Zingiber officinale
Common Name: common ginger 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Zingiberaceae
Native Range: Tropical Asia
Zone: 9 to 12
Height: 2.00 to 4.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 4.00 feet
Bloom Time: Seasonal bloomer
Bloom Description: Yellow and purple bicolor
Sun: Part shade
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Annual, Herb

Culture

This tropical plant, needing plenty of heat and humidity, may find a temporary home in a partially shady spot of your summer garden, but pot culture is more practical for an extended growing period. The best way to start ginger is to purchase a fresh (not dried or frozen) root at a grocery store in early spring. Cut the root (rhizome) into 1- or 2-" sections but long enough to include several healthy-looking, well-developed growth buds. Let the cut ends callous over (dry out) a day or so, then plant just below the soil surface in fertile, well-drained soil. Water sparingly until top growth develops, otherwise the rhizome could rot. Once established, water heavily, fertilize monthly, and keep in a partially shaded location. Bring in before temperatures drop below 50°F. Rhizomes may rot in cold wet soil. Allow several months before harvesting to allow rhizomes to reach adequate size. With care, new sections may be harvested while allowing the remainder to continue growing.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Zingiber officinale, known as common ginger, is a rhizomatous perennial thought to be native to Southeast Asia but widely cultivated throughout the tropics since antiquity. Mature plants will reach 3-4' tall and 2-3' wide with upright psudostems made of tightly rolled leaf sheaths and a spreading, shallow, fleshy root system. The fibrous, aromatic rhizomes are branched and can reach around 1" in diameter. The leaves are lanceolate in shape and will reach 6-12" long and 0.75-1" wide. Upright, 1' tall, club-like flowering stalks emerge from the rhizomes, bearing 0.75-1" long, yellow and purple flowers surrounded by tightly appressed green bracts. The fruits are red, three-parted capsules that are filled with small, black seeds.

The genus name Zingiber is thought to originate from a Greek name for ginger zingiveris which, in turn, is said to derive from a Sanskrit name for ginger srngavera.

Specific epithet means "sold in shops" and was applied to plants with supposed medicinal properties.

Problems

Rhizomes are subject to root rot in cold and wet conditions.

Uses

Suitable for use as an accent specimen in tropical gardens. Can also be grown in greenhouses, or containerized and overwintered indoors in cold climates. The fresh or frozen rhizome is grated or sliced for use in soups, stir fries, and numerous other vegetable, meat and seafood based dishes. Crystallized ginger root is a popular confection. The young sprouts are also edible. Dried and ground ginger is often used in baked goods, candies, and puddings. Ginger has long been used as an herbal remedy for stomach upset, congestion, and sore throats.