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ZINGIBER officinale

Image of Zingiber officinale

Forest & Kim Starr

Family

Zingiberaceae

Botanical Name

ZINGIBER officinale

Plant Common Name

Garden Ginger

General Description

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.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 9

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    8 - 15

  • Sunset Zone

    H1, H2, 9, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Tender Perennial

  • Sun Exposure

    Partial Sun, Partial Shade

  • Height

    2'-4' / 0.6m - 1.2m

  • Width

    3'-6' / 0.9m - 1.8m

  • Bloom Time

    Summer, Late Summer

  • Native To

    Southern Asia, Southeastern Asia, India

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Growth Rate

    Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Clump-Forming

  • Seasonal Interest

    Summer, Fall

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Insignificant

  • Flower Color

    Yellow, Purple, Yellow Green

  • Flower Color Modifier

    Multi-Color

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    Yes

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    Yes

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Coarse

  • Foliage Sheen

    Glossy

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Container, Edible, Herb / Vegetable, Mixed Border, Tropical

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Self-Sowing

    No