One of the many great things about growing ginger is the plant’s ability to produce rhizomes. These rhizomes can be separated into sections to produce an entirely new plant to grow another fresh rhizome.
It is the same for turmeric as well, and if you are wondering can ginger and turmeric be grown together, this is a separate post worth considering.
It is not a stupid question to then ask the following question.
How big does a bit of ginger rhizome need to be to grow another new ginger plant?
The minimum size to successfully grow a healthy new rhizome is 1 inch long (25mm), assuming the growing conditions are suitable to grow ginger.
Naturally, the results can be better if you have larger pieces to plant out. We have grown ginger from tiny pieces of rhizome. However, these often need two seasons to make it a viable proposition.
There is a disclaimer here: there is a need to have good quality rhizomes that are not withered and look “fat.” When you have a good full rhizome, the smallest piece that we recommend being separated from the clump is 1 1/2 inches (35mm), which is a prime candidate for planting.
Can the whole rhizome be planted in one piece?
The whole rhizome can be planted simultaneously, still all in one clump. This is not the best method to gain a harvest, though. This clump will send up multiple shoots at the same time but will still grow extra rhizome over the season.
The new rhizome will often climb out of the soil and over top of the old rhizome.
The only reason we can think of why you would want to plant this way is if the rhizome was surplus to your requirements and you have a lack of pots or garden space to put the thing. It is far more productive to break the rhizome into chunks and plant them singularly.
Do ginger plants produce more ginger with a bigger root?
While ginger can produce large rhizomes from a single healthy chunk, plenty of rhizomes can be produced from smaller pieces. However, the time to get a return from the smallest pieces can be double the time for a nice big fat plump chunk.
It may take two seasons to get this result. Sometimes you need to lift the rhizomes each season for whatever reason, and a typical case would be growing on a balcony. Space is at a premium in these situations. “6 gingers to suit a balcony herb garden” is a typical one.
Will all pieces from a rhizome grow more ginger?
Any rhizome piece that has growth nodes will grow more rhizome, with the proviso that the rhizome is healthy, not shriveled, and the soil is warm and moist.
The logical thing to do is inspect the rhizome for these growth nodes, then break off the pieces with at least one node. These should grow shoots, all things being equal. Once this happens, you can plant them in your favored location, be it a pot, tub, or garden bed.
Does ginger grown from a rhizome grow true to form?
Ginger grows the same variety of rhizomes that it was taken from. It remains true to form.
Some plants can catch you with this little trick, but ginger is as honest as the day is long. All of the ginger families are the same, to our knowledge.
We are confident that the ginger grown from a rhizome piece will give you the same flavor and scent as the mother rhizome.
Will old ginger rhizomes still grow new ginger?
Older rhizomes can grow another plant. However, the new growth can be feeble and prone to disease if the rhizome is in bad shape. The best quality seed rhizome is recommended for a more certain outcome.
Once these older rhizomes are planted, we have found that they attract bugs and bacteria that intend to turn the rhizome back into the soil.
Some vegetable greens we plant share this behavior at the end of the season when the sugars in the plant change, and this change appears to call in the predators and destructive varieties of insects. They basically take the plant down.
We suspect this may happen with old rhizomes that have started to decay, which signals the natural processes to recycle them back into the soil. It is a theory, at least.
Some comments on the required rhizome size to regrow ginger.
- Use the best possible ginger to replant.
- Ensure there is a growth node on the piece.
- Keep soil temperatures above 25C.
- There is no maximum size limit to replant.
- Ginger replicates exactly from rhizomes.
- Minimum size is about 1 inch.
Where do you buy ginger rhizomes to grow?
There is a lot of information about the common ginger and all the health benefits that it can give, and all of this information may have you thinking about attempting to grow your ginger.
This section is here to guide you on what to avoid when choosing the ginger rhizomes you wish to grow.
The best places to buy ginger rhizomes for planting are listed below, and in order of preference.
- Permaculture food growers.
- Organic food stores.
- Organic food markets.
- General food stores.
- Garden centers and plant nurseries.
- Ebay and similar.
Permaculture food growers
This would be the best place to get your ginger rhizomes if these kinds of businesses are near you. They are most likely to give you some great info on how to grow ginger specific to your location and can be trusted generally.
The internet is your friend here, and here is a short list of suggested starting points to track down your ginger rhizomes.
- Permaculture groups | Meetup this is a worldwide search point to start with.
- North American Permaculture Directory – Transterraform
- Or type in your location followed by permaculture directories.
Organic food stores
These are the typical health food shops with an assortment of products and produce that may include fresh ginger rhizomes.
We are pushing organic ginger instead of commercially grown because of the potential for chemical residues on the commercial. It can retard the growth of the ginger rhizome shoots.
Some of the chemicals used can also harm your soil life, so planting a chemically treated rhizome in good faith may actually be a micro-toxic event in your soil. This would be an extreme case, but with the world going the way it is, we prefer clean food over alternatives. If you are reading this, I suspect we are of similar dispositions.
Organic food markets
These are the outdoor version of the list item above. They are often held on weekends and can have good ginger when available. The folk who run these stalls will often have contacts that they will share with you.
Look for ginger rhizomes that may still have soil on them. These are prime because they have not been scrubbed and are potentially damaged. Please give them a gentle wash to remove potential soil-borne issues when you get home.
Be aware that many small growers don’t have the money to afford the organic label compliance costs but still use the best organic growing practices. A conversation with the seller may give clues on how they grow their produce.
General food stores
These are the big box supermarkets that have everything from everywhere. The quality is sometimes suspect, but some of them have organic departments where you may be lucky to find some.
If there is no organic ginger available, the next best type is the best-looking ginger roots that they have.
Make sure the ginger has full skin and has all the growth nodes still attached. Some outfits will slice these off to stop gardeners from growing from the ginger piece.
Garden centers and plant nurseries.
These are a more expensive way of getting started, but the upside here is that you will likely be buying a plant that has already begun growing. You know that the rhizome is viable already because it is now growing ginger leaves.
Like we said, this is probably the most expensive way to go about growing ginger from bought rhizomes.
Because you are probably only getting a single rhizome piece per pot, it will be two years before you can have enough to harvest for the kitchen, assuming you replant all of what you grow from the bought plants in the first year.
We tend to approach all plants this way; it allows us to be self-sufficient with that particular vegetable, fruit, or spice, which is why this website exists.
Ebay and similar
This is the last resort from our perspective because you cannot eyeball the rhizome before you pay up. There is a risk that the ginger has been treated with chemicals, and the condition of the rhizome will not be known until you open the parcel.
How much ginger do you need to start growing?
The short answer to this question is to buy a full hand of ginger rhizome. This can give you several pieces to grow from and give you better odds of success.
We started with 1 kilogram (I think it was just the one, no more than two definitely) about 6-7 years ago now, and from that start, we now have over a hundred kgs (at the time this article was published) in the ground scattered throughout the yard.
If we push it, we believe it is possible to grow a ton. On 1/4 acre. With home and shed. We have a stable quantity of around 40-50 kg now.
Last words on where to buy ginger to replant.
- Get organic where possible.
- Make sure the ginger rhizome is intact with growth nodes.
- Buying whole ginger rhizomes and breaking them into separate bits is best.
- Two seasons will be needed from potted ginger plants before a kitchen harvest is grown.
Article by Tim Blanch for TheTropicalHomestead.com. He is a qualified Permaculture designer.