Tuesday

Growing and Harvesting Ginger


How to Grow Ginger Plant
Ginger (Zingiber officinale) grows from a spreading, tuberous rhizome. It does well in moist fertile soil in warm winter areas. If you've seen ginger in the grocery store, the root looks like a flattened, beige, segmented bulb. The foliage is tall and dark green in color, springing from upright, rigid stems. Even in areas that experience a hard frost, ginger can be grown in large pots and over-wintered indoors.

Sprout Ginger from Root Stock

There are many varieties of ginger, but for a good introduction to keeping this useful herb, select your stock from the local grocery store (really!). The resulting plants should be hardy and attractive, probably producing small, yellow (or maybe red) flowers. Look for large root pieces that are shiny and chubby and have little nubs or horns on them. These are the sections that will sprout.  To wash off any growth retardant the wholesaler may have added to the roots, soak ginger in tepid water for a few hours and rinse before planting.

Start ginger in a large shallow pot that contains one-part sand to one-part potting soil. I generally use a 14" pot filled three quarters full with soil. Lay rooting pieces horizontally, placing them two or three inches apart around the center of the pot. Cover with about three inches of soil. Ginger likes to grow in morning light and dappled afternoon light. While sprouting, make sure to keep the roots uniformly moist.

Botanical Print Ginger PlantWhen sprouts appear (this will take a few weeks) you will see white-green shoots that grow rapidly. Avoid harvesting ginger for an entire season. This allows the plants to get a good start in life. Ginger doesn't really take off until it begins to get crowded in the pot, so expect modest growth at first.

Once you have a thriving set of shoots and leaves, place the plants in a shady spot out of doors for a few hours a day after the overnight temperature rises above 55 to 60 degrees F. Leaf color may pale somewhat for a few weeks during the transition period. Increase the time outside over five days or so, and then place the pot in a shady permanent location. The three big things about ginger to remember are:

  • Ginger needs gentle sun to light shade.
  • It requires regular watering to supplement rainfall.
  • Ginger won't tolerate freezing temperatures.

To keep plants fed, apply an all-purpose fertilizer twice during the growing season only.

Overwintering Ginger in Cold Climates

In the fall, bring the pot indoors where the temperature stays above freezing. Allow the foliage to yellow and fade; then trim it off. Moisten the soil once a month to keep the roots viable. In the spring, after all threat of frost has passed, place the pot in a warm shady spot and watch for a new set of shoots. Repot plants in spring every couple of years.

Harvesting Ginger

As the root is near the surface, you will often see small nobs at the soil line of your plant(s) that can be selectively cut for culinary use. Start harvesting about four months into the season and choose roots around the outer edge of the pot. At the end of the growing season when the leaves start to fade, uproot the plant and take a larger harvest if you need to.

Special Note:

If growing ginger directly in the soil, be sure to keep the plant moist. I've had success placing it near a downspout where it will be sure to get good water runoff, particularly in the heat of summer. Mulching is a good idea, too.

To make your fresh ginger last in the fridge, see my post:  Preserving Ginger.
How to Grow Ginger Root
Cut ginger root


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Photo 1 - Ginger1_Wiki.jpg By Venkatx5 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c1/Ginger_Plant_vs.jpg http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AGinger_Plant_vs.jpg

Photo 2 - Public Domain Botanical Print

Photo 3 - Ginger3_Wiki.jpg By Mgmoscatello (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/ae/Ginger_picture.jpg http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AGinger_picture.jpg

34 comments:

  1. I actually have one growing in a pot at the moment as I always find I am out of fresh ginger when I need it. I was amazed how quickly it grew.

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  2. Anonymous10:33:00 PM

    I threw a piece of ginger root into my compost worm bin and it began to sprout in complete darkness! I am now growing it!

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  3. Anonymous8:25:00 AM

    I experimented with growing ginger this spring for the first time;two in pots and one in-ground in my flower bed. They are all thriving. The foliage is just beautiful. I plan on wintering them for next spring.

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  4. Anonymous9:49:00 PM

    My ginger pot grew very well and quick even under hot sun. Can I know when can Ginger be harvested? I often do not know which part to harvest. Any advice? Thanks

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  5. You can usually start to harvest after the plant is thriving, say, after about four months into the growing season. The easiest method is to select the surface roots around the outer edges of the plant. If it's been a cool or late season, wait a couple of weeks longer.

    Cheers,

    Sara

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  6. I have white hawiian ginger growing in excess is this a viable herb to harvest or just ornamental ginger?

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  7. Hi Drew,

    I'm not familiar with your ginger variety. A couple of minutes of research yielded:

    http://www.ubcbotanicalgarden.org/forums/showthread.php?t=2877

    The link may help.

    Sara

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  8. Anonymous6:56:00 AM

    how to make a shampoo out of ginger? or candy out of ginger?

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  9. Hi,

    Here's a simple ginger root shampoo recipe you might like: http://theherbgardener.blogspot.com/2010/07/ginger-shampoo-recipe.html.

    Sara

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  10. I live in the San Joaquin valley in California. Summers are very hot and dry, while winters are usually wet and cold. We have nights in the winter that go down to 20 degrees (but average in the high 30s and low 40s), but the ground does not freeze (at least not very deeply). If I grow ginger in the ground will it survive these winter conditions?

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  11. Hi Rob,

    I grew up in the San Joaquin Valley and know the temps there can vary wildly. Ginger won't tolerate a hard frost, and it doesn't like bright sunlight or dry conditions, either. That's kind of three strikes from a growing perspective.

    You can still grow ginger indoors in a sunny window or with grow lights.

    If you have a great, sheltered spot outdoors that you can monitor closely, you can try potting up a batch of ginger to see how it goes. If things start going south, take it indoors.

    Sara

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  12. Thanks Sara,

    I've got a couple of protected spots. I think I'll try both in ground and in a pot. Can't hurt to try, right?

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  13. Rob,

    I think that's a good idea. Let us know how it goes.

    Sara

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  14. Hi, Sara
    I'm wondering if I can grow ginger just for the attractive plant. Maybe harvest some of it, but it sounds like something I'd like to have as a houseplant.

    Sue

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  15. I've done that; ginger is a friendly plant to have indoors. If you keep it in a wide pot, you can even harvest a little root from along the edges every once in a while for teriyaki or stir fry.

    I like having a few unusual houseplants around. They're nice conversation pieces and different from the same old pothos or ivy.

    Sara

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  16. Anonymous3:31:00 PM

    I had a small shoot from a discarded sliver of root in my compost bin, I potted it up in the greenhouse where it continued to grow & then transplanted to my garden. It is now about 9ft tall & still growing!! No sign of leaves dieing back. Should I attempt to harvest some root as last Winter it went as low as -15c & i'm worried I will lose it before I benefit?

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  17. How wonderful. Poke around for a shallow piece of root and see how it goes. A little shouldn't hurt.

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  18. i am thinking of starting a ginger plant any advice for a beginner?

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  19. Ambrosius,

    You're writing this comment in October. My advice would be to wait till spring to plant.

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  20. sarah gillets4:54:00 AM

    i adore ginger i love it so much that i put it on toast!!!!:)

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  21. Anonymous10:33:00 PM

    Do you HAVE to shut down the plant in the winter or will it grow and be able to be harvested in the house? Does it NEED the downtime? Pictures about the process would help a lot here since the word 'root' is strange in this plants' case.

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  22. Anonymous3:58:00 PM

    Can i grow Ginger in the UK. THANKS.

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  23. Yes, as a summer commuter in a big garden pot. From fall to early spring, keep it indoors. Ginger makes a great potted plant and houseplant.

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  24. Anonymous8:16:00 PM

    Are Minnesota weathers too cold for ginger?

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  25. Yes.

    But you can grow it as a houseplant and put it outdoors for -- hmmm, a couple of months -- in summer

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  26. Anonymous3:35:00 PM

    when is it harvested

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  27. Spring (small harvest) and late summer to early fall.

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  28. Anonymous11:29:00 PM

    Thanks, Awesome information and impressed with your replies, nice job!!!

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  29. it sounds like it needs to be starved of nitrogen for the roots to thrive. i'm going to try incorporating wood chips into the soil before i plant ginger in spring and see if that gets a bigger harvest in the first season!

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  30. I live in the tropics (Trinidad) so we have ideal conditions for growing ginger. I've done the course on ginger cultivation, planted and harvested ginger successfully before so now I'm aiming for planting 200 containers by August end so I'll have 2000 pounds of ginger to sell by next summer! I average 10 lbs per container and I just sit them anywhere in the yard. I have palms that give them shade and the sun just peeps through so I have ginger heaven at my place. I absolutely love gardening and why not make it a loving business?!! Comments welcome. Thank you for sharing this information with me.

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  31. I want to grow ginger. I live in upper lower Michigan so I will being potting it and moving it around. Do you have to harvest all of it at the end of the season or can I grow it and just take as I need. How long can I do this?

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    Replies
    1. Bonnie,

      You can keep ginger plants year after year, harvesting a little of the root near the surface around the outer rim of the plant. I harvest ginger once or twice in summer and store my harvest in a jar of Sherry in the refrigerator. I have a commuter ginger plant that's been with me for almost a decade using this method. When you start a new plant from a piece of root, delay harvesting until the second year, though.

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