CURCUMA

FAMILY: Zingiberaceae

TYPE
  • Perennials
  • Bulbs
  • Rhizomes
SUN EXPOSURE
  • Partial Shade
PLANTING ZONES
  • LS (Lower South) / Zone 8
  • CS (Coastal South) / Zone 9
  • TS (Tropical South) / Zone 10
  • TS (Tropical South) / Zone 11

Plant Details

Most are hardy only in the Coastal and Tropical South, though Curcuma elata, Curcuma longa 'Bright White', Curcuma petiolata, and Curcuma rubescens 'Scarlet Fever' will winter over in the Lower South. They make excellent additions to mixed borders. Plant in spring, setting rhizomes 1 inches deep in moist, well-drained, humus-rich soil. Plants die down in winter and need very little water during dormancy.

siam tulip

curcuma alismatifolia

  • Grows 2 feet tall, with foliage like small canna leaves.
  • At bloom time (early summer to early fall), flowering stems are topped by clusters of pink, rose, or white bracts that hide tiny flowers; the inflorescence is shaped a bit like a flaring pinecone.
  • Plant 6 inches apart for lush cover.
  • Each blossom spike lasts for several weeks, then is replaced by others as new plants arise from the rhizome.
  • Spectacular as a bedding plant.

giant plume

curcuma elata

  • The tallest species, growing to 67 feet tall and wide.
  • Among the first gingers to bloom in spring, with large (1- to 2 feet-long) inflorescences appearing before the leaves.
  • Bracts are greenish near the bottom of the spike, bright pink at the top; yellow flowers bloom along its length.
  • Dramatic cut flower.
  • Performs well in full sun or partial shade.

hidden lily, queen lily

curcuma gracillima

  • Notable for selections with colorful, 4 inches-long inflorescences borne above the foliage.
  • Burnt Burgundy has burgundy-colored flower spikes with darker, burnt-looking streaks on the bracts.
  • Candy Cane, sensational in mass plantings, has bracts striped in red and creamy white.
  • Both selections grow to 12 feet tall, 2 feet wide.

curcuma longa 'Bright White' (Curcuma domestica 'Bright White')

  • To 4 feet tall, 3 feet wide.
  • Glowing white inflorescence makes an excellent cut flower.
  • The basic species, which bears creamy white flower spikes, is the source of the spice turmeric.
  • Full sun or partial shade.

curcuma petiolata

  • Grows 23 feet high and almost as wide, with very handsome, tropical-looking, 10 inches-long, sheathlike leaves.
  • Rosy purple, 6- to 8 inches bracts are largely hidden by the leaves, which are thin and may burn in hot afternoon sun and tear in strong winds.
  • Cut back to ground in winter; new foliage will sprout from tuberous roots in spring.
  • In the selection 'Emperor' (to 2 feet tall and wide), the foliagegray-green leaves edged in creamy whiteis the main attraction; the 6 inches flower spikes are white suffused with shades of pale purple.

jewel of burma

curcuma roscoeana

  • To 3 feet high and wide.
  • The 8 inches-long inflorescence consists of orange bracts and bright yellow flowers; good for cutting.
  • One of the latest to bloom, at summer's end and in fall.

curcuma rubescens 'Scarlet Fever

  • To 46 feet high, 4 feet wide.
  • Blood-red stems bear gray-green leaves with a prominent red midrib.
  • Spectacular plant, even without the foot-long flowering spikes, which resemble those of Curcuma elata.
  • Does well in full sun or partial shade.

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