. Try to keep the same depth that it was previously planted in.
An easy way to do this is to just take out the rhizome with the entire clump of dirt surrounding it. Then move the clump into the new pot.
Try to reduce the amount of soil you transfer over because the soil closest to the roots will be depleted of nutrients.
So you want to give it as much fresh soil as possible.
Additionally, watch for any mold or fungus on the roots while you have this precious chance to check it.
You can move it to its permanent home or a transient pot.
When there’s absolutely no more chance of frost, you can move the turmeric to the great outdoors. Be sure that you’ve double-checked.
Take the pots and move them outside when the temps pick up. They’ll need to be slowly acclimated to the sunlight, or else you risk burning.
Do this by putting them in the shade at first and then exposing them to the sun every hour for a few days. Then you can leave them in the sunlight all day. Water as usual by feeling the soil and never letting it go dry.
If your home provides the necessary temperature, you can leave them growing indoors.
But if you want greater yield, it’s best to get some natural sunlight over the summer when you can. For those that are in colder zones, move your pots outside in the summertime if the temperatures are within the safe range.
When temperatures start to fall, it’s time to kiss summer goodbye and move your plants back indoors.
Go back to the original setup you had and keep your turmeric warm.
- For zones 8 and higher, you can actually leave them outside if you wish.
- For lower zones, take them back indoors or else they’ll freeze.
This is a cycle that you’ll have to get used to. It needs to stay warm if you want the best possible yield!
Collecting the work of your hard labor is the best part. Harvesting turmeric is easy. You’ll be able to tell when it’s ready by looking at the leaves.
They should turn dry and brown. Feel the leaves and see if they’re dry to the touch. They should be somewhat crinkly. This is around 10 months after planting at the high end, but you may be able to harvest around 7.
The plants can be removed from their containers and then stems removed about 1” from the rhizomes. Leave a bit of stem on the rhizomes so you don’t cut them off completely.
Wash everything and then either use it right away for whatever you want or store them in your fridge if you have a surplus.
When you do cut them, cut them at the crown where it meets the roots. Then discard the foliage or use it as compost. Lift the whole rhizome at once. Don’t try to get it by only handling half or you might damage it.
Upon harvest, rhizomes can be put into the fridge for half a year.
Use an airtight sealer or container to keep moisture and fridge odors out. If you have a bountiful harvest, put it in the freezer to store for extended periods.
When you take them out for use, make sure that there are no signs of mold or rot. When in doubt, throw it out. Turmeric will model if exposed to moisture even if put in the fridge.
So be wary of that. You don’t wanna eat it.
Once you take it out and inspect it, it’s ready to be ground into powder, boiled for tea, or cook it.
Some pesky pests eat turmeric like it’s their favorite meal.
Some of the most common bugs that consume it are nematodes, caterpillars, thrips, rhizome scale/flies, leaf rollers, grubs, snails, and worms.
You can reduce the presence of pests by keeping your soil not overly wet.
Since they like high humidity, that makes it unfortunate that turmeric also likes it. You can help reduce the chance of pest problems by keeping the leaves pruned. This helps get rid of excess moisture content.
Space your turmeric appreciation to allow the right distance between plants. Eliminating dense foliage helps increase the evaporation of water to keep the humidity in check.
You can look up control guides on each pest for detailed information.
This rhizome veggie is prone to rot. This comes from excess moisture that’s not evrpaoting whether due to overwatering, poor drainage, or dense foliage.
You may notice brown or yellow spots or dry leaves if it’s infected. Keep it well drained and don’t overwater. Leaf spot and blotch are common.
Rhizome rot is also common. Harvest on time and keep the plant pruned to help stop rot problems.
Other common questions
If you have other questions about growing turmeric indoors, this section may help you out.
See these common FAQs from other readers regarding growing and caring for turmeric.
Does turmeric need full sun?
You can grow it in full sun if it’s not too hot or else it’ll burn. Keep temperatures in the ideal range. It likes full sun, but not overly hot.
Partial shade works for hotter regions. It’s a tropical plant, so heat and humify work.
What shouldn’t you plant with turmeric?
Don’t plant it with other nightshade members.
This includes eggplants, tomatoes, peppers, or other high nitrogen feeding plants. It’ll starve it from getting all the nutrients it needs to thrive. All the plants will share nitrogen, resulting in a diminished yield.
This isn’t a complete list. Avoid planting with any other plant that relies on N.
What are good companion plants for turmeric?
Plants that help balance nitrogen in the soil or produce it are excellent partners for turmeric. Think cilantro, ginger, peas, or beans.
This is why you often see turmeric planted with ginger- they both go hand in hand together. They’re a perfect pair.
Why are my turmeric leaves turning brown?
They’re prone to getting infested with fungus because of the high humidity.
They can develop leaf spot or blotch which will cause brown spots all over the plant. It can also affect the root system which can make the leaves turn yellow and dry. The rhizome is also susceptible to rot.
This is why well draining soil is necessary and you should only water as needed. Keep the area well ventilated and don’t let it overgrow because the leaves block evaporation.
Can you grow turmeric from store-bought rhizomes?
No. Not all rhizomes from the grocery store will be propagation ready.
You need ones that are large, non-treated, and have plenty of fingers. The larger and thicker the tubes, the higher chance of success you’ll have.
Get an organic rhizome hand if possible. Look for larger ones that are tan in color, but not overly dark with black spots. The more buds it has, the more roots it can grow when you plant it.
What month do you plant turmeric?
You should plant after all chances of frost have passed, but timed so that it can be harvested before the next first frost.
It takes 200 or more days to become harvest-ready, so you need to find out your forecasted first frost and make sure it’ll be ready by then or the cold will kill it.
If you’re in a warmer zone, you don’t need to worry about this.
If you’re in a colder zone, it matters.
You’ll also need to overwinter your turmeric with a layer of mulch or take it back indoors if it’s potted.
The typical months to plant it are December through March.
What season does turmeric grow?
Turmeric grows from spring to fall. In the winter, it’ll die back if it’s too cold.
You can continue to grow it if you’re in a higher zone where it’ll be a perennial. For colder zones such as 7 and lower, it’s annual.
How long does it take for a turmeric plant to grow?
It’ll take a few weeks to germinate from the seed. If you’re planting from a rhizome, it’ll be 2-4 weeks before it roots.
You should see it sprout by the spring. It’s ready for harvest 200-300 days after you plant it after your last frost date. This varies on your location.
Is turmeric annual or perennial?
Turmeric is grown as an annual edible outside of its ideal USDA hardiness zones, so that means you need to replant it every year for constant yield.
But once you get it going, you’ll have plenty of leftover rhizomes for next season. So it’s not like you need to constantly buy the rhizomes over and over again.
The rhizomes can be stored in the winter in a soft medium like vermiculite or sawdust.
Then you can replant them next season just like you did the first time you bought them from the store.
If you grow it in zones 8-11, it grows as a perennial producing yield every season.
How long does turmeric root last?
If sealed properly and cleaned right away, it should be good for many months in the fridge. It can also be frozen for extended periods (up to 1 year).
When you remove it, check for mold or fungus. When in doubt, throw it out.
Turmeric can be used for many different projects.
Other than it being a superfood for dozens of benefits, it can be used for soups, tea, powder, curry, garnish, seasoning, or consumed in place of ginger if you want.
Some common dishes that you can easily make are:
- Lentil turmeric soup
- Turmeric chicken skillet
- Turmeric yogurt
- Turmeric rice
- All kinds of currries
- Teas, soups, stews
- And even salads!
Need more tips? You may want to check these out:
- Using tumeric effectively : AskCulinary – Reddit
- I’ve been growing ginger indoors for a year. I think it is … – Reddit
- Indoor Ginger and Turmeric – Houzz
Enjoy your turmeric
Now that you know the basics of how to grow and care for turmeric inside your kitchen, you can reap the benefits of it without paying that staggering market price tag!
Enjoy your smoothies, tea, or powder however you wish. Turmeric will grow and produce yield for many seasons when properly cared for.
Plus you get the satisfaction of growing it on your own.
Grow it organically and REALLY save yourself some change. Just get some organic potting soil, plant food, and use filtered water. There you have it.
Do you have any questions? Post a comment and let me know!
I took interest into microflora and microgreens before it became mainstream. The idea of growing an entire ecosystem on a tiny scale simply was astounding. That’s where I discovered that I actually like raising plants and wasn’t as much of a black thumb as I thought. Now, I’m relaying what I’ve learned to others who are getting into the hobby in a way that anyone can understand.