What is galangal? Pronounced guh-LANG-guh, galangal (Alpinia galangal) is often mistaken for ginger, although galangal roots are a little bigger and a lot firmer than ginger roots. Native to tropical Asia, galangal is a huge perennial plant grown primarily for its ornamental qualities and underground rhizomes, which are used to flavor a variety of ethnic dishes. What to learn how to grow galangal? Read on.
Galangal Plant Information
Galangal is a tropical plant that grows in USDA plant hardiness zones 9 and above. The plant requires partial shade and moist, fertile, well-drained soil.
Galangal rhizomes, or “hands,” widely available at ethnic supermarkets are ideal for planting. Many gardeners prefer to plant whole rhizomes, but if the rhizomes are too large, cut them into chunks with at least two “eyes.” Keep in mind that larger pieces produce bigger rhizomes at harvest time.
Plant galangal after all danger of frost has passed in early spring, but be careful about planting if the soil is too soggy. Although galangal roots need moist soil, they may rot in cool, soggy conditions. Allow 2 to 5 inches (5-13 cm.) between rhizomes.
Add a few inches of compost or well-rotted manure if soil is poor. An application of a timed-release fertilizer gets growth off to a good start.
The rhizomes will be ready to harvest in early winter, typically ten to 12 months after planting.
Galangal Plant Care
Galangal is a very low maintenance plant. Just water as needed to keep the soil evenly moist but not saturated. The plant also benefits from monthly fertilization, using a general purpose, water-soluble fertilizer.
Leave a few galangal roots in the ground in autumn if you want to continue growing galangal the following spring. Mulch the plant well to protect the roots during the winter months.