Sunday, December 07, 2008

Growing curcumas in the humid tropics

There are many species, and in Thailand, many beautiful hybrids have been developed. The plants will grow and flower well in Malaysia and Singapore. After that they go dormant. Perhaps new plants will emerge and flower one more time but that will be the last of it. I have tried various ways of storing the corms after flowering and found that, for the variety I have been growing, the resting period is 5 months. If If I leave them in the ground, they will rest 5 months and if I store them dry in a basket, and replant them at say 3 months, they will remain dormant for another 2 months in the ground. I have tried storing them in my refrigerator. It makes no difference. The domant period is still 5 months. Better to store in a basket away from sun and rain. If left in the ground they may simply rot away.

After planting, it will take another month before new leaves appear above ground. After that, development will be fast. The soil should be friable, well-drained, and fertile. If you do it right, each of your original corms will flower once and produce two to three side shoots but the side shoots will not flower. When the last of the flowers have faded, dig up the plant and wash away the soil. You will have two or three side corms beside the old one, each of which will give you a new flowering plant in the next round. It appears that each corm needs to be rested before it can flower.

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