Curcuma (Ornamental Turmeric)

Add tropical flare to the garden

Curcuma is a genus of about 100 different species of mostly herbaceous perennials. C. alismatifolia, commonly called ornamental turmeric or Siam tulip, is the most common species grown in home gardens today. Members of the ginger family, ornamental turmerics are elegant plants, grown for their lush, canna-like leaves and large flower spikes. Long-blooming beauties, they flower abundantly throughout summer. The flowers, characterized as “technicolor pine cones,” consist of tiny, white, or yellow true flowers surrounded by spires of petal-like bracts in shades of red, pink, orange, yellow, or white. Borne singly atop a rigid stem about 2 feet tall, they make excellent cut flowers.

Ornamental turmeric is a tropical, rhizomatous plant that grows best in regions with hot, humid summers, in locations with full to part sun. In colder climates, the rhizomes can be dug up in fall, stored in a cool, dry location over winter, and replanted in spring. Ornamental turmerics are easy to grow, but consistent moisture is imperative. They make lovely specimens but are most effective when planted in large groups. They grow well in containers and are perfect for a rain garden.