It’s not every day you grow a plant from something you’ve purchased in the produce section of your grocery store, but ginger is just the thing you can! Whether you consider ginger an herb or a spice, it isn’t only a fantastic addition to your kitchen—and meals—but it’s also super easy to grow at home. Keep reading, as we’ll walk you through the steps on how to grow ginger from your store-bought ginger root and turn it into a hearty, homegrown kitchen supply from your own garden.
First, let’s talk about the elephant in the room—or to be more precise, the rhizome. Ginger root isn’t actually a root but what's called a rhizome. Rhizomes are the tubular parts of the plant that will crawl along and sprout new shoots and new roots to keep the plant expanding. Grass grows similarly. So when you’re at the store selecting the best ginger specimen, remember that you’re not looking at the root but at the rhizomes.
Finding the perfect ginger rhizome is vital to ensuring success when growing it for production.
Step 1: Search for a specimen that isn’t dried out or soggy. These are likely dead and won’t result in a plant.
Step 2: Look for signs of growing points, which look like little horns or points on the ginger. These prove that the ginger is ready to grow.
Step 3: Select at least three or four healthy ginger rhizomes with good growth points. Gather as many of these ideal rhizomes as you like, but we suggest starting with three or four to ensure you have success with at least one.
Often, store-bought ginger is treated with a growth retardant to reduce the risk of it sprouting while in the store. This can obviously make it harder to grow for a home gardener, but soaking the rhizome in water overnight can help remove this treatment and allow the plant to grow. While there are many theories on how to best root up a ginger plant, the truth is that many of them work, and it’s up to you to choose the one you’d like to try.
Step 1: Fill a bowl or other container with water.
Step 2: Add the ginger rhizome to the water-filled bowl and let it soak overnight to remove any growth retardants on the ginger.
All of these methods have been proven to work. Decide which you’d like to try, or get enough ginger to try all three and see which one is most successful for you!
Step 1: To propagate in water, leave the ginger in water until you see roots that are 1 to 2 inches long. Then put the rhizome in a pot or plant it in the ground outside.
Step 2: If you don't wish to water propagate, you can use wet paper towels and a plastic bag to wrap up the rhizome and seal it in a warm, moist environment. Wait for roots to show up and then plant the rhizome in the ground or in a pot.
Step 3: If you don't want to water propagate or wait until roots appear, wait until the ginger rhizome has soaked overnight and then plant it directly in the ground or a pot to see if it begins to take root.
No matter which method you use to achieve healthy ginger roots, your ginger will eventually end up in soil. Whether you're planting the ginger in a pot or directly in the ground, it’s crucial to use nutrient-rich soil that will hold moisture but not become waterlogged.
Step 1: Ginger doesn’t need a lot of space and doesn’t seem to mind being a bit crowded, so choose a pot that is neither tiny nor too large.
Step 2: Mix the potting soil with slow-release fertilizer to give the ginger plant plenty of food.
Step 3: Position the rhizomes so that the roots are pointing down and the baby shoots are pointing up. This can be difficult to determine at first, so take time to study the plant first.
Step 4: If you're planting your ginger rhizome directly in the ground instead of a pot, amend the soil with fertilizer first to give the ginger the nutrients it needs to thrive. Just like in a pot, make sure the rhizome's roots are pointing down into the soil and the new plant shoots are pointing up.
Caring for a ginger plant means keeping the soil moist, but not waterlogged. As with most plants, ginger doesn’t want to sit in water for long periods. However, it’s a tropical plant and wants access to moisture year round. If you live in a drier climate, this means you'll need to water the plant more often and check it more frequently.
If your local climate is very dry, you may want to consider growing ginger indoors, where you can control how much water and humidity it gets. Similarly, if you’re in a colder climate where frosts come early in the season, it’s smart to plant your ginger in a pot so you can bring the plant indoors during the winter. Wherever you grow your ginger, be sure it’s not in direct sunlight, as it prefers partial to full shade.
When will it finally be time to harvest that delicious ginger? The older the ginger plant is, the better it will taste.
Step 1: If possible, allow your ginger plant to grow for two to three years. However, you can harvest after the first year when the leaves die back.
Step 2: To keep the fresh ginger cycle going, select good specimens of your ginger plant to replant next season. Look for healthy, firm rhizomes with lots of growth points.
While it might not be as easy as one, two, three, growing ginger from store-bought rhizomes is much easier than it might seem at first. It can also be a great science project for kids—and a tasty one!
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