We grow ginger and turmeric at home for cooking and healthy power drinks throughout the year.
Ginger and turmeric are both tropical plants native to Southeast Asia, but with some minor adjustments and a bit of grow zone hacking, you can harvest your own produce in most non-tropical grow zones.
I use the same method for growing turmeric and ginger, and this article will cover my 6-step process from start to finish.
The ginger and turmeric you use for cooking are rhizomes, not roots. A rhizome is like a root but functions like an underground stem that sends out both shoots and roots.  I will use the term rhizome and not root throughout this article.
A 6-step method for growing ginger and turmeric at home
- Select healthy ginger and turmeric rhizomes with at least three eyes or protruding growth points
- Prepare and pre-sprout the rhizomes
- Select your pot or container and soil
- Plant the pre-sprouted turmeric and ginger rhizomes
- How to care for the ginger and turmeric plants
- Harvest the ginger and turmeric rhizomes (and plant some again)
- 1. Select the ginger and turmeric rhizomes
- 2. Prepare and pre-sprout the rhizomes for planting
- 3. Select your pot and soil
- 4. Planting the turmeric and ginger sprouts
- 5. Caring for the ginger & turmeric plants
- 6. Harvest the ginger and turmeric rhizomes (and plant again)
- Frequently asked questions
1. Select the ginger and turmeric rhizomes
When you first start out, buy your ginger and turmeric rhizomes from a supermarket or greengrocer.
Select organic produce if possible. You are looking for fresh specimens. Avoid dry and woody rhizomes. Same as when selecting and growing horseradish, regular non-organic specimens are often treated with growth inhibitors to prevent the produce from sprouting in the store.
By choosing organic ginger and turmeric you improve your chance for success many times over. Look for roots with growth points, eyes, and protruding lumps. Prepare at least 3 specimens as there is not guarantee that all will sprout.
The 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.
I use some of my harvested rhizomes to start new plants. And as you will see in step 6 it is a great way to never have to buy ginger or turmeric again.
And of course, it always feels nicer to start with organic seeds and produce when we are growing for consumption.
2. Prepare and pre-sprout the rhizomes for planting
Not all rhizomes will sprout and thrive into healthy new plants. And this is why it is important to pre-sprout ginger and turmeric before we plant them in pots and containers.
Start by washing the roots gently in room-temperature water. Next, place and wrap the roots in a cloth or paper towel and spray them until moist.
Fold the towel to create a package with the rhizomes inside.
Place the package in a plastic bag and store it in a warm location. Do not seal the plastic bag completely but leave it “more closed than 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 much like a refrigerator generate heat that help the rhizomes sprout. The room is mostly dark but both ginger and turmeric will sprout successfully without light.
Keep the package with the rhizomes 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: Another method is to submerge the whole rhizome 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.
3. Select your pot and soil
I use my 5 component soil mix with great success. But you can use any compost-rich, fertile potting soil. Make sure that the soil is not too firm or solid and that it drains well.
Soil with good drainage is key. Turmeric and ginger want moist but not wet soil. This means watering a lot when growing in pots and containers that have less soil and dry out quicker.
You can add perlite or coarse sand to create a well-draining looser soil structure. After all, we are interested in the growth that occurs underground and looser soil makes it easier for the rhizomes to spread and grow.
Ginger and turmeric spread and grow from the rhizomes 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.
4. Planting the turmeric and ginger sprouts
When you see strong sprouts and roots forming it is time to plant your roots in the 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).
Let the cuts dry or suberize before planting them in the soil to prevent the onset of fungus, diseases, 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 the time of year and your overall situation.
Planting turmeric and ginger outdoors in 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
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 use dark-colored containers as they absorb heat and the rhizomes like a warm growing environment.
When planting later in the year, plant the rhizomes 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
It can take several weeks for the rhizomes to sprout and start producing the first and then true leaves.
This is also one of the reasons why I always pre-sprout my rhizomes in a wet towel.
Pre-sprouting allows me to identify and only plant viable rhizomes. 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. The fact is that it is easy to overwater and end up with a rotting root system.
Remember that the rhizomes want to grow and develop in a moist to wet growing environment. And an occasional dry-out is better than rhizomes standing in soaking wet soil.
Pro tip: You can use 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 the water I also topdress the containers with compost a couple of times during the growing period.
I place my containers with partial exposure to the sun allowing for a maximum of 4-6 hours of direct sunlight.
6. Harvest the ginger and turmeric rhizomes (and plant again)
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. Or in mid-November like this year, when cold weather is coming though we are still seeing an average temperature of above 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit).
With plants in containers, I often use our greenhouses during the colder periods of the year. Light is however always a challenge as the plant does like at least 4-6 hours of sunlight.
Frequently asked questions