Zingiber officinale, or Common Ginger, is the main source of ginger root in commerce today. Common ginger is native to SE Asia. The plant has slender reed-like stems with dark glossy green leaves arising from tuberous rhizomes. Plants will reach about 20 inches (45 cm) tall and the lanceolate leaves reach 7 inches (17.5 cm) long. The spice known as ginger has been used for centuries as flavoring and as a treatment for all sorts of ailments from motion sickness to athlete's foot. They easy to culture and are hardy from USDA zones 8-12.
Blooming: The inflorescence is a small cone-like, dense spike arising from the rhizome in summer. The entire spike is about 3 inches (7.5 cm) long; flowers are yellow-green with a purple lip and cream-colored spots. They are very inconspicuous and not showy at all. Some cultivars of Zingiber officinale are sterile and very rarely produce flowers.
Culture: Zingiber officinale need a fertile, moist soil, partial shade and warm temperatures. In the greenhouse, we use a soil mix consisting of 2 parts peat moss to 2 parts loam to 1 part sand or perlite. During the growing season, the plants are kept moist but not overly wet and fertilized on a monthly basis with a balanced fertilizer. Rhizomes planted in the spring will spread enough to fill a 5-gallon container in one season. During the winter month, the plants should be rested. We lift the rhizomes out of the soil in fall and store them in vermiculite for the winter, replanting them early in the spring.
Propagation: Zingiber officinale is propagated by division.
Zingiber officinale was featured as Plant of the Week October 29-November 4, 2004.
Guide to Past Plants-of-the-Week:
Cal's Plant of the Week was provided as a service by the University of Oklahoma Department of Microbiology & Plant Biology and specifically the late Cal Lemke, who used to be OU's botany greenhouse grower and an avid gardener at home as well. If the above links don't work, then try the overview site. You may also like to look at the thumbnail index. ©1998-2012 All rights reserved.