“Zingiber officinale” or Ginger has multiple uses across the world. It is one of the most commonly used spices. It belongs to the Zingiberaceae family to which other spices like turmeric and cardamom also belong.
Growing ginger in a dry climate can be challenging but fret not.
We have prepared this comprehensive guide to help you grow this medicinal perennial in your home garden without much hassle. Find all the secrets of growing ginger from this ultimate guide.
Growing Ginger in Pots and Containers
It is easy and very much possible to grow ginger in pots, containers, and raised garden beds. Ginger is an aggressive grower that spreads horizontally.
An ideal container would be 6 to 7 inches deep and at least 14 to 15 inches wide. Instead of a deep and narrow pot, use a shallow and wide container. Using a wide container or pot is vital to help the plant’s horizontal growth.
Planting the Rhizomes
Although often called ginger root, it is the rhizome that we harvest. So ginger is technically an underground stem. You can buy ginger rhizomes from grocery stores or local nurseries. While buying, look for the eyes on the ginger from where new growth will emerge.
The larger the rhizome, the faster the ginger will grow.
Cut the ginger rhizome into smaller 2 inches’ pieces. A size smaller than 2 inches can lead to slower growth. After cutting these, keep them in a dry, shady spot and allow them to heal for a few days. Allowing the pieces to dry for two to three days helps prevent root rot or decay.
Once they form a callus, in early spring, plant these parts in the soil mixture. Put these pieces about 2 inches deep into the soil and cover them up with the soil firmly. Do not plant the ginger rhizome right on the soil surface or too deep.
Ginger planted right on the surface will be exposed to the sun and will dry out. Ginger planted too deep into the soil will find it difficult to grow up and reach the sun. Water the pot using a sprayer and keep the soil moist all the time.
Instead of directly planting them in soil, you can also pre-sprout the ginger in water. Place it in a bowl of water until you see new shoots developing.
It takes 15 days to about a month for the ginger to sprout. At this point, water the plant abundantly. After a month to two months, the plant will get about 6 inches tall. The rhizomes are ready to be harvested after five to six months when the plants reach a height of 3 to 5 feet. At this point, you will get young ginger. To get the ginger that you get in grocery stores, it takes eight to nine months to reach that stage.
To harvest the rhizomes, first, loosen the topsoil using a shovel. Do not pull the entire plant out without loosening up the soil. Once the soil is loose, break the rhizome and take out the ginger.
If you want to keep growing ginger from the existing production, just remove the new chunks of the rhizome and let the rest of it grow. This does not disturb the entire root system.
Not removing the entire rhizome is a great option if you live in a warm zone where ginger can grow all year long. But if your area is prone to frost in winters, then we recommend harvesting the entire ginger produce before frost as it will die in frost.
After the harvest, you can replant the rhizome if the temperatures in your area don’t fall further.
Ginger Growth Requirements
In this section, we will explain all the necessary growth requirements that you need to keep in mind before growing ginger. It is an easy-to-care-for plant but some basic tips about its growing conditions will help you better.
Season and Location
Ginger is a tropical plant, meaning that it grows well in warm and humid conditions. Most of the ginger comes from the tropical and subtropical Asian countries of India, China, Indonesia, and some parts of West Africa.
It can grow quite aggressively in warm temperatures. If you live in a cold region, you will have a hard time growing this plant.
Ginger grows the best in summers and the ideal time to plant ginger is in early to mid-spring. If you live in a warm and tropical climate, you can plant it at any time during the year.
Choose a spot that receives at least three to four hours of sunlight. Ginger grows well in bright, direct sunlight. Choose a sunny spot in your house that receives sunlight throughout the day. If you can’t find a sunny location, choose a spot that receives partial sunlight.
But as a general rule, the higher the amount of light, the better the ginger shows new growth and vice versa.
Ginger cannot tolerate frost for extended periods. Shift your plant to a covered, frost-free location to protect it in the winter season.
Using a high-quality soil mix can improve your production drastically. So invest in a rich, loamy soil mix. We recommend the soil mix from Miracle-Gro. Ginger loves a loose and well-draining soil mixture that is rich in organic matter. It does not like to be in sandy and dry soil.
Use 50 percent good quality potting mix and add 50 percent compost to it. You can add perlite to make the soil medium well-draining. You can also use 60 percent compost, 30 percent soil, and 10 percent coconut coir. If the soil is not well-draining, it will cause the ginger to rot.
Ginger likes organic manure like compost, vermicompost, and cow-dung manure. You can also use a slow-release fertilizer or liquid fertilizers to provide the essential nutrients to your plant.
Fertilize your plant every month with the choice of your fertilizer during the active growing period. Ginger loves phosphorus-rich soil, so try providing a fertilizer rich in phosphorus during the growing season.
Water your plant in such a way that water gets drained out of the drainage holes at the bottom. Watering frequency will depend on factors in your area such as temperature, soil type, growing season, and humidity. Water the plant when the top one to one and a half inches of soil dries up.
During the active growing period from spring to late summer, the plant likes its soil moist at all times. Do not let it become bone dry.
When the plants are young, keep the soil moist at all times. As they mature, you can reduce the watering frequency. Browning and yellowing tips are a sign of under-watering. Lack of moisture can be a problem for ginger growth. Keep the soil moist and fertilize your plant regularly to avoid this problem.
To retain soil moisture, cover the plant with 3 to 4 inches of mulch. Mulch is an excellent way of retaining moisture and also helps in providing the plant with organic matter. You can also add coconut coir on top of the soil to keep it moist in hot and dry weather.
Although ginger prefers to have moist soil, it does not mean that you overwater your plant. Overwatering can make the soil soggy and soggy soil conditions can cause rot and fungal infections.
As the weather starts to get colder, reduce the watering frequency and water only when the top 1 to 2 inches of soil goes dry.
Like most other tropical plants, ginger also prefers high humidity conditions. It needs 60 to 70 percent humidity to grow well. If the air in your area is too dry, use humidifiers or humidity trays to keep the humidity levels high. You can also mist or spray the plant during the day to keep it moist.
To prepare a humidity tray, fill a shallow tray with some water and a layer of pebbles. Now place your pot or container on top of it.
As the water will evaporate, it will keep the air around the plant humid. You can also keep your ginger plant surrounded by other tropical plants. If the sun is too bright, shift the plant in shade during noon.
We hope our tips have put you in the right direction in growing gingers in home gardens.
Growing ginger is fairly easy if you follow all these steps properly and provide the plant with essential nutrients from time to time. It is a heat, water, and humidity-loving plant. If your area falls in the tropical zone, you must grow this amazing plant for its numerous benefits.
It is quite easy to grow ginger directly in the garden. But if you do not have enough space for a garden, you can always grow them in pots and containers. Follow our guide and you will have a good supply of home-grown gingers!