Gingers are a large family of plants spread across the world’s tropical areas, and many are used as ornamental gingers.
The idea of planting ginger and watching it grow and then bloom with sometimes spectacular flowers is something that all gardeners would enjoy.
The question is, what about the variety to plant and whether they all die back in winter?
Ornamentals often grow all year but are more limited in climatic range, but some food gingers will grow in cooler climates. “What environment does ginger grow in?” looks at this in more detail. To maximize the yield of the ginger plants you are growing for food, this article is recommended.
Is it possible to grow gingers all year round? The varieties that do grow throughout the whole year are mostly ornamental gingers, with some being edible.
The common ginger rhizomes that we see in the stores are the same variety of ginger that we mainly grow in our backyards as a harvesting crop.
The edible ornamental gingers are often evergreen, so will suit the landscape gardener looking for a colorful all-year-round plant that continues to fill that space. Be aware that the ornamental ginger world is quite different from the culinary variety we know as common ginger.
The growth of some of the ornamentals can be problematic, as in invasive. They can also become tall and cause shading issues if planted in inappropriate locations. These plants’ main attractions are the flowers they often have and the year-long greenery.
How long does ginger grow for?
The common ginger grows for 8-9 months before it dies back and is ready to be harvested. Harvesting is usually done with a garden fork, if grown in the backyard.
There is a disclaimer that we should share here, and it goes like this. The growing season is very dependent on your location, or zone. Colder climates can be very challenging for growing ginger, as this article details.
Suppose you are looking at the ornamental gingers. In that case, the life span of these plants can be measured in decades because they continuously reproduce from the rhizomes and slowly spread away from the original plant.
This should be researched before you choose the variety you plant because some are very vigorous and can become a pest if left to their own devices.
There are databases of these plants on the net, so it might be worth looking at them before you jump in and plant that ginger. Search for invasive plants in your area and see what pops up.
There is no need to be causing any environmental issues if the plant is a bit on the wild side.
Does ginger grow slower in cold climates?
Ginger will grow in cold climates a little slower than in tropical areas because the plants have evolved to thrive in warmer temperatures.
It is the tropics that have the biomass recycling processes that make nutrients available in the preferred format for these plants.
These processes rely on moisture and warmth as the catalysts for converting woody material into plant-available nutrients. These recycling processes won’t slow down if constant humidity is available. It is why the jungles of the world are so vibrant.
Colder climates are more tilted to a seasonal growth spurt followed by a cold period that can be a freeze, killing ginger rhizomes if left in the ground. Depending on your location, the spring/summer season will have enough warmth for a few varieties.
As gardeners, we can change the soil structure and nutrient profile to suit ginger plants, but there is little we can do about the temperature at scale. The home gardener is likely to grow ginger in pots and tubs that can be easily relocated to suit seasonal changes.
Applying a healthy layer of compost over the soil where you intend to plant your rhizomes will be a great benefit. How we go about this process is found here in “compost for self-sufficient gardening“.
In a good spring-summer season there is good possibility to grow ginger to a worthwhile size so it should be a plant to consider even into zones 7. Zone 6 might be a push.
If you live where it does get cold, don’t give up on growing ginger. Our suggestion is to keep it in a pot and keep it indoors during winter.
Article by Tim Blanch for TheTropicalHomestead.com. He is a qualified Permaculture designer.