Q: Could you identify this plant for me and tell me how to take care of it?

A: It is often very difficult to identify plants but the sample you brought to me was easier as it had an unusual flower. You plant is a curcuma which is a genus in Zingiberaceae or ginger family. These plants are native to the warm, humid environments of south Asia. Many of the varieties can be grown in zones 7-10 but not all of them are cold hardy.

Curcumas prefer partial sun to fully shaded sites. They should be grown in well drained soil as some curcuma plants are susceptible to root and rhizome rot if soil conditions are wet. The rot occurs most often as a result of overwatering during the winter months when the plant is in dormancy. Most curcumas will lose their leaves when temperatures become consistently cold but they will return in the spring.

Some of the species are grown for their ornamental leaves which may be variegated or have striking red colorations. The flowers, which may be hidden by the dense foliage, come in a variety of colors which could compliment most any garden. Great differences exist between the heights of erect curcuma leaves with some reaching heights of over 4 feet while others have been developed to grow only 18 inches tall.

Curcumas are so common now they are often sold in most garden centers. Consider choosing Curcuma petiolata ‘Variegata’ if you are a novice gardener because this one is proven to be a hardy species. One of the most common gingers, Curcuma longa, is a native of India is cultivated throughout for its underground stems which are dried and ground for turmeric spice. Tumeric has a bitter taste but its golden color is commonly used in fabric dyes and foods such as curry powders, mustards, and cheeses. Turmeric has been touted at providing relief for various medical cures but there is little reliable evidence to support the claims. Preliminary findings from animal and laboratory studies suggest that a chemical found in turmeric—called curcumin—may have anti-inflammatory properties, but these findings have not been confirmed in human trials. As always, before using any supplement, be sure to consult with your physician as complications can arise from drug interactions.

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Posted: July 15, 2017


Category: Home Landscapes
Tags: Curcuma, Curcuma Longa, Curcuma Petiolata €Variegata’, Flowers, Ginger, Tumeric


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