These step-by-step instructions show you how to grow ginger as a houseplant starting with a piece of ginger root from the grocery store. It’s a simple way to grow a new plant and, yes, you will have more ginger to harvest.
Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is a tropical herbaceous perennial. If you live in a cold climate, this means you can grow it as a houseplant indoors year-round and keep it outside in the summer months, if you like.
That ginger root that you buy at the grocery store is all you need to start your own ginger houseplant.
It’s Really a Rhizome
To be more accurate, what we call ginger root is really a rhizome. Roots grow from the rhizome, but we don’t eat those. But, the common term is ginger root, so we’ll roll with it.
Ginger is used as a spice for cooking, smoothies, and some baking like ginger snaps. You might use dried ginger, ginger powder, or fresh, chopped or grated ginger.
For many years ginger was regarded as a good remedy for nausea, but research has not confirmed this.
The Rhizome Grows the Plant
The rhizome not only provides the spice but that’s the part we root and grow into a new plant.
As it grows, more rhizomes will form, giving you new ginger to harvest.
Some ginger growing methods soak the root overnight and then plant it. And this can definitely work.
I prefer to use the method shown below because it guarantees I am planting a viable rhizome and won’t be disappointed.
I’ll show you how to select a good candidate for rooting, how to make it sprout, and how to continue growing it as a houseplant.
And I’ve answered frequently asked questions about growing ginger here.
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2 No-Waste Kitchen Gardening by Katie Elzer Peters shares how to regrow leftover greens, pits, seeds, and more.
This has a list of 39 plants you can grow from leftover fruits and veggies.
If you’re planning to eat your ginger, you may wish to start with organically-grown ginger, free of growth retardants, if possible.
I use ginger from the grocery store, but you can also purchase it from some plant nurseries specifically for this purpose.
Look for pieces that are firm, healthy-looking (not dry or shrivelled), show no signs of damage, and have ‘eyes’ (see the circled example in the photo, above). These are the little nubs like the ones on potatoes that will grow roots under the right conditions.
You might also find a piece of ginger that is sprouting in the store: that works fine!
Start with 2 or 3 rhizomes if you want to be sure to get at least one plant.
If you want to go big, root 3-6 pieces of ginger and plant them all in one pot.
Related: How to Grow Mango from Seed
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- Wash and dry the ginger root (rhizome) and take a few photos of it.
- Wrap it in damp (not soaking wet) cloth or paper towels and place in a plastic bag.
It is possible that your ginger root may have been treated with a root inhibitor, but the presence of emerging buds is a good sign it will sprout.
- Stash bag in your kitchen cabinet. The combination of moisture and warmth will cause it to sprout.
- Set an alert on your phone to check it every three days.
Take photos! At first it will be hard to tell the nubs are growing but you can confirm it by comparing photos along the way.
- After approximately 7-10 days, you should definitely start seeing growth from the eyes/nubs.
- Return the ginger to the damp towel in the plastic bag until the shoots and roots are a few inches long.
Here’s mine after 4 weeks:
Be careful each time you unwrap and rewrap the ginger to avoid breaking any new roots or shoots.
Here it is after 5 weeks:
After 4-6 weeks, your ginger root should be ready for planting in a pot. The largest roots and shoots should be a couple of inches long.
The whole thing may look odd but if there’s new growth, you’re good.
In the photo (above), I know that horn-shaped growth on the right is a shoot, not a root, so I have aimed it upward in the pot.
If you are planting more than one sprouted ginger, use a nice wide pot and place them side by side with room between for the rhizomes to expand.
Choose a pot several inches wider than your ginger root is long. If it’s 3-inches long, use a 6 to 8-inch wide x 6-inch deep pot with drainage holes. These plants grow wider as the root spreads.
- Fill pot with houseplant potting mix (we use the words ‘potting mix’, ‘growing medium’, and ‘soil’ interchangeably here but never use garden soil), water thoroughly, and gently press soil mix down into pot.
- Plant sprouted ginger two inches below lip of pot. If you can tell which part is a shoot, aim that up. If not, the plant will sort it out as it grows.
- Cover with additional inch of potting mix and water again. All parts of the ginger should be covered.
Place your ginger pot in a warm, sunny (not hot) location.
- The ideal growing temperature is higher than many of us keep our homes (75-85°F | 24-29°C). My house stays around 65-75°F (18-24°C) and it’s growing fine.
- Keep soil moist (not soaking wet).
- Like many tropical plants, ginger likes 40-50% relative humidity. You can also mist it and provide a drip tray filled with water to help maintain humidity levels.
In 2-4 weeks, a shoot should emerge from the soil:
Here it is about a month later:
Six weeks after planting, my most recent ginger plant is 3-feet tall with one single stalk and 7 long, narrow leaves. It resembles a very tall, thick blade of grass.
As the plant grows, new ginger roots will develop in the potting mix.
- If you’re going to eat the ginger rhizome, pick a safe, slow-release organic fertilizer suitable for food crops.
- I switch around to test different products but right now I’m using a fish emulsion in very low doses each time I water.
- After a few years of growth, you can harvest some of the roots once per year, leaving the rest to continue growing.
- The older the ginger root, the better the flavour.
- You can also divide the older rhizomes to create several new plants.
Outdoor Summer Care
- During warm months, you can keep your ginger outdoors in a sheltered location, avoiding blazing sun.
- Follow normal precautions when bringing it back indoors for the winter including cleaning the plant and inspecting for insects or diseases.
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1 Can you plant ginger root from the grocery store?
Yes, but. Some ginger has been treated with growth retardants so it will not sprout in the store and there usually isn’t a way to check if this is so.
That said, I always use grocery store ginger for mine and have never had a problem.
2 How long does it take to grow ginger?
When you plant a ginger root (which is really a rhizome), it takes about 2-3 years for it to be mature enough to harvest. The older it is, the better the flavour.
Sprouting a ginger rhizome for planting takes a few weeks.
3 Do ginger plants need full sun?
Ginger is a tropical plant originating in the understory of a tropical forest, so it likes moisture and warmth but not direct, hot sun.
See the ginger plant care tips here.
4 Can I grow ginger in Canada?
Yes, indoors. Ginger is a tropical plant, not a hardy perennial.
I grow mine indoors as a houseplant here in Canada during the winter months and outdoors (in a sheltered location) in the summer months.
5 How do you harvest ginger?
The edible part of a ginger plant is the rhizome, which is usually called the root.
To harvest ginger, dig up the rhizomes and cut off the amount you wish to use from the outer edges of the rhizome. Allow the cuts to heal for a few days then replant the remainder.
6 Is ginger a herb or spice?
It’s a spice. Herbs come from the leafy part of the plant. Spices come from other parts of plants and trees including bark, roots, and seeds.
How to Store Herbs and Spices has tips for storage and how to know when they’ve gone bad.
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- Ginger | Wikipedia
- Gardens: Get Your Ginger Up | James Wong – The Guardian
- Growing Ginger | Texas A&M Agrilife Extension
~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛