Curcuma (Ornamental Turmeric)

Add tropical flare to the garden

The genus Curcuma contains mostly herbaceous perennials, commonly called ornamental turmeric, grown for their large canna-like foliage and colorful cone-shaped flowers. Ornamental turmeric adds tropical flare to the garden in summer with lush, broad leaves, measuring from 18 to 40 inches long and 5 to 6 inches wide, and spiky flowers in hues of red, pink, orange, yellow, and white. Members of the ginger family (Zingiberaceae), these rhizomatous plants range in size from 2 to over 7 feet tall and thrive in hot, high humidity environments, with some species preferring full sun and afternoon shade, and others preferring full shade. The plants can be grown in containers but require consistent moisture and should never be allowed to dry out.

Curcuma is a genus of about 100 different species, including C. alismatifolia (Siam tulip, ornamental turmeric), C. amada (mango ginger), C. angustifolia (wild arrowroot, wild turmeric, narrow-leaved turmeric), C. aromatica (Cochin turmeric, wild turmeric), and C. longa (common turmeric). The rhizomes of C. longa are used to produce a bright yellow spice and dye, but most curcuma are grown in home gardens for their ornamental value.