Curcuma are a part of the wonderful world of gingers the Zingiberaceae family. These are prized as tropical foliage plants with many having fantastic flowers as well.
Curcurma include both ornamental and culinary varieties with species such as Curcuma longa (turmeric) a herb or spice but a lovely flowering plant as well. C. rubescens or ‘Ruby Ginger’, C. alismatifolia or ‘Siam Tulip’, the delightful (but tricky to grow) C. roscoeana ‘ Pride of Burma’ or ‘Jewel of Burma’ and C. aurantiaca (Rainbow Curcuma) are others. Curcuma australasica is native to the Cape York peninsula and with its pretty mauve flowers is an evergreen that will reach around 2m in its native habitat but smaller growing and deciduous in cooler areas.
If you have been to Bali you will probably have seen Curcuma xanthorrhiza, but probably not have recognized it, it is used drinks. Curcuma elata reaches around .6m and is probably one of the best for colder climates, in tropical areas it handles lots of shade, a little less in cooler areas although protection from hot afternoon sun is desirable.
Care and growing conditions
In tropical to sub tropical areas you can grow these plants outside as an under story plant, a humus rich moist but well drained soil. In cooler climates they will need a warm position and protection from frost.
Curcuma alismatifolia (Siam Tulip) is often used as an indoor plant, lots of indirect light and a warm position, try to keep some humidity by using a saucer of water with stones to sit beneath the pot, a humidifying spray can help. Although they like moisture they do not like to sit in water. Reduce or stop watering during cooler months.
Curcuma plants are available for sale from the following participating nurseries
PO BOX 150 El Arish Qld 4855
Largest online selection of tropical exotic plants in Australia. Heliconias, gingers, cordylines and brugmansias. Retail center open by appointment only.