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Tuesday, October 4, 2016 FallWinter

How to Care for Curcuma in Winter

It’s the time of year when we get lots of questions about how to care for curcuma in winter. These beautiful tropical plants are show stoppers with their unique, pine-cone-shaped flowers in glorious candy colors. The good news is that curcuma is a tropical perennial, so if you give it the right care throughout the year, you can enjoy its beauty outdoors in your yard for years to come. 

Winter Care of Curcuma in Cold Climates
If you live in a cold-winter area (one that regularly experiences frosty or freezing temperatures), you’ll need to bring your curcuma indoors to protect it from the chilly conditions. Like Northern perennials, though, curcuma needs to go dormant, so you can’t treat it like a houseplant. Rather, you’ll need to store the tubers in a cool, dry place.

For curcuma planted in the ground, carefully dig the tubers in fall, when the plant’s foliage begins to turn yellow. Gently clean loose soil from the tubers, then let them dry in a warm, sunny place for a day or so. Once the tubers are dry, store them in a container with coarse sand or peat moss. Don’t seal the container -- let it breathe. It’s best to store curcuma tubers in a cool place (50F/10C) over winter. You don’t want the tubers to completely dry up over winter, so sprinkle just a small splash of water in the sand/moss periodically.

For curcuma in containers, you can stop watering the container once the foliage starts to go yellow. Let the potting mix dry (and remove any other plants that may be growing with the curcuma), then you can store the entire pot in a cool place (50F/10C) for winter. Sprinkle just a bit of water in the pot a couple of times over winter so the tubers don’t completely dry out. 

Bring your curcuma back outdoors to a shaded or partly shaded spot in spring after all danger of frost has passed. With warm temperatures and moisture, the tubers should quickly resume new growth. 

Curcuma Care in Warm-Winter Areas 
Because they are subtropical plants, curcuma don’t need special care in winter. So if you live in an area, such as South Florida, that doesn’t experience frost (or only very rarely), you can keep these beautiful plants outdoors all year. One important thing to know is that, like Northern perennials, curcuma do go dormant in winter. That means if you grow curcuma in your garden, the leaves and flowers will disappear from November to March or April. Keep your landscape beds looking good this time of year by planting annuals or groundcovers. 

If you’re growing curcuma in containers in subtropical areas, you can leave them in their pots in the winter. The curcuma plants will go dormant, so move the pots to an area where the empty containers won’t bother you. Or, plant the containers with colorful winter annuals so you can leave them in place. 

That’s how easy it is to care for curcuma in winter. Once they go dormant, you can basically ignore them!

Get winter-care tips for tropical hibiscus.
Get winter-care tips for mandevilla. 


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