Ginger Plant: How to Grow Ginger
I suffer from frequent sore throats caused by my tonsillitis and I get relief from drinking homemade ginger water as if it's my vitamins. Now, I've been interested in nature for a long time but I never really took action towards anything nature-related.
Until recently, I found a lot of posts about gardening and how fun it is. So I wondered, why not combine both? Grow my own ginger plant at home.
Zingiber officinale, also known as Ginger Plant is a common ingredient in Arabic and Asian regions. It is used as a spice because of its unique taste that can be characterized as a fusion of earthy and zesty flavor that creates this warm biting sensation that lingers in your mouth.
It's also a notable herb medicine throughout history due to its effectiveness against stomach ailments and nausea. Ginger was then found to have an antioxidant effect. It helps in boosting the immune system by reducing free radicals that may cause cancer or other related illnesses.
Facts About Ginger Plant
Ginger was first discovered in the southeast part of China and was imported to Spice Islands, India, and to the whole of Asia and West Africa. It is during the 1st century that the traders brought Ginger to Europe and the Mediterranean region. Austronesian people are the first ones to cultivate and utilize this plant.
Ginger plants take 10 months to grow and mature. You can buy a ginger root from a dealer online or go to your nearest grocery store and get one. If you’re able to see a ginger root in the produce section that has some shades of green on its fingers or some leaf sprouts, get that. If not, pick the most healthy-looking in the bunch.
Depending on your choice, you can plant Ginger in the ground or in a pot. The Ginger plant thrives in loose fertile soil with a warm and humid environment. The best spot to plant Ginger is where it can get 2-5 hours of direct sunlight and is safe from strong winds.
Your ginger plant’s height will depend on the environment where it’s settled and how healthy it is. Generally, they grow between 2-4 feet tall.
Ginger leaves are tapered to a point. They are long and narrow, which comes out from a sheath embracing the stem. The leaves normally grow up to 30 cm in length.
The leaves of the Ginger plant are also edible and have less pungent taste than its root. It has a mild peppery taste to it. It’s commonly used as a food garnish just like onion leaves or chives.
There are different types of Ginger plants, and depending on what you have planted or what you want, their flowers or lack thereof vary.
Fertile ginger plants have flowers blossoming from their stems and grow up to 3 inches tall. They are usually yellow-green in color edged with purple. Sometimes they have cream-colored splotches on their petals.
An array of ginger plants can have flowers that are orange, red, yellow, or pink. Also, cultivated ginger for consumers is generally sterile and flowerless.
Ginger root is the heart of this plant. It is where every part of it connects and it is the one that we harvest and use most. The root, sometimes called rhizome, looks like a brown cork and has a yellow-colored inside. Ginger roots don’t have a specific shape or size as it has lumps that result in uneven sides.
There are several ways to prepare the roots for consumption. You can eat it fresh, juice it, or dry it to turn into powder or tea. It is indeed versatile.
Apart from it being an ingredient in the kitchen, ginger roots have been a big help to the medical industry. Gingerol, the main compound found in ginger has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It has been tested, used, and proven to be effective against nausea, digestive issues, flu, sore throat, arthritis, and many more.
Types of Ginger
Baby Ginger Roots
True to its name, Baby Gingers are the small, tender, and sweeter counterpart of the semi-hard fibrous ginger that we commonly know and get from the grocery.
Its rhizome has a cream color with a touch of pink hue that doesn’t need any peeling. Due to its mild exquisite flavor and texture, baby gingers are great for making pickles, use for quick stir-fries, syrups, and mixed together with other preserved foods through fermentation.
Blue Hawaiian Ginger Roots
Also called “Thai Ginger” or “Galangal”, this ginger plant has blue flowers blossoming from it and the flesh of its rhizome has a tinge of blue too.
Blue Hawaiian Ginger root is mostly used as a tea to treat colds, diarrhea, stomach issues, and spleen ailments. Its flower juice is used for shampoo or soap making.
White Ginger Roots
Sometimes called Butterfly Lily because of the fragrant and pretty white flower it produces. This type of ginger is mainly considered as ornamental.
The rhizome can be consumed and has a really mild flavor. Its roots are said to be aphrodisiac and are also used as an appetite stimulant.
Also known as “Kahili Ginger,” yellow ginger is a relative of white ginger, it is also an ornamental yet invasive plant. Its fragrant blossoms have a yellow and white gradient. It is slowly becoming a popular garden plant as it creates a beautiful accent for the porch, cottage, and Mediterranean gardens.
Its flower oil can be distilled to make a perfume component and its rhizome or roots are not edible.
This plant is native to Eastern Asia and is commonly called Shell Flower. This is because it bears pink flowers that look like seashells. An interesting fact about this plant is it gives out an aromatic scent from its leaves when it feels tense and it makes a delectable tea.
Alpinia Ginger plant grows well in moist but loose soil. It is important not to overwater and do not place under direct sunlight.
The Alpinia Ginger’s roots are mainly used as a traditional medicine that helps with digestion, fever, anti-inflammatory, and serves as an analgesic.
This ginger plant produces bracts that are shaped like a small beehive. They are native to Thailand and Malaysia, which is why it's also called "Malaysian Ginger" or "Ginger Wort".
The bracts are colored green when sprouting and then turn to orange, red, pink, or bright yellow upon maturity. The flowers itself are really small and fragile. They're colored purple with yellow spots and the stigma sticking out like a tongue.
To optimally grow a Beehive Ginger, make sure that it gets bright yet medium sunlight. It likes damp fertile soil and large space. Think of a tropical vibe when deciding on where or what environment it would develop well.
Other than for decorative purposes and its fragrant smell, Beehive Ginger has been used as a topical medicine to treat inflammation, headaches, and burns particularly in Indonesia.
Butterfly Lily Ginger
Hedychium Coronarium came from Asia and it got its name due to its flowers. It’s easy to think of snow and get intoxicated by its strong unique spicy scent.
They can grow up to 3m tall and thrive in heavily moist rich soil with a warm humid environment. Finding a spot that has a partial shade for this ginger plant is advisable.
This plant is quite invasive due to its thick creeping stems that grow underground. Its nature makes it easy for the plant to spread but it hinders native species on the soil to thrive and regenerate.
Its flowers are used for garlands and they are also used as food flavoring. Butterfly Lily Ginger’s roots are extracted for starch and cellulose which is used for paper and textile manufacturing.
Dancing Ladies Ginger
Also called “Globba Winitii” is local to Myanmar and Thailand. It’s recognized for its flowers that hang from its bracts. You’ll see a silhouette of a bright yellow girl in a dress that sways easily with the wind.
It flourishes during Spring and is dormant during winter. It needs full to partial shade and does well on moist soil.
This ginger plant is mainly ornamental and is on-demand as cut flowers.
There is a lot of ginger species around the world and this plant is under the family of Curcuma - which is the same genus as Turmeric.
The flower spikes of this ginger plant are highly visible because it blooms before its foliage emerges. During maturity, you’ll see a shy white, purple, or cream-colored flower hiding in the center of its tall leaves.
They bloom in summer and need constant moisture in the soil during active development.
Hidden Gingers are pleasant cut flowers for arrangements.
It is said to be an easy plant to grow and its flower resembles a white moth.
It grows shorter than other gingers at 1.5 meters at most. Moth Ginger plants need heavy feeding, partial shade, and rich moist soil.
Its fragrance is used for perfume making.
Alpinia purpurata, ostrich plume, and pink cone ginger are its other names. You would mistake its bright red bracts as its flowers but its real bloom is the small white flower on top.
You can plant red ginger at home in a pot or in the ground and you just need to make sure to place it where it has partial to full shade. It grows well in humid condition and needs to be watered regularly.
The oil extracted from Red ginger is used as cough medicine and to ease nausea.
The Spiral Ginger plant or Cheilocostus Speciosus is characterized by its one spiral row of leaves. Its inflorescence, which is the full flower head, is bright red with yellow tubes.
It grows up to 3m tall and is commonly found on roadsides and forest margins. They develop well in moist fertile soil and can survive the mild dry season. It's considered invasive in some areas.
In Asia, it's grown for medicinal purposes, and for others, it's ornamental. It was mentioned in Kama Sutra and is used as an eyelash cosmetic that enhances the sexual appeal of the person using it.
Its rhizome serves as a traditional medicine that helps treat fever, cough, and purgative for intestinal worms.
Etlingera Elatior is known to be a larger ginger plant as it grows up to 6m tall. You’ll recognize the Torch Ginger easily due to its odd colorful flower that can appear red, orange, or pink.
This ginger plant thrives in areas where they are safe from strong winds, partial shade, and in a humid fertile soil that is rich in potassium.
Due to its flowers’ uniqueness, it is an endearing decoration to your garden or in arrangements.
Torch ginger is traditionally used as a spice and helps with food preservation. It is also used to help with treating wounds and getting rid of body odor.
Zingiber officinale is the common ginger plant or root that we all know of. We can find it in the grocery store. It is a lean and tall plant that produces a thick and chunky yellow rhizome. The root’s skin is colored in varieties of brown with thin rings surrounding it. Its flowers are like cone spikes that are 2-3 inches long.
This ginger plant can be grown directly on the ground or potted. It is important to keep the soil damp with lots of fertilizers. Zingiber ginger grows well in summer or tropical climates but be careful not to put it in direct sunlight and strong winds as it will damage its leaves easily.
Ginger roots can be used as a spice or flavor enhancer, can be eaten raw, can be made into a delicious tea, and can be used for medicinal purposes like treating digestive issues, relieving pain. It also helps with flu or the common cold. It has antioxidant properties too that will get rid of the free radicals in the body.
How to Grow Ginger Plant
You can grow ginger plants on rich humus-filled soil, either on the ground or in a pot. In the U.S., Zingiber ginger or the common ginger thrives in hardy zones 9-12 and some other types are for hardy zone 7. Tropical areas are the best in growing big and healthy gingers.
Although Ginger needs frequent watering, it develops well in a loamy mildly acidic soil where the water drains easily. It is necessary as it is with other plants, that the soil is fertile and rich in organic matters. Some types of ginger plants require specific minerals like Potassium for Torch Ginger.
It needs watering once per week and you have to make sure that it’s watered thoroughly. Don’t worry about drowning your ginger if your soil is loamy and your pot has enough drainage for the excess water to go through.
Ginger plants prefer bright places but not in direct sunlight as it will burn their leaves. It’s best to place them under filtered shades.
The ideal temperature in sprouting a ginger plant is 21.1° - 25° C. This plant prefers a warm summer vibe and most are not winter tolerant and will not survive frozen soil.
If your aim is to grow a bigger and healthier rhizome, it’s advisable to use a low nitrogen fertilizer early and regularly. When applying fertilizer to the soil, make a small burrow 12-18 inches deep and slowly release your low nitrogen fertilizer and supplement it with calcium, phosphorus, and compost for added organic material that will help your ginger develop well.
It is best to mulch your ginger plant with green manure as it helps retain the moisture and maintain the proper temperature in the soil during the dry season. This will promote better germination of the rhizome. Green manure also helps with weed growth and prevents soil and nutrients from being washed off during heavy rains.
Propagating ginger uses a method that is called sets. Sections are made by cutting 1-2 inches from the living rhizomes to replant it.
It is best to buy a rhizome that is specifically for propagation or planting. If you’re having a hard time finding a supplier, you can buy ginger in the grocery store during Spring and soak it in the water overnight before all else.
You have to find good and rich soil whether on the ground or in your pot, and ginger plants don’t take much space. Add in compost to give the ground a boost in helping your plant sprout.
When planting your cut sections, place them 12 inches apart and less than an inch deep to let the rhizomes grow freely. Water thoroughly, and leaves should appear within a week. It will grow up to 4 ft. tall and is fully mature by 8-10 months. Don’t worry if you see some roots popping out from the ground. It is common with gingers.
Ginger Plant Health Benefits
It is no doubt that ginger has an array of health benefits that people swear by in modern and ancient times. Here are most of the well-known medicinal uses of ginger:
- It is an antioxidant - It prevents the accumulation of free radicals. This lessens your chances of getting cancer, heart diseases, and many more.
- It has antibacterial properties - It helps with keeping bacteria in your body at bay.
- It aids in nausea. - Especially during pregnancy, it has been proven that ginger helps calm a queasy stomach.
- It’s anti-inflammatory - It reduces swelling and pain. It’s used to treat arthritis and muscle and menstrual pain.
- It lowers your blood sugar and cholesterol - It promotes balanced regeneration of your cells and helps your body take insulin better.
- Relieves digestion issues - Known to help with dyspepsia and constipation, and helps with stomach acidity.
Uses of Ginger Plant
Cooking with the use of Ginger is prevalent in Asia. It is primarily used as a spice because of its distinctive spicy yet zesty flavor. It can be used in stir-fries, marinades, or complementary to meat, veggies, and fruit meals. Ginger can be used in culinary in different forms: fresh, pickled, preserved, dried, and powdered. It can be used in cooking, baking, and beverage making.
Ginger has been known and proven to have medicinal properties throughout history. It was first used as traditional medicine. Chinese and Indians first used it as a tonic for stomach issues and other ailments.
Its main uses are for fighting bacteria in the body, reduces swelling and pain, and helps with digestive concerns.
Medicinal intake of ginger includes making it a supplement to your daily diet by either drinking it as a tea or eating it raw after a meal.
So there you have it! I hope you learned a lot of new things about the ginger plant. I kept it simple so you can start planting them during your free time and in your home as soon as possible. Who wouldn’t want to have ginger in their garden? It’s easy to take care of and grow and you get to reap all the benefits it offers, both in your cooking and your health.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take to grow and harvest ginger?
In 8-10 months, ginger plants are considered fully grown but they reach maturity usually in about 10-12 months from the time they sprout. During this time, the stems and leaves are yellow and on the verge of falling. The rhizomes are firm and sturdy, which makes it easier to clean and handle while harvesting.
Can I grow ginger in pots?
Yes. You can start growing your own ginger plant at home in a pot by using the section method. Cut small sections of the rhizome, usually 1-2 inches, soak it overnight to prep it, and plant it with the bud pointing upward to rich, loamy soil. Drainage is very important as you don’t want to have it stay in the water for too long. This will cause your ginger root to rot and your whole plant to die.
Is it safe to eat raw ginger?
Yes, it is safe for us to consume raw ginger and in fact, it has many health benefits. There are many more ways to eat and enjoy ginger. You can munch on it if you like its texture and unique biting flavor, juice it, make ginger tea by cutting small pieces and putting it in boiling water, or dry and make a powder for seasoning. Raw ginger is not recommended for children below 2 years old and a maximum of 3-4 grams of extract per day is advisable for optimal benefits and consumption.