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Ginger is a popular spice used in cooking a variety of dishes, whether that’s the base of curries or in herbal tea where it is known for its medicinal properties. Despite this plant being tropical in origin, you can actually grow this plant and in this blog, we’re going to discuss how to grow ginger, right here in the UK.
We’ll cover how to grow the plant indoors and out, but given that the plant comes from warm, humid environments – we’d opt to grow the plant indoors or in a well-heated greenhouse. That being said if you’re blessed with a particularly sunny garden, then we also discuss growing outdoors.
Introduction to Ginger
Ginger (or Zingiber officinale in Latin, which is a great Latin name to say!) is a tropical plant native to Southeast Asia. It’s a member of the Zingiberaceae family, which also includes turmeric and cardamom.
Ginger has a pungent, spicy flavour and is commonly used in cooking, particularly in Asian cuisine. It’s also known for its medicinal properties, with many people using ginger to aid in digestion and reduce inflammation.
Ginger is easy to grow at home and can be grown in pots or outdoors. It thrives in warm, humid conditions, which makes it a great option for indoor or greenhouse growing in the UK.
How to Grow Ginger Indoors in Pots
As we mentioned, due to the tropical origins of ginger – one of the most successful ways of growing this plant is indoors, ideally in a pot. Many have them in the kitchen window as they grow into great-looking plants, that’s where ours is at Wonky HQ and what we’d suggest if you’re looking into how to grow ginger.
Here’s how to do it:
- Choose a pot that’s at least 12 inches deep and has drainage holes. A pot that’s too small will restrict the growth of the ginger plant.
- Fill the pot with well-draining soil. Ginger likes soil that’s rich in organic matter and plenty of nutrients. You can use a soil mix made for tropical plants or make your own by mixing equal parts potting soil, perlite, and compost.
- Plant your ginger root also known as the ginger rhizome. These rhizomes can be purchased at a nursery or online, though we’ve also seen success with those growing ginger bought at a supermarket. Look for roots that are plump and have a few growth buds on them. Cut the root into pieces, making sure each piece of ginger has at least one bud. Plant the root pieces about 2 inches deep, with the buds facing up. Space the pieces about 6 inches apart.
- Water the soil and keep it moist. Ginger likes consistently moist soil, but be careful not to overwater. The best way to check is to stick your finger about an inch into the soil to check the moisture level. If the soil is dry, it’s time to give the plant some water.
- Place the pot in a sunny spot. Ginger needs plenty of sunlight to grow, so place the pot in a spot that gets at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day.
- Fertilize the plant every two weeks. Use a balanced liquid fertilizer and follow the instructions on the label for the proper dosage.
- Watch for pests. Ginger is generally pest-resistant, but it can be prone to mealybugs and aphids. If you notice any pests, use a natural pest control method, such as neem oil, to eliminate them.
How to Grow Ginger Outdoors
We wouldn’t recommend growing ginger outdoors in many parts of the UK, but the southern parts of the country likely get enough heat and sun – though we’d still suggest bringing the plant indoors as it’s not winter hardy. If you want to try growing Ginger outdoors, then here’s what we’d suggest:
- Choose a sunny spot in your garden. Ginger needs plenty of sunlight to grow, so choose a spot that gets at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day.
- Prepare the soil. Ginger likes well-draining soil that’s rich in organic matter. If your soil is heavy or poorly drained, consider adding compost or perlite to improve the soil structure.
- Plant your ginger root much in the same way as if you were planting in pots as we’ve discussed. Cut the root into pieces and make sure there’s a bud getting ready to grow. Plant 2 inches deep and 6 inches apart again, making sure that the growth bud is pointing upwards.
- Water the soil and keep it moist if possible, remember that ginger doesn’t like to dry out.
- Fertilise the plant in the same way as you would the indoor plant with a liquid fertiliser.
- Although Ginger can withstand the cold, it does not like frozen soil and leaving it in over winter (much like any tuber) runs the risk of rot setting in as the temperature changes through winter – so it might be worth digging up and bringing indoors.
Ginger is ready to harvest in a similar way to onions, garlic or any other bulb/tuber-style vegetable. When the leaves turn yellow and begin to die back you know it’s time to harvest your ginger and hopefully, it will have grown to a decent size.
This usually takes about 8-10 months after planting. To harvest ginger, simply dig up the rhizomes and remove the dirt. You can use a garden fork or trowel to gently loosen the soil around the plant.
Ginger can be harvested at any time, but the flavour is best when the rhizomes are fully mature. You can dig up one and leave the rest in the ground to mature and remember, it’s worth snipping a bit off and allowing a bud to form so that you can start the whole process again!
Growing ginger at home is easy and rewarding. Whether you choose to grow it in pots or outdoors, with a little care and attention, you can enjoy the delicious flavour and medicinal benefits of ginger all year round. Just remember to provide plenty of sunlight, and water regularly, and fertilise every two weeks with those simple methods your ginger plant will thrive and you’ll be cooking up a spicy storm in no time.