As a low desert gardener, it’s exciting to learn how to grow a crop that I already use, is good for you, and grows well in warm climates. Ginger definitely qualifies on all three accounts. Learning how to grow ginger is easy, and growing it is even simpler (especially if you live in a warm climate). 

Ginger is a heat-loving, tropical perennial herb grown for its bamboo-like leaves and flavorful rhizomes. It is grown as a long-season annual in all but the warmest locations. 

This article includes information for how to grow ginger in warm climates and cool climates too. There are also tips for learning how to grow ginger in containers and how to grow ginger indoors.  

How to Grow Ginger: 8 Tips for Growing Ginger

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8 Tips for How to Grow Ginger

1. Understand how ginger grows

Ginger is grown from rhizomes. Rhizomes are fleshy stems that spread horizontally underground and contain several buds or growing points. The ginger rhizomes are planted below ground and send up bamboo-like shoots that give energy to the developing ginger below ground. 

Ginger shoots emerge from the ground when the weather is nice and warm in the spring. Throughout the long days and warm months of summer, ginger grows well. As the days get shorter and cooler, the leaves turn yellow as the ginger begins to go dormant.  

How to Grow Ginger: 8 Tips for Growing Ginger
Ginger rhizomes
How to Grow Ginger: 8 Tips for Growing Ginger
Ginger shoots above ground
How to Grow Ginger: 8 Tips for Growing Ginger
Ginger developing below ground

2. Purchase and prepare ginger before planting

You can buy ginger online from seed companies, but you can also purchase organic ginger from your local market. I get mine at Sprouts. When purchasing ginger rhizomes for planting, look for light-colored, thin-skinned organic ginger that is plump and firm with several bumpy nodules. 

To prepare ginger for planting, cut rhizomes into 2″-3″ pieces (each piece containing at least 2 to 3 nodules). Allow cut ends to dry and heal over before planting.

How to Grow Ginger: 8 Tips for Growing Ginger

3. Give ginger plenty of time to grow

Ginger needs a long, warm growing season of about 10 months to grow well. 

Zones 8 and warmer generally have enough time to start and grow ginger outdoors. Plant outdoors after your last frost date and when the soil warms in the spring. In the low desert of Arizona, plant ginger in March.

Plant rhizomes with nodules pointing up 2″ deep and 6″–8″ apart. 

For square foot gardening, plant 4 ginger rhizomes per square foot.

How to Grow Ginger: 8 Tips for Growing Ginger
Plant 4 ginger per square foot when square foot gardening
How to Grow Ginger: 8 Tips for Growing Ginger
Ginger shoots above ground

In cooler climates, you will need to pre-sprout rhizomes indoors before planting. Count back 10 months from your first fall frost date. This is the time to begin pre-sprouting your ginger. 

To pre-sprout ginger, plant rhizomes 2″ deep in small pots on heat mats. Keep warm and slightly moist (but not soggy; it will rot). Once ginger sprouts, provide supplemental lighting until it is warm enough to plant outside. Gradually let plants become accustomed to outdoor conditions for a week and then carefully transplant sprouts to larger containers or garden beds outdoors. 

How to Grow Ginger: 8 Tips for Growing Ginger
Pre-sprout ginger indoors in cooler climates
How to Grow Ginger: 8 Tips for Growing Ginger
Provide light and heat for growing ginger

4. Give ginger plenty of warmth

Ginger does not grow well in temperatures below 55°F. Temperatures below freezing cause damage to the leaves and also kills the rhizomes. 

In cooler climates, choose your warmest location to plant ginger. Look for an area that gets reflected heat from a block wall. Consider planting ginger in a container. Containers often heat up more quickly in the spring. Move the container to a sheltered location when temperatures fall. 

How to Grow Ginger: 8 Tips for Growing Ginger

To grow ginger in containers:

  • Use a container for growing ginger that is at least 12 inches deep.
  • Container-grown ginger may need more frequent watering and fertilizer.
  • Harvest container-grown ginger by dumping it onto a tarp or into a wheelbarrow. 

To grow ginger indoors:

  • Provide supplemental lighting for ginger for 12 – 14 hours.
  • Ideal indoor temperature: 75°F
  • May require supplemental feeding.
How to Grow Ginger: 8 Tips for Growing Ginger

In hot summer locations, provide shade for growing ginger. Although it prefers warm soil, intense sun often damages the growing leaves. Look for an area to plant ginger that receives shade naturally, or provide shade for growing ginger. 

5. Give ginger good soil and fertilize as needed

The best soil for ginger is rich in organic matter and well-draining. Rich, loose soil may provide enough nutrients for growing ginger. Mulching the soil with additional compost or straw helps provide nutrients, control weeds, and retain water. 

While ginger is growing, you can add a few inches of compost to growing ginger sprouts, similar to “hilling” potatoes. This can encourage more growth in the rhizomes. 

If your ginger is not growing well, consider feeding every few weeks with an organic fertilizer such as liquid seaweed or fish emulsionTesting your soil will help you know exactly what the soil is lacking. 

How to Grow Ginger: 8 Tips for Growing Ginger

6. Water ginger correctly

Ginger grows best with regular water, especially when the plant is actively growing. Well-draining soil is important as the rhizomes do not like soggy conditions. Do not overwater. As temperatures cool, reduce watering.

How to Grow Ginger: 8 Tips for Growing Ginger

7. Harvest ginger at the right time

In cool climates, harvest ginger all at once before freezing temperatures. In warmer climates, harvest ginger after the leaves begin to yellow and die back. Wait to harvest as long as possible for the largest rhizomes. 

To harvest, gently dig up the entire plant. In warm areas, you can leave the ginger in the ground and harvest as needed. Plants will go dormant during the cooler months and shorter days of winter, but new shoots will emerge in the spring. 

How to Grow Ginger: 8 Tips for Growing Ginger

8. Preserve harvested ginger in a variety of ways

After harvesting ginger, rinse it well and then cut off shoots and large roots. Use the leaves in tea. 

Store fresh ginger in the refrigerator or freezer in plastic resealable bags. Unpeeled ginger keeps for about a month in the refrigerator or up to a year frozen.

How to Grow Ginger: 8 Tips for Growing Ginger

Dehydrate ginger by peeling (young, fresh ginger may not need to be peeled) and slicing. Dehydrate at 95°F for 8-12 hours or until ginger is crisp and breaks when bent. I use this dehydrator from Amazon

Store dehydrated slices in a glass jar with an airtight lid. Process small amounts of the sliced ginger into powder. Once ground, the powder will begin to lose flavor so grind only a small amount at a time.

How to Grow Ginger: 8 Tips for Growing Ginger
How to Grow Ginger: 8 Tips for Growing Ginger
How to Grow Ginger: 8 Tips for Growing Ginger
How to Grow Ginger: 8 Tips for Growing Ginger

Process peeled ginger (young, fresh ginger may not need to be peeled) with a small amount of water in the blender. This is the blender I use. Freeze in herb or ice cube trays. Use individual portions as needed. When processed this way, ginger lasts up to about a year in the freezer.

How to Grow Ginger: 8 Tips for Growing Ginger
How to Grow Ginger: 8 Tips for Growing Ginger
How to Grow Ginger: 8 Tips for Growing Ginger
How to Grow Ginger: 8 Tips for Growing Ginger
How to Grow Ginger: 8 Tips for Growing Ginger
How to Grow Ginger: 8 Tips for Growing Ginger
How to Grow Ginger: 8 Tips for Growing Ginger
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