Ginger plants belong to a large family that holds many different varieties within it, and these plants range from the small to the very large.
Each type of ginger will have its own set of variables in height and width, so the question is, how much space does “Ginger variety X” need to grow effectively?
A safe estimate for the space required to grow any ginger plant is to allow the same width to grow as the plant is known to grow in height.
Some gingers grow to be over 5 meters high and tower over all other gingers. These ornamental gingers will typically be used for landscaping, although many have edible parts and also offer medicinal value.
There are useful applications for these taller varieties when you are planning a garden layout and want to create either a windbreak or a shaded area for the hotter times of the year.
We use this approach with many different plants and consider the evergreen or deciduous behaviors, the height, and the footprint of the plant base. There is a world of design opportunities when you approach the garden in this manner.
Common ginger grows to an average height of 1 meter, but this ginger, because of its short stature, can be grown near the next plant. We plant ours as close as a hand span when the soil conditions allow.
For instance, 3-4 common ginger plants can be grown in a 1 ft (300mm) pot, and this is because the plants hold a more upright growth habit when in the growth phase of its life. This changes when the growing season ends and the fronds die off.
This is a messy time in this garden area, and the leaves can be removed as they wither. This won’t harm the crop or impact the yield at all.
How close can ginger rhizomes be planted?
Because the common ginger grows the way it does, the distance between each planted rhizome can be as little as 4 inches(100mm).
If the soil conditions are on point and the watering is kept up, there is no reason not to expect a garden bed full of rhizomes at harvest time. It can be a ridiculously generous plant when everything lines up.
We like to prep the soil before planting with compost when we have some available. The compost we use is made on-site, and you can find more on our approach here in “compost for self-sufficient gardening“.
For larger varieties like ornamental gingers, it may be worth considering planting a couple of rhizomes or young plants 2-3ft (600-900mm) apart in a cluster. This can give a great look once the plants get some height to them.
Do ginger plants spread?
All ginger plants spread, but all gingers have different rates of spread and also very different sizes of spread.
Various ginger varieties can be very aggressive in the spreading habit, and these have sometimes made the invasive species databases. Other varieties are so slow in spreading that they could be considered non-spreading types of ginger.
To make sure the variety you wish to grow is not super aggressive, check the web for your ginger’s growth behavior before committing to planting it. Are ornamental gingers invasive looks at this topic.
Fortunately, common ginger falls into the slow-moving category, as do several of the Curcuma genus members. This group holds the turmerics. There is little risk of these types of ginger spreading into the wild.
They are mainly spread within your garden by the gardener. A good outcome of these plants, especially the turmerics, is the simple thing of missing a rhizome or two when you harvest them.
The turmeric grows the roots like fingers of a hand, but with lots of fingers. It is very easy to accidentally break one or more off as you pull them out of the garden bed.
These will grow next season, and we have plants that have done this everywhere here where we live. It is terrific because you can rely on these as a backup when we run short.
Conclusions on growing space for gingers.
- Tall gingers require lots of room.
- Shorter ginger varieties can be planted in tubs and pots.
- Common ginger can be grown closely.
- Turmeric is the same.
- Soil conditions must be prime for a good harvest.
Article by Tim Blanch for TheTropicalHomestead.com. He is a qualified Permaculture designer.