Growing Gingers

Growing Gingers

Provided that conditions are right for the plants they will mostly look after themselves. They are relatively pest free although caterpillars can cause damage and Red Spider mite, if they are kept too dry.

The plants are quite hungry feeders and require a good feed and plenty of water when in full growth. If allowing dying back for the winter then should not be fed after the end of August. They must not be waterlogged over winter as this can be fatal for them, opposed to when in full growth the can almost be aquatic.

The plants will start to grow in the spring when the average soil temperature gets above ten degrees centigrade. So I plant them with spring bulbs to give me any early flush of colour and as they fade the gingers start to grow through. The gingers will continue growth until the first frosts, and then they start to pull the energy back to the rhizome. The stem will then separate quite freely when ready and will literally ‘pop off’. If in a pot then it can be put in the garden shed for the winter or if you wish to keep them going, bring into the conservatory. Do not lift the rhizome like you do to Cannas as they take at least a year to ‘settle in’ and so if you lift it is difficult for them to flower in the following year.

The ginger rhizome is best divided in the early summer when they are in full growth, simply by slicing it up. Doing it at this time, allows you to see where the new stems are and the exposed sliced area will heal quite quickly. Late slicing as the plant slows, delays healing and can allow rots to set in.

The variety Forestii is a tall species and will readily grow and flower in the garden here on the South Coast, a good one to try as a tester. Others like Coccineum, Chrysoleucum, Greenii, Densiflorum and Densiflorum ‘Stephen’ will grow and flower in the garden here on the coast if put in a bit more of a sunny spot. One of the more spectacular flowered vareties is the Gardnerianum and I have had this one grow and flower in the garden given a sunny spot. You can semi-cheat by growing in a pot and sinking it into the garden over the summer and lift for the winter. In this way you get the best of both with keeping it in a pot for the winter without root disturbance and getting them off to a good start before putting out for the summer.