Cold climates are where most people live in this world, and while this is the case, some of the more desirable plants to grow are from warmer temperatures. Ginger is one of these more desirable.
The problem with ginger is that it is not a plant that likes the cold, so many questions have been asked about how to grow ginger in cold climates.
A few people could do with some help, and because we grow a lot of ginger here at home, we feel we are in a position to help others who are just starting.
We have paid attention to the more common queries about climatic challenges to help the folks considering going down this track. If you are interested, we have other resources on site that look at gingers’ soil and watering requirements. Common ginger may not be the only variety to consider growing, so five types of edible gingers is recommended for alternative gingers to grow. It opens in a new tab.
Does ginger survive winter?
Ginger can survive winter as a stored rhizome, but cannot live as a visible green plant.
Ginger is a tropical plant; growing it outside its natural climatic preferences can be challenging.
When we grow ginger in a cold climate, or at least when we try to, we need to be aware of the plant’s growth behavior and be ready to step in and provide support to the plant if and when required.
How do I protect my ginger in the winter?
The idea of having a ginger plant in the winter is nice, but the reality can be different. First, are we talking about edible ginger plants or growing ornamental gingers?
There is a world of difference between the two, and while some of the ornamental gingers are edible, the growth patterns of the common edible ginger are what we will discuss here. For information on some edible ornamentals, we have an article here.
Ginger has two stages to its annual growth pattern, with the first being a dormant rhizome that will remain as such until the temperatures rise enough to trigger the second stage, which is green growth.
Because we are discussing the protection of ginger during winter, we can assume we are talking about the dormant rhizomes. To protect the dormant ginger rhizomes, they should be kept in a dark, dry place above 15C. (60F)
If we are talking about ornamental ginger that has leaves all year round, the plant will be fine if the temperature is above the same. Any colder and the plant is likely to suffer and slowly decline.
Will ginger live through winter?
Some ornamental gingers will live through winter; however, edible ginger or common ginger will be dormant at this time of the year.
The real question is, how cold is your winter? If you get a mild winter, your ornamental gingers should be okay, but harsh winters are a no-go for these plants.
What do you do with frozen ginger plants?
If the plant is completely frozen and it is not a passing frost, then the probability of saving your plant is pretty low. The plant is tropical in origin and not suited to extreme cold.
To try to save your ginger plant, cut off all vegetation that is above the soil surface. We will assume the plant is in a pot or tub that can be relocated here, so we suggest you take the plant into a dry, cool location and let the rhizome thaw out.
This is by no means a sure success because we don’t know the damage done internally to the rhizome.
Remember that it is a tropical plant with no internal protective method against harm from the deep cold. It has never had to adapt to very cold climates.
How cold is too cold for ginger?
The coldest temperature for growing ginger is spring conditions in zone 6B in the USDA hardy zone range. Zone 6B minimum winter temperatures are -5 to 0F (-18C) but planting ginger in spring will miss the harmful lows.
This is only achievable when spring has well and truly arrived, and the chance of a late frost is all but gone. We don’t recommend planting out your ginger until the last frost at the earliest.
You can start the gingers indoors while it is still cold outside before eventually moving them out when the conditions are better for ginger growing. If you can get the soil temperature of the pot where the ginger rhizome is planted in up to 77F (25C), you can potentially trick the ginger into growth.
Does frost hurt ginger?
Frost can harm ginger, but a mild frost should only set the plant back a bit and should not kill it.
You may miss the best of the rhizome growing season because of this setback. However, the rhizome should recover and continue to grow. Plan on saving the rhizome for the following seasons planting because the rhizome’s size at this season’s end is likely inferior.
Is ginger frost resistant?
Ginger plants are not what you call frost resistant but are more frost sensitive. Frosts rarely occur where ginger grows naturally, so the plants don’t have natural protection from cold conditions.
They will be fine with a quick cold snap that is above the frost temperature.
Can ginger survive winter outside?
Ginger rhizomes are very likely not to survive winter outside and are more likely to rot in the ground from a deep winter.
If the winter is below 15C (60F), ornamental ginger will start to suffer. For every 5 degrees the temperature further falls, the more damage is done, and the plant will succumb to the cold.
The plant is just not conditioned to the cold. Freezing winters are so far out of its natural zone it is a wonder that some people can get a harvest from it in these colder climates.
Will ginger come back after a freeze?
If the freeze is fleeting, there is a slight chance of the plant coming back. However, it is not something that can be relied upon. Freezing the ginger rhizome will likely rupture the cells within the rhizome and kill it.
When the rhizome is in its dormant stage, it is conserving energy for the coming growing season. Freezing the rhizome will stop this in its tracks.
Is ginger cold tolerant?
Ginger is tolerant of short cold periods, but the plant will most definitely suffer from extended cold spells. After all, it is a tropical plant where the minimum temperatures are above 0C in mid-winter.
It can tolerate these temperatures overnight as long as the soil temperatures are above the ambient surface temperature readings.
Can you leave ginger in the ground over winter?
If you live in an area where the ground freezes, you cannot leave ginger rhizomes in the ground. If your winters are sub-tropical to tropical, then yes, you can leave the rhizomes in place in your garden.
This is the ginger’s natural environment and has evolved to continue growing this way. The rhizomes can be left in the ground for as many years as you wish.
We have done this for many years with little to no loss from rot. We may get the odd insect attack, but it is usually very localized to just one rhizome clump, not yard-wide.
How do you keep a ginger plant over the winter?
The ginger must be grown in a glass house or poly-tunnel to maintain heat. If the ginger is in a movable pot or container, it is best to bring it indoors into the warmth to avoid cold shock to the plant.
To keep a ginger plant over the winter, we must assume that the ginger is an ornamental because common edible ginger has a dormant rhizome this time of the year. In contrast, many ornamental gingers keep leaves all year.
How do you revive a ginger plant?
If the plant is suffering from the cold, the best method of reviving the ginger is to move it indoors or out of the cold somehow.
How much rough treatment the ginger suffered will decide how successful you are at reviving the plant. Once a ginger rhizome has been frozen, it is doubtful that it will sprout fresh shoots.
What temperature does ginger grow in?
Gingers love tropical temperatures where the average winter temps are in the low single figures C and have a summer high in the mid to high 30’sC. This is associated with high humidity and plenty of rainfall.
This is the prime ginger growing climate, and to get some idea of how productive this plant can be in this climate, growing lots of ginger details how to get a lot of rhizomes from a small space.
What climate does ginger grow in?
This is a subset of the question above. The climate that ginger grows in natively is tropical, but ginger can be successfully grown in sub-tropical and temperate climates with good outcomes.
The further from the tropics you are, the more risk there is to your ginger plant from cold conditions and all of the issues that come with that.
What are the best growing conditions for ginger?
The best temperature conditions for growing ginger are warm nights and hot days. The best soil conditions are organically rich, well-draining soils that are mildly acidic in pH.
Ginger also enjoys partly sunny positions and will happily grow in full shade. The further from the tropics the more sun the ginger plant will require.
To grow and care for edible ginger plants in cold climates the following items need to be considered.
- Ginger is frost sensitive and not frost tolerant.
- Rhizomes must be lifted at the onset of freezing weather.
- Start your ginger plants indoors before the growing season begins outdoors.
- Don’t assume that a ginger is dead if a frost kills the leaves.
- The warmer you can make the area around your ginger, the better.
- Edible ginger grows differently to many ornamental gingers.
Article by Tim Blanch for TheTropicalHomestead.com. He is a qualified Permaculture designer.