Learn How To Grow Ginger And See It Flourish

Before you get your gardening implements and start growing a ginger root, you should probably know that it is not a root, but is a rhizome. Loosely explained, a rhizome is an underground stem. Now that we have sufficiently flexed on you how much we know, let’s get down to serious business.

Ginger root and ginger powder in the bowl on a wooden table

We imagine you’ve heard good things about ginger. It is versatile and known for calming nausea, maintaining mouth health and easing arthritis. Also you may be wondering if you can grow it in the UK and how to make it? There is a decent amount of information to unpack so let’s get started.

What is ginger and what are its benefits

The roots of ginger have been traced to Southeast Asian countries. It is one of the healthiest spices on the planet and is infused into everything from medicines to biscuits. The ginger rhizomes are part of the Zingiberaceae family and are closely related to cardamom, turmeric, and galangal.

Though part of it grows out of the soul, the stem (what you might call a ginger root) is what we most commonly use for spices. In that form, we simply call it ginger or ginger root. Ginger can be used in many forms including powdered, fresh, pounded, blended, or as oil.

Scientifically speaking, there are many species of ginger plant. However, the top varieties you are most likely to encounter or get regular use out of include:

  • Common ginger
  • Galangal ginger
  • Turmeric ginger
  • Peacock ginger
  • White ginger

Their uses vary, depending on their unique properties. Some are suitable as spices, while others serve better as aphrodisiacs, so you have options to choose from, depending on your goals.

Ginger

Some of the most notable health benefits of ginger include:

1. Gingerol’s properties

The powerful medicinal properties of ginger come from this ingredient. It has been used in traditional medicines to help with digestion, ease nausea, fight the flu and combat the common cold. The unique scent and flavour make it the most recognizable. Gingerol is the bioactive compound that powers the medicinal value of ginger, due to its effective and powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant elements.

2. Nausea treatment

Many people who have used ginger swear by its powerful anti-nausea effects. People who are dealing with vomiting or going through morning sickness can get significant nausea reduction by ingesting the rhizome.

3. Weight loss booster

According to human and animal studies, using ginger as a supplement can help reduce the hip ratio, waist-hip ratio, and body weight. It can also help reduce the body mass index (BMI) and blood insulin levels (commonly associated with obesity).

4. Osteoarthritis

Ginger combats the symptoms of degenerated joints in the body, as a result of Osteoarthritis. You may not like the taste of the ginger but it helps with the pain. Mix topical ginger with cinnamon, mastic, and sesame oil to get the best results.

5. Heart disease risk factors improvement

Though research about this is still relatively new, ginger is a powerful anti-diabetic. It can also improve haemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) (a marker for long-term blood sugar levels). Other factors related to heart health also improved dramatically in people with type 2 diabetes.

Other benefits include:

  • Significant reduction of menstrual pain
  • Treating chronic indigestion
  • Lowering cholesterol levels
  • Improvement in brain function and protection against Alzheimer’s
  • Fighting infections

Now that you know all the good stuff the plant promises to give, let’s get right into the planting stage.

Alternative medicine with ginger

When and where to plant your ginger

Since ginger is a low-maintenance plant, it is easy to grow indoors and can be a great indoor plant, provided you do it right. To begin with, frosty or overly cold climates are a growth inhibitor for ginger. People in very cold climates will have to grow it in a pot indoors and bring it out in the summer.

Ginger does well with partial sunlight and mostly shade, which is ideal for growing it at home. While it grows, it is possible to cut out a piece of ginger and leave the rest in the ground to continue growing.

Check your geographical area’s annual weather patterns if you are planting ginger in the ground. If it is potted, you are clear all year round, provided you bring it in for the winter months.

The best place to plant ginger would have to be in partial shade with fertile, loamy, and well-draining soil suitable for planting. Also, finding the ideal pot for your plants is always important. Ginger can be grown in pots with drainage holes (using potting soil) or in the ground (more on that later).

Step-by-step guide: How to grow ginger indoors and outdoors

The growing season for those planting ginger in the ground is usually in early spring when the cold weather is gone. Even then, conditions need to be kept moist in the ground, through proper watering and mulch use. For growers who want to grow their own ginger houseplants, the process is the same, since it emphasizes keeping the conditions a certain way. Here’s how you grow ginger indoors and outdoors! 

Pick your ginger plant

To grow the plant at home, you need to start with the variety you need. Many can be purchased online, including flowering ginger plants for decoration. The best thing to do is buy organic ginger for planting at your local grocery store. Ornamental types are often inedible, so choose the common edible variety known as Zingiber officinale.

The roots (rhizomes) should be plump and wrinkle-free with small points at the end (growth buds) that have started to turn green (they don’t have to be green though). Most species of Zingiber will grow under the conditions described here but for the best results, follow nursery conditions.

Growing ginger in the pot

Rhizome preparation

The cutting is completely optional and is only for those who want to grow ginger in multiple pots or have more than one plant. Make sure to use clean/sanitized shears. The pieces should not be smaller than 2.5cm (1 inch) wide, with one or more eyes that can grow into a separate plant.

After cutting, leave the pieces to dry and heal for a few days. They will form a callus over the cut surface to reduce infection risks. For each of the pieces, you will need 20cm (8 inches) of space. To save space, plant larger pieces with a better chance of sprouting.

Soil preparation

Ginger doesn’t do well unless you have high-quality and well-draining soil. A mixture of garden soil mixed with well-rotted compost in a 1:1 ratio is a great way to start when you are unsure. If your soil is of poor quality and heavily made of clay, consider buying potting soil.

To make sure that the ginger is well into the green-fingers phase before putting it under the soil, use a starting tray of coconut fibre or sphagnum moss. Because of their excellent drainage, they prevent rot in young ginger plants.

After the tray gets to the leaves and roots stage, you will need to transplant the ginger, which can be difficult on the plant. To make the transition easier, you will need to keep the soil at a temperature of 21 degrees Celsius at first. This can be achieved using a heat mat or other heat sources.

Ginger does well in mildly acidic soil, which is why you should keep the potting mix at between 6.1pH and 6.5pH. To measure the pH, get a garden store pH kit with the proper tools in it.

Location scouting

Ginger grows well in the full shade where it only gets the morning sun. In areas colder than the tropics, ginger should be given 2 to 5 hours of direct sunlight to compensate for the cooler weather.

Keep it away from other large roots, if you plant it in the ground. The location needs to be sheltered from the wind so the humidity is higher than usual but not too wet.

If the ginger plant has not germinated, the potting soil needs to be kept at between 22-25 degrees Celsius. The pots themselves need to be at least 30cm (12 inches) deep. A plastic pot is usually better than other materials, as long as you have drainage holes.

Planting ginger in a pot

Planting ginger

With the buds pointing up (to make the trip to the surface efficient), plant each piece of ginger (2-5inches or 5-10cm) below loose soil. If you pack it, the buds may be hampered. If you plant in the ground in rows, keep the distance between each piece at a minimum of 20cm (8 inches) apart.

How to care for your growing ginger

As it grows, ginger needs the care to thrive and reach maturity in the shortest time possible. Here’s how you do it.

Keep the soil moist/damp

After planting or replanting the ginger rhizomes into the soil, water it lightly to keep it moist. Check on it daily and water it before it completely dries out. However, make sure that you don’t overwater it as this might damage it.

Germination watch

Outside the tropics, ginger doesn’t grow very fast. It could sprout within a few days if you are lucky enough to accurately recreate the tropical plant‘s preferred conditions. However, it could take longer than a few days. Keep watering and caring for at least a couple of weeks before you give up on the idea. The watering regime should still be all about keeping the soil moist.

Fertilize every month

You don’t have to, especially if your soil is already fertile enough. The best thing to do when growing it in the ground is to get the soil tested and then fertilize according to what nutrients are missing. Use complete liquid fertilizer each month.

Outdoor ginger needs mulch

Once ginger sprouts, mulch is the best way to keep the plant warm, the soil moist, and the weeds away. A thick layer of mulch is needed and that is not optional if the soil temperature drops to below 10 degrees Celsius during the plant’s growing season. The ginger plant may not flower in the first or second year of planting or if the growing season is not long enough. Next up, the harvest!

Ginger plants in a basket

When and how to harvest ginger

During late summer or early fall, the temperatures start to drop in many areas that aren’t in the tropics. Reduce the amount of water in the ground once the ginger plant’s stems turn yellow and stop watering entirely when they start to die.

Note: Harvesting should always be done using a sanitized knife.

Maturing the plant

We are about to harvest now. Ginger develops a stronger flavour when allowed time to develop. Wait for the stems to die (at least 8 months after planting) before digging up your rhizome

Harvesting ginger

When the plant is matured (at least 8 – 10 months after planting), you can dig all of it out and then choose the best rhizomes to replant immediately. If you planted it in the ground, you can start by trimming off the top of the plants 2-3 weeks before extraction from the ground.

Use your hands to gently pry the ginger out of the ground. Some growers prefer to eat the baby ginger root, which is usually pickled, tender, mildly flavoured, and without skin or fibres. For that level of maturity, harvest 4 to 6 months after the ginger sprouts.

Ginger on a wooden board

By now, it should be clear that growing ginger is not very difficult. The plant will do all the work, as long as you give it the right environment. Even better, once you have it and you’ve grown it, you might never have to buy ginger again.

Propagate your own ginger when you can. With the right conditions fulfilled, the plant will spread. It is not uncommon to see backyard rhizomes swell up and make new growth buds and multiple stalks. Through propagation, you can grow more, share it with others who want to grow some, and have a continuous supply.

Growing ginger at home allows you the rare opportunity to use fresh ginger as much as you want without being hampered by the cost. Even in cold areas, potting the plant will result in a healthy rhizome you can benefit from.

Nothing is stopping you. Go ahead and get growing.

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