Growing ginger is a great way to start an indoor garden if you can create the right growing conditions, and give it some time (1-2 years!). The leaves and flower of the ginger root make it look like a common house plant, and give off a very pleasant aroma when its leaves are agitated. Ginger is a tropical root plant, growing primarily in South Asia where the climate is hot and the rainfall is heavy. Ginger is a vegetable, but is often though of and used as an herb.
We love using cut up ginger in hot water as a beverage (with honey). It is a somewhat spicy drink but also soothing to the stomach. Ginger is know to have anti-nausea effects during pregnancy and anti-inflammatory effects.
Ginger can be used for a variety of dishes as a great source of vitamins and minerals. With its many uses and its high medicinal quality, it makes an excellent addition to an indoor garden.
Conditions for Growing Ginger
Ginger is a tropical plant and likes a warm, humid place. Ginger prefers temperatures ranging from 75-85°F, and should be grown in an area that receives plenty of indirect sunlight. Ginger does not like frost, strong wind, direct sunlight, or waterlogged soil. Choose a spot that reflects these conditions. Choose a container that is 13-15 inches deep and allows good drainage (fill the bottom 1-2 inches with large pebbles, and ensure your container has multiple holes in the bottom).
If you live in a dry climate, try to create a moist environment for the growing ginger by placing it in a mini-greenhouse and/or place the container in a shallow tray filled with rocks and water. Ginger requires approximately 9 months to grow. It will usually grow to a height of 12-24 inches.
How to Grow Ginger in Your Garden
Planting a Ginger Root
- Start by obtaining a fresh and full-grown rhizome in the late winter or early spring months. Choose a fresh, plump rhizome with well-developed "eyes" that will appear like horns at the end of each finger coming off of the root. Note: If your rhizome comes from a grocery store, soak it in water overnight to wash away any growth retardant that may have been sprayed on the rhizome.
- Plant outside in a spot that meets the necessary conditions, OR
- Prepare your container with rich soil with lots of compost. If you do not have good compost, you can mix a rich potting soil with a sand/loam soil to ensure proper drainage.
- Plant your ginger root 4-6 inches deep, so that its "eyes" are facing UP in the soil.
Watering Ginger Plants
Ginger will not grow well if it is watered too heavily or if it becomes water-logged. Ginger plants grow well with saturated soil ONLY once or twice weekly or when the soil becomes dry to the touch. Your plant will benefit from misting the leaves and soil daily to give the plant a more humid atmosphere. Do not let the soil become dusty or begin to separate from the edge of the container. You may continue this watering routine for the plant's entire growing period, to ensure that your ginger roots grow deep and full.
In the fall, during the last month of the plant's growing period, you can reduce the watering and let the container dry out slightly, which will encourage the ginger root to mature and form rhizhomes.
Fertilizing Ginger Plants
As your soil is already rich with nutrients and compost, it is not essential to add extra fertilizer to your soil, but an organic liquid fertilizer will be beneficial to your rhizomes. To fertilize your ginger plant, you may find the best results by fertilizing with a seaweed extract or a fish emulsion every 6-8 weeks. Once the ginger has started to grow, you can add the liquid fertilizer to the misting water every 3 weeks.
Harvesting Ginger Rhizomes
When growing ginger for the first time, your rhizome will grow a few leaves that measure 1-2 feet high in the first year. As the root is near the surface, you may see small nobs at the soil line. You can start harvesting small amounts of ginger root after 4 months into the season and choose roots around the outer edge of the pot. Cut them out gingerly! At the end of the growing season when the leaves start to fade, uproot the plant and take a larger harvest if desired.
To harvest ginger, simply lift the ginger roots from the slightly dry soil. The roots that are mature and ready to be harvested can be removed from the soil without damaging any new rhizomes that remain in the container. Leave these new ginger roots in the container for the next year of planting.
Note: For the best ginger crop, wait to harvest your ginger in the second year into the plant growth. The ginger roots will be full and able to reproduce more rhizomes after one full year of growth.