Ginger root is a plump and firm root with somewhat tan outer skin and white, yellow, reddish, or blue flesh, depending on the variety. Its texture is rough and knobby with striations. A healthy root will have fingers, or tips, that are somewhat greenish. The best roots to get you started should be large, fat, and at least 2 inches long and 2 inches wide. Some roots will also have sprouting eyes, or little nodes, which tend to sprout leaves. If left to grow and not harvested, the root can turn into a plant that's a couple of feet tall with spiky leaves.
|Botanical Name||Zingiber officinale|
|Common Name||Ginger root, ginger|
|Mature Size||2-3 ft. if turned into a plant|
|Sun Exposure||Indirect sun, partial sun|
|Soil Type||Moist, but well-drained|
|Soil pH||Mildly acidic|
|Native Area||Southeast Asia|
Ginger Root Care
Ginger is a popular ingredient in stir-fry cooking, Asian cuisines, and many homemade herbal remedies. It is easy to find at most grocery stores but can be very expensive to purchase. If you like to use this tasty root very often, you may find that growing it yourself will save you money, ensure that your ginger has not been treated with any unwanted chemicals, and allow you to always have some on hand for cooking.
If you grow any plants indoors, then you will be able to successfully grow ginger root. Soon, you will be looking for ways to use all the ginger root that you have. You can use ginger in baking, create drinks like ginger lime cocktails, or add it to your menu of other herbal teas.
Growing ginger indoors is no different than growing another herb; the root is the rhizome of a flowering ginger plant. You can grow ginger root outdoors, but it is a tropical plant that requires care to stop rot. For personal use, ginger root is best grown indoors.
Giving ginger root the ideal light is a bit tricky. You may have to tweak your indoor garden area to suit the ginger root's particular needs. A sunny window may not even provide enough warmth for the root. In addition, ginger root also likes partial sunlight.
The potting soil should be well-drained and nutrient-rich. It should remain moist but never soaking. Keeping the soil well-drained to prevent the root from rotting.
Mist your ginger root plant every other day. Keeping on a schedule ensures that the ginger never dries out; if it does, it will stunt its growth forever.
Temperature and Humidity
Along with humidity, ginger root likes a warm environment. Keep your indoor temperatures at least 75 degrees. Keep your ginger root growing happily by providing plenty of humidity in the air by misting regularly with water.
If your soil is ideal, fertilizer is not necessary. But you can treat the root to organic liquid fertilizer or fish emulsion every couple of months until it's established. Once the root begins growing, add the liquid fertilizer every three or four weeks.
Ginger Root Varieties
Culinary ginger is not fancy to look at. If you prefer more of a houseplant, consider other varieties of ornamental flowering ginger plants that make stunning blossoms that smell fabulous and have variegated foliage. Here are three common ginger root varieties to try growing:
- Baby ginger root is a young version of a common ginger root with light brown or off-white skin and bright yellow and less fibrous flesh. It's much milder in taste, though it may have a slight floral or peppery flavoring, and does not have as pungent a fragrance as yellow ginger.
- Hawaiian yellow ginger root, also called yellow ginger root, is sweeter and less pungent than other common varieties. In some areas of Hawaii, it is considered an invasive weed.
- Blue Hawaiian ginger root is a cross between Hawaiian yellow ginger root and a species of Indian ginger.
Potting and Repotting Ginger Root
You need to buy the best root possible for good planting results. If purchasing a root from the supermarket, look for a plump, smooth-skinned ginger root, since that will indicate it is healthy. Do not use one that looks skinny and shriveled. This indicates that the root has been stored too long and has become old. Look for organic ginger roots to plant; non-organic roots may not sprout due to additives.
- Start by soaking the whole ginger root in warm water overnight.
- After soaking, use a pot that's at least 12 inches deep and has plenty of drainage holes.
- Fill the pot with soil. Feel free to add rich soil, like composted worm manure mixed with potting soil.
- Cut your soaked ginger root into pieces, allowing a few bumps per piece.
- Press the ginger root 2 to 5 inches into the soil and cover lightly.
- Cover the ginger root with enough potting soil so that the root is not readily visible but so that you can still pull aside the soil lightly to check on the growth.
A trick to keep the humidity higher and ensure proper drainage is to place your pot on a tray of small stones. Keep the tray full of water. This way, it is always evaporating and adding moisture directly to the plant. Having the pot raised on the stones keeps the potted ginger from sitting right in the water, which encourages rot.
Harvesting Ginger Root
Once your ginger root has successfully continued to grow, you can begin to harvest what you would like to use. Dig up a rhizome, and cut off a piece. As long as you replant another piece, you can continue to have fresh ginger for years to come.