By Heather Rhoades
Ginger plant (Zingiber officinale) may seem like a mysterious herb to grow. The knobby ginger root is found in grocery stores but very rarely do you find it in your local nursery. So can you grow ginger at home? The answer is yes, you can. Not only is growing ginger plants possible, it is easy as well. Let’s take a look at how to grow ginger root in your garden.
How to Grow Ginger Root
Planting ginger starts with finding some ginger root to plant. You can find a ginger root dealer online, but just as easily you can head to your local grocery store and buy a ginger root right out of the produce section for growing ginger plants. Choose a healthy, plump looking ginger root that is about 4 to 5 inches long with at least a few “fingers.” If possible, find a ginger root where the tips of the fingers are greenish.
Ginger plants take 10 months to mature. If you live in USDA zone 7 or higher, you can grow ginger root in the ground (though in all zones but zone 10, the leaves will die in the winter). If you live in zone 6 or lower, you will need to bring your ginger plant in for the winter, which means you will need to plant the ginger root in a pot.
Next, you will need to select a place to grow your ginger plant. Ginger root grows in part to full shade and likes rich, loose soil. If you will be planting ginger in the ground, it is a good idea to add lots of compost or rotted manure to the chosen spot. If you will be growing ginger in containers, using potting soil is a must.
Plant your ginger root in the early spring, after all chances of frost have passed. The next step in growing ginger plants is to break or cut off a finger and make sure the section is at least 1 to 2 inches long as has at least one of the buds (looks like a rounded point) on it. To help prevent rot in the ginger root, allow the cut pieces to dry for a day or two in a warm, dry place before putting them in the ground.
Plant the ginger sections in a shallow trench. You should not be planting the ginger root sections any deeper than 1 inch. You may find as your ginger plant grows that the root pushes back up through the top of the soil. This is okay and is common for the plant to have roots above soil.
Plant one ginger plant per square foot. Once the ginger root is planted, water it thoroughly. In a week or two you will see the leaves of the ginger plant emerge. Once the leaves emerge, water sparingly, but when you water the ginger root plant, water it deeply.
The leaves on the ginger plant will get to be up to 4 feet tall and are susceptible to wind damage. If you live in an area where ginger will not survive the winter, bring your ginger plant inside once night time temperatures dip below 50 F. (10 C.). Continue to care for your plant over the winter.
How to Harvest Ginger
Your ginger plant will be ready for harvest in the spring, or you can let it grow through the next summer for a larger harvest. When you are ready to harvest, lift the ginger plant gently from the soil. If you would like to continue to grow ginger root, break off a part of the ginger root that has foliage and carefully replant it. The rest of the ginger root can be used as your harvest. Break off the foliage and wash the ginger root. The ginger root can be broken into smaller pieces for easier use.
Now that you know how to grow ginger root, you can enjoy its amazing flavor in your favorite recipes.