Ginger plants

There's something that I have to admit to you. I'm addicted to ginger plants. I mean, really addicted. I don't just like them, because lets face it, what's not to like. No, I'm truly obsessed with them. The spicy fragrances, the wide variety of flower forms and colors, the delicious edible rhizomes. I love them all.

All gingers belong to the order zingiberales. The order is shared with bananas(musaceae), bird of paradise(strelitziaceae), heliconias(heliconeaceae), and the prayer plants (marantaceae). There are two families of gingers: costaceae, and zingiberaceae.

Spiral Gingers (Costaceae)

The spiral gingers, sometimes called the corkscrew gingers, are pantropical in distribution. Most of them were lumped into the genus Costus, but that genus was recently split into four genera, which more accurately reflect their phylogenetic relationships (something that I argued in favor of for many years). All members of this family can easily be identified by their true stems. As a result of having true stems, members of this family can be reproduced asexually via stem cuttings without harming the rhizome. Frequently they do this on their own. When the older stems fall over, they root themselves to the ground and grow new shoots. I've seen Costus spicatus take over shady yards in just this manner.

Pseudostemmed Gingers (Zingiberaceae)

The vast majority of ginger species (over 1300 species) reside in this family. This is the family of the most famous ginger of all: the ubiquitous culinary ginger Zingiber officinale. What would Asian cuisine be without this aromatic spice?

These gingers do not have true stems. Like bananas, their shoots are really just leaf petioles wrapped around each other to form a rigid, roughly cylindrical pseudostem. Because these pseudostems do not contain meristem tissue, they cannot be asexually reproduced from stem cuttings. In order to propagate these gingers, you must divide the rhizome.

These are the gingers I am currently growing:

Alpinia nutans Alpinia zerumbet, shell ginger Boesenbergia rotunda, fingerroot, chinese keys Costus barbatus, red tower ginger Chamaecostus cuspidatus, fiery Costus
Alpinia
nutans
Alpinia
zerumbet
Boesenbergia
rotunda
Costus
barbatus
Chamaecostus
cuspidatus
Cheilocostus speciosus, crepe paper ginger Cheilocostus spicatus Chamaecostus subsessillis Curcuma alismatifolia, Thai tulip Curcuma elata, hidden ginger
Cheilocostus
speciosus
Costus
spicatus
Chamaecostus
subsessilis
Curcuma
alismatifolia
Curcuma
elata
Curcuma rubrobracteata Globba racemosa, fairy ginger Hedychium coronarium, butterfly ginger Hedychium luna moth Kaempferia gigantea
Curcuma
rubrobracteata
Globba
schomburgkii
Hedychium
coronarium
Hedychium
luna moth
Kaempferia
grande
Monocostus uniflorus Siphonochilus kirkii Curcuma longa, turmeric
Monocostus
uniflorus
Siphonochilus
kirkii
Curcuma
longa

How To Grow Grocery Store Ginger

If you have ever seen fresh ginger rhizomes in the grocery store, and wondered if they could be grown, the answer is yes. They are actually very easy to grow. It is best to start them in early Spring. Simply take a piece of the rhizome, making sure that it has at least one "eye" on it. The eyes look like little blunt points, and are usually found near the tips of the rhizome. A small piece of rhizome can fill a three gallon pot in one season, so give it enough room to grow. Fill a container with fertile potting soil, lay the rhizome on its side, and cover it with half an inch of potting soil. Keep it moist and warm, and it will quickly begin to grow. Culinary ginger (Zingiber officinale) likes a lot of light. Almost, but not quite full sun is best. When the rhizome is just starting to grow, use a fertilizer with higher nitrogen to promote vegetative growth. Around the middle of the season, switch to a more balanced fertilizer. Higher levels of phosphorus cause the rhizomes to swell and become thick and juicy. A lack of phosphorus is what leads to skinny little rhizomes. When the weather begins to cool, the pseudostems will start to turn brown, and that is when I harvest the rhizomes.