How Long Does It Take To Grow Ginger? (5 Key Things To Know)


I’ll be honest – ginger wasn’t on my radar until recently. I eat it every so often, but never enough to justify the plant taking up space in my garden. I’d heard that ginger was hard to grow and took a long time to produce. While it is true that ginger has a long growing season, it’s far from difficult. It’s really a sit-and-forget-it crop that’s well worth the wait!

Ginger is a tropical herbaceous plant that takes between eight and ten months to grow from the time of transplant to harvest. For this reason, it’s essential to start with viable rhizomes and pre-sprout the rhizomes before planting. Gardeners with shorter growing zones benefit from growing ginger in pots than can be brought inside during the cooler months. 

Read on to learn about the best tips and tricks for growing ginger in your home garden. 

Why you should grow your own ginger

You might be familiar with the aromatic spice, but there are so many more reasons to grow ginger. Although commonly called ginger root, the part of the plant that we harvest and cook with is technically a rhizome. Rhizomes aren’t roots, but pieces of underground stem that hold starches. 

ginger root 2
A ginger rhizome (a piece of underground stem) is used as an aromatic spice in cooking

Ginger rhizomes have a thick, light brown skin that needs peeling prior to cooking. The flesh inside is usually a creamy yellow, but can also be pink or white. In the same family as cardamom and turmeric, ginger grows between two and three feet tall and resembles wild grass. 

Versatile culinary spice

Ginger is a delicious spice that pairs well with sweet and savory dishes, present in everything from baked goods to stir-fries to carbonated beverages. Grocery stores sell ginger as a rhizome, ground powder, dried and sliced, and even pickled. You can prepare ginger any of the ways in your home kitchen, with homegrown rhizomes that taste better and last longer.

ginger powder

A productive plant, each ginger stem produces an average of two pounds of rhizomes per plant. At the time of writing, ginger root has a market value of a little over a dollar per pound – so it might be worth it to sell some at your local farmer’s market if you have a larger harvest than you need!

Effective herbal medicine

Ginger has a number of uses in herbal medicine. The herb has antibacterial and antiviral properties, so it’s a good spice to have on hand during flu season. Ginger tea is commonly used to soothe upset stomachs and alleviate nausea. 

ginger roots
Ginger is a desirable plant that is useful in cooking and herbal medicine, so it could sell well at Farmer’s Markets!

Ginger also contains anti-inflammatory properties that help with muscle and joint pain, especially arthritis. There are many more uses of ginger, and scientists and practitioners are discovering more uses of the herb all the time! 

5 tips for growing ginger at home

Ginger is remarkably easy to grow at home – it’s surprising that more growers don’t take advantage of this cash crop.

Just do your best to plant ginger in an area protected from the wind and direct sun, and give the plants consistent moisture. If you start with quality rhizomes, you can’t help but be successful!

daylight
Ginger likes to grow in partial sun, so keep it out of strong direct sunlight.

1. Start with viable rhizomes

Did you know that you can grow ginger from the grocery store? Chinese ginger, or common ginger, is the variety most often found at supermarkets and grocery stores.

These rhizomes can be grown in your home garden – but you’ll want to soak the rhizomes overnight to dissolve away the chemical growth inhibitor most store-bought ginger is treated with. 

ginger root
You can get ginger rhizomes from the grocery store to sprout. Just soak them in water overnight to get rid of sprout inhibitors.

When picking out ginger rhizomes, look for small buds, or “eyes” at the ends of each finger. These are the points from which stems and foliage will grow. Rhizomes should also be firm – pass over any rhizomes that seem soft or shriveled. 

Alternatively, you can buy ginger rhizomes online or from your local plant nursery – a safer bet for your garden, as these rhizomes will be certified disease-free. Check with your local farmers or other growers – you might even be able to find some ginger plants that are already growing, saving you time and effort.

2. Pre-sprout seed ginger

Since ginger’s growing season is long – eight to ten months – many growers choose to pre-sprout ginger to get a jump start on the season. 

In preparation for planting, cut your rhizomes into small pieces an inch or two long. Use a sterilized knife and clean your tool every few cuts to minimize the spread of pathogens between seed pieces.

sprouted ginger
You can cut ginger into small pieces (1 to 2 inches long) and pre-sprout it to prepare for growing season.

Set the pieces aside and allow them to dry out for a few days to callus over, much like you would do with seed potatoes.

You can also pre-sprout ginger so that you know you have viable rhizomes before planting. Chris Enoth from the University of Illinois Extension has an informative YouTube video on pre-sprouting ginger in potting soil, summarized below:

To pre-sprout ginger, take your callused rhizomes pieces and place them, without touching one another, in a flat lined with potting soil. Cover the rhizomes with an inch of potting soil, water, and top with a plastic lid.

empty seed tray
First, fill up a tray with potting soil. Next, put the callused ginger rhizome pieces on the soil surface. Then, cover the ginger with 1 inch of potting soil. Finally, water them and cover with a plastic lid to retain moisture. Keep in a room at 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Store the flat in a room that’s about 80℉, using a heat mat if necessary (you can find other ways to keep seeds or sprouting ginger warm here).

Keep the soil evenly moist, never letting the flat dry out completely. 

The pre-sprouting process could take anywhere between four and six weeks, so have patience and don’t throw in the towel too soon! 

3. Grow ginger indoors and in pots

Ginger is a tropical crop, so you’ll want to wait to plant ginger outside until the ground has thawed and all danger of frost is past.

(You can check the last frost date in your area with this resource from the almanac.com).

frost
Wait until the danger of frost has passed before putting ginger outside.

Many growers pre-sprout ginger and grow the plant in containers for the first few months of its life cycle to get a jumpstart on the season.

Ginger will happily grow in containers all season, and many gardeners leave their ginger plants in pots so that they can easily move the plants inside and outside at will. 

clay pots
You can also use clay pots to start your ginger. Transplant into larger pots later, or move them directly into the soil if you have space in your garden.

When the weather allows, transplant pre-sprouted ginger plants about eight inches apart. Growers in tropical climates can grow ginger year-round. 

To directly sow ginger seed pieces, dig a shallow trench no more than four inches deep and place the ginger seed pieces at six-inch intervals, covering them with soil as you go. If seeding multiple rows, space each row about a foot apart. 

Plant ginger in loamy soil – ginger rhizomes don’t develop well in clay or dense soils. Ginger plants are heavy feeders that require a lot of phosphorus to develop that pungent flavor that we love. Amend the beds with organic compost, bone meal, rock phosphate, and any other high-phosphate fertilizers

ginger sprout sprouted ginger
As ginger plants grow taller, you can hill them with soil, mulch, or straw, just like you would for potatoes.

As your ginger plants grow, hill them with soil or mulch, just like you would with potatoes. Ginger rhizomes are sensitive to sunburn, and hilling ensures that the rhizomes remain underground and continue to grow horizontally. Mulch also works to retain valuable moisture in the rows. 

If your plants aren’t ready to harvest by the time fall rolls around, simply dig up the plants, pot them in containers, and bring them indoors for the winter. Ginger does make an attractive houseplant, after all!

4. Don’t let ginger dry out between waterings

Hoop houses and greenhouses are ideal for growing ginger. A tropical plant, ginger prefers hot, humid conditions that are easily replicable under plastic. Keep ginger plants moist – don’t over water the soil and leave the plants standing in water, but don’t let the plants completely dry out, either. 

If you do grow ginger in a hoop house or greenhouse, use a shade cloth to protect the plants from too much sun. Ginger prefers partial sun – less than six hours of direct sunlight a day.

greenhouse
Use a shade cloth to protect ginger from intense sunlight if growing in a greenhouse or hoop house.

Plastic has the added benefit of protecting ginger plants from wind – if you decide to grow ginger in the field, consider using a windscreen to guard the plants against scorching afternoon sun and strong winds that will dry the plants out even faster.

5. Wait 8-10 months to harvest 

Ginger has a long growing season, so patience is of the essence. Wait eight to ten months from the time of transplanting to harvest ginger rhizomes.

Ginger plants will signify when their rhizomes are ready for harvest. In fall, the foliage will start to yellow and die back.

sprouted ginger root
Ginger foliage is green at first, but starts to turn yellow and die back when the rhizomes are ready for harvest.

When you notice the foliage beginning to droop, stop watering the plants completely, and trim the plant tops. Two or three weeks later, carefully dig up the entire plant, taking care to not break the roots.

Cut the rhizomes from the stem and wash the rhizomes with cool water, gently scrubbing all dirt away. Separate a few rhizomes to use for seed ginger next season, and enjoy the rest however you like to use ginger! 

According to Texas A&M Agrilife Extension, you can store fresh, unpeeled ginger for up to three months in the refrigerator, or up to six months in the freezer. 

Conclusion

If you’re in the market for a new hobby crop, look no further than ginger root. Given the right conditions, ginger is an easy plant to grow and a lucrative crop to harvest. Just make sure you give your ginger plants the heat and moisture they require, and be patient with their long growing season.

I hope you found this article helpful. If so, please share it with someone who can use the information. 

Resources

Enoth, Chris. “Presprouting Ginger: Start growing your own ginger!” YouTube, University of Illinois Extension Horticulture, 17 April 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aGNlrOF9J3Y&ab_channel=UniversityofIllinoisExtensionHorticulture. Accessed 26 July 2022.

Masabni, Joseph, and Stephen King. “Ginger – How long does it take to grow and harvest ginger?” Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, Texas A&M, https://agrilifeextension.tamu.edu/library/gardening/ginger/. Accessed 26 July 2022.

About the author:
When not writing content or growing flowers in her native Virginia, you can find Sarah hiking a long-distance trail deep in the woods. Follow along with Sarah’s adventures at http://sarahcolliecreative.com.

Sarah C.

jonathon.david.madore

Hi, I'm Jon. Let's solve your gardening problems, spend more time growing, and get the best harvest every year!

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