Zingiber officinale (zing-ee-ber oh-fiss-ih-NAH-lee) is a tropical perennial member of the Zingiberaceae family of plants.
It originally came from Southeast Asia’s tropical and subtropical forests, but it has been traded around the world for hundreds of years due to its value as a culinary spice and medicinal herb.
Today, this tropical plant is grown in many tropical settings, including Nepal, China, India, Africa, Australia, the Caribbean, and Central America.
The plant’s genus name, Zingiber, is derived from the Greek word zingiveris. It is believed that this word originated from the Sanskrit word srngavera, which means “shaped like the antlers of a deer.”
The specific epithet, officinale, identifies the plant as having medicinal properties and refers to the fact that it has long been “sold in shops.”
You may occasionally see Common Ginger listed as Zingiber officinale Roscoe or zingiberis rhizoma.
The plant is also commonly called:
- Common Ginger
- Culinary Ginger
- Edible Ginger
- Ginger Root
Zingiber Officinale: Edible Ginger
- Zingiber Officinale: Edible Ginger
- Zingiber Officinale Care
- How To Propagate Zingiber Officinale
- Suggested Zingiber Officinale Uses
Zingiber Officinale Care
Size and Growth
Edible Ginger typically grows about 2′ to 4′ feet tall and wide.
Flowering and Fragrance
Ginger plants that were grown in containers very rarely flower. These plants in the landscape bloom in the springtime.
They produce foot-high flower stalks bearing purple and yellow flowers that are about an inch long. The blooms are surrounded by tight green bracts.
Culinary Ginger’s lance-shaped green leaves may be up to a foot long and are about an inch wide. The plant resembles an ornamental grass.
Light and Temperature
These tropical jungle plants like bright, indirect sunlight or dappled shade. Avoid exposure to the harsh, hot sun. Protect the plants from high winds.
Culinary Ginger is winter hardy in USDA hardiness zones 8 to 12 and does best in temperatures that are consistently between 68° and 77° degrees Fahrenheit.
Plants in containers should be brought indoors before temperatures drop below 50° degrees Fahrenheit in the fall.
Watering and Feeding
Ginger likes soil that is evenly moist but never soggy. Make sure to keep the soil moist but avoid waterlogged soil.
Allow the top couple of inches of soil to dry before providing a thorough watering. Avoid overhead watering.
When you plant your Common Ginger roots in early spring, provide a feeding of a complete fertilizer containing calcium and phosphorus. Continue to use this product as a side dressing once every two or three weeks throughout the growing season.
In the autumn, after you have harvested your Ginger roots, treat the soil with lime to help establish the right pH levels for spring planting.
Container plants kept as houseplants do well with a soak and dry watering throughout the growing season. Reduce watering in the autumn and winter.
Plants in containers can be fertilized twice a month throughout the growing season using a seaweed or fish emulsion fertilizer. Do not fertilize in autumn and winter.
Soil and Transplanting
Whether in the landscape or in containers, Edible Ginger likes soil that is light and airy and well enriched with plenty of organic matter such as rotted manure and compost.
When planted in the garden or landscape, Ginger plants will spread horizontally through shallowly buried rhizomes.
You can encourage plumper roots by mounding up rich soil and composting over and around the rhizomes as they spread. You should hill up the soil several times during the growing season.
Remember that ginger plants are best planted in late winter or early spring.
Moreover, repot container plants once every two or three years.
Grooming and Maintenance
You will know it is time to harvest your Culinary Ginger when the stems and leaves dry out and fall over. When this happens, remove the dead foliage and dig up your ginger roots carefully by hand.
When harvesting or transplanting Ginger rhizomes, avoid damaging the thin brown corky outer layer that protects the yellow interior of the root.
Brush off excess soil and allow the rhizomes to air and dry for several days before storing them for winter.
Don’t keep Ginger roots intended for replanting in cold storage.
You can also place the ginger in a pot so you can move the ginger indoors in the winter to protect it from harsh conditions.
How To Propagate Zingiber Officinale
You can start ginger using a rhizome/root purchased in the produce section of your local grocery store. Look for fresh, unrefrigerated Ginger early in the springtime.
Organically grown ginger is the most likely to grow successfully. Commercially grown ginger may have been treated with a growth inhibitor.
Choose a large root with several sections and multiple growth buds (eyes). You can cut the rhizome into one or 2-inch sections, but be sure that each section has at least one growth bud.
Allow the sections to air for a couple of days so that the cuts will callus over. Plant them shallowly in warm, well-draining, fertile soil. The soil temperature should be (and should remain) about 77º degrees Fahrenheit.
Water sparingly until you begin to see new growth. Once you are sure your Ginger root has started to grow, give it a good watering and a dose of fertilizer.
Place your new plant in a warm, protected, partially shaded area.
Zingiber Officinale Main Pest Or Diseases
Outside of ideal tropical settings, Common Ginger plants are quite susceptible to problems that are caused by a cold, wet setting.
Root rot and other fungal problems like bacterial wilt and rhizome rot are also common.
The foliage is often affected by viral diseases and leaf spots.
Ornamental Ginger planted in the landscape may be attractive to root nematodes.
Kept as houseplants, Common Ginger may be subject to infestation by whiteflies and mealybugs.
Indoors or outdoors, you can avoid these problems by avoiding overwatering and overcrowding. Provide light, airy, well-draining soil, good air circulation, consistent warmth, and the right amount of sunlight.
Is the plant considered toxic or poisonous to people, kids, and pets?
Although Culinary Ginger is edible, it is by no means entirely harmless. It is generally safe when used in small amounts to season food.
Herbal supplements containing ginger are typically safe, but it is wise to consult your doctor before adding them to your daily supplement routine. Negative interactions with prescription and herbal medications can occur.
Raw Ginger root and foliage are not usually palatable. Ingesting large quantities could cause bloating, stomach upset, and heartburn.
Is the plant considered invasive?
It can and does naturalize in tropical settings where Culinary Ginger is grown commercially. As a result, it is considered invasive in Taiwan and listed as an undesirable weed in Australia and Puerto Rico.
Suggested Zingiber Officinale Uses
Common Ginger root has many uses in the kitchen and folk medicine. It’s mostly used for treating dizziness, nausea, and motion sickness.
It is also an excellent addition and a popular spice to Asian dishes, cakes, cookies, and more.
Moreover, crystallized ginger root makes tasty candy. Tasty Ginger tea can help soothe upset stomachs and sore throats and may help clear your sinuses.
If growing Ginger Root as a crop outside of a tropical setting, you may wish to grow it in a greenhouse to have a long enough growing season to harvest mature rhizomes.
These have a stronger, spicier flavor than immature rhizomes and are more powerful for herbal remedies or when used as a dried spice.
In cold climates, Ginger can also be grown as an annual herb. Plant it in your herb or veggie garden in spring after all danger of frost has passed and the soil is reliably warm.
Harvest it at the end of the summer as mild-flavored “baby ginger.” Fresh ginger is better used as a fresh ingredient in stir fries or when dehydrated to make candy.
Fresh ginger can also be cooked with, shredded, diced, and minced.
Edible Ginger makes a pretty specimen plant in a tropical garden. Ginger in containers can also be kept indoors in winter and outdoors on a patio, porch, or other sheltered settings in spring and summer.
As an ornamental plant, Ginger can be attractive when included in mixed combination gardens, used as a mass planting, or placed in planters in shady settings.
You can also plant ginger outdoors under a taller crop or in a vegetable garden as a seasonal plant. Planting ginger under fruit trees also makes an ideal canopy for the ginger plant.