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How to Easily Grow Ginger Root Anywhere

  • Bob Styer
  • Herbs
Ginger Leaves In Tanzania

Once you learn how to grow ginger root, you can have this beautiful tropical plant wherever you live. The key is to grow ginger in pots to protect it from cold winters. This herb, also known as adrak, is popular worldwide. There are so many types of ginger you’re sure to find one or several that pique your interest.

If you like sushi or sashimi, you need to have a side of pickled ginger and wasabi.  Ginger also finds many uses in baked goods, candies, marinades, glazes, curries, teas, and stir-fries. And don’t forget candied ginger!

Continue reading to discover how to grow ginger anywhere.  That way, you can enjoy this wonderful herb and spice anytime.

What’s the Ginger Growing Zone?

Ginger is a perennial tropical plant, so it will grow outside all year only if you live in a warm climate.  This limits growing ginger outside to Zones 9 – 10 and above.

There are also reports of gardeners growing ginger year-round in Zone 8b.  All lower zones can grow ginger in pots that can come inside during the winter.

Ginger doesn’t have cold tolerance and shouldn’t have exposure to temperatures below 50o F.  Low ground temperature will harm ginger more than the air temperature.  If frost or frozen soil occurs, it will kill the entire plant.

Types of Ginger

Almost 1,600 species in the ginger family grow in the tropical areas of the Americas, Asia, and Africa.  About 30 of these species are on the vulnerable or endangered lists.

You can find ginger varieties that are beautiful and ornamental with no edible parts.  Other types have edible flowers and shoots; some only use the root.

Almost all types of ginger are flowering plants.  Since we can’t cover all the known varieties, here are some of the popular ones:

  • True ginger (Zingiber officinale).  This type, also known as common ginger, is the one used for cooking all over the world.  It will grow 2 – 4 feet tall and has greenish-yellow flowers.  The rhizome (root) is harvested and used fresh, dried, powdered, pickled, or candied.  Some other names for it are race ginger, cochin ginger, African ginger, and Jamaican ginger.
  • Myoga ginger (Zingiber mioga).  This one is also known as Japanese ginger.  The root isn’t used for cooking, only the flowers and shoots.
  • Shell Ginger (Alpinia zerumbet).  The leaves, flowers, and rhizomes are used in cooking.  Shell ginger has a milder flavor than true ginger, and its beautiful flowers make it a popular decorative plant. Use variegated shell ginger for a more decorative effect (Alpinia zerumbet variegata).
  • Crepe ginger (Cheilocostus speciousus).  This is also known as cane reed or Malay ginger.  Like myoga ginger, it has edible shoots and flowers but the root isn’t edible.

Other Plants in the Ginger Family

  • Turmeric (Curcuma longa).  This one might surprise you, but turmeric is a member of the ginger family.  Ginger rhizomes (roots) are white or cream-colored, but turmeric rhizomes are bright orange.  The rhizome turns yellow when boiled or dried.  Turmeric also has a different taste than true ginger.  See our article “How to Grow Turmeric at Home” for more information.
  • Galangal (Alpinia galanga).  This type of ginger includes several varieties, such as tropical ginger, finger root, Thai ginger, and Chinese keys.  With citrus and pepper notes, it’s less pungent and sweeter than true ginger.  Like turmeric, it has a unique flavor that sets it apart from true ginger.

Would you like to learn about other herbs? Check out our post “The Complete Guides to Growing Culinary Herbs” for links to those articles.

Some Examples of Flowers From the Ginger Family

White crepe ginger flowers.
Crepe ginger flowers
Shell ginger flowers
Shell ginger flowers
Purple turmeric flowers
Turmeric flowers
Red greater galangal flowers.
Red greater galangal flower
Red torch ginger flower
Red torch ginger flower
Spiral ginger flower
Spiral ginger flower

How to Grow Ginger Root from Seed Rhizomes

Ginger root is a rhizome, meaning the “root” is an underground stem.  The rhizome grows horizontally and sends smaller real roots down into the soil.  As the rhizome grows, it will send out shoots that produce leaves and flower stalks.

Plants like ginger, turmeric, and galangal don’t grow from seeds.  To get a new plant, start with a whole rhizome or a piece at least two inches long.

It’s common practice to call rhizomes used for planting “seeds.”  You’ll see them advertised as seed ginger, seed turmeric, etc.  Sometimes, they’re also called mother rhizomes.

Ginger Rhizomes and Plants to Help You Get Started

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Kejora Fresh Naturally Grown Ginger Root 8 Ounces
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Fresh Galangal 8 oz.
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Dwarf Red Ginger Live Plant - Alpinia purpurata - Premium Indoor/Outdoor Tropical Flora - by Wellspring Gardens - Perfect for Garden Enthusiasts, Ginger Plant and Live Plant Collections
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Zingiber Zerumbet Shampoo Ginger Lily Plant Rhizomes for Planting, Pack 5 Red Pinecone Ginger Roots to Grow, Ginger Flowers
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1 Root Plants of Hawaiian Kahili Yellow Ginger Hedychium Gardnerianum
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Be careful trying to grow ginger from the grocery store.  This ginger is often treated with a chemical to prevent sprouting.

Your best bet is to buy organic ginger.  You can get organic seed ginger from Asian markets, seed stores, or Amazon.

How and When to Plant Ginger Outside

The best time to plant ginger outside is the early spring if you live in Zone 9 or higher.  This includes the southern United States, Hawaii, or other tropical/semi-tropical areas.

Pick a root that has at least two growth buds on it.  If you cut the root into sections, there’s a little trick to remember before you plant them.

That is to give the cut ends about a day to dry into a callus.  Then, soak the ginger overnight in warm water to prepare it for planting. If you prefer, you can sprout ginger by leaving it in the water, then plant the sprouted rhizomes.

Ginger prefers slightly acidic soil with a pH of 5.5 – 6.5.  The soil should be well-drained and moist, rich, and loamy.

Plant the ginger roots 2 – 4 inches deep and at least eight inches apart. Do you need to learn about testing soil? See our article “Testing Garden Soil and How to Make Improvements.”

Place the roots so the growth buds are pointing up.  Water the ginger right after planting, and always keep the soil moist.  Ginger plants go dormant when the temperature drops below 55o F and the day has less sunlight.

Even though ginger is a tropical plant, it doesn’t like direct sunlight all day.  Ginger is in partial shade in its natural habitat due to all the trees.  We must remember that if we’re planting ginger in the garden.

Growing Ginger in Pots

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Ginger has to grow in pots if you live above Zone 8.  Pick pots at least 12 inches deep and 12 inches wide.  You’ll need more width if you want the ginger to spread more.

Since ginger spreads so well, plant one root in the pot.  If you have larger containers go ahead and plant more ginger roots.

The pots should be filled with three parts of potting soil mixed with one part each of well-aged compost and perlite.  You can substitute vermiculite for perlite if you prefer.  By itself, potting soil gets too dense and won’t drain well.

When late spring arrives, move the ginger outside to enjoy 2 – 5 hours of sunshine daily for a few months.  Too much direct sun will damage the plant, so it should be in partial shade.

More information about growing plants in pots can be found in our article.

How to Harvest Ginger

About 8 – 10 months after planting, the leaves will turn yellow and the stems will die.  This is also the time you can stop watering.  Ginger doesn’t have cold hardiness, so the rhizomes will die when the temperature drops below 32o F or frost occurs.  Also, ginger won’t thrive if exposed to temperatures in the 40s.

Once the plant is dormant, trim the top of the stems 2 – 3 weeks before you plan to harvest.  The flavor will grow stronger if you wait longer to harvest it.

Dig up the whole ginger roots, and leave some in the ground to sprout next spring.  You could also cut some of the harvested roots and replant the sections after the cut ends have dried out.

Ginger plants will stay green all year if your winters are warmer than 55o – 60o F.  They’ll also stay green if you grow ginger in pots brought inside for the winter.  Indoors, they make an attractive tropical plant.  You can harvest the roots of green ginger plants whenever needed.

To cut the roots, follow the stalk to where it meets the rhizome. Then, move 2 inches away from the stalk and cut off the part of the root growing away from the stalk.  That gives you a ginger harvest, and the rhizome continues growing.

You could also cut off three inches of rhizome with a stalk attached and replant it in another pot.  If the rhizome is shorter than two inches, it might not grow after you transplant it.

How to Store Fresh Ginger

After washing and drying ginger root, put it in an air-tight container or Zip-loc bag.  You can preserve ginger for a month or more in the refrigerator crisper drawer.

Peeled ginger will oxidize if it isn’t sealed and refrigerated, and it’ll last about three weeks.  Be sure to check peeled ginger for any mold.

When stored in an air-tight container, chopped or minced ginger will stay in the fridge for about a week.

Frozen ginger can last up to 5 months if stored in an air-tight container or bag.  Wash and dry the ginger before freezing.

If you grate ginger, freezing it first will make grating much easier.  Frozen whole ginger will last up to 5 months.

How to Dry Ginger

Before drying, clean the ginger, peel it, and slice it very thin.  Peeling is a personal choice.  Young ginger root has a very thin peel and doesn’t need removal.  Older ginger root has a tougher peel.

Remove this peel if you’re going to use the slices in food.  It can stay on if you use the slices to make tea or other infusions.  The time it takes to dry ginger depends on how thin the slices are.

Air Drying Ginger

This could take four days or more.  Place the ginger slices in a single layer on a plate or tray and put the tray near a sunny window.  Turn the pieces of ginger every day so they’ll dry evenly.  If you’re using a metal tray, cover it with parchment paper before adding the slices.

Drying Ginger in a Dehydrator

Place the slices on the dehydrator racks and follow the dehydrator instructions for drying herbs.  Drying time will depend on the dehydrator.

Drying Ginger in a Microwave

Lay paper towels in the microwave and arrange the slices on the towels in a single layer.  Microwave for 30 seconds and check the slices for dryness.  Continue microwaving in 10-second intervals until the slices are dry.

How to Dry Ginger in the Oven

Oven drying of herbs always takes some care because there’s a chance the herbs could scorch.  Cover a baking tray with parchment paper and lay the slices in a single layer.

Set the oven to the lowest temperature.  Depending on the oven, this could range between 140 – 200o Fahrenheit.  Keep the oven door open and check the slices every 15 – 20 minutes to ensure they’re not burning.

Using any of the above methods, ginger slices must be dehydrated and crunchy before moving to the next step.  Dried slices will keep in air-tight containers for 5 – 6 months.

You can turn the dried slices into ground ginger with a coffee or spice grinder.  Let the ground ginger cool off after grinding, and store the powder in air-tight containers.  Freezing the powder will enable it to stay good for a longer time.

How to Dry Ginger for Tea

Ah, now this is easy.  Simmer some slices in hot water if you’ve already dried ginger using any of the above methods.  You’ll have to experiment to see how many pieces of ginger you need to suit your taste.

You could also use fresh slices to make tea the same way.  Add some honey or other goodies, and enjoy.

Ginger Companion Plants

  • Ginger likes shade during the afternoon sun, so put it near fruit trees or plants that will give it shade.
  •  Don’t plant ginger near walnut trees. They release a toxin called juglone which can stunt the growth of ginger or other nearby plants.
  • Legumes like peas and beans fix nitrogen in the soil, providing nutrients for ginger.
  • Ginger has no known harmful effects on any vegetable or herb crops.  The main thing is picking plants with the same growing conditions as ginger.
  • Ginger will repel pests from many other crops.
  • Good companions for ginger include the members of its family:  Turmeric, galangal, and cardamom.
  • Nasturtiums will repel aphids and spider mites from ginger.

We have a comprehensive Companion Planting Chart where you can find more information.

Pests and Diseases of Ginger

Ginger and turmeric have some pests and diseases native to Asia but won’t affect them in the United States.  In this country, nematodes can bore into the rhizomes and cause stunted growth and yellow leaves.  The nematodes will also cause the rhizomes to rot, which kills the plant.

Infested plants should be completely dug up and burned or trashed.  One way to repel the nematodes is to plant marigolds as a companion crop.  Another option is using an organic fertilizer/pesticide from ginger’s homeland.  See our detailed article “All About Neem Oil and Neem Cake” to learn about this.

Root rot can occur if the soil is too wet.  The solutions are to avoid overwatering or transplant the ginger to soil that drains better.

Aphids, spider mites, and thrips might infest ginger.  Blast these off with a strong spray of water.  Spraying neem oil or organic insecticidal soap will wipe out these pests.

See our article “Top 5 Natural Pest Control Methods You Can Use Now” for more information.

Final Thoughts

It’s good to know you can grow ginger plants wherever you live.  A steady supply of this beautiful herb can enhance your food and your health.

Frequently Asked Questions About Growing Ginger

  1. Is ginger easy to grow?

    Ginger is easy to grow in pots wherever you live.  It’ll grow outside if you live in Zone 8 or higher.

  2. Can you grow ginger from store-bought?

    Well, that depends.  Most store-bought ginger is coated with a chemical to prevent it from sprouting.  The store doesn’t put on this chemical; it’s done right after harvesting the root.  So you’re taking a chance with store-bought ginger.  Maybe it has the chemical; maybe it doesn’t.  The solution is to only buy organic ginger root.

  3. What are the best conditions for ginger root to grow?

    The soil should be well-drained, moist, fertile, and loamy, with a pH of 5.5 – 6.5.  In its natural environment, ginger gets shade from nearby trees.  Please don’t plant it in an area with constant sunlight.

  4. What are ginger’s growing stages?

    1.    The germination stage.  This is after the root is planted.
    2.    The seedling stage.  Green shoots have appeared above ground, and the rhizome has started a root system.  This stage is called the “three-ply forks” stage and lasts from the first leaf until two tillers form.  This stage lasts 60 – 70 days.
    3.    The early flourishing growth stage.  This lasts from the three-ply forks stage until mid-September.  Many tillers grow, and the rhizome is growing fingers.
    4.    The late flourishing growth stage.  The leaves have reached their largest size, and tiller growth has slowed.  The plant now spends its energy growing the rhizome.
    5.    The two flourishing growth stages take 70 – 80 days.  After that comes the harvest.
    6.    The dormant stage.  The plant ceases growth until next spring.

  5. How long does it take to grow ginger?

    Ginger takes about ten months to mature.

  6. How tall does ginger grow?

    Ginger grows 3 – 4 feet tall.

Last update on 2024-07-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Bob Styer

As a child, I hated gardening. That was mainly because Dad expected us to work in the garden every so often even though we thought play was more important. Over the years, though, I've developed a real appreciation for growing things. Whether you're growing plants for food or to enjoy their beauty, gardening can make your life better. Seize the moment!

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