Culinary ginger plants and their flower spikes are not particularly attractive. There are beautiful and dramatic ornamental gingers but they are not recommended for eating.
Young, or "baby" ginger is mild, more tender, and less fibrous than mature ginger. This quality makes it excellent for use in Japanese pickles, and well as in candied or crystallized ginger recipes.
How to grow
Ginger is a tropical plant that prefers warm, humid conditions. It can be grown in the ground in Santa Clara County over the summer but when night temperatures drop below 50°F in the fall, it needs to be harvested or potted up and moved to a protected location. Ginger can be purchased as a nursery plant, but fresh, plump ginger rhizomes from the grocery store can also be planted. Before planting, break rhizomes into pieces that are 1–3" long, making sure each piece has multiple healthy-appearing "buds". Let the pieces dry for a day or two to help prevent rot. Plant with a bud pointing upwards, about 1" deep. Frost sensitive. Container plants may be brought indoors in cold microclimates.
- Type: Perennial if grown in a container (may go dormant in winter) or grown as an annual in the ground
- Light: Partial shade
- Soil: Well drained, well amended, loose
- Water: Medium. Keep soil moist but not wet. Water sparingly until new growth begins, to avoid rot.
- Size: 2–4' high, 2–4' wide
When to plant/propagate:
- Start in containers indoors in early spring
- Can be transplanted into the ground once night temperatures are reliably over 50°F
- For young or "baby" ginger, harvest the creamy white, pink-tinged rhizomes approximately 5–8 months after planting
- Harvest mature ginger approximately 9–12 months after planting
- Gently dig out and harvest the rhizomes, leaving some in the soil if you want them to grow back the next year
- Store unpeeled fresh ginger in a storage bag in the fridge and use within 2–3 weeks. Freeze or dry to keep for longer.
Indoors: Ginger can be grown indoors, although it may go dormant due to cooler temperatures and lack of sunlight in the winter. Do not water if dormant, until growth resumes in the spring.
- Zingiber officinale, Missouri Botanical Garden
- Tickled Pink: Fresh, Young Ginger is a Sweet Break from Gnarled Roots, KQED National Public Radio