Ginger is a root cluster (i.e., rhizome) belonging to the family Zingiberaceae and finds uses in medicine and cooking. The example of this is true root ginger (Zingiber officinale), which is planted for its culinary and medicinal values, whereas white and red gingers are popular garden plants grown for their magnificent blooms. Besides these, the wild ginger species is used as a ground cover.
True root ginger plant is a must-have in every herb garden. Other than the innumerable health benefits of its root, you can also use the leaves to flavor tea or to make ginger tea, along with many other food recipes. A healthy garden ginger plant can grow to a height of 2-4 feet with narrow, glossy leaves measuring about 1 foot in length. If retained for more than 2 years without uprooting, the plants bear yellowish-green flowers.
For propagation of ginger, you can follow the same methods as for any other rhizomatous plant. For many hobbyists, they are probably the most neglected plants in the garden as it is very easy to grow and maintain them. Following are some of the basic requirements for successfully growing this plant in your garden:
- Soil Condition
In order to have healthy plants, make sure that the soil is well-drained and rich in nutrients. If planted in humus soil, there is no need for regular fertilization. In case of poor soil though, you can add a heavy dose of farmyard compost at the time of plantation and supplement it with a slow-release liquid fertilizer every 2 - 3 weeks.
- Light Requirement
Wild ginger plants grow under the canopy of larger trees, thus, exposing them to indirect or filtered light. Consequently, ginger plants require filtered sunlight (not direct sun) to grow in gardens.
- Preferable Temperature
Tropical temperature range falling between 70 - 80ºF is ideal to grow these plants in gardens. They cannot tolerate temperatures below 60ºF. Considering this, it is also understandable that they cannot stand harsh winds and heavy frost. Thus, ensure that you prepare plastic sheets before arrival of frost to protect your ginger plants.
- Humidity Level
These plants grow best in high humidity levels, which may be difficult to maintain in an open garden. Hence, if possible, plant ginger in a partially shaded area that is warm and moist. In case of dry air, especially during winter months, you can practice misting and spraying the leaves with water.
- Watering Frequency
Ginger plants need lots of water, especially during the active growing season. This does not mean that you should water heavily every day though, as it will lead to water-logging and draining away of all the nutrients from soil. The trick is not to let the top soil dry out completely.