It seems a weird concept to be able to overwater a tropical plant.
Think about it for a minute. These plants are native to the tropical rainforests of the world’s equatorial zones of the world so you would think they can cope with torrential rains every day of the week.
While this may be the case, most edible ginger growers don’t live in the tropics, so the soils are different, the humidity is different, and the sunlight is also different.
It is entirely possible to overwater a ginger plant if we get the basic things wrong like soil, sunlight, and location.
We also plant gingers in odd places like pots, tubs, and raised garden beds. These are all strange to the ginger plant, so when it comes to caring for a ginger plant, knowing the needs of the ginger can help you give your gingers the best conditions possible for your location.
How often should ginger be watered?
Watering ginger is a necessity as the plant is tropical in heritage and is used to plenty of water. There are a few conditions that we need to get sorted before a simple question about how often ginger needs to watered. The list below is a start.
- Potted ginger plants.
- Ground level gardens beds.
- Raised garden beds.
- Balcony garden beds
These plants will potentially dry out quickly because they often don’t hold a lot of soil, and the soil mix can be well-draining. Good drainage is needed, but it can easily be overdone. Some water retention is desirable.
The ginger plants that are in pots should be watered daily in hot weather, and care should be taken to keep them out of the full sun for most of the day. This can help with heat stress caused by a lack of water through evaporation and transpiration.
Ground level garden beds.
These beds can be worked to help retain moisture for more extended periods and shouldn’t require watering as frequently as potted ginger. How you prepare your soil plays such a significant role in the success of your ginger that it should be the primary focus of the garden.
If there is plenty of organic matter in the soil and it can still drain freely, you should water your ginger plants once or twice a week, depending on the location of the plants.
If the ginger plants are in full sun, watering twice a week is ok, and if in the shade, just once a week will do. It is possible to overwater your gingers quite easily and can be called killing them with kindness.
Raised garden beds.
These are great, and we have a bunch ourselves. Growing ginger in a raised garden bed is a hybrid between pot and ground growing, and it can be very productive.
Ginger is a heat-loving plant as long as there is moisture and humidity, and the raised beds allow you to fine-tune the soil to hold water and to keep warmth in the soil if the beds are canted across the sun’s path to warm the side of the bed.
Be aware that the bed’s direction makes a difference to the soil temps. We explain with actual data here why you should pay attention to this aspect of growing in raised beds.
This is if you use the corrugated metal beds, I should mention. Watering of these beds should be done at least once a week, but more likely, they will need twice during a typical week. A final note; everything depends on your soil profile with regards to water retention.
Balcony garden beds.
This is a hybrid version of the pots, and this has another factor that can dry out your gingers. Because balconies are typically raised at least one floor above ground level, they are relatively exposed to wind, which can dry out your plants quickly.
Daily watering is most likely going to be required to keep the ginger plants at their best.
Should I water my ginger plant everyday?
Ginger plants should be watered daily if the soil is drying out constantly. It is likely to be required in the balcony garden situation but is not a certainty.
The quality of your soil cannot be overstated if the watering frequency is the measurement being judged. The payoff for having great soil that holds moisture without becoming sodden is large healthy ginger rhizomes.
Ginger plants do love moist soil, but not soaking soil. This can cause the rhizomes to rot and that is the end of your ginger plant when that happens.
Does ginger need a lot of water?
Ginger needs to be kept damp but not soggy, and the quality of your soil will tell you how much water your gingers will need. A good layer of mulch can help with soil water retention, which will reduce how much watering you need to do.
The ginger plants will do far better with the mulch in place. This article titled “does ginger need mulching?” explains the reasoning for it.
Why does my ginger keep dying?
There are many reasons why a ginger plant might die; some are listed below.
1. The climate is too cold.
If you are in a cold climate and are trying to grow ginger outdoors in early spring, your ginger could be hit with a late frost. This can kill gingers.
2. Not enough water.
If you don’t water your ginger plants often enough and you let the soil dry out, this can stress the ginger to the point of no return.
3. Soil pH inconsistent to gingers preferences.
The soil where you are trying to grow gingers may be on the alkaline side of the pH scale, and this can lock some required minerals out from the ginger, and it can slowly starve through nutrient deficiency.
4. Soil borne pathogens.
You could have a soil-borne disease that is terminal to gingers, and this can be in the form of what is called bacterial wilt.
There are many ways for a ginger plant to just up and die, so being vigilant to the plant’s needs is all that is required to grow ginger successfully. It can be challenging to grow any plant outside its natural climatic zone.
How do you save a dying ginger plant?
The first thing to do is work out what is wrong with the plant. Diagnosis can include a soil PH test. The soil should be between 5.5 and 6.5 pH for the best results with ginger.
If the soil pH is ok, then is the soil well-draining? Ginger will not do well in heavy clay-based soils because they tend to hold too much moisture and can rot the rhizomes.
If the soil is ok, then the next thing to check is for insect damage in the root zone to see if some soil living critter is chewing away at the underground sections. From there, it can be that the plant’s location is either too hot and dry or it is too wet and shady.
Both of these will depend on your location relative to the equator. If you are in a temperate zone and the ginger is in full shade, it will starve for sunlight, and if the ginger is in full sun and you live in the tropics, then you are probably cooking your ginger.
Will my ginger plant come back?
If you can discover why your ginger plant is failing, and you can fix that issue, there is hope that your ginger can make a full recovery. It will be unlikely that you will get a harvest for that plant for the current growing season.
What kills ginger plants?
There are many things that have the potential to kill a ginger plant, and most of them can be put down to either having the ginger in the wrong location, or there is something wrong with the soil; either biological or geochemical (pH related).
How do you keep ginger from drying out?
To help keep ginger from drying out, we recommend you have mulch around your ginger plants and also have good quality soil ready before you plant your gingers. If these two things are in place, and the location is not in a particularly windy area, the gingers should be ok.
Ginger is a tropical plant that grows best in humidity and moist soils. If you can match these conditions as closely as you can, you can limit the watering to a manageable level without stressing the ginger plant. A stress-free plant will grow great edible ginger rhizomes.
Article by Tim Blanch for TheTropicalHomestead.com. He is a qualified Permaculture designer.