How to grow ginger and turmeric at home

We grow ginger and turmeric at home for cooking as well as healthy power drinks throughout the year.

The good news is that it is quite easy to grow ginger and turmeric. And you can grow turmeric and ginger in any zone – as long as you grow in pots or containers.

I use the same exact method for growing turmeric and ginger, and that’s why there will be one article covering all you need to know from preparation to harvest.

1. Choose your pot and soil

I use my 5 component soil mix with great success. But you can use any compost rich, fertile potting soil. Do however make sure that the soil is not too firm or solid and that is drains well.

Plastic pot helps keep soil moist for thriving ginger and turmeric plants
Plastic pot helps keep soil for young turmeric and ginger plants moist and fertile (photo taken 23 jan 2022)

Soil with good drainage is key. Turmeric and ginger are plants that thrive in full sun and when it is hot and humid. This means watering a lot when growing in pots and containers that have less soil and dry out quicker.

If needed you can add perlite, coarse sand and peat moss to create a looser structure. After all, we are interested in the growth that occurs underground and a looser soil makes it easier for the root to spread and grow.

Ginger and turmeric spread and grow from the rhizomes or roots we plant. Much of the growth will be shallow and occur sideways and we need to keep this in mind when we choose our pot.

The container or pot should have good size drainage holes to help protect against the roots sitting in soaking wet soil.

The pot does not have to be overly deep as long as you have enough planting surface to work with. But do keep in mind that more soil makes it easier to maintain a good level of moisture for the roots. On the other hand it may make the pot or container more difficult to move.

2. Selecting the ginger and turmeric roots

Turmeric with protruding lumps and eyes.
Turmeric with protruding lumps

I use some of my harvested roots to start new plants.

But when you first start out, buy your ginger and turmeric roots from a supermarket or green grocers.

Always look for and select organic produce. Same as when selecting and growing horseradish roots, regular non-organic roots are often treated with growth inhibitors to prevent the roots sprouting in the store.

By choosing organic ginger and turmeric you improve your chance for success many times over.

And of course it always feels nicer to start with organic seeds and produce when we are growing for consumption.

Look for roots with eyes and protruding lumps.

These eyes and lumps are where you will see the new shoots sprout.

Look for pieces of turmeric and ginger that have a minimum of 3 protruding lumps.

3. Preparing and pre-sprouting the roots for planting

Pre-sprouting turmeric and sprouts developing nicely
Not quite ready for planting though turmeric roots are pre-sprouting really well

No all roots will sprout and thrive into healthy new plants. And this is why it is important to pre-sprout ginger and turmeric before we plant in pots and containers.

Start by washing the roots gently in tepid water. Next place and wrap the roots in on a cloth or paper towel and spray them until moist.

Make sure you fold the towel to create a package with the roots inside.

Place the package in a plastic bag and store in a warm location. Do not seal the plastic bag completely but leave it “more closed tha open”. Remember, both turmeric and ginger will sprout and grow in hot and humid environments and you do want some condensation on the inside of the plastic bag. .

We often place the plastic bag with the roots in one of our greenhouses as it provides a warm, bright and moist environment from early spring and onwards.

During the colder part of the year I place the plastic bag with the roots in our utility room on top of the boiler. The boiler will muck like a refrigerators generate heat that help the roots sprout. The room is mostly dark but both ginger and turmeric will sprout successfully without light.

Keep the package with the roots moist and continue to lightly spray the roots 2 – 5 times a week depending on external factors. It is perfectly fine to fold the towel as the roots will sprout when kept in the dark as long as the environment is moist and warm. . 

It can take several weeks for the roots to grow and develop healthy sprouts. When you start seeing strong healthy buds form, it is time to move on to the next step.

Tip: It is also possible to submerge the whole root in water. Keep the container in a warm and dark room and replace the water every other day or so. I do however get better results using a moist paper towel.

4. Planting the turmeric and ginger sprouts

Ginger sprout ready to be planted
Ginger root sprouting and ready to be planted

When you see strong sprouts and roots forming it is time to plant your roots in soil.

If you have a large root with only 1 or 2 buds you do not have to plant the whole root.

Instead use a sharp knife to cut out the buds with roots and all. Try creating pieces that are no smaller than 3 centimeters (1 inch). But the rest of your root can be used for cooking.

But if you do cut pieces from your root you should let the cuts dry or suberize before planting them in soil to prevent the onset of fungus, dieases and root rot.

You can keep the cuttings in the same towel as before. You just want the cuts to dry before exposing the roots to the soil.

When you are ready to plant the roots, you have a couple of choices depending on time of year and your overall situation.

Planting turmeric and ginger outdoors early spring

If you are planting outdoors in early spring you can simply plant your buds around the edges of your planting boxes or vegetable garden. The plant and roots will need up to 11 months to develop and therefore you are looking at a harvest late in the year. 

When you plant early in the year, plant the roots about 7 centimeters / 3 inches deep. Planting deep protects the root during the colder periods of the year.

Do not plant too early in the year as turmeric and ginger do not take well to temperatures below 10 C / 50 F.

Planting anytime and in any zone in pots and containers

Turmeric and ginger are fast growing plants
Same plant as above (photo taken 9 feb 2022)

I prefer to plant my ginger and turmeric in containers or planting boxes.

One of the reasons is that I plant 2-3 times a year. And I like to be able to move my plants indoors during the colder part of the year.

I try to choose black containers as they absorb heat and the rhizomes like a warm growing environment. 

Regardless, when planting later in the year plant the roots more shallowly at about 2-3 centimeters (1 inch) deep.

Then cover the roots with soil. Planting the roots shallow will give the roots more warmth from the sun during the warmer periods of the year.

As you can see from the photo the turmeric and ginger plants (also) display impressive above ground growth.

5. Caring for the ginger & turmeric plants (roots)

It can take several weeks for the roots to sprout and start producing first and true leaves.

This is also one of the reasons why I always pre-sprout my roots in a wet towel. 

Pre-sprouting allows me to identify and only plant viable roots. It also cuts down on the time needed before we can see that something happens above ground.

And still to this day, after having planted hundreds of pots I still get impatient when I look after a “pot of soil” for weeks on end. 

I know there is activity below the surface. But we can only be sure when we see growth and activity.

One of the more difficult things at this stage is to water enough but not too much. The soil should be moist to wet. Not wet to soaking. And this is why it is so important that your soil drains well as it will protect you against over watering.

If you think I am being vague you are correct. Fact is that it is easy to overwater and end up with a rotting root system. 

Remember that the roots and rhizomes want to grow and develop in a moist to wet growing environment. And an occasional dry out is better than roots standing in soaking wet soil.

Pro tip: Buy a soil moisture meter to learn how to water your plants in your growing environments. Soil moisture meters come in many shapes and forms and do not have to cost a lot. 

Apart from water I also topdress the containers with compost a couple of times during the growing period. 

I place my containers with full exposure to the sun much like when I grow tomatoes and chillies.

6. Harvest the ginger and turmeric rhizomes

We spend months looking at green leaves growing. At times it even feels like we are growing a plant rather than cultivating rhizomes underground.

But then finally after almost a year it is time to harvest our rhizomes. 

You can of course harvest earlier. Why not harvest one plant after 6 months to see if you are pleased with the yield?

When I plant outdoors I always harvest when the frost kills the plant. 

With plants in containers I do grow in greenhouses during the colder periods of the year. Light is however always a challenge as the plant does like full sunlight.

Frequently asked questions

Meet the author: Mattias is an experienced gardener spending most of his free time on his knees among herbs, plants and garden vegetables. For the past two years he has been sharing gardening projects and how-to tutorials on the NordicLavender website and YouTube channel.