Planting Ginger Root

If you love to cook with ginger, consider growing it for harvest. The process is easy and fun, and requires just a few materials including a piece of ginger root from the grocery store and a large pot with potting soil. 

Ginger root comes from the plant Zingiber officinale, which is a tropical plant in Southeast Asia. It is hardy in zones 9-11 and requires temperatures above 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Those of us in colder zones can still grow ginger root in a container over the summer and bring the plant indoors when temperatures drop below 55 degrees. 

What You Need To Plant Ginger

To grow ginger root, buy a piece of organic ginger from the grocery store. Organic works best because it has not been treated with chemicals to prevent sprouting. If the ginger is not organic, try soaking it for 24 hours to remove any chemicals. The root is actually a rhizome and will sprout if planted in moist soil. The rhizome can grow quite big, so select a pot at least 12 inches wide for one piece, and make sure it has holes for drainage. 

Steps To Plant Ginger

Cut off a section of the ginger root or plant the entire rhizome. The larger the section, the bigger plant the plant will be. Thanks to Andrea for mentioning to make sure there is a "node", like the eye of a potato, on each section you plant. The nodes feel like small bumps and are found at the ends of each little finger. Without a node, the ginger will just rot. 

So here's a chunk of ginger root, about an inch long, unpeeled....


Step 1 - Place your chunk of ginger in a large pot of rich potting soil. Bury the ginger about 2 inches deep.

Step 2 - Water the soil to moisten it and remove any air pockets.

Step 3 - Continue to keep the soil moderately moist over the next few weeks, but avoid overwatering because an unsprouted rhizome is susceptible to rot. Try a few cubes of ice a week until the leaves start to show up. 


Caring for Ginger Plant

Fast forward a few months...and a sprout is poking up through the soil. Once the ginger has sprouted, keep the plant well watered. Ginger appreciates more moisture than most garden plants due to its tropical nature. Add a few inches of mulch over the soil to retain moisture.
If temperatures are above 55 degrees F, you can bring the plant outdoors. It will grow best in dappled light, similar to its understory position in tropical forests. Too much light can burn the bamboo-like leaves. 
The plant will put on the most growth when temperatures are between 70 to 90 degrees F. If the plant is growing slowly, fertilize it with a balanced formula, fish emulsion, or liquid seaweed. The ginger plant is a heavy feeder and appreciates rich soil. 
The ginger root will be ready to harvest after about 9 months. Most of us are not blessed with such a long growing season, so the ginger plant can be brought indoors before nighttime temperatures fall below 55 degrees. Grow the plant in a sunny window and continue to water when the top inch of soil feels dry. Harvest the entire rhizome when the leaves start to die back.

Author Jessica Mercer - Published 6-28-2022

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