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Curcuma spp. (KER-koo-muh)
Turmeric, Indian saffron, Siam tulip, Summer tulip, Queen tulip, Queen lily, Hidden lily
Curcumas’ foliage is generally lush, broad, sometimes pleated and often colorful. The striking tubular-shaped “blossoms” are actually leafy bracts. Curcuma plants grow from thick rhizomes and can be treated like bulb plants.
Bract colors include hues of pink, red, orange, green, lavender, purple and white.
With appropriate care, Curcuma plants can continue to bloom for up to three months. Blooms appear in the spring, summer or fall, depending on variety.
Blooming Curcumas generally are available as potted plants from March to October. The rhizomes can be purchased and planted from November to April.
The Curcuma genus has an estimated 1,000 species. Some of the species available as potted plants include:
• Curcuma alismatifolia ‘Chaingmai Pink’ - Pale purple/pink bracts
• C. cordata ‘Pastel Hidden Ginger’ - Cream bracts with a lavender/pink crown
• C. gracillima ‘Chocolate Zebra’ - green bracts with red stripes
• C. longa ‘O’Lena’ - Scarlet pink bracts with small yellow flowers
• C. parviflora ‘White Angel’ - Green spiraled bracts and tiny lavender/purple flowers
in-store and consumer care
LIGHT Moderate, diffused light is best for Curcuma plants. Don’t display them in direct sunlight.
WATER Chlorinated water can be harmful; consider using rainwater. Keep these plants evenly moist (not soggy). Severe drying will cause the leaves to yellow and drop and will delay flower production.
TEMPERATURE Curcumas are sensitive to low temperatures and extreme heat. Avoid locations with drafts, and keep the plants away from heat ducts and heat-producing appliances like TV sets. Holding the plants for any length of time at temperatures below 50 F can cause purpling, browning and rot.
HUMIDITY Curcumas require high levels of humidity. Place the plants on pebble trays to increase humidity.
FERTILIZER Feed Curcumas with a diluted solution of a complete houseplant fertilizer or orchid bloom fertilizer every two to three weeks, or more often if necessary.
SOIL Use a well-drained organic soil mix.
REBLOOMING Curcumas go dormant for the winter. Do not water the plants while they are in the dormant stage.
ETHYLENE SENSITIVITY Curcumas are sensitive to ethylene gas, so keep them away from fruits and vegetables. Be sure your plants have been treated with an anti-ethylene agent at the grower level or during transportation.
Some information provided by:
Aloha Tropicals, www.alohatropicals.com/curcuma.html
Chain of Life Network®, www.chainoflifenetwork.org
Roy Borodkin, Brannan Street Wholesale Florist; San Francisco, Calif.
Reach “Blooming Plant of the Month” writer Steven W. Brown, AIFD, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (415) 239-3140.
Super Floral Retailing • Copyright 2008
Florists' Review Enterprises, Inc.