Growing ginger at home is easier than you might think! In this post, you’ll learn all about ginger plant care, including tons of information, and detailed instructions for planting, fertilizing, watering, sunlight, harvesting, and much more.
Ginger root is readily available in most grocery stores, and is a staple ingredient in many kitchens. It is used equally in savory and sweet dishes, offering a distinctive exotic flavor to any cuisine.
Most people probably think that growing ginger sounds difficult or complicated. But did you know that it is actually pretty easy to grow your own at home?
In this guide, you will learn everything necessary to grow ginger, and enjoy it in your home or garden.
From planting and location, to watering, light, soil, fertilizer, pest control, harvesting, and troubleshooting problems… you name it, you’ll get it here.
Here’s what you’ll find in this detailed ginger plant care guide…
- Information About Ginger
- How To Grow
- Care Instructions
- Harvesting Tips
- Troubleshooting Common Problems
Information About Ginger Plants
Ginger root (Zingiber officinale) is a zesty and fragrant staple in many Asian inspired dishes. This culinary spice is native in Southeast Asia.
The term “ginger root” is a bit misleading for the rough, tan, finger-like structures found in the produce department. It is not a root or a bulb, but technically a rhizome, which is a modified horizontal stem as opposed to roots.
Although the rhizome is the harvestable portion, the foliage and blooms make beautiful specimen plants. They can grow up to 4’ tall in their life cycle, but it takes several months for the rhizomes to develop to a harvestable size.
Different Types Of Ginger Plants
There are hundreds of types of ginger, some are great for harvesting, while others are best grown as ornamental plants. Most varieties have green leaves, but some are variegated.
The different varieties look fairly similar above the ground, though some have wider leaves than others.
However, the rhizome flesh can range in color from white to red, yellow, light brown, or cream.
Though most people only know it as a culinary spice, ginger is a perennial plant in its native environment. It’s hardy in zones 8 through 10, so you can grow it in your garden if you live in a warm climate.
Even though it’s a tropical plant, it is fairly easy to grow ginger in colder climates too. Simply plant it in a container that can be put outdoors in warm weather, and brought back indoors during the colder months.
Ginger Plant Flowers
Many types of ginger plants will flower in the right conditions. The blossoms are beautiful and exotic, and can also be very fragrant.
For those growers willing to invest the time, these lovely flowers grow in clusters of white to pink. The more mature blooms take on a yellow hue.
In addition to being gorgeous, the buds are edible too, and can add delicate flavor to stocks and soups.
How To Grow Ginger
It sounds like such an exotic plant, but the great news is that growing ginger is easier than you might think! Even though there are tons of different types, the basic ginger care instructions are the same for all.
Where To Grow Ginger Plants
The first step toward successfully growing ginger plants is site selection. They require fertile soil, high humidity, and temperatures that stay above 50F degrees.
Outdoors, they will grow best in an area where they’re protected from direct sunlight and high winds. Choose a spot in your garden that has good drainage, and where the water doesn’t pool.
It also does very well in a pot, which is where you should plant it if you live in a cold climate like I do. Then you can put it outside during the summer, and move it indoors for the winter.
Keep in mind that mature ginger plants can grow to be 3-4′ tall. So use a large container that is at least 10″ wide and 10″ deep, with suitable drainage holes in the bottom.
When To Plant Ginger Root
It takes several months for ginger root to grow large enough for harvesting. So, if you want to grow it as a crop, then you should plant the rhizomes sometime in late January or early February, for a late fall harvest.
If you live in a warm enough climate, then you can plant it directly into your garden, as long as the temperature is consistently above 50F.
But us northern gardeners will need to start it inside in a pot. Then either move outdoors in the container, or transplant it into the garden once the risk of frost has passed in the spring.
Where To Buy Ginger For Planting
It is easy to purchase from the grocery store. However, it’s important to know that grocers routinely apply growth inhibitor on rhizomes sold in grocery stores to discourage spontaneous sprouting.
Soaking them in water overnight can help to remove the growth inhibitor, but some could persist. So, for best results, I highly recommend buying organic ginger root that has not been treated with any type of chemicals.
Preparing The Rhizomes For Planting
Rather than taking the rhizomes and planting them straight into the soil, there are a few things you should do first to prepare them for planting. This will set you up for the best success, and result in a larger harvest.
First, use a clean, sterile knife to cut each rhizome into 2-3″ long chunks. Ginger rhizomes develop eyes similar to the tuber on potatoes, so be sure that each piece has at least two of these eyes for the best results.
Then allow the cuts to completely heal and form calluses over the surface, this can take several days.
Once the wounds have completely cured, soak the pieces in water overnight to soften them up, and help break their dormancy. I like to add a little bit of compost tea concentrate to the water to give them an even better head start.
How To Plant Ginger Step-By-Step
After you’re done preparing the rhizomes, planting them is easy, and doesn’t take much time. When planted, the rhizome will develop roots on the bottom, and grow leaves straight upright.
- Ginger root
- Potting soil (if using a pot)
- Pot (optional)
- Compost and/or fertilizer pellets
Step 1: Prepare the soil – If planting in the garden, remove all weeds, as well as large rocks or sticks, and then loosen up the soil. Amend poor soil with compost. In a container, fill the pot with a good quality potting mix, leaving 3-4″ of headspace.
Then mix an organic granular fertilizer into the top layer or soil before planting the rhizomes.
Step 2: Determine the spacing – Space the pieces of rhizome approximately 6-8″ apart. If using a container, plant two to three fragments per 10″ pot.
Step 3: Plant ginger root – Ginger root should be planted 2-3″ deep. So, if you’re planting in your garden, use a trowel to dig a hole, then place one rhizome piece into it. In a pot, simply lay the pieces on top of the soil.
Either way, the eye buds should be facing up. But, if you’re not sure what that means, simply lay the pieces flat on their sides. They’ll figure out which way is up.
Step 4: Cover with soil – Fill in the hole, or the rest of the container to cover the pieces with 2-3″ of soil. Then gently pat the soil down so it comes in good contact with the rhizomes.
Step 5: Water lightly – Give your newly planted ginger root a drink, but don’t overdo it. The goal is to make the soil evenly moist, but not soggy.
Step 6: Patiently wait for them to grow – Now the hard part… waiting for them to sprout! It can be a little slow to start, so be patient. After planting, you can expect to see sprouts in 2-3 weeks.
Ginger Care & Growing Tips
Growing ginger requires starting it early indoors, and providing it with warmth, humidity, and fertile soil.
It’s fairly easy to care for, but does have a few special needs. So below, I’ll give you all the details for successful ginger plant care.
Ginger plants need regular watering, but the soil should never be wet or saturated. Too much water will cause the rhizomes to rot.
On the flip side, you should never allow the soil to dry out completely either, or it could trigger dormancy. It’s best to allow the top inch of soil to dry out between waterings, and then give it a good drink.
If you’re growing it in a pot, wait until water starts running out of the drainage holes. Then allow it to drain completely before placing it back on the drip tray.
It can be a delicate balance, so you may want to get yourself an inexpensive moisture gauge to make it easy for you to give yours the perfect amount of water.
One of the biggest struggles of successful ginger plant care (especially indoors) is giving it enough humidity. Since it is native to the subtropics, the ideal environment for it is warm, humid conditions.
If the air is too dry, then the leaf margins and tips will turn brown. There are a few ways that you could emulate the high humidity conditions of its native habitat.
You could regularly spritz the leaves, or try placing the pot on a pebble tray filled with water (never allow it to soak in water though). Otherwise, run a humidifier in the room to make it easy.
The best type of soil for growing ginger is one that is fertile, rich in organic matter, and also drains fairly quickly.
Poor quality dirt can be too heavy, lack the necessary nutrients, or hold too much water, which can inhibit growth or cause the rhizomes to rot.
Ginger is a heavy feeder, and requires regular fertilizer. For best results, incorporate slow-release granules into the soil before planting. Then use it to top-dress your plants 2-3 times during the summer.
Once it starts sprouting, use a water-soluble fertilizer weekly to maintain healthy growth. They love fish emulsion (outdoors only), or compost tea (which you can buy in a concentrate, or use compost tea bags to brew it yourself).
Stop fertilizing a month or so before you plant to harvest. If you want to overwinter it indoors, then don’t feed it at all during the fall and winter months.
Outside in the garden, ginger plants prefer partially shady conditions (say that three times!). Choose a spot where they will get 4 to 5 hours of indirect or dappled sunlight throughout the day.
Inside is a different story, it’s hard to give it too much sun indoors, especially during the winter months. So, it’s best to place it in a south facing window.
One of the best things about growing ginger is that they are naturally resistant to pests. Although fairly uncommon, sometimes bugs can become a problem.
Always be sure to test any type of spray on a few leaves before using it on the whole plant, to make sure it won’t damage the foliage.
Ginger naturally goes through a period of dormancy during the winter, or the drier months of the year. So, if you want to use it for cooking, then harvest it in the fall, and store it in the fridge.
Otherwise, you can overwinter it indoors as a houseplant. Place it in a sunny window, and keep the soil evenly moist. Keep in mind that it may still decide to go dormant, so don’t panic if the foliage dies back.
In that case, stop watering, and store the pot in a cool, dark location until late winter.
Instead of growing ginger indoors over winter, you could store the rhizomes. Simply dig them up, and store them as you would other tropical bulbs.
Tips For Harvesting Ginger
Ginger takes at least 220 days to develop to a harvestable size. But the more time you give it to mature, the better.
If you plant them in early February, you can expect to harvest in late October, or sometime in November.
Harvesting is easy, you just need to dig up the rhizomes. Take care not to cut or damage them while digging them up though. Be sure to save some of the rhizomes to replant for the next year.
After harvesting, you can use it immediately, or store it for later. It will keep in the refrigerator for several weeks, or you can freeze it for up to six months.
Troubleshooting Common Ginger Care Problems
The hardest part about ginger plant care is when they start having problems, and you have no idea how to fix it.
Most common problems are easily fixable, which is great news! To help you troubleshoot, here are some issues that you may run into…
- Brown leaf tips and margins – When the tips and/or edges of the leaves turn brown, that means the air is too dry. This is usually only a problem indoors. Try regular misting, or run a humidifier nearby to give it more humidity.
- Leaves are turning yellow or brown – This usually means they are going into dormancy. The leaves will eventually dry up and die back, which is normal. To prevent dormancy, never allow the soil to dry out completely.
- Ginger plant is dying – Many times the plant is going dormant rather than dying, which is normal during the winter or periods of drought. However, overwatering can cause the rhizomes to rot, which will kill the plant. Check the soil moisture level, and adjust accordingly.
- Brown and/or yellow spots on leaves – Spots on the leaves could be caused by too much sun, fertilizer burn, or disease. If it’s in the full sun, then move it to a shadier location. Only use organic plant food (rather than synthetic chemicals) to prevent fertilizer burn. Diseased plants should be discarded.
- Leaves suddenly turn black – When ginger leaves turn black, that means it was exposed to either freezing or extremely hot temperatures. Check the location to ensure it’s not sitting near a cold drafty window, or next to a heat source like a fireplace or oven.
Ginger Plant Care FAQs
Below, I will answer some of the most frequently asked questions about ginger plant care. If you still have a question after reading through all of this, then ask it in the comments section.
How long does it take to grow ginger?
It can take 30-45 weeks to grow ginger into a harvestable size. The longer you let it grow, the larger your harvest will be.
Can you grow ginger root from the grocery store?
The short answer is yes. But, many grocers treat store-bought rhizomes with chemicals to prevent it from sprouting. Soaking them overnight can help to break down these chemicals.
However, they could still inhibit growth. For best results, I recommend buying organic ginger root that hasn’t been treated with any chemicals.
Do ginger plants need full sun?
No. Ginger plants grow best in a partial shade location, where they will get 4-5 hours of indirect sunlight. Too much direct sun will burn their leaves.
When should I plant ginger?
If you’re planning to grow it as a crop, then you should plant ginger in late January or early February to give it plenty of time to reach maturity for a fall harvest.
Ornamental varieties can be planted at any time during the year, as long as the temperature is warm enough.
How do you know when ginger is ready to harvest?
You can harvest ginger when the leaves start to die back in the fall, or 8-10 months after planting.
Growing ginger is not as difficult as you might think, and it’s fun too. Once you get the hang of ginger plant care, you’ll have it on hand whenever you need it in your favorite recipes – and you may never have to buy it again.
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Share your ginger plant care tips in the comments section below.