Planting Ginger in the Home Garden
Ginger (Zingiber officianle) is an herbaceous perennial plant that produces thick, knotty, underground rhizomes. These edible rhizomes are often incorrectly referred to as roots, and are used in a variety of cuisines. This grass-like plant stands between 2 and 4 feet tall with an equal spread. Ginger plants have tropical origins, but also thrive in a mild, Mediterranean climate when provided the proper growing conditions.
USDA Hardiness Zones
Ginger grows in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 9 through 12. In these climate zones, ginger grows as a perennial. Ginger is native to tropical regions of the world, including parts of Asia and the Caribbean. In these areas of the world, ginger is also used as a landscape plant as well as a garden herb. The small foliage of the ginger plant allows it to better use water, making it adaptable to climates with higher levels of solar radiation.
Cooler Climate Zones
In cooler climates, you can grow ginger during the summer, as an annual plant. Plant ginger in early spring, after the threat of frost has passed, and nighttime temperatures are above 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Ginger does not tolerate cooler temperatures or frost. Cool temperatures causes the plant to go dormant, while cold, wet soil may lead to rhizome rot, which often kills ginger. If you live in a cooler climate, grow ginger in containers or indoors.
Ideal Growing Conditions
Ginger requires moist, fertile, well-draining soil for its best growth. It is extremely important you provide your ginger plant a shaded area, away from direct sunlight, as well an area that is sheltered from strong winds. Full to partial, filtered shade is best. The tips of the foliage turn brown and begin to die in full sun.
Because ginger is a tropical plant, it loves moist, humid conditions. Dry conditions create problems with pests like spider mites. Make sure the soil is not soggy or waterlogged, as this also causes problems for ginger.
Harvesting Ginger Rhizomes
In a warm Mediterranean-type climate, plant ginger in late winter or early spring. The plant blooms in summer and begins to die back in fall when the rhizomes reach maturity and are ready for harvest. You can harvest the rhizomes earlier, as soon as the plant is 4 months old, but this early-harvest ginger, also called green ginger, does not pack the same flavor as a fully mature rhizome. For the best tasting ginger, wait until the plant’s foliage has completely died back before digging up the rhizomes. In winter, your ginger plant will go dormant, and will remain inactive until the following spring when the weather begins to warm.