Forest & Kim Starr
Plant Common Name
True ginger is an ancient garden spice surrounded by lore and revered for its medicinal and culinary qualities. Its tan, fleshy, knobby rhizomes (underground stems) have that distinctive spicy, gingery flavor used to flavor everything from stir fry to cookies. The plant is a spreading, deciduous tender perennial native to tropical Asia.
The upright, stiff stems of ginger emerge from the soil when the spring rains begin. Its narrow, lance-shaped leaves are lush, green and glossy and release a gingery scent when crushed. In summer, stems topped with dense, conical spikes of green floral bracts appear. The bracts hold inconspicuous green flowers with purple lips and yellow spots. Winter cold and/or seasonal drought will cause the plants to become dormant until the following season.
Grow garden ginger in partial shade and fertile, organic-rich soil that is moist but well-drained. It will overwinter where winters are mild and not overly wet. Wet winter soil can cause root rot. With no significant flower display, ginger is grown strictly for culinary use. It adapts well to container culture and can even be grown as a house plant.
To harvest ginger, dig and clean rhizome pieces and store them in a cool, dry place. Ginger root can be eaten fresh or dried. It is used to flavor meats, soups, baked goods and other dishes. Crystalized ginger root is a favorite confection for cookies and cakes.
AHS Heat Zone
12 - 9
USDA Hardiness Zone
8 - 15
H1, H2, 9, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24
Partial Sun, Partial Shade
2'-4' / 0.6m - 1.2m
3'-6' / 0.9m - 1.8m
Summer, Late Summer
Southern Asia, Southeastern Asia, India
Container, Edible, Herb / Vegetable, Mixed Border, Tropical
Sharp or Has Thorns