Ginger might not be at the top of your list when planning a garden, but we can say with certainty that once you do plant it, you won’t regret it. Growing ginger is easy and convenient. We’ll explain exactly when to plant ginger and how to keep it alive.
When to plant ginger: Ginger can be planted year-round if you live in a tropical climate that has consistent temperatures. If you want to plant ginger as an annual in a cooler area, get it in the ground in spring, once the temperature is consistently above 50 degrees Fahrenheit. The ginger plant is made of rhizomes that spread out underground and while this part is typically eaten, the leaves of a ginger plant are also edible.
Planting Ginger in Different Climates
A tropical climate is perhaps the only place where ginger can grow. It is native to southern China, India, and West Africa, so these are the climates you need to mimic when growing ginger.
Planting in a tropical climate means the ground is warm enough that your ginger will keep growing year-round like the natural perennial it is. Examples of areas in the United States where ginger will grow nicely include Florida, southern Texans and Arizona, and Hawaii.
If ginger thrives in a tropical climate, a dry climate is just about the worst location. Ginger needs consistent warmth and soil that is loamy, which a dry climate can’t provide.
Perhaps the next best climate to plant ginger is a temperate area. While you still won’t be able to grow ginger year-round, you will have a longer growing season thanks to the mild spring and fall.
Growing ginger in a continental climate is not recommended. The growing season is quite short as the winters can last a while.
If you do want to try ginger, be sure to plant it in a container so that you can bring the whole plant inside once the temperature cools off. Don’t wait too late as the slightest bit of cold can kill the whole plant.
With cold temperatures most of the year, ginger will definitely not be able to grow in a polar climate.
What is ginger?
Before we even get into the mechanics of planting ginger, let’s first discuss what it actually is. While most people refer to ginger as a root, it is actually called a rhizome.
The underground part of the ginger plant is what we harvest and atop you will find thin stems and foliage which is also actually edible. This benefits growing ginger in your yard as most grocery stores do not sell edible foliage.
Ginger rhizomes will spread out and produce more shoots of stems above ground so, while it can look like you have dozens of ginger plants, it’s often just a few rather large rhizomes underground that are spreading out.
Choosing Ginger Seeds
Planting ginger means you need to start with part of the ginger rhizome from another plant. Remarkably, this can be as simple as heading to your local grocery store and picking up some ginger there.
If you want a specific ginger rhizome, you can also shop online or visit a local gardening center.
Ideally, the ginger rhizome you start with should be rather large, about 4 to 5 inches long. There should be multiple parts coming off the main area, also known as fingers.
How to Plant Ginger Seeds
The best time to plant ginger is in early spring. However, those that live in true tropical areas can plant at any time of the day as the temperature won’t really fluctuate with the different seasons.
Ginger grows best in areas that have partial shade. Too much sun and the ginger foliage can start to shrivel.
While the best climate to grow ginger in is a tropical setting, you can try your luck in other areas, as long as they are fairly warm.
If you live in an area that is not consistently at least 50 degrees Fahrenheit year-round, your ginger will only grow during the spring to fall period. Once cold weather hits, it won’t survive and you will have to start all over the following spring.
Ginger grows underground so it’s important to start with soil that is not compact or dense. If the ginger can’t spread out, it won’t grow.
Start by digging up the area you want to plant your ginger and remember to increase the size as ginger naturally wants to spread out. Loosening the soil will help with any compactness.
The soil should be rich and loamy, so add plenty of compost and if need be, extra sand. Above all else, the soil needs to drain well, or else all your precious ginger will start to rot and turn mushy.
Take your large ginger rhizome and cut off the fingers or branches so that you have pieces that are at least 1 or 2 inches long. There should also be at least one bud on each of these pieces.
You may find that your ginger is rather wet from the cutting. In order to prevent root rot, leave your ginger to dry in a cool, dark area for one to two days before planting.
Place your pieces of ginger into your garden so that they are spaced 12 inches apart. Only plant them to a depth of 1 inch.
How to Water Ginger
After you first plant your ginger, you should water the area really well. This will encourage the ginger to grow, especially as it will be fairly dry.
Overall, ginger does not need too much water, so only aim for once or twice a week, depending on how much rainfall there is. When you do water, let the water run for a while so that it goes deep into the soil. This will encourage the ginger rhizomes to spread out and become stronger as they look for a water source.
How to Grow Ginger
As we’ve previously, mentioned, ginger will only grow as a perennial if temperatures stay above 50 degrees Fahrenheit. However, you can still grow it in cooler areas if you follow a few tips.
You can grow your ginger in a container so that when it does become cooler out, you can bring the whole plant indoors to protect it. Alternatively, you can keep your ginger outside in the garden but then transplant part of the rhizome into a container in the fall to be replanted outside in the spring again.
Even in some tropical areas, ginger can still enter a period of dormancy. However, if temperatures have even a hint of frost, the whole plant probably won’t survive.
If you notice your ginger’s foliage starts to turn yellow or shrivel up in appearance in the fall, this means it is becoming dormant. You can check on your rhizomes to see if they are still alive. If the rhizomes are still hard, then they are alive and the whole plant will perk back up in the spring when it becomes warmer out.
The beauty of ginger is that you can harvest part of the plant and still keep the rest of the plant alive. This is because you want to remove part of the rhizome that grows underground.
If you have plenty of ginger growing in your garden, you don’t have to be so exact when harvesting. Simply use a sharp shovel to dig through part of the rhizome and remove it for use.
However, if you only have one or two ginger plants in your garden, you will want to try to find the end of the rhizome so as to not disrupt the rest of the plant. Place your sharp shovel through the dirt at the edge of where the foliage is.
Some trial and error may need to happen but the result should be a piece of the ginger rhizome that you can use and the majority of the plant still underground.
You can then harvest ginger sporadically as it will continue to grow, as long as enough is left in the ground.
How long does ginger take to grow?
After you plant your ginger rhizomes, you should see green sprouts above ground after just one week. Then, the ginger will keep growing and in just a few months you can have foliage that is as much as 4 feet tall.
You may be able to see the rhizomes of your ginger plant pop through the ground. This is normal and is actually a nice feature as it helps you to monitor what is happening underground.
Ginger is a natural perennial in tropical areas but can be grown as an annual in colder regions. You can harvest ginger as needed by cutting off part of the rhizome that grows underground.
You should plant ginger in spring if you need to treat it as an annual but if you live in an area that is above 50 degrees throughout the year, you can plant ginger any time you want.