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How to Grow Your Own Ginger for Cooking or Beauty

Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is simple enough to grow at home. The main thing that it requires is patience!

potted ginger plant

Here’s how to grow your own ginger plant:

• You can use a ginger root from the food market.
• Start your ginger by placing the root in some potting soil. Don’t bury it like a potato; just press it into the soil. You can plant the whole root or break off side shoots. The roots grow from open/cut sides, so the smaller pieces may work better. Just as a test, we did both. We found the opposite was true—the larger piece fared much better for us.
• Ginger has tiny little nodules on it; they look like little spikes. This is where the green growth will come from. Don’t worry if you can’t see them. They are there.
• Mist the root to get it moist and continue as needed to keep it moist. Place in a warm area. After about a week the nodules will begin to sprout and roots will grow.
• When the weather is continually above 50˚F—some time after the last spring frost—you can bring the ginger outside. At this point it can be transplanted into the ground or remain in the pot. Ginger takes anywhere from 230-300 days to mature. That’s quite a spread, but in any case it definitely does not like frost. We kept ours in the pot, as the season is relatively short here in the Northeast.
• Ginger can take some shade, so almost any location is suitable. We have not read anything about it being invasive, but if you do plant it in the ground we would suggest keeping it out of the main garden just to be safe.
• Before the frost, bring the ginger back indoors. Presumably, the longer it has to grow, the bigger the roots will become. Bigger isn’t always better; the roots can get tough.
• We placed our pot outdoors during the summer and it thrived. Come September it was a few feet tall, and not a bad-looking houseplant. Back indoors it came as the weather started to get cooler.
• Now it has been 10 months and we are ready to harvest some. Not all, though. In the meantime we have seen pictures of ginger flowers. This is something we now want to experience up close.

Gardening Jones is a Pennsylvania master gardener. Learn more at her personal blog.
Ginger is a root crop. Learn how to grow other root crops, including staples like onions and potatoes, in Horticulture's download "Root Crops."

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Find a taste of the exotic and unusual in your own back yard with The Complete Guide to Edible Wild Plants.