Siam Tulip - Curcuma Alismatifolia

• Water - 🔸🔸

During the growing period, allow the top third of the soil to dry out in between irrigations, reducing this further autumn and winter. Always use tepid water, and if you choose to use tap water, allow it to stand for at least 24hrs before application. Siam Tulips tend to be quite sensitive to temperature change, so pouring cold tap water immediately into the pot will not only ionise your roots, but it could damage the overall health of the plant. As they're typically grown in a loose-draining medium, standing water will quickly accumulate beneath the pot if unmonitored, causing root rot and possible death. To reduce this, saturate the soil over the sink or outside; excess moisture will pour out and away from the pot, thus meaning your Tulip won't be a victim to root rot. For those situated in darker locations, water far less often than with those grown in brighter places to counteract the slowed photosynthesis and water-intake. Under-watering symptoms include yellowing leaves, flower loss, browning leaf-edges and slowed growth - these issues are usually due to either a much needed repot (see 'Repotting' section towards the bottom of the article for an explanation), too much sunlight or forgetfulness. Over-watering symptoms include root rot and rapidly declining health. Remove the root ball from the pot and inspect the roots for possible rot.

• Humidity - 🔸🔸🔸

They'll need a weekly mist to prevent browning leaf tips, especially during the colder months while the heaters are operating. Poor air circulation and high humidity will cause white powdery mildew to form on the leaves or cubbyholes of the stem. Inconsistent levels of surrounding air moisture will upset the Tulip, relating in flower loss and stunted growth; if you're a forgetful gardener, introduce a humidity tray to ensure a stable balance. Never mist the flowers as this will immediately cause botrytis petal blight to develop, destroying the flower from the inside out.

• Location & Light - 🔸🔸

Bright, indirect light is best; if it's enough light to read a newspaper, it'll by accepted by the Tulip. Too little light will result in slowed growth and flower loss, with the possible chance of root rot if the soil is continually saturated. Alternatively, too much sunlight will lead to sun-scorch, resulting in yellowed leaves and stunted growth. For plants displaying signs of either condition, click on this link to find out more.

A dining room table, or somewhere that'll show the Tulip's raw beauty whilst the plant is in bloom is acceptable. As soon as the show is over, relocate it to a brighter location to bunk up its strength. Avoid placing the Tulip within four metres of an operating heat source to avoid cooking the foliage and surrounding humidity. 

• Fertilisation - 🔸🔸

Whilst the plant is in bloom, use Tomato feed to prolong its flowers. If you don't have any this, a general plant fertiliser or houseplant feed will still do the trick. Fertilise using either houseplant feed or half-strength general plant food fortnightly during spring and summer, and monthly during winter. Over-supplementing will lead to burning roots, that'll usually result in yellowing leaves and weak growth.

Common Issues with Siam Tulips

Curling leaves with crispy brown edges symbolise too little water and possibly too much sunlight. Forgetfulness, too much light or a much needed repot are the usual causes. As Siam Tulips tend to have extensive root systems, you may want to consider a transplant to reduce the amount of waters; see 'Repotting' for more info.

Root rot is a common issue. Typical symptoms include rapidly yellowing leaves, stunted growth and stem collapse. Take the plant out of the pot and inspect its root systems. If the roots are yellow, you're okay, but if they're brown and mushy, action must be taken quickly. More information about addressing root rot can be found on this link.

Pest damage can also cause issues down the line. Spider mite and mealybug tend to be the usual inhabitants; check the leaves' undersides and along the leaf's central archway (midrib) for possible colonies. Spider mite are minute, almost transparent critters that roam around the leaf faces in search of chlorophyll, whereas mealybugs are white and are quite noticeable after a while. Both have an 'HQ' for their colonies; you must destroy it to reduce the overall population as this is where the eggs will be. Click on this link for more information.

Due to the species' sensitivity to certain chemicalsLeaf Shine must not be used and instead should be cleaned using warm soapy water.

A lack of flowers could be due to an array of different issues that include irregular watering habits, too little light and not enough fertilisation. Cold water must not be used during the flowering period (summer) as sudden temperature changes can shock the plant, preventing further blooms. Although persistent droughts will also cause issues down the line, it's over-watering that you must be cautious of; rhizome rot will significantly weaken the plant. Improper growing conditions could also cause problems with Siam Tulips. Avoid locations that are both too dark and too bright, and always provide a good level of humidity. Finely mist the foliage twice a week while keeping the flowers dry to avoid an attack from botrytis petal blight or powdery mildew.


Siam Tulips or C. Alismatifolia are part of the Zingiberales order, which holds genera like Musa (banana palms), Strelitzia (Bird of Paradise) and Calathea that bare significant similarities due to their rhizomatous and stem structures. Siam Tulips originate from Thailand, Cambodia & Laos, and were first described by Carl Linnaeus way back in the 1750s. The name, Curcuma, originates from the Sanskrit kuṅkuma, referring to turmeric which has been used in India for several centuries as a substitute for saffron.


18°C - 24°C   (64° - 75°F).
H1b - can be grown outdoors in summer in a sheltered location, but is fine to remain indoors. If you decide to bring this houseplant outdoors, do not allow it to endure more than an hour of direct sunlight a day as this will burn the leaves. Regularly keep an eye out for pests and potential cold temperatures. Flower loss will occur if temperatures dip below 15°C.


Up to 0.7m in height and 0.4m in width. The ultimate height will take between 3 - 5 years to achieve.


Remove yellowed or dying leaves and plant debris to encourage better growth and improve the all-round appearance. Pruning must be done with clean scissors or shears to reduce the chance of bacterial and fungal diseases - remember to make clean incisions as too much damage can shock the plant.

New rhizomatous growth appearing above the soil line. Once this particular stem reaches maturity during summer, a large flower stalk with emerge from the centre.


Via seed & division. For the latter method, it's best to divide the plants at the start of spring during transplantation into a bigger pot, and while they are NOT in flower. Gently tease off plantlets from the main root ball and place in a well-draining potting mix - soil may have to be removed to get a better access to the growth junctions. Do not use damaged or plants that display signs of stress as they'll have difficulties to regrow.


Siam Tulips will develop at the top of each stem as they reach each year. The flowering period can last up to two months towards the end of summer, with the stems dying back once its blooms are spent. As mentioned above, most of the stems will die back over winter, readying itself for the upcoming spring. Keep the potted rhizomes in a warm, dryish location until new nodes appear just above the soil line.

Once the stem has matured, a flower stalk (pictured) will develop directly at the top that will bloom for up to three weeks. 


Repot every one or two years using Houseplant Compost and a larger pot. This is an excellent time to check the roots' health condition, as well as rhizomatous division. As Siam Tulips are prone to root rot, have a look around the bottom half of the root ball, for any brown and mushy signs. If this is the case, remove the affected areas with clean utensils and ease off with the irrigations. Click on this link to learn about how to perform the perfect transplant. Repotting Your Siam Tulip

Diseases & Pests

Typical diseases that'll affect this plant are root or rhizomatous rot, leaf-spot disease & powdery mildew. Keep an eye out for spider mite, mealybugs, root mealybugs & thrips. For more information on how to address any of these issues, click on this link.


Curcuma are generally classified as poisonous. If parts of the plants are eaten, vomiting, nausea and a loss of appetite could occur. Consumption of large quantities must be dealt with quickly; acquire medical assistance for further information.

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