Ginger’s citrusy and spicy flavors are great additions to any dish and an important source of vitamins and minerals. Although you can buy it at the store, growing ginger yourself is both rewarding and more economical in the long run.
Ginger can be grown indoors and outdoors, depending on your space and resources. Ginger is best grown in temperate climates as it can be susceptible to freezing and plant death if left in cold weather. For more temperature control, you can grow ginger indoors in containers.
Only grow ginger in outdoor settings if no overnight freezing will occur. Growing ginger is a fairly easy process for gardeners of all experience levels. This article will provide you with step-by-step guides for successfully growing ginger both indoors and outdoors and important considerations you must take for varying environments.
All You Need to Know About Ginger
Learning more about the ginger plant itself is important to understand how it will best grow. Ginger is a root plant that comes in a wide range of varieties. The most common ginger variation that is typically grown and eaten is yellow ginger root, or Zingiber officinale
The primary types of ginger plants include:
- Common ginger: Used for culinary purposes, this type of ginger is also known as Chinese, Indian, or yellow ginger. This is the variety that is most commonly found in grocery stores. You can take the ginger root purchased in the store and grow it at home.
- Baby ginger: With a tamer taste and a pink appearance, baby ginger does not need to be peeled and can be grown from seeds. Some might also be referring to younger versions of the common ginger plant that are harvested early, when they mention baby ginger. You may find these varieties pickled or candied, such as in Japanese cuisine.
- Ornamental ginger plants: You can also grow flowering ginger plants for your garden, which are available in hundreds of species. Some species are edible, but they are typically grown for aesthetic value. These plants do best in warm and humid climates but can be easily grown indoors and transferred outside in nearly all parts of the world.
While this article will primarily focus on growing yellow ginger as it is the most common and popular variation, it will also provide information on growing ornamental ginger to add color to your garden or home. Before going forward, it is essential to know that rhizomes are the edible part of ginger that also aid in their growth and reproduction).
Ideal Climates for Growing Ginger at Home
Ginger is a tropical plant, making warmer and humid climates the most suitable growing environments. It can be grown in nearly all parts of the world in controlled conditions, especially inside or in greenhouses. Ginger is particularly sensitive to cold temperatures and will likely die if left outside in temperatures dropping below 14 degrees Fahrenheit.
Because ginger loves warm weather, it is recommended to grow the plant outdoors only when the weather reaches around 70 degrees Fahrenheit for best germination results. The ideal soil temperature ranges between 75 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit in its growth phase). Ideal climates maintain warm temperatures most of the year.
In addition to the air temperatures, sunlight is an important consideration. Ginger will require between 2 to 5 hours of direct sunlight a day for best growth. This is a small amount of direct sun compared to other plants, so don’t fry them! Growing ginger in a pot can make it easier to move if sun requirements are not met throughout the entire year.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has created their own Plant Hardiness Zone Map to determine where certain species of plants will grow best (Source: USDA). According to the mao, you can easily grow ginger in the ground if you live in Zone 7 or higher. For Zones 6 and under, the plant will not likely survive the winters and should be planted in a pot to bring inside during the cooler months.
How Long Does It Take To Grow Ginger?
Growing ginger at home will require patience as common ginger species often take between 8 to 10 months to reach maturity. Because you will be planting the rhizomes (root), it will take time for new roots to develop. Baby ginger will be ready to harvest about four to six months after sprouting, and you should wait at least ten months for full maturity.
Taking off only the pieces you need will allow the rest of the plant to continue to grow. Because the process takes such a long time to bear edible components, if you can keep it intact, you will benefit from longer-lasting spice! To do this, consider planting individual rhizomes separate from one another, so you have multiple plants growing at once.
Each sprout will appear fairly quickly in the growing process and then start to show leaves, which will continue to grow until roots become visible. These roots will start to appear above the surface of the dirt. At the four month mark, these immature roots can be harvested for baby ginger. Doubling that time, you can harvest the root you find in stores with its rich flavors.
While it takes a long time for ginger to grow, it can be well worth the wait since it is a perennial plant. Once the plant has been established and is well taken care of, it will come back each year with new roots to harvest. When you harvest, consider replanting more of the rhizomes you collect in the first few years to establish a larger plant that can last throughout the season.
Finding the Right Soil For Growing Ginger at Home
You want to best mimic its native environment for ginger to grow most successfully. For rhizomes to grow, rich soil is required. This means that it has plenty of organic matter but is still loose enough for proper drainage. Richer soils will allow the ginger to soak up more nutrients to produce richer flavors.
If you use potting soil from a nursery, you may have to enrich the mixture with nutrients or add fertilizers. It is recommended to start with rich soil which will result in better ginger and make maintenance easier. These rich soils need to drain well to prevent root rotting caused by waterlogged soil. Look for sandy or loamy soil mixtures for the best drainage.
Watering Requirements for Growing Ginger at Home
The final consideration one must make for growing ginger is watering. While ginger prefers humid environments and moist soil, you don’t want to overwater it either. If the soil becomes too wet, it can damage the plant. This ties closely with soil drainage to ensure that the water can keep the plant wet but not soaked at all times.
For ginger to grow properly, its soil needs to be damp at all times. If it dries out, it will not allow the plant to absorb the necessary nutrients. At the same time, overwatering can cause issues with rot and may take needed nutrients away from the plant and out of the container. Consider adding irrigation to outdoor ginger for less stress.
You will be able to identify overwatering by the leaves. If they are falling, wilting, or turning yellow, you may need to ease off on the watering. If this continues, you can potentially save a ginger plant by replanting it.
This is most common in a potted plant and will require new soil that is rich in nutrients and can drain properly. Consider placing rocks at the bottom of a pot to allow the water to drain out the bottom easily.
Step-by-Step Guide on Growing Ginger Indoors
Growing ginger indoors is a great approach for any climate, especially cold climates. In the event of frost or temperature drops in the winter, you can easily bring the pot inside to keep the ginger from dying. This is also a more manageable way to grow ginger if you do not have a lot of yard space or live in an apartment.
Here are steps for growing ginger indoors:
- Find a living ginger root: You can find ginger roots at grocery stores or any plant nursery. Like a potato, you’ll want to find a rhizome that has spuds growing off it. You can divide these roots individually for multiple plants to grow. Grocery store ginger needs to be soaked overnight if chemicals or other preservatives are on the roots.
- Fill a pot with rich soil: Using store-bought soil or compost will work well as long as they are rich in nutrients. You can also add fertilizer if needed, but richer soil will help to minimize extra work. You may be able to use soil in your garden if it is healthy enough. Make sure the soil is damp when you put in the ginger.
- Create space in the pot: Ginger will not take up much room beyond the size of the rhizome. If you do not harvest it, this will increase its size and space in the container. If you are planting multiple rhizomes in one large pot or container, consider spreading them about six to eight inches apart and cover them with about two inches of soil. Each eye on the ginger should be facing up when planted. Ginger plants usually only grow about two to three feet tall.
- Create a watering schedule: The soil should always remain damp during the growing process, so the amount of watering will depend on air temperature and sun exposure. In dry areas, watering will need to be done more frequently. Check on your soil to see when one to two inches under the surface dries out; this means you need to water your plant. Watering should be reduced in colder months as the plant absorbs water more slowly.
- Move plants if necessary: You should plan to move your plants indoors if they are receiving too much sunlight or if it’s starting to get too cold. You may want to place ginger by a window in the winter months to ensure it takes advantage of sunlight hours, but make sure it does not receive more than five hours of direct light. If the plant is outgrowing the pot or the soil does not drain well, it may need to be replanted to another pot or container.
These are the primary steps to follow for growing ginger indoors. They are a low maintenance plant as long as they are kept in ideal conditions. With indoor growth, more attention will need to be placed on watering consistently. Keep the plant somewhere that you can easily remember to take care of it daily.
Step-by-Step Guide on Growing Ginger Outdoors
The steps to growing ginger outdoors are very similar to indoors. More attention is placed on environmental factors to ensure that the area is suitable for growth. Other than moving a plant indoors during the winter months, the steps are nearly the same. Remember, you should only plant ginger outdoors in areas that do not reach temperatures below 14 degrees Fahrenheit.
These are steps to growing ginger outdoors:
- Planting time: Ginger follows a traditional planting schedule with rhizomes needing to be planted in late winter to early spring. This schedule should allow for a fall harvest.
- Choose a location: You will want to find an area that will not be too sunny, is not susceptible to strong winds, and has access to good soil. In gardening terms, ginger prefers “partial shade.” The soil should be able to drain easily to prevent any problems or rotting of the roots. The size of the area will depend on how much ginger you want to plant and considerations for years down the line if the overall plant expands.
- Dividing rhizomes: If you choose to divide the ginger plant, make sure that each section has one eye or small spud growing from it. This will be the source of initial growth in the soil. Grocery store ginger needs to be soaked overnight if chemicals or other preservatives are on the roots.
- Planting the ginger: Similarly to indoors, you should be spacing the rhizomes six to eight inches apart and placing them two inches below the surface. Once you water them, they should be covered in mulch. This ground cover will help the soil to retain moisture, which reduces the amount of watering required.
- Watering and irrigation: With these outdoor plants, you can follow a similar watering schedule to an indoor one, but you must consider hot temperatures. If there are dry spells, the plant may need to be watered more frequently. You can also install drip irrigation or sprinklers and put them on a timer if watering them every day will become too challenging.
- Watching progress: You should start to see leaves sprouting in the first couple of weeks. Continue to care for the area and water consistently for steady growth progress. This is a process that requires patience, as the plant will not be ready for many months.
- Pests and diseases: Monitor your ginger for changes in appearance or damage to the leaves. Ginger is susceptible to many plant-eating critters, including aphids, ants, and Chinese rose beetles. They may also be susceptible to bacterial wilt caused by infested soil and dry rot fungus. Covering your plants may also be necessary to keep bugs out. Make sure your soil can properly drain to prevent disease.
Ornamental gingers are often too big to be grown indoors. They require the same conditions for soil, water, and light but need more space. These flowering ginger plants are much larger than culinary ginger ones. They are likely to expand in size and could take over nearby flower beds if allowed.
Step-by-Step Guide on Harvesting Ginger
You’ve waited months to get to this point: harvesting! If you were a little impatient or wanted to use the softer root, you may have harvested baby ginger at around four months. If you planted in early spring, this should place you at around August or September if you’re based in the Northern Hemisphere. Try to harvest in this period or wait until full maturity at around ten months for full flavor.
This is how you can harvest ginger properly:
- Consider skipping year one’s harvest: The plant will have roots to collect, but they may be small. If you wait one harvest season, the plant can fully establish itself and yield more plentiful results the following year. If you started with one individual plant, this practice would allow you to keep the plant alive for future years.
- Know when to harvest: After your 10-month mark, you are safe to harvest fully matured ginger. A visual indicator that the ginger is ready to be picked comes when the leaves start to dry out, and the stems are no longer holding their structure.
- Remove the entire plant: When you harvest ginger, you remove the entire crop from the ground, including the roots (the edible part!). It is recommended to do so with your hands to select the rhizomes you wish to remove carefully. If you want to maintain some of your ginger roots, you can carefully pull up certain sections, allowing the remaining sections to continue their growth.
- Start on the perimeter: When you harvest the ginger, start with the outer rhizomes. This will help keep the others undisturbed by any overlapping roots.
- Consider replanting: If you want to replant your ginger, take some of the rhizomes and separate them into smaller pieces. Once they have eyes visibly develop, they can be replanted for a larger crop the following season.
- Clean ginger: Because it has been sitting in the dirt for almost a year, you will want to rinse it off and peel it before eating. You can rinse off any extra debris before the most important step: peeling. For baby ginger, you will not need to peel as there is no tough outer layer. For mature ginger, you can remove the peel to reveal the yellow inside.
Harvesting ginger is pretty easy, with any difficulties usually stemming from removing roots without disturbing the others. If you plant them with enough space in between separate rhizomes, this will make the harvesting process easier.
For ornamental ginger, you can cut the blooming flowers to display. You can expect these to stay fresh and vibrant for up to three weeks in a vase of water. Flowers left on the plant will die and rebloom the following year.
Using Harvested Ginger
Once you have harvested the ginger and cleaned it, you will have varying shelf life depending on the storage method. You do not need to harvest all the ginger after ten months, so it’s best to let it stay on the plant and continue growing if there is no need for it. This will help the plant continue to grow without adding any food waste.
Harvested fresh ginger root can be stored in different ways to extend its life, depending on your need for it:
- Pantry: Ginger can last around one week without any wilting when kept in room temperature. You may notice the root start to become soft after this period passes Make sure this area is cool to increase shelf life.
- Fridge: Storing at cooler temperatures will allow fresh ginger root to store for up to a month. It is recommended to keep it unpeeled until it is used.
- Freezer: For future use, consider storing ginger in the freezer. This will preserve your ginger for up to three months. Keep it in a sealed bag to preserve the ginger and prevent freezer burn.
Examining the ginger itself will be the best way to determine if it has gone bad or spoiled. The texture and feel may appear to be soft, shriveled, or moist. If you notice any mold on the ends, it is not advised to consume.
If you have already peeled the ginger, darker color changes may allude to the ginger going bad. Harvested ginger will last longer if you leave the outer skin on it. Keep harvested ginger out of damp areas or direct sunlight to prevent premature spoiling.
Health Benefits of Ginger
Ginger has long been used as a dietary supplement and medicine due to its nutritional benefits. Incorporating it into your diet can provide you with important nutrients and help to relieve certain ailments.
Some health benefits of mature ginger include:
- Anti-inflammatory use: Gingerol is an active ingredient in ginger that helps to reduce inflammation through antioxidants. This reduces free radicals in the body, which are associated with cell damage. Those who have arthritis or muscle soreness may benefit from consuming ginger.
- Helps with nausea: Ginger has also been used to combat nausea and symptoms associated with the cold and flu. This has shown to be particularly effective for pregnant women, but there have also been studies linked to surgery and chemotherapy relief.
- Antibacterial properties: Chemical compounds in the root naturally fight off bacteria and germs. These are partially due to gingerols found in the plant. They can especially help to kill bacteria found in your mouth.
- Great source of nutrients: Ginger is high in Vitamins B and C, and has trace amounts of other vitamins. Vitamin C is an antioxidant which helps heal the body and allows for the absorption of other nutrients. The body does not produce vitamin B3, but it helps to convert energy from food. B1 also aids in this energy process.
Adding ginger to your diet can help to supplement needed nutrients and aid in discomforts. Other potential benefits include weight loss, lower blood pressure, and lower cholesterol, but further studies need to be conducted to substantiate these claims. It is important to note that cooking ginger may reduce some of its nutritional benefits.
Antioxidants are often higher in baby ginger (Source: Virginia State University). This can lead to even greater health benefits with these higher concentrations of natural chemicals. If antioxidant levels are an important reason you are eating ginger, consider harvesting baby ginger over its mature form.
Growing Ginger at Home
Whether you choose to grow ginger indoors or outdoors, you will need to be patient. Both baby and mature ginger are going to take time to grow. For mature ginger, you may forget you planted it long before it is ready to harvest. Take good care of the plant’s soil and watering conditions to ensure the harvested ginger is rich in flavor 8 to 10 months after planting.
If you are growing ornamental ginger, make sure you are following similar growing steps. You can enjoy their beautiful flower variations and allow them to add a bit of tropical flair to a pot or your yard.
Here are Some of my Favorite Gardening Products and Tools
Thank you for reading this article. I hope you found it helpful for growing some new plants in your home or garden. Here are some products I like that I hope you’ll also find helpful. These are affiliate links, and I am compensated for referring traffic. But in all honesty, these are the exact product that I use or recommend to everyone.
Soil: For high-quality soil, I really like Fox Farm Ocean Forest. I do all my growing in containers and this soil has worked great for me. I like how they use nutrient-rich contents like earthworm castings, bat guano, and composted crab and fish.
Fertilizer: Currently I am using a seaweed-based organic fertilizer call Neptunes Harvest. This is a great milder fertilizer option if you want to use something organic. If you want a more powerful fertilizer, I recommend Fox Farm Liquid Nutrient Trio, lots of people have had great growing success with this product.
Pruning Shears: Pruning shears are one of the most useful gardening tools to have because it’s important to prune your plants to keep them healthy. The pruning shears I recommend are the Gonicc 8’’ pruning shears. I like them because they are built sturdy and work both on bigger and smaller plants, so you don’t need to have multiple pruning shears.
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