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How To Grow Ginger Root

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Ginger is a popular spice used in various dishes, beverages, personal care, and cosmetic products. But did you know that ginger can easily be grown from the root or rhizomes you find in the produce section of your supermarket?

Although you will seldom see culinary ginger sold as a potted plant, it is easy to grow and makes a pretty and useful plant indoors and outdoors. 

In this article, we share advice and instructions to help you choose the right rhizomes to plant and grow ginger roots successfully. 

Step-By-Step Guide To Growing Ginger Root 

Here’s what you need to do to grow ginger root.

Look For Ginger Root At Your Local Market.

The most common type (Zingiber officinale) is what’s usually on offer. So, examine the rhizomes on display and choose one that is fresh and plump. 

NOTE: The same general growing methods will work for Zingiber zerumbet (shampoo ginger),  Alpinia zerumbet variegata, Hedychium Coronarium and Heliconias.

Rhizomes that grow well likely have growth buds (eyes) at the “fingertips.” If the buds are green, you can be quite sure they will sprout and grow.

TIP: Organic ginger is more likely to grow successfully. Commercial ginger may have been treated with a growth inhibitor. 

Prepare Your Ginger Root For Planting.

If you want to, you can simply plant the whole rhizome, but if you desire multiple plants, you can divide it by cutting it into segments using a sharp, sterile blade. 

Just be sure that each segment has an eye. That’s where the growth will begin. 

After dividing your rhizome, allow the segments to rest for a few days in a shady, airy setting so the cuts will callus over. This will help prevent problems with fungal growth. 

Get The Soil Ready.

Ginger likes light, airy, well-draining, slightly acidic soil that contains a great deal of organic matter. 

A 50/50 combination of good quality potting mix and aged compost will do. A half-and-half mixture of coarse sand and cow manure is another good option.

If you are planting your ginger outside, till the soil deeply and amend it with finished compost. 

Get Your Ginger Into The Soil.

Each segment should be planted about 3″ inches deep in warm, moist soil. It must be between 68º and 77º degrees Fahrenheit. 

The best way to achieve this is to water thoroughly with warm water after planting your rhizomes. Add more soil as needed after watering.

TIP: If you want to grow larger, longer rhizomes, just cover your ginger segments with one inch of soil at the time of planting. 

A month or so later, add another inch of soil. Wait another month and add another inch of soil. 

If you’re planting ginger into the landscape or garden, space rhizomes a minimum of 8″ inches apart to allow plenty of room to grow. 

You can plant each one on its own little hill if you wish. Add a bit more soil month by month to encourage fatter rhizome development.

Finish up with mulch to help hold moisture into the soil. In cooler settings, mulch will also help provide the rhizomes with some protection in the wintertime. 

TIP: Be sure the eyes are looking up when you plant!

Start With A Deep Watering.

As recommended above, you should start your ginger with a deep, thorough watering using warm water. Allow the soil to dry for a few days, and then water lightly, just enough to keep the soil slightly moist, never soggy. 

You should see new sprouts within a month. When you do, switch to soak and dry watering, allowing the top couple of inches of soil to dry before watering thoroughly. 

Maintain this watering schedule throughout the growing season. When your plants’ stems die back, cease watering until you see new growth in the springtime. 

TIP: Fertilize ginger regularly throughout the growing season using a low nitrogen, a water-soluble product with an NPK ratio of 10-20-20. Apply the “fertilize weakly weekly” rule. Do not water or fertilize at all during the dormant season.

Where Is The Best Place To Grow Ginger? 

These tropical plants like a partial shade setting that provides between 2 and 5 hours of sun daily. 

If you live in a tropical environment (USDA hardiness zones 9 to 12), you can choose a permanent spot in the garden and keep your plants outdoors year-round. 

In a cooler climate, you’ll need to keep your plants indoors when the temperature drops below 50º degrees Fahrenheit. 

Plants kept indoors will do best in an area that stays bright and warm but doesn’t expect them to perform as houseplants. 

In the wintertime, the leaves will die back. So it’s best to tuck your potted ginger behind and amongst houseplants or under greenhouse benches until spring arrives and green ginger shoots appear.

Can You Store Bare Ginger Root For The Winter? 

If you wish, you can just dig up or unpot your ginger roots, clean them and store them in a paper bag in a cool, dry location until spring comes. Then you can replant them. Be sure not to store them in the refrigerator. They are not cold hardy. 

What Is The Best Container For Growing Ginger?

If you are planting your rhizomes in pots, plant them individually in containers at least a foot deep. 

If you must bring the plants indoors for the winter months, it’s best to use lightweight plastic pots with ample drainage holes. 

If you start your rhizomes in pots indoors early in the spring and plan to transplant them into the landscape, you can plant them three-to-a-pot in 14-inch pots. 

This is a good way to encourage vigorous growth and harvest larger rhizomes in a cold climate.

What Is The Best Time Of Year To Plant Ginger? 

As with most plants, spring is the best time to get started. If you live in a tropical area or are starting your plants indoors, you can start in early springtime (e.g., March). 

In colder areas, wait until all danger of frost has passed before planting. 

Remember that the soil must be quite warm for success. In a cooler climate, you may need to use black plastic over the soil to help it warm up and retain warmth outdoors. 

When Is The Best Time To Harvest Ginger?

To harvest mature ginger, it will need 8 or 10 months to reach full maturity. In this case, it’s best to harvest it in the winter after the plants’ blooms and leaves have completely dried. 

From start to finish, this should take a couple of months. The longer you wait to harvest the roots, the stronger their flavor will be. 

If you prefer a more delicate flavor, you can plant ginger as a seasonal plant and harvest it as green or baby ginger when the plants are only about four months old. 

Growing immature ginger in containers indoors starts early in spring and is easy. You can also grow it in the garden.

However, be especially careful when you harvest it because the skin of the young rhizomes is quite thin and easy to bruise. 

How Do You Harvest Ginger Root? 

Follow these steps to harvest your ginger root:

  • When the stems and leaves begin to die back for winter, stop watering and allow the soil to dry out.
  • When the stems and leaves are completely dry, trim off the dead stems and leaves. 
  • Wait a couple of weeks and then carefully dig up the rhizomes.
  • Use a vegetable brush to scrub the roots under running water. 
  • Set aside any rhizomes you want to save for planting in the spring. 
  • Prepare the rest of the rhizomes as you wish. Choices include drying, pickling, or cooking. 

Culinary Ginger Is Easy To Grow

This attractive tropical plant may seem rather exotic and rare. Still, the fact is that with simple care, Zingiber officinale grows enthusiastically and is quite resistant to disease and insect pest problems. 

Provide your plants with moist, rich, airy soil, bright, indirect sunlight, steady warmth, and good air circulation to enjoy a bumper crop of the ginger year after year. 

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