Ginger FAQ

What are Gingers?

Hedychiums, Cautleya, Roscoea and Zingibers are referred to as gingers. They’re evergreen or deciduous perennials with an underground rhizome. The ‘ginger’ that you buy from the supermarket is in fact the rhizome of the plant Hedychium officionalis. All gingers have attractive, lush foliage and most ornamental species produce beautiful flowers – often highly scented.

Are they hardy?

Some species such as Hedychium greenii, Zingiber ‘Dancing crane’ and Roscoea purpurea are pretty tough and will survive outdoors in sheltered areas with a protection of thick mulch. Some species require the protection of a frost free greenhouse or shed in winter while others are tropical and require a heated greenhouse or conservatory in winter.

How big and how fast will they grow?

They pretty vigorous – a plant in a 2/3L pot will make a sizeable clump in a season. Some species grow to 2m. Others are more diminutive.

Will they grow in pots?

Yes – they grow fine in pots. Remember that all plants in pots are more vulnerable to frost in winter than those planted in the ground.

What’s the best position and soil type for Gingers?

Either full sun or sun/part shade. They like a deep, rich soil with lots of organic matter.

How much food and water should I give them?

During the growing season they like a fair amount of water and plenty of feed. In a hot summer, plants in pots will require daily watering and a weekly dose of plant feed. Plants in the ground benefit from an annual dose of fertilizer sprinkled over the surface or a mulch of well-rotted manure.

Are they susceptible to pests and diseases?

Young shoots may be nibbled by slugs but usually not a major problem. Outdoors they are generally problem-free. Under glass they may come under attack from red spider mite. As far as we are aware they do not suffer from any serious disease in the UK.

What do I do with them in the winter?

Mulch hardy species in the ground with a thick layer of straw. Lift more vulnerable species and pot so that they are snug in their pots (they don’t like to sit in cold wet compost) and store in a frost free environment. In a heated conservatory many species will remain evergreen. Tender species will require a minimum of 5 degrees centigrade. Keep potted gingers barely moist in the winter months.

When can I plant them outside?

Don’t be tempted to plant them out until the end of May/beginning of June. A late frost, although not fatal will set them back considerably.

Are they edible?

Yes they are but why would you want to devour a beautiful ornamental plant when it’s much more cost effective to buy culinary ginger from green grocer?