Ginger can grow in sandy soil but understand that you are likely faced with a bunch of work feeding the gingers throughout the growing season. We explain more below.
Because ginger is so widely sought after, it is often grown far from its natural environment, which also means far from its naturally preferred soil types. Sometimes we cannot match the soil types that ginger grows best in and use the available soil.
This brings us to the question of whether ginger will grow in sand. This growing medium has beneficial properties that will work in your favor, and there are a few significant downsides to using it.
Benefits of growing ginger in sand.
The primary benefit to growing ginger in the sand is the free draining behavior of the typical sand. Another benefit is the lack of compaction, allowing for easy rhizome growth without restriction. Funnily, we have an article on “can you overwater ginger?” It seems apropos here.
Disadvantages of growing ginger in sand.
The most significant disadvantage is the free drainage. So many nutrients are lost to leaching into the lower zones of the sand that plants cannot reach the nutrients and end up starving. The way around this is to feed the soil with deep mulch constantly.
As this mulch decays, it will help feed the plants, but the nutrients time within the ginger’s root zone is fleeting, so you must keep applying the mulch all season. Nutrients aren’t all that is lost to the depths of the sandy soil.
Water travels fast in sand, and the chances of the ginger being stressed from insufficient water are pretty high. The way around this is to dig organic matter into the sandy soil before you plant any ginger.
This will be a constant task every season because it will wash deeper into the sand as it breaks down.
What type of soil does ginger grow best in?
We have discovered that the best soil for ginger is a friable loamy mixture rich in humus and organic matter. Deep loamy soils can help water drain freely, which is vital to stop rhizomes from rotting due to excess moisture.
Soils that cannot drain are where gingers will rot in the ground and never come back. It is far easier to grow ginger when all the best conditions are present, and “how to care for a ginger plant” becomes a straightforward process.
How do you prepare soil for ginger?
To prepare the soil for planting ginger into, spreading a mix of aged animal manure is a good start, and if you have access to quality compost, this can be dug into the soil.
There is no need to dig deeply because ginger is a shallow-rooted plant that will feed from the top 2 inches of the soil.
Applying a good mulch to the soil is essential as it will help retain moisture, feed the soil, increase biological activity at the soil surface, and help control competitive weeds.
Do gingers like acidic soil?
Ginger grows best in acidic soils at a pH range of 5.5 to 6.5. It will grow in soils that are slightly above seven, but the acidic soils are where ginger thrives.
The natural zones where ginger is native to are, for the most part, quite acidic. This soil type helps break down the humus and organic matter and allows it to be recycled back into the soil.
Does ginger like wet or dry soil?
Ginger likes moist soil. It can survive dry soils for some time when dormant, but once the rhizome has shot up new growth, the plant needs moist soil. Wet soil can rot the rhizome and should be avoided.
Ginger comes from the tropics, where there is plenty of rain, so it is used to moisture. It prefers moist organic-rich soils that make the nutrients and water available to the plant without the roots becoming waterlogged and potentially rotting.
What environment does ginger grow in?
Ginger will grow in many different environments, but it grows naturally in the rainforest setting. There is no single environment that is best for ginger that is not a tropical location.
We are fortunate that ginger is very adaptable to many different climatic variations and will grow in surprising places. The disclaimer here is that the further from the tropics, the more effort, and consideration is needed to ensure worthwhile growth.
What conditions do ginger plants like?
Ginger loves a humid atmosphere in warm to hot temperatures in soils that are acidic and full of recycled nutrients.
If you can match some of these you are on the way to growing a good harvest of fat edible ginger rhizomes.
Ornamental gingers are similar in demand, but they are more likely to be planted in a yard or sculpted landscape. Hence, warm temperatures are more critical to these varieties.
What zones does ginger grow in?
Ginger will grow in zones 11 down to zone 6B. The lower zones can only grow edible gingers when the spring temperatures are starting to rise.
Ginger does not like cold soil at all. If this is your location, your area will/should/might have gardeners who have likely already tried to grow gingers, so it is worth talking to them to understand any localized challenges you will face, and maybe they have workarounds that can help.
Can ginger grow without soil?
Yes, ginger has successfully been grown without using soil. There are a few methods that allow you to grow ginger without soil, and some of them are being used as commercial methods. These include hydroponics and aquaponics.
These are often experimental projects that rely on mechanical components to maintain water flows and nutrient levels.
Does ginger need soil?
Ginger needs soil to grow if you wish to produce it naturally, but there are ways to grow ginger where no soil is used. Your circumstances will point you to how you grow your ginger.
We grow all of our edible ginger in the ground because we are located in the wet tropics of Northeast Australia, where several varieties of ginger are native plants. It is a simple task to plant it and ignore it. We do consider ourselves fortunate in this regard.
How do you root ginger in water?
Ginger can be rooted in moist paper towels in a container that will keep the moisture locked in, but placing a ginger rhizome just in water can potentially rot the rhizome before it takes root.
This is not to say that it will not work, but the risks are greater for a failed attempt if the root is submerged in water. The method is based on the simulation of moist soil in the darkness of a mulched garden bed, where a rhizome will usually be planted before it shoots.
This way of rooting your ginger can be a great way to get an early start with ginger if you live in zone 6 or 7, where your warmer seasons may not be as long as the preferred 8-10 months for big ginger rhizomes.
The plant can be indoors and have its first leaf up before the outside temperatures are warm enough to allow you to plant it in the garden.
How long does it take for ginger to root in water?
The wet paper towel method can take up to 6 weeks for a result to show in the form of growth buds. These will start from the nodes on a ginger rhizome and turn a soft white before they extend from the rhizome body.
You must be careful when handling these fresh tips, as they are susceptible to handling and can easily be knocked from the rhizome. This will be the end of that node’s growing chances.
This list is a breakdown of growing ginger in sand.
- Sand drains water and nutrients fast.
- Sand needs heavy mulch applications.
- Sandy soil will need annual attention.
- Sandy soil has little chance of rotting your ginger rhizomes.
Article by Tim Blanch for TheTropicalHomestead.com. He is a qualified Permaculture designer.