I was skeptical about growing ginger in Vermont. Isn’t ginger a tropical plant? But none the less, a decade ago I was gifted a ginger rhizome from a friend that had recently traveled to Hawaii so I decided to give it a try. To my surprise, it not only grew, it thrived!
In a shady corner of my drafty 1850’s schoolhouse home, my ginger plant completely took over a 20-inch pot in just a few months. Tall stalks reached 4 to 5 feet tall even in a shady corner during the winter months. That ginger lived 5 years with minimal care and lasted through many harvests.
I was sad to lose it when we moved to our off-grid homestead. In the chaos of the move, it was left outside during a frost. While ginger can take a lot of neglect, a frost is asking a bit much.
I later learned that ginger is being grown outdoors as a profitable cash crop by farmers in Vermont and Maine. Local coops and farm stands are starting to carry fresh ginger roots from local farms that are growing it on a large market scale.
I was ecstatic when my friends at Green Mountain Girls Farm recently gifted me a number of freshly harvested ginger rhizomes. Time to get planting!
For science, I decided to plant two of the largest rhizomes of locally grown Vermont ginger, alongside a store-bought organic ginger. Unless you’re planning on growing ginger commercially, expensive seed ginger rhizomes aren’t necessary.
Start with any organic ginger root. Organic is important, as conventional ginger is often treated with chemicals to prevent sprouting.
If you’re looking for a particularly striking houseplant (that you can still eat) try growing a ginger cultivar that has been selected for beautiful flowers. This package of 4 flowering gingers includes a red, blue, white and yellow variety.
Regardless of the source of your ginger, begin by soaking it in warm water for 24 hours.
I’ve had better success starting ginger that I’ve had sitting on a windowsill in direct sunlight for a few weeks before soaking, as the sunlight helps stimulate bud formation. That’s not strictly necessary, but it can help.
After 24 hours of soaking in warm water, plant your ginger rhizome with the buds pointed upward. Use a relatively shallow, wide pot if you have one available, but just about any pot will do to get you started.
Ginger wants to grow horizontally, so the wider the pot the better your ginger will fare. For indoor growing, windowsill planters tend to work well because they’re wide and relatively shallow.
If you want to really produce ginger in quantity indoors, try growing your ginger in a wide flat bonsai planter. This 18” shallow bonsai pot is ideal. The size will let your ginger grow unchecked, and allow for bigger indoor harvests.
Plant your ginger in a rich potting mix, amended with compost.
Be sure that the sprouting buds are pointing upwards and very near the surface. I like to pull the soil back from the bud tips to allow them a bit of sunlight to help stimulate growth.
Be patient, it can take ginger roots 2 to 4 weeks to get going even in optimal conditions. Ideally, keep your pot in a warm space, 75 to 80 degrees, and water lightly. The soil should be moist, but not soaking.
If you’re in a particularly cold region and you just can’t keep your house warm, consider a seedling heat mat to keep the soil temperature up just for sprouting. Heat mats are great for getting any garden seeds off to a good start, so you’ll be able to use them, again and again, to get things growing.
In the long term, indoor ginger wants filtered sunlight through a south-facing window. They don’t need anything particularly strong, and indoor light is plenty to keep them healthy so long as they’re kept warm.
After a few months, once your ginger is established, you can begin harvesting around the edges of your pot. Use your fingers to unearth a bit of rhizome, and cut a small portion off with a sharp knife. Replace with potting soil or compost, and allow your ginger to continue to grow. In this way, you can harvest ginger from a single pot forever.
If for some reason you just can’t get ginger to sprout, you can always start with pre-sprouted ginger in a pot. This ginger plant comes pre-sprouted in a pot and has striking red flowers.
To see how farmers in the northeast are growing ginger commercially in high tunnels outdoors, follow these instructions from Fedco Seeds.
Great post on growing ginger indoors! Thank you for sharing.
Great post! Loved seeing the pictures of those huge rhizomes, so beautiful! I’m definitely going to try this, I’d love to have some homegrown ginger. Thanks for sharing!
Did you read the article?
Can you start a plant from the ginger you buy in the store?
Yes. Soak it in water for 24 hours and then plant it. Buy organic ginger, conventional may have been treated with something to prevent sprouting.
I bought a big piece of ginger at a produce market. Left it sitting on the countertop. Next thing I knew it was growing new sprouts. Right now it’s just sitting in a shallow dish with no water or soul and is still growing!
Wonderful! I’m so glad it’s working for you =)
Yes you certainly can and that’s where I found mine. There are several Korean store within a mile from my house. I picked out a piece which has some sprouts already on them. It’s planted in my garden in the partial sun and hot, hot shade here in the Atlanta areal So far it’s been in the ground for about three weeks and is now about 8 inches high.
Thanks for the shallow pot idea. I grew it one year. I heard that it isn’t a forever plant. My leaves wilted and dried up around 5 months and then I harvested it. How did you get yours to live so long? Same thing with turmeric.
PS I took them outside in the summer and brought them back in in the winter..
Ours densely filled the pot and created a huge mass of foliage. It stayed like that for years, sending up new shoots to replace the older ones. At least ours lived like a perennial. I never took it outside though (until we moved and I killed it…)
The new ones we just started (for this post) are going strong, and their shoots are several feet tall already. We’ll see if they die back after a few months.
Great post, Ashley! My sister gave me a sprouting ginger root and I am goint to give it a bash too!
Enjoyed reading about natural uses of ash and growing ginger. I plan to relocate to a farm in the near future and so hope to make use of a variety of your recommendations.
Thank you for this post as I know nothing about growing ginger and was wondering how I could harvest and how long the ginger plant may last. My neighbor gave me a soaked ginger root a few months ago so I threw it in soil to see what would happen. It’s already about 3ft tall and I’m seeing another rhizome peaking out. Do you cut from the side of the rhizome to harvest and leave the tip in tact so it will keep growing the new shoot?
The Happy Accidental Ginger Farmer
Ours quickly took over a pot and I’d just take a knife into the soil and chop out a hunk, then burry it back over. It literally filled the whole pot and was popping out of the soil everywhere. It didn’t really seem to notice my harvests and kept coming back to fill the space again.
BALJIT S SOHAL
very good and informative. I like the step by step information we get at your site.Thanks
Got to have a go at this.
I get through a lot of the stuff.
I eat it like apples, always have a chunk in a pocket!
Fantastic post, thank you. How is the new ginger you planted doing now? Did it stay green over the entire winter or go dormant?
It’s doing great, and yes it’s green right now even in a Vermont January.
Hi, thanks for the wonderful post.
Does the mature store bought ginger that’s budded grow as quickly in the growing season as the fresh baby ginger rhizomes with buds? Does one bud sooner than the other?
I’m also wondering what the difference is in terms of the harvest windows for either plant? Does the baby ginger have a quicker harvest window or will the store bought one’s also have the same harvest period from your experience? I have the option to try sprouting the store bought one again, as it failed last time by me just letting it sit in soaking water by a window. Im willing to try the option order much more expensive baby ginger rhizomes in the post for April, if there is evidence that the baby ginger rhizomes have a shorter harvest window which I am keen on.
Kind regards and much love, thanks for your awesome website again!
Any organic ginger root should work just fine.
Scent & Spice
Thank you for your great article.I’ve included a link to your post on my website!
I need help.. I have grown ginger in pots and outside in my flower beds for three years.. When it gets cold I bring them into my basement that has enough light for over wintering. I have dug up and cut pieces from the rhizomes many times.. they never taste like ginger.. not really any taste at all. What am I doing wrong? I know that i have planted them too deep after reading your article. Not sure what else… This is over a period of three years… always the same results and from different plantings. What am I doing wrong?
I wonder if maybe you have a different type of ginger? Did you plant it from grocery store ginger. Not only does it have a strong ginger flavor, but you should be able to smell it anytime you’re digging in the dirt…I’d say maybe you have the wrong cultivar somehow? Try doing the same treatment this coming spring, but organic grocery store ginger that has been sprouted and it’ll taste exactly like the storebought variety (only fresher).
All of them are from the grocery store…They always have beautiful blooms
That’s so strange…I honestly have no idea what could be the problem?
I’m going to try again in the spring. I live in northcentral PA I have no trouble getting them to grow. Maybe instead of using grocery store ginger I’ll buy some knobs from a seed co. Can;t be much different but I won’t give up Thanks for your encouragement!
I have been growing Ginger in my kitchen for the past 3 or 4 years. It will send up a few stalks then die back a little then send up a few more then die back again, over and over, plus mine have never bloomed. I have not tried to harvest any but the leaves and stalks smell wonderful. I have started saving the stalks to use in straw crafts as they are very sturdy, not unbreakable but sturdy enough to use with care.
Would you know why my ginger is so sparse and without flowers?
They are in a deep pot but 9 1/2″ wide, could the pot be too deep? Which doesn’t make sense if they will grow outside in the biggest pot possible.
Do you take it outdoors at all in the summer or does it stay inside year round?
most straightforward post on growing ginger and tumeric for mere mortals instead of farmers! thanks my ginger root and tumeric root just arrived from Fedco and i now have some ideas about how to grow it.
Will ginger from store grow if it’s not organic?
It might, but it’s sometimes treated with chemicals to prevent sprouting. Organic ginger is more dependable and sprouts easier because it’s not treated.
Black Walnut Botanical Conference
Hi Ashley, this is such a cool post – thanks! When you say to soak it in warm water for 24 hours….I’m wondering how to keep the water warm? Gratitude
Just warm-ish water like blood warm (98 degrees F) to room temperature (70 degrees F), it doesn’t really need to be kept warm, the idea is just not to shock the ginger with cold water from the tap. Our tap water comes out at around 45 degrees from our well year-round, I should probably go in and clarify that in the article.
Grow mine in pots on the balconies of my house here in Spain , leaves room in my garden for flowers and more space taking plants such as tomatoes and vegetables . Perfect weather here all round