Your Year Around Flower and Garden Guide

It's a Snap to Grow — Ginger!

We all know the distinctive taste

Asian and Mid-Eastern dishes often have a subtle and distinctive flavor that comes from spicing the dish with fresh ginger root at the end of cooking.

Because of the popularity of such culinary delights, many grocery produce departments now stock the pleasingly pungent ginger root for use in homemade dishes.

Your favorite grocer's produce department is also the best place to find ginger root for growing.

What we call fresh 'ginger root' is actually the rhizome of the ginger plant (Zingiber officinale). When selecting ginger for growing, choose a smooth, shiny root with eyes like those on a potato. The eyes are the beginning buds of the ginger root.

Easy-Growing Ginger - In three easy to follow steps

Like most bulbs and rhizomes, ginger is ready-to-grow and easily adapts to several starting and planting methods.

  1. A fun way to start a ginger plant is to suspend a two-inch piece of ginger root over a glass of water. Hold it in place with toothpicks stuck into the sides of the root. Then, fill the glass, submerging about one-third of the ginger rhizome. When roots reach about an inch in length, plant the ginger rhizome just below the surface of a rich, moist potting mixture, making sure that your pot allows for good drainage.
  2. Keep your ginger in your indoor garden or get it ready for its permanent home on your patio, deck or other outdoor garden spot. Choose a pot at least four times the size of your ginger rhizome and fill the pot three-quarters full of potting mixture. Lay your rhizome flat on top and cover it with about an inch of soil. Keep the pot in a sunny location until sprouts appear, then move it to an area with bright but indirect light.
  3. Start a small ginger plant for transplanting into your garden. Plant your ginger root directly into a pot filled with rich potting mixture. Cover the pot with a plastic bag and place it on a sunny windowsill. When the first shoots appear, remove the plastic bag. If all danger of frost is past, move your young ginger plant directly into your garden. Alternatively, place the pot in a location where it will get indirect sunlight. Water it regularly, but be sure not to let the soil become saturated.

Ginger plants reach a height of two to four feet tall. Slender stems and narrow, glossy leaves may reach up to a foot long and resemble the foliage of a lily. Occasionally, your ginger may produce a yellow green flower, but flowers are both rare and unnecessary for the health of your ginger plant.

Harvest ginger after the rhizome has grown three to four months. Since the best time to plant ginger is in the spring, this usually means a fall harvest. Harvested ginger root is usually sun-dried for longer preservation. Like the plant, ginger root is adaptable and stores well either in your cupboard or in your refrigerator.

Ginger is not frost hardy so in temperate areas bring your ginger plant indoors for the winter and simply ignore it! The perennial foliage will yellow and die back, but again, like other bulbs, tubers, and rhizomes, your ginger plant will quickly snap back come spring!