Common Ginger

Updated: May 31

Ginger is a flowering plant whose rhizome, ginger root or ginger, is widely used as a spice and a folk medicine. The botanical name of ginger is Zingiber officinale. Ginger is in the family Zingiberaceae, which also includes turmeric, cardamom and galangal. Ginger originated in Maritime Southeast Asia and was likely domesticated first by the Austronesian peoples.



It is a herbaceous perennial which grows annual pseudostems about one meter tall bearing narrow leaf blades. The inflorescences bear flowers having pale yellow petals with purple edges, and arise directly from the rhizome on separate shoots. Ginger may also be referred to as true ginger, stem ginger, garden ginger or root ginger.


Table of Contents


Height(Avg)

2 - 4 feet


Width-Circumference (Avg)

6 - 12 inches


Approximate pH

5.5 - 6.5


Varieties of Ginger


Several cultivars of ginger are grown in different ginger growing areas in India and they are generally named after the localities where they are grown. Some of the prominent indigenous cultivars are Maran, Kuruppampadi, Ernad, Wynad, Valluvanad, Mannathody, Himachal and Nadia. Exotic cultivars such as Rio de Janeiro have also become very popular among cultivators. Green ginger varieties/ cultivars include Rio de Janeiro, China, Wayanad Local and Ashwathy. Dual purpose varieties include Athira, Karthika, IISR-Varadha, IISR-Rejatha, IISR-Mahima.


Rio de Janeiro, Maran Nadan, Suruchi,Suravi, Suprabha, Himagiri,IISR Varada,IISR Mahima and IISR Rejatha Athiraand Karthika are the popular varieties.


  • Assam - Rhizome bold, highly flavoured, highly fibrous

  • Burdwan-1 - Bold, pungent, flavoured

  • Ernad Chernad - Bold, highly pungent and fibrous

  • Gurubathani - Bold, highly pungent and fibrous

  • Himachal Pradesh - Bold, lemon flavoured, dry ginger production

  • Nadia - Slender rhizome, lemon flavoured and less fibrous

  • Wyanad local - Bold, pungent and less fibrous

  • Tura - Rhizome slender, pungent, flavoured and fibrous


Growing Ginger


Sourcing Ginger Rhizomes


Rather than growing from seed, ginger is propagated by rhizome cuttings (which are confusingly called “seed ginger”). Ginger root from the grocery store may be used. However, purchasing from a reputable seed company guarantees fresher, disease-free and — if you wish — certified organic seed ginger. If you do source from the grocery store, look for rhizomes that already have eyes (new growth) emerging. Avoid shriveled, soft or moldy rhizomes. Some nurseries (local and online) sell ginger plants that can be directly planted in spring.


Pre-Sprouting Ginger


Since tropical ginger matures over many months, it needs help from the gardener to produce well over a shorter growing season. Home gardeners can extend the season by pre-sprouting ginger indoors in late winter. If your rhizomes are still dormant, soak in water until pale, tender eyes appear. At this point, rhizomes may be planted in containers or pre-sprouted further to kickstart the season. Rhizomes can be cut into smaller 1 1/2-2 inch pieces and planted one by one. However, planting a palm-sized piece with several eyes will yield a quicker, fuller container planting.


Pre-sprout ginger by preparing a propagation tray (or a wide, shallow pot) with several inches of moist coconut coir or peat moss. Nestle rhizomes into the coir and cover with another 1-2 inches of moistened medium. Then, cover the flat with a humidity dome (if you have one), and place it on a heat mat. Soon, the eyes will become bright green shoots reaching toward the light. Move the flat under grow lights once shoots are visible throughout. Pot each rhizome individually and keep moist until it’s time to harden off and transplant.


Preparing Soil for Ginger


Ginger requires rich, loamy soil with excellent drainage. Since each plant needs a lot of sustenance to produce so many juicy, nutritious rhizomes, ginger requires generously fertile soil. If you’re growing ginger in the garden, make sure the soil is loosened and amended with plenty of compost and other organic matter, as well as a balanced, all-natural fertilizer. For container gardening, seek a crumbly, coffee-colored organic potting mix, or create a soilless mix with coconut coir and compost or worm castings.

Planting Ginger in the Ground


Wait until temperatures are in the 70s during the day and above 55 at night before you plant ginger outdoors. Plant pre-sprouted rhizomes 6-8 inches apart into a trench dug about 6 inches deep, with eyes facing upward. Cover the rhizomes with about 2 inches of soil and keep “hilling” soil over the stems as they grow and turn pink. While this hilling technique isn’t required, it does encourage more rhizomes (similar to growing potatoes).

If you have access to a hoop house or greenhouse, ginger excels in the humid heat of these enclosures. Plant ginger in the understory of a taller crop, where the delicate leaves can be shaded from the sun, which can be quite harsh in greenhouse-type spaces. Since most hobby greenhouses and hoop houses are not heated, start ginger indoors and transplant once temperatures are ideal inside the house.


Depending on your zone and your gardening goals, try planting ginger in a few locations, from in-ground to containers with varying sun, and compare outcomes.


Planting Ginger in Containers


Ginger performs well in containers — perfect for a patio paradise. To encourage vigorous root growth, large containers with ample air flow work well. Containers may yield larger harvests than in-ground plantings if regularly watered and fertilized.


Since rhizomes spread horizontally, choose a pot with plenty of width to accommodate growth (ideally, a width of at least 18 inches and a depth of at least 12 inches). Using a soilless medium like coconut coir encourages good drainage; mix with compost or worm castings for nutrition. If using regular potting soil, choose something rich, but with a fluffy texture. Growing in containers, you can easily move plants around until they look happiest, striking a balance between enough sun to feed rhizomes, and enough shade to protect leaves from yellowing. The further north you live, the more direct sun you will need.


Growing Ginger Indoors


Ginger can be sprouted and potted up anytime as a houseplant. While indoor growth will be less vigorous, it is still worthwhile. Indoors, ginger prefers bright, indirect light and regular watering. Use a rich and well-draining potting mix, and fertilize regularly to encourage rhizome development and leafy growth. Ginger may be grown outdoors through the growing season and moved indoors for winter; this way, you can wait for rhizome skin to thicken before harvesting mature, shelf-stable rhizomes.


Care for Ginger


Watering and Fertilizing Ginger


Ginger requires regular watering and fertilizing. Keep soil evenly moist; do not let it dry between waterings. Drainage is key — roots rot if they sit in heavy, saturated soils. Tending ginger in containers with a nearby hose makes the watering regimen easier to remember. Decrease watering in autumn as temperatures drop.


Fertilize plants monthly through the season to spur root growth. Along with pre-sprouting, fertilizing helps ginger spread eagerly enough for an autumn harvest. Incorporate an all-purpose organic fertilizer at planting time; then, feed monthly with a liquid fish and kelp emulsion. Fruition Seeds offers a granular fertilizer formulated specifically for ginger.


Weeding and Mulching Ginger


Since ginger is needy for nutrients, remove all weeds to eliminate competition. Mulching with a 2 inch layer of leaf mold or straw suppresses weeds and keeps the soil moist, which is essential to success with ginger.


Harvesting, Storing and Drying Ginger



Once you see frost in the forecast in fall, it’s time to harvest ginger. Use a garden fork to gently pry the rhizomes out of the soil. Ginger rhizomes typically spread about 1 foot around the plant’s base; dig outside of that radius to avoid piercing them.


Rinse roots and let them dry on a towel or cooling rack before storing or processing. Ginger stores beautifully in the fridge (short-term) or freezer (long-term). Break the rhizomes into more manageable pieces before storing in a freezer bag or jar. Ginger may also be dehydrated and ground into a powder for years of enjoyment.


Pests and Diseases


Pests


1. Chinese rose beetle Adoretus sinicus


Symptoms: "Shot-hole" appearance of leaves; entire leaf consumed with the exception of the leaf veins; adult insect is a reddish-brown beetle which feeds on plants at night.


Comments: Chinese rose beetles are nocturnal.


Management: Chinese rose beetles are attracted to dim light and repelled by bright light, shining bright light on plants may help deter them from feeding; covering young plants with e.g. floating row covers can help to protect plants until they are old enough to withstand attacks by the beetle.


2. Root-knot nematode and Burrowing nematode


Symptoms: Root knot nematode: Water soaked lesions on roots; Galls on roots which can be up to 3.3 cm (1 in) in diameter but are usually smaller; reduction in plant vigor; yellowing plants which wilt in hot weather. Burrowing nematode: The appearance of small, water-soaked shallow lesions on rhizome which later turn brown. This lesion merges together and leads to rotting. Infected plants show yellow leaves with less number of shoots and stunted growth.


Comments: Galls or lesions can appear as quickly as a month prior to planting; nematodes prefer sandy soils and damage in the areas of the field or garden with this type of soil is most likely.


Management: Plant resistant varieties if nematodes are known to be present in the soil ;check roots of plants mid-season or sooner if symptoms indicate nematodes; solarizing soil can reduce nematode populations in the soil and levels of inoculum of many other pathogens. Treating rhizome with hot water (51°C for 10 minutes) before planting reduces burrowing nematode problem.


Diseases


1. Bacterial wilt Ralstonia solanacearum


Symptoms: Green leaves infected with the pathogen roll and curl ("green wilt"); leaves turn yellow then necrotic; plants become stunted and die; rhizomes are discolored and water-soaked and may be rotting inside.


Comments: Disease is spread via movement of infested soil; bacteria survive in the soil on plant debris.


Management: Plant ginger in well draining soils where ginger had not previously been grown; plant only pathogen free seed; plant ginger on hills to aid soil drainage and promote air flow around the rhizome; rotate ginger with non-hosts of bacterial wilt.


2. Dry rot Fusarium and Pratylenchus complex


Symptoms: Initially the lower leaves exhibit yellow tips followed by complete yellowing. As the disease progress, the upper leaves become yellow. Later the leaves become dry and whole plant appears stunted. Infected rhizome shows brownish ring particularly at cortical region.


Comments: Favors waterlogged fields. Always occurs in patches. When comparing to soft rot the dry rot infected stem won't come off with a gentle pull.


Management: Treating seed with Bordeaux mixture prior to planting and solarizing the soil can help to reduce the incidence of the disease.


3. Rhizome rot/Soft rot/Pythium rot


Symptoms: Stunted plant growth; yellow leaves and stems; brown discoloration of water conducting tissue within stem; root system rotted, mushy and turning black; rotted rhizome gives off a foul odor.


Comments: Disease favors warm, moist soils; spread primarily through use of infected seed pieces which may not show any outward signs of disease.


Management: Plant ginger in well-draining soils or on hills created by tilling; do not plant any seed pieces which show symptoms of disease; seed pieces can be treated with hot water (50°C/122°F for 10 min) or appropriate fungicides prior to planting; destroy all crop debris after harvest; keep fields weed free; do not grow ginger for more than one year in same area.


Benefits of Ginger


Fights Germs


Certain chemical compounds in fresh ginger help your body ward off germs. They’re especially good at halting growth of bacteria like E.coli and shigella, and they may also keep viruses like RSV at bay.


Keeps Your Mouth Healthy


Ginger’s antibacterial power may also brighten your smile. Active compounds in ginger called gingerols keep oral bacteria from growing. These bacteria are the same ones that can cause periodontal disease, a serious gum infection.


Calms Nausea


The old wives’ tale may be true: Ginger helps if you’re trying to ease a queasy stomach, especially during pregnancy. It may work by breaking up and getting rid of built-up gas in your intestines. It might also help settle seasickness or nausea caused by chemotherapy.


Soothes Sore Muscles


Ginger won’t whisk away muscle pain on the spot, but it may tame soreness over time. In some studies, people with muscle aches from exercise who took ginger had less pain the next day than those who didn’t.


Eases Arthritis Symptoms


Ginger is an anti-inflammatory, which means it reduces swelling. That may be especially helpful for treating symptoms of both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. You might get relief from pain and swelling either by taking ginger by mouth or by using a ginger compress or patch on your skin.


Curbs Cancer Growth


Some studies show that bioactive molecules in ginger may slow down the growth of some cancers like colorectal, gastric, ovarian, liver, skin, breast, and prostate cancer. But much more research is needed to see if this is true.


Lowers Blood Sugar


One recent small study suggested that ginger may help your body use insulin better. Larger studies are needed to see if ginger could help improve blood sugar levels.


Eases Period Pains


Got menstrual cramps? Ginger powder may help. In studies, women who took 1,500 milligrams of ginger powder once a day for 3 days during their cycle felt less pain than women who didn’t.


Lowers Cholesterol


A daily dose of ginger may help you battle your “bad” or LDL cholesterol levels. In a recent study, taking 5 grams of ginger a day for 3 months lowered people’s LDL cholesterol an average of 30 points.


Protects Against Disease


Ginger is loaded with antioxidants, compounds that prevent stress and damage to your body’s DNA. They may help your body fight off chronic diseases like high blood pressure, heart disease, and diseases of the lungs, plus promote healthy aging.


Relieves Indigestion


If you live with chronic indigestion, also called dyspepsia, ginger could bring some relief. Ginger before meals may make your system empty faster, leaving less time for food to sit and cause problems.


Uses

  • Ginger is popularly used as a spice in cooking and can be used either fresh, dried or powdered.

  • The fresh rhizome can be used to extract ginger essential oil.

  • Ginger may also be used to flavor beverages.

  • Ginger continues to be a popular folk remedy in China and India.

  • Ginger rhizomes are widely used to flavour cakes, chutneys, curries, candies and beverages.

  • Very young rhizomes, known as stem ginger or green ginger, are peeled and eaten raw in salads, pickled or cooked in syrup.

  • Young, slightly spicy shoots can be used as a vegetable.



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