Gingers are one of the easiest and most beautiful tropical flowers you can grow in the garden. In some cases, they are also the most fragrant; such as with butterfly ginger. But how can you protect these beautiful plants if you live in northern climates? Here are a few tips.
You can choose to either dig up the entire rhizome in the fall or take only a smaller piece of it; it's really up to you. If you want more than one plant the following spring, you can break the rhizome up into several pieces and then store it for the winter using one of the two methods below.
Just be aware that dividing the rhizome will often delay blooming in some varieties (like Shampoo Ginger). More aggressive gingers may still bloom after division (like Butterfly and Kahili).
Overwintering Ginger Tips
- If you've got the space indoors to do so, bring them inside in a pot and let them do their thing. A window with good sunlight is best; a halide or LED grow light will work too. Gingers are sturdy and will grow year round, though they will go partially dormant over the winter indoors. And that's a good thing. Keep the soil moist but not wet and check to make sure the rhizome is firm a few times throughout the winter. Chances are you may get a few new stems of growth starting just in time to put it back out for the spring.
- If you don't have space, try digging up the rhizomes and then store them in dry peat in a cool and dry location. You want them to go dormant - thus preventing them from growing and/or rotting. This may take some experimenting on your end, and the first year you try this you might even want to keep a small pot with your rhizomes in it as a backup. Check the rhizome a few times throughout the winter - it should remain firm, though some shrinkage is normal.
In the spring, after the danger of the last frost has passed, re-plant your rhizome in the yard and hopefully by the fall you'll have blooms again. Even if your summer is too short to get flowers, gingers make for an interesting bit of tropical foliage plant in the garden - they are unique and loved by many.
Here too is a list of gingers we believe are most likely to bloom, or not, within your garden each year, using the division technique. From most likely to least likely.
- Kahili (likely)
- Butterfly (likely)
- Most Hedychium Hybrids (possible)
- Shampoo (possible)
- Blue 'Ginger' (possible)
- Curcuma (possible)
- Beehive (possible if division is large enough)
- Red/Pink (unlikely)
- Torch (very unlikely)