Growing Store-Bought Ginger in a Pot (Experiment and Guide)
You’ve visited the grocery and you’ve bought too much ginger than you need. So the question now is, can you grow these at home in a planter? After testing it myself to save you time, here are the results!
It is possible to grow store-bought ginger in a pot after it has been soaked in warm water and vinegar for at least 6 hours before planting. Soaking is done to remove growth inhibitors that otherwise will hinder new growth and prevent the ginger from deteriorating in the soil.
If you’ve ever wondered what would happen if you planted store-bought ginger, you’re not alone. Just keep on reading to see the results and how you can successfully grow ginger!
For this experiment, I purchased some regular ginger from the grocery store.
I avoided the ones that were dried up and shriveled. The ginger rhizome I show below is nice and plump, and has multiple nodes, which is exactly what we need for a successful planting!
A ginger with more nodes has many more chances of success compared to a drier one with fewer nodes.
Now, here comes the part where some gardeners may have struggled.
You see, the ginger they sell in groceries is usually sprayed with a growth inhibitor that prevents the ginger from sprouting. You need to remove this for the ginger to actually produce new growth.
This can be done by soaking the ginger in warm water and vinegar for at least 6 hours. But what exactly happens if you don’t clean the ginger beforehand? I’ll let you know in a bit!
There are many ways of growing ginger but simply planting ginger in the soil to root is the easiest way to grow ginger.
The Experiment Setup
Two ginger samples, consisting of one soaked ginger and one unwashed ginger, were placed in 6-inch pots with loamy soil. Both samples were given 5 hours of sun daily, watered 1–2 times a week, and grown at 80–85°F with 60% humidity.
In this article, you’ll see the difference between planting a piece of ginger that has been soaked and cleaned and planting another ginger that still has the growth inhibitor.
One pot consists of one soaked ginger specimen and the other contains one unsoaked ginger. The unwashed ginger specimen will act as an important reference.
The pots for these samples both measured 6-inches.
The ginger samples were snapped into 1–2 inch pieces, then buried in the potting mix and covered with only 1 inch of rich, loamy soil.
The ginger plants were set up a few feet away from a bright, east-facing window and received 4–5 hours of sun. The temperatures averaged 80–85°F or 26–29°C, while the humidity levels were consistently around 60%.
They were watered 1–2 times a week, depending on how hot and dry the weeks were.
All that was needed after all the preparation was patience and keen eyes!
The Experiment Results: Planting Store-Bought Gingers in Pots
Only the pre-soaked ginger was able to grow. After 60 days, the washed ginger specimen had already grown several inches and formed new roots underneath the soil. The unwashed ginger specimen, however, had rotted away in the soil and was unable to form new growth.
The ginger specimens were placed side-by-side for the entirety of the experimenting period for easy comparison.
After setting everything up, I monitored the progress of both specimens every week.
Week 1: No Visible Growth Above the Soil
The ginger plants were monitored for growth after planting. Not much had changed after one week.
At this rate, we were still waiting for the first sign of the sprout development stage, which we will discuss more in detail later on.
Week 2: No Visible Growth Above the Soil
No changes were seen during this week. Ginger rhizomes typically take 3–4 weeks to sprout, so this was no surprise.
Patience is key during this initial planting phase.
Week 3: No Visible Growth Above the Soil
No changes were found in the third week. Both specimens were given the same amount of sun and light as per usual.
However, it was especially common for rhizomes to rot away in the soil after being left in soggy soils, so I made sure to water them heavily only once this week.
Week 4: First Growth is Seen Above the Soil
After 4 weeks had passed, numerous green and pointed shoots had rapidly emerged from the soaked ginger specimen.
Growth was finally visible!
Week 8: The Final Result
The rinsed store-bought ginger I planted continued growing after the 4th week of this experiment. However, the unsoaked ginger showed no growth or progress whatsoever throughout this entire test period of over 50 days.
Here is a side-by-side comparison.
Despite receiving the same care, the inhibitor on the unsoaked ginger prevented the rhizome from producing any new growth whatsoever.
After these 60 days had passed, I uprooted both samples for further investigation.
The unwashed ginger had effectively begun to rot and deteriorate in the soil. Since this ginger was unable to grow at all, it did not absorb any of the extra moisture it was given.
Conversely, the pre-soaked ginger specimen showed prolific root growth and no signs of decay. This can be transplanted into a larger pot and harvested at a later time. This is the easiest method of growing ginger.
The 4 Growing Stages of Ginger
The 4 main growing stages of ginger are:
- Sprout development
- Vegetative growth
- Rhizome development
- Flower development
Here are the major growing phases ginger rhizomes undergo!
1. Sprout Development
This initial stage is the most crucial and vulnerable growing stage of the ginger, as the rhizome has not yet developed any root systems or stalks above the ground.
Its soil must be kept damp but not soggy. Soil temperatures must also be maintained at around 70ºF.
After about 20–30 days, the leaf sheath will emerge from the ginger and form its first leaves.
2. Vegetative Growth
The vegetative stage is where the other parts of the young ginger plant start to grow, including the roots, leaves, and stalks.
This stage typically begins after 30 days have passed and the ginger has already sprouted.
Leaf growth is the main priority during this phase and the ginger will not undergo any other major changes yet.
3. Rhizome Development
Once the ginger plant has finally established good leaf growth and reached around 2–4 feet in height, the plant will finally be able to focus on producing rhizomes.
During this period, the ginger will finally be able to utilize its tall leaf stalks and narrow leaves to photosynthesize more effectively. As a result, they can send the necessary energy the rhizomes require.
This is when new ginger clumps will start to form, which will normally happen around 90–120 days after planting.
4. Flower Development
By the 9th or 12th month, the ginger rhizomes will grow to full size and start to harden. The skin of the ginger rhizomes will then become dry and rough to protect itself from damage.
Flowers will start to grow and bloom during this time. The tall ginger stalks and leaves will begin to wilt and brown and will eventually droop as they die off.
At this final stage, rhizome expansion is then completed and the ginger is ready for harvest.
How to Grow and Care for Potted Ginger
Ginger grows best in 15-inch wide plastic pots with damp, well-drained soil, 5 hours of sun and partial shade, 68–86 °F temperature range, and at least 50% humidity. Water 1–2 times a week and only when the top 2 inches of soil are dry, except during winter. Nitrogen-high fertilizers must be applied every 2 weeks until frost.
If you have a few ginger rhizomes laying around and are excited to try to grow ginger yourself, don’t hold back! Keep reading forward to learn how to grow and care for potted ginger plants.
Plastic planters are ideal for retaining moisture for ginger. 15-inch wide pots are required to allow the rhizomes to grow horizontally. To avoid rot, ensure the planter has drainage holes.
Ginger plants need quite a lot of moisture as they grow. Plastic is non-porous and can hold much more water than terracotta or clay pots can handle, so plastic containers would be your best choice here.
Here’s some pots on Amazon I often recommend for growing ginger. They’re the perfect width for ginger rhizomes to spread out!
Aside from making sure your selected pots have drainage holes, be sure to look into elongated planters that are at least 15 inches wide.
The pots I used in my experiment were a standard 6-inch and still worked well. However, this is only best for single ginger pieces and the ginger will need to be repotted to a 15-inch planter for proper rhizome growth.
Ginger plants have a habit of growing outwards more than they do downwards. So pots that are wider than they are deep are much better suited for this vegetable.
Ginger plants require free-draining and loose soil rich in organic matter. A potting mix of 50% compost, 30% sand, and 20% loam soil of 5.5 to 6.5 pH is ideal for ginger.
Rich but loose soil is key in growing healthy ginger. A good growing medium for ginger would be about half compost and the other half composed of sand and fresh loamy soil.
This contains all the rich organic matter and extra ingredients to help encourage better drainage. This is important to help prevent the ginger rhizome from rotting underground.
When planting the ginger, place it no more than 1–2 inches deep in your growing medium.
Placing ginger too deep in the soil may suffocate the new growth before it can emerge!
Established ginger plants must be watered twice a week to keep soils damp. Prevent soggy soils by watering only when the upper 2 inches of soil are dry. Reduce watering in the winter to only every 3 weeks when growth is dormant.
Remember, ginger is a tropical plant that flourishes in damp and humid environments.
Keep the soil moist but avoid letting the ginger sit in water. Otherwise, you could easily drown the plant. This is why drainage holes are important!
When you water ginger, it’s best to water it deeply until the water runs out of the bottom.
The top 2 inches (5.08 cm) of soil should be dry before you water it, so check this with your finger or a moisture meter.
But once winter comes and the ginger goes dormant, cut back on your watering sessions and only water it every 2–3 weeks.
Light and Temperature
Ginger plants do not thrive under direct sun. For optimum growth, grow ginger in partial shade and at least 5 hours of sun. Intense sun exposure of over 6 hours can potentially kill the plant. Temperatures between 68–86°F are ideal for growing ginger.
To start, avoid placing your ginger in direct sunlight. Anything more than 6 hours of direct sun can burn the tender leaves of this tropical root vegetable.
Ginger can be grown in full shade or even in the shadows of other plants. Keep it in a relatively shady place where it can receive just around 5 hours of direct sunlight.
Additionally, this plant grows best when kept in an environment where temperatures are kept between 68–86°F or 20–-30°C. Ginger is not a frost-hardy plant, so if it drops below 50°F, it could potentially die.
If you happen to live in a colder climate, consider growing ginger strictly indoors and using grow lights and heaters to help provide it with adequate light and temperature.
Because ginger is a tropical vegetable, humidity levels over 50% are ideal for growing ginger. Utilize pebble trays and humidifiers to increase humidity for better growth.
Consistent levels of at least 50% humidity are needed to grow ginger.
When I performed the ginger experiment, I noticed the average humidity levels in my area were regularly around 60% and above, so this worked perfectly.
But if humidity is relatively low all year round in your area, consider keeping your potted ginger indoors where you can take advantage of a humidifier.
Misting barely makes any difference when it comes to raising humidity levels, so keep that in mind. The use of pebble trays, however, can be a great help if you live in an especially dry and low-humid area.
>> Clear the fog and learn more in our article about misting houseplants.
Ginger is a heavy-feeding plant. To develop prolific clusters of rhizomes, it is recommended to use nitrogen-rich fertilizers. Liquid fertilizer can be applied at half-strength every 2 weeks but must be halted in winter when the plant is dormant.
Fertilizer truly is a must for ginger. Ginger requires plenty of extra nutrients to grow fully-developed rhizomes to harvest.
Both liquid and slow-release fertilizers are great options for this plant. What’s important to keep in mind is that the fertilizer is high in nitrogen.
To select the best fertilizer, read more in our article regarding liquid vs granular fertilizer.
This additional supply of nitrogen will help encourage the plant to grow more leaves. Once these extra leaves are produced, it will be easier for your ginger plant to photosynthesize and grow even bigger rhizomes for harvest!
If liquid fertilizer is used, simply feed the ginger every 2 weeks with half-strength to avoid burning it, as the ginger is already growing in rich compost. Avoid using fertilizer in winter.
After 10–12 months, a ginger’s flowers will open and its leaves will wilt when it’s ready for harvest. Ginger does not need to be harvested entirely and will continue to grow if left in the ground. Lift the rhizomes out of the soil and break them off into sections. Before winter, however, it is ideal to harvest the full crop.
When its flowers start to bloom, you know your ginger is ready for harvest. How flashy these flowers are will depend on what type of ginger you planted but they will all grow and bloom near the end of their maturity.
Read more about the 8 types of edible ginger.
Young ginger will be much milder in taste and be tinged with pink. This baby ginger can be harvested about 6–9 months after planting, so it’s up to you when to harvest them.
For more pungent and mature ginger with golden skin, simply wait 10–12 months or until the leaves and stalks start to wilt. You’ll need patience for this but the reward is a delicious treat!
If you live in a warmer climate, you can opt to harvest only a few parts of the ginger and leave the rest to allow it to continue growing. However, if there’s a risk of frost, the ginger may not survive, so it’s best to harvest the rhizomes entirely.
Harvest ginger without killing the plant by gently lifting the rhizomes out with a spade. From here, snap off what you need and put the rest of the ginger back in the soil!
Can I plant ginger outdoors in the fall?
Despite its easy growth, it is not ideal to plant ginger outdoors in autumn. Since ginger is not a frost-hardy vegetable, planting it in the fall will not give the crop adequate time to produce for harvest before the winter. It is instead recommended to grow ginger in containers indoors during the fall.
Are ginger plants toxic to cats and dogs?
All parts of the ginger including the rhizomes, roots, and leaves are edible and completely safe for both dogs and cats to consume. Consumption in large quantities, however, can potentially cause adverse reactions such as gas and stomach pain.
Summary of Growing Store-Bought Ginger in a Pot
Ginger purchased from grocery stores can be planted in pots to grow more rhizomes. However, for the ginger to grow successfully, it must be soaked in warm water and vinegar for at least 6 hours.
This soaking treatment is crucial to remove the growth inhibitor that has been sprayed on it. In cases where the growth inhibitor remains, the planted ginger will not be able to form new roots and will gradually start to decay in the soil.
- “Zingiber officinale” by n/a in University of North Carolina
- “Edible Ginger” by n/a in University of Florida