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If you’re looking to spice up your indoor gardening game, growing ginger indoors is one of the best places to start. The ginger plant is hardy and easy to care for as long as you have enough patience to see it grow to maturity. While gingerroot is a welcome addition in most cooking, you can also add it to fresh tea and cocktails. Some say it even has wellness benefits. Regardless of your level of food-growing expertise or the climate you live in, ginger can thrive in your own home with the right indoor-environment. We’ve got all the tips you need to incorporate ginger into your windowsill and tabletop gardens!
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Can You Grow Ginger Inside?
The ginger plant (Scientific Name: Zingiber Officinale) is a tropical plant native to hot and humid climates, though it can just as well be grown indoors. In fact, if you don’t live in a tropical environment, growing ginger inside may be your only option. Despite its name, Gingerroot is not technically a root but rather a rhizome, which is a horizontal underground stem from where the roots grow. As long as you’ve got the right set-up, you can grow your own ginger as a houseplant and organic spice.
- Potting Mix: When growing indoors, use a well-aerated potting mix (not potting soil!) rich with organic components like perlite, vermiculite, and compost. Dense soil will retain too much water and choke the sprouting rhizomes.
- Pot / Container: It’s best to use a pot with plenty of drainage holes to avoid waterlogging and drowning the plant. The container should also be wider than deep since the rhizomes grow horizontally.
- Temperature: Mimicking a tropical environment as closely as possible will help your ginger plant reach its full potential. Any temperature between 70º and 80°F (20º-27°C) is ideal, but ginger will go dormant if under 50ºF (10ºC). If that’s too warm for your house, investing in a heating pad is a smart alternative. Avoid drafty windows in the wintertime!
- Humidity: Ginger prefers around 50% humidity, so utilizing a plant humidifier and a spray bottle will come in handy. You can also simulate a DIY greenhouse by using a wide container with a plastic lid. Poke some holes in the bottom for drainage and the top for oxygen, and grow your ginger in this container during the early stages of sprouting to get maximum humidity.
- Watering: Keep the soil moist but not wet—a waterlogged growing medium will rot your ginger. A spray bottle can keep the plant moist between waterings. Water twice a week, depending on how fast the dirt is drying out. Let the pot’s bottom sit in some water so that the plant will drink from beneath. This method will ensure a deeper, more even watering.
- Sunlight: Though ginger likes heat, it doesn’t like much direct sunlight. It needs a lot of bright light, but direct light will dry out the moisture too quickly and scorch any sprouts. If all you have is a south-facing window, set the planter a few feet away from the window. Otherwise, any other windowsill in the house should be fine.
Can You Plant a Ginger Root From the Grocery Store?
You can grow ginger at home using a root purchased at the grocery store, though success is far from guaranteed. Most produce, especially those with a propensity for sprouting, is sprayed with a growth inhibitor, which will limit you from regrowing the plant. If you do want to try using store-bought ginger as your starter, choose the organic variety. A local farmers’ market is an even better option if you have access to it. However, if all you’ve got is gingerroot from the grocery store, follow our tips to maximize your chances for growth.
- Pick: At your local grocery store, find some ginger rhizomes with no signs of rotting that are firm but not hard. Hard ginger may be dried and dead, while soft ginger is likely rotting and unusable. Make sure to pick organic ginger to avoid any growth inhibitors.
- Prepare (Pt. 1): Wash the grocery store ginger in warm water and leave it submerged in a glass overnight. This practice will clean off any remaining unwanted chemicals, and the moisture will stimulate new growth.
- Prepare (Pt. 2): Many people skip right to planting after soaking the ginger, but you still need to test whether or not the ginger is likely to regrow. Cut the rhizome into pieces with one “eye” or sprout per piece. Place the ginger pieces into a zip-lock plastic bag with a damp paper towel and leave in a cool, dark place for up to a week. After a few days, you should see shoots sprouting from the eyes. Good news: this means your ginger is good to go!
- Plant: Once you’ve confirmed your ginger is alive, bury the pieces of ginger by covering them with about two inches of potting mix. Keep the soil moist and place the container in a bright window.
Since gingerroot from a grocery store is not guaranteed to grow, a local garden nursery or farmers market is likely to have better options. However, if you’re lucky enough to have a friend with an indoor ginger plant already, using a piece of their ginger is the easiest and most likely option to succeed.
How Long Does It Take to Grow Ginger?
The steps to harvesting fresh ginger at home are simple, but the waiting game is long. If you’re looking to grow ginger indoors, know that it will take at least ten months to reap any of the benefits. Even if the gingerroot show growth buds after the preparation process, these slow growers need to reach full maturity before they can survive harvesting. If you want to propagate and replant your ginger plant, you’ll need to wait even longer. Waiting a full year from plant to harvest will ensure your ginger is healthy and mature.
If you’re ready to start growing ginger indoors, here are a few ways to get started:
How Do You Care for an Indoor Ginger Plant?
There are some pitfalls for which you’ll need to keep an eye out while caring for an indoor ginger plant. Ginger is a low-maintenance houseplant and garden spice, but the areas that need attention are necessary for flourishing. If you’ve made it this far, from store-bought ginger to waiting on your first sprouts, you’re well on your way to plenty of fresh and spicy ginger at your fingertips.
- Be Patient: Many growers dig up their ginger plants far too soon hoping that it’s ready for consumption. A gingerroot is not fully regrown and ready for harvesting until around ten months after (re)planting. You should see a tall, grass-like stem with thin leaves sprout up within a couple of months, but that doesn’t mean the underground rhizomes are ready. Stagger a few different plantings of ginger so you can have it all year long.
- Don’t Overwater: Like most houseplants, overwatering is a more significant threat to ginger than underwatering. Keep the soil moist but not wet. The potting vessel should have good drainage so that the roots are not always sitting in water. Saturated soil can result in root rot, which will kill your plant. Misting in between waterings will keep the plant moist and mimic higher humidity conditions.
- Avoid Direct Sunlight: Ginger needs bright light, but not direct sunlight. Too much full sun exposure will dry out the soil too quickly, forcing you to overwater the plant. Direct sunlight can also scorch any growth happening above the surface. Set the pot a few feet back from a south-facing window or on a windowsill facing any other direction.
- Tips for Propagation: If you’ve waited long enough for your ginger to reach full maturity, you’ll need to propagate it in a way that will keep it alive. Gently release the rhizomes and roots from the soil and cut a piece for every eye sprout. Make sure to use a very sharp, sanitized knife or set of sheers to mitigate damage to the gingerroot. Follow the rest of the directions for planting store-bought ginger until you’ve got as many ginger plants as you want!
However you come to harvest your indoor ginger plant, it will elevate any of your meals from the kitchen. Ginger adds a spicy kick to an Asian-inspired stir-fry. Thoroughly mixing turmeric and ginger with hot water creates a warming and cleansing ginger tea. Some ginger plant varieties, such as ornamental ginger, look beautiful as only a houseplant, even if you don’t intend to eat it.
Remember, ginger is not the only edible houseplant you can add to your home garden, whether in front of a sunny window or your hydroponic unit. Though often used as an herb or spice, garlic is among several veggies you can grow indoors to flavor your food. Sauté some fresh ginger and garlic alongside potatoes and kale from your garden, top with freshly sliced tomatoes and avocados, and finish with some basil and flaky salt for a delicious veggie bowl, all homegrown and organic!