Curcuma although tropical in origins, mostly from (Southeast Asia, India and Malaysia, does not like to be in sun all day. A filtered morning or afternoon sun is best, like most plants in southwest Florida the summer sun is deadly. The plants in the curcuma family are often called gingers but are really Zingiber and the Curcuma longa species is solely used for the harvest of the spice turmeric. The rhizomes are ground into a dried power which is turmeric. Not only is this one of the most tropical oriental looking flowers I have ever seen but the foliage when not in bloom has truly a tropical appeal. Curcuma is grown from either rhizomes or can be purchased as potted plants.
Curcumas are a hardy perennial here in south Florida Blooming from spring to fall. They curcumas sold in the box stores are usually the dwarf varieties (Siam tulip) which mean they stay low, really I mean it. The large full sized curcumas are larger sometimes growing to 3 feet with a larger flower and shower foliage. My Favorite! Both dwarf and regular size curcumas will die back to the ground in the fall and reappear next spring. Mark the area wherethey are planted- So you don’t dig them up in the late fall or better yet a great tip from Brian Galligan (Head Horticulturist at the Naples Botanical Gardens plant them in ground covers so there no problems ,when they die back.. The new foliage in the spring appears like needles protruding from the earth that unfurls into the beautiful tropical foliage. When planted together in mass curcumas make for a spectacular flower show in any garden. Remember curcuma likes well drained soil, in Florida we have a lot of sand in the soil, which is a must for them. Also curcuma likes organic material which we know we don’t have. So it should be added. Curcuma also makes a great container plant or just plant the whole container in the ground at a depth of the rim of the pot. So when fall comes and you’re not fortunate enough to live in zone 10 you can over winter the curcuma in the garage and replant it in the garden next spring.
Curcuma foliage and flowers also provide a long-lasting source of cut flowers for your arrangements. The tropical foliage some light green and some with red veins in the leaves, also aregreat in arrangements.
Turmeric is a plant (Curcuma longa). It is the main spice in curry. Used to Color and flavor Butter, Cheese and Mustards for a few. It is used as a medicine for many different aliments. The oil is used in the fabrication many perfumes and soaps.
In the past years, numerous studies have showed the medicinal benefits of turmeric and its anti- cancerous properties. KEEP BUTTERFLYING!!!
Mike Malloy, local author and artist known as “The Butterfly Man” has been a Naples resident since 1991. A Collier County Master Gardener, he has written two books entitled “Butterfly Gardening Made Easy for Southwest Florida,” and “Tropical Color – A Guide to Colorful Plants for the Southwest Florida Garden”, and currently writes articles on various gardening topics for several local publications. Mike has planted and designed numerous butterfly gardens around Naples including many schools, the City of Naples, Rookery Bay, the Conservancy and Big Cypress. Bring your gardening questions to the Third Street Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings or on Thursdays at the Naples Botanical Garden where he does a Plant Clinic or visit his website, www.naplesbutterfly.com. He also can be heard every Saturday at 4 PM on his call-in garden radio show, “Plant Talk with Mike Malloy,” on 98.9-WGUF.