Growing Gingers

Growing Gingers
Zingiber Officinale, otherwise known as True Ginger, is the source of Ginger that is used in cooking. The rhizomes of this plant are dug up and ground, chopped or left whole and sent to local grocery stores. In early spring, it is possible to purchase a rhizome of ginger and plant it in your yard. The best rhizome to look for is a fresh, not dried, piece that has one to two inch long sections with well developed growth buds. Given proper growing conditions, the stems will reach two to four feet tall with narrow, glossy green leaves that can get up to a foot long. Occasionally, your ginger will produce yellowish-green with a purple lip marked yellow flower, although this is rarely seen. Rhizomes may be harvested at any time, but should be allowed to grow for at least three to four months before taking your first harvest.


Other types of Ginger also exist, and these fall more into the ornamental category. Otherwise known as Alpina, these perennials are evergreen in zones twenty-two to twenty-seven, but in the rest of the world, they are only hardy to about fifteen degrees Fahrenheit. Although the tops of these plants will die back in cool weather, the rhizomes will produce new shoots in the spring. Ginger’s prefer a lightly shaded, wind-free spot with good soil. Do not expect your Ginger to bloom until it has been there for at least two years. Flowered canes should be removed yearly.


Alpina Sanderae, commonly called Variegated Ginger, will grow up three to four foot tall, with eight inch striped green and white leaves. Another commonly grown ginger is the Alpina Zerumber (A. Nutans, A. Speciosa), or Shell Ginger (Shell Flower). These Ginger’s are native to Polynesia and tropical Asia. These are the most popular of the Alpinas that are grown in Florida, not only because they are the grandest of all the Ginger’s, but because they also have the best year-round appearance. These Ginger’s can grow eight to nine feet tall with shiny leaves that grow two foot long and five inches wide. The leaves have distinct parallel veins with stems that are maroon at maturity. The flowers are a waxy white or pinkish, shell-like, and very fragrant. The flowers have red, purple, or brown markings that grow in pendant clusters on arching stems in late summer.


Growing Ginger’s can be very rewarding. Be sure to keep your humidity high or mist regularly and give them light shade and rich soil. Many other Ginger’s exist that have not been covered here, but the basic requirements are the same. If you can’t find a Ginger plant in your area, just go to your local grocery store and grow the True Ginger. At least you will get a feel for the plant fairly cheaply that way and also some fresh ginger to cook with.





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