There is nothing better during the holiday season than a Moscow Mule in a copper mug, a slice of warm, spicy cake by the fire, or zesty roasted vegetables at a beautiful table. What do all these experiences have in common? The humble ginger root.
Fresh ginger is one of the most recognizable tastes of the holidays. Spicy, aromatic, and comforting, we know (and love!) how the spice lends its flavor to some of our favorite seasonal dishes and drinks. What is less commonly known is just how easy ginger is to grow in your home garden, year-round. Growers rejoice: even beginners can take cultivate this delightful plant by themselves.
Looking to start growing organic ginger yourself? We’re walking you through exactly how to get the season’s favorite spice without heading to your local grocery store.
Before we dive in, let’s go through some of the most basic questions you might have about ginger. If you feel like you know it all, feel free to skip to section two: How to Plant Ginger from Root in Your Own Garden.
What is Ginger?
When we think ginger, we often think of a brownish, nubby growth that is ground or grated for flavor. However, that’s not quite the whole story.
The ginger plant (zingiber officinale) is actually a southeastern Asian flowering, herbaceous perennial that grows up to one meter in length and sports narrow, blade-like leaves. The ginger we eat is actually this plant’s rhizomes, or root stalks, kinds of thick stem that grow horizontally underground or soil. Ginger rhizomes store important nutrients, including starches and protein that keep the plant healthy when it dies back in the winter. Other plants with rhizomes include bamboo, turmeric, and hops.
Can You Grow Ginger from the Grocery Store?
Because it is a rhizome, it can grow through vegetative reproduction, meaning that a new plant can propagate from just a cutting of another one. This means that the ginger you pick up from a local grocery store is absolutely able to grow in your home garden. We’ll get into how to start this process later in this article.
When to Grow Ginger
Ginger is a tropical plant that prefers to grow in warm climates. If you live in a warm climate, you can have ginger in your outdoor garden all year round. However, if you live in a cooler climate (lower than 50 degrees), don’t despair. Plant your ginger indoors in the early spring, then move it outside when things start to warm up.
How long does it take to grow Ginger?
If you’re getting pumped to grow your own ginger, we are sorry, but we need to burst your bubble just a little bit. You will have to be very patient, as it typically takes plants eight to ten months to fully mature. If you get something in the ground in the early spring, you shouldn’t be looking to harvest until after the first frost passes in fall.
How To Plant Ginger From Root In Your Garden
Ready to start growing? Here is our step-by-step guide to growing ginger at home.
Time needed: 240 days
How To Grow Ginger
- Prepare your cutting for planting.
It’s easier to start with a cutting of ginger than with a seed, so you’ll want to grab a cutting of ginger about the size of a thumb. You’re looking for a piece that is knobby, light-colored, and firm. Soak it overnight in warm water to remove any pesticides or growth inhibitors.
- Select your container and soil.
Plant your cutting in a large container (fully-mature ginger plants can be up to 36 inches in diameter) filled with nutrient-rich soil with a pH between 5.5 and 6.5. Cover it with about one to two inches of soil and give it good water. Fertilize with a low-nitrogen organic fertilizer about once every six to eight weeks, and water it deeply about once per week.
- Get growing…and wait.
Ginger is ready to harvest between eight to ten months after it has been planted. The flowers will have blossomed and the leaves turned yellow and wilted.
- Harvest and enjoy.
Use your hands to grab rhizomes from the outer ring of growth or, if you are finished with your growing, take out the entire plant system. Scrub excess dirt from the outside of your ginger, then store in the refrigerator or freezer. If kept unpeeled, it will last up to three weeks and the fridge and up to six months in the freezer.
Step One: Prepare Your Plant
Preparing Your Ginger Root For Planting
Though some nurseries carry ginger seeds, we recommend starting from a cutting for the easiest growing experience.
Start by picking up a ginger root from your local grocery store. Aim to purchase organic ginger, since many of the non-organic varieties have been treated with a growth inhibitor to prevent them from sprouting on the shelf. Cut a piece about the size of the thumb. You’ll want to choose a section that has a lot of knobs, which are actually growth buds that will eventually turn to sprouts. Soak the ginger overnight in some warm water overnight to remove any excess substances on the skin.
Growing Ginger in Containers
While ginger can technically grow in a garden bed, we recommend using a container for the best and easiest results. You’ll want to choose a container that’s fairly large, as some ginger plants can grow to be 36 inches in diameter. Make sure that there is good drainage and plenty of space for rich soil. We recommend using a Gardenuity Grow Bag–the size and material provide ideal growing conditions for your ginger plant.
Ginger Ideal Growing Conditions & How To Care
Ginger is a tropical plant that does not like to be in temperatures under 50 degrees. If you live in a cooler climate, you may want to treat ginger like a house plant during the colder growing seasons.
Be sure to water your ginger plant at around once a week. Look to Step Two for more detailed watering instructions.
Ideal Potting Soil For Growing Ginger in Containers
You’ll want to start with a good-draining soil. Look for a mulch or potting mix full of nutrient-rich organic matter and a pH between 5.5 and 6.5.
Step Two: Let it grow.
Once your plant is in the ground, it’s time to do the hard part: wait eight to ten months for the rhizomes to grow! Here are some things to keep in mind if you want to ensure a bountiful harvest.
The Ideal Ginger Growing Temperature
Ginger loves warmth and humidity. Keep it in warm temperatures as much as possible, and make sure that it is never outside in weather below 50 degrees. For best results, don’t let the soil drop below 77 degrees.
How much sun does ginger need To grow?
Ginger needs, at the very least, two to five hours of direct sunlight, especially in cooler temperatures. Make sure your container is in a sunny spot to give it the nutrients it needs.
How much water does ginger need?
Plan on giving your plant a good watering at least once a week, keeping the soil moist most of the time, and never letting it dry out. Do not let the soil get too wet or have the container sit in water, as this will cause it to drown and die.
Both under- and over-watered plants will turn brown and begin to wilt.
Common Ginger Growing Problems & Issues
Ginger is susceptible to bacterial wilt, which can cause necrosis and root rot. This can be mitigated by ensuring that your plant has well-draining soil and good airflow. You’ll also want to watch for any dry rot, which can set in when the plant is not getting enough sun.
The most common pests in ginger are the Chinese Rose Beetle and Burrowing Nematode. These can both be prevented by keeping your plants in the sun and exposing them to bright lights.
Best Companion Plants for Ginger
Because of its unpredictable size, we recommend giving your ginger plenty of room to grow. However, if you do want to maximize your growing space by adding companion plants, good ones to consider are bell peppers, cilantro, beans, and turmeric. You should avoid planting ginger with walnut trees, tomatoes, or eggplant.
Step 3: Harvest your ginger.
Your ginger plant is ready to harvest between eight to ten months after planting.
When do you harvest ginger?
Depending on the kind of ginger you want, you will want to harvest between eight and ten months after growing.
If you want young ginger, try to harvest on the early side. Young ginger has translucent skin, pink flesh and is much softer than it would be if left to mature. The ginger we are more accustomed to–brown, think skin, fibrous flesh–wait a full ten months before harvesting.
You’ll know your ginger is fully mature when it has bloomed and the leaves begin to wilt and turn yellow.
Step 4: Store & use.
How to Store Your Ginger Harvest
Once ginger is out of the ground, you’ll want to give it a good scrub to remove any excess dirt and soil. Do not peel it, unless using immediately.
We recommend storing it in the freezer, where it will last up to six months. Frozen ginger grates more easily than raw, and it’s easy to pull some out to grate on an as-needed basis when cooking.
If you prefer to enjoy raw ginger, store your harvest in the refrigerator, where it will last up to three weeks.
Ginger Recipes We Love
Once you have your ginger, the culinary possibilities are endless! Here are some of our favorite recipes that use the spice:
- Lemon Ginger Simple Syrup
- Turmeric, Ginger & Carrot Juice
- Champagne Punch with Lemon and Ginger
- Roasted Carrots with Ginger
- Garlic & Ginger Roasted Radishes
- Easy Ginger Cookies
Grow Pro Ginger Growing Tips
If you are just looking for three hot ginger growing tips, we’ve got you:
Pick a Large Container
These plants can get big. Make sure that you are using a large container for your ginger to give it the space it needs.
Keep Things Sunny
Ginger is all about heat and sun. Ensuring that your container gets enough sun not only keeps your plants happy but also deters beetles and other pests from taking over.
Growing ginger takes time! Be patient when it’s time to harvest. You are most likely looking for mature, not young, ginger. Even if things seem ready, give it a couple of extra days to make extra sure.
Our Grow Pros Most Frequently Asked Questions
We recommend growing ginger in a container such as a Gardenuity Grow Kit. Our nutrient-rich soil will support the plant throughout its life cycle.
We recommend it!
Ginger root is available at your local grocery store. Check near the shallots, garlic, and onions. Look for the organic variety to avoid pieces sprayed with growth inhibitors.
Yes, but sometimes with spotty results. Grocery store ginger is treated with a growth inhibitor so that it can’t sprout while sitting on the shelves. If you do decide to try growing with ginger from the store, try soaking it in water overnight before planting to remove as much of the inhibitor and pesticides as possible.
You’ll see the best results when ginger is grown in soil with a pH between 5.5 and 6.5.
Take a piece of organic ginger about the size of a thumb, the knobbier, the better. Soak it overnight in warm water, then transfer to a large container and bury in about two inches of rich soil.
Plant your ginger root with the bud pointing up in about one to two inches of soil. Water immediately after planting.
Ginger rhizomes grow horizontally underground, while the ginger plant sprouts from the soil. You will want to harvest the ginger rhizomes.
Ginger plants should be fed every six to eight weeks using a low-nitrogen, organic fertilizer.
You should see sprouts emerge from the soil about two to three weeks after you start planting.
Ginger takes between eight to ten months to fully mature.
Young ginger hasn’t fully matured. It has transparent skin, pink flesh, and a much milder flavor. It’s often used for pickling, since it has a much lighter flavor.
Mature ginger is what we are used to seeing in the grocery stores. It is fibrous and stiff and breaks with a snap. This ginger is sharper, spicier, and less floral than its younger counterpart.
Start Growing Your Own Ginger!
Ready to get growing? Pick up a Gardenuity Grow Bag and get started today!