Growing ginger is easy and rewarding. Once planted, the ginger needs nothing but water and patience to mature into a delicious, spicy ingredient. This guide focuses on the edible species, but most flowering ornamental ginger plants grow in similar conditions.
A. Planting Ginger
1. Start in early spring.
2. Choose your ginger plant.
- Choose ginger roots (technical rhizomes) that are plump and free of wrinkles, with visible eyes (small points) at the end of the “fingers.” Eyes that have started to turn green are ideal, but not required.
- Buy organic ginger if you can. Non-organic ginger may have been treated with a growth inhibitor. Some gardeners find that soaking in warm water overnight will help stimulate inhibited plants.
- This guide covers Zingiber officinale. Most Zingiber species will grow under similar conditions, but for best results follow the nursery instructions.
3. Cut the rhizome into pieces (optional).
If you’d like to grow more than one plant, cut the ginger with a sanitized knife or shears. Any piece at least 1 inch (2.5 cm) wide with one or more eyes can grow into a separate plant. After cutting, leave the pieces in a dry location for a few days to allow them to heal. They will form a protective callus over the cut surface, which reduces the risk of infection.
- Each piece of ginger requires 8 inches (20 cm) of space. Use larger pieces if you need to save space.
- A piece with three or more eyes is more likely to sprout.
4. Prepare the soil.
Ginger thrives on high-quality, well-draining soil. Mixing garden soil with an equal amount of well-rotted compost should do the trick. If your soil is poor quality or heavy in clay, purchase rich potting soil instead.
- If you want to keep a closer eye on the ginger, you can begin with a starting tray full of sphagnum moss or coconut fiber. These materials drain very well, preventing rot in young plants. You will need to transplant the ginger into the soil once leaves and roots form, which can be traumatic for the plant. The ideal temperature for sprouting ginger is 70 degrees Fahrenheit, so you may need to use a heat mat or other heat source to keep the soil a the right temperature.
- Like most garden plants, ginger prefers mildly acidic soils. If the soil in your area is alkaline, adjust it to between 6.1 and 6.5 pH using a garden store pH kit.
5. Choose a location.
- If growing the ginger in pots, choose a pot at least 12 inches (30cm) deep. A plastic pot is better than terra cotta, as long as you poke plenty of drainage holes in the base.
- Ginger can grow in full shade in the tropics, but these locations may be too cool at other latitudes. Try to plant the ginger at a place that gets two to five hours of direct sunlight per day.
6. Plant the ginger.