Grow Turmeric and Ginger in Any Climate

These edible, flavorful roots thrive best in warmer climates, but with the proper attention and know-how you can grow them almost anywhere.

| Spring 2017

  • If you live in Zone 8 and higher, you can grow ginger and turmeric in the garden. Gardeners in Zones 7 and lower can nurture these rhizomes with a little extra work.
    Photo by iStock/BruceBlock
  • Ginger's foliage can grow to 4 feet in height.
    Photo by iStock/odyphoto
  • Turmeric plant boasts large, showy blooms.
    Photo by iStock/aimintang
  • Turmeric's broad leaves die back to the ground in winter.
    Photo by iStock/iinwibisono
  • Ginger and turmeric rhizomes must be harvested gently if the foliage hasn't died back.
    Photo by Stocksy/Andrew Cebulka
  • Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is native to tropical Asia and prefers partly shady growing conditions.
    Photo by iStock/jatrax
  • Turmeric (Cucurma longa) is native to India and Malaysia and likes moist, well-drained soil.
    Photo by iStock/Jonathan Austin Daniels

The bounty of the tropics overflows from our pantries and spice cabinets. Vanilla, allspice, cocoa, pepper, coffee, cinnamon — riches we consume regularly with only the vaguest idea of how they were grown or even what their parent plants looked like.

Though many of these equatorial edibles are impossible to grow in gardens where frost traces its embroidery across leaves, it’s not impossible to grow two of my favorites: zippy common ginger (Zingiber officinale) and its spicy yellow cousin, turmeric (Curcuma longa). For both of these plants, the rhizome — an underground stem that puts out shoots and roots — is the edible part.

Golden Milk Recipe

If you live in a warmer part of the United States, from Zone 8 and higher (and maybe in Zone 7 with mulch!), you can grow these must-have perennial spices right in the ground. Farther north, it’s still possible with a little work. Ready? Let’s grow our own curry and gingerbread!

How to Plant

Ginger is a perennial root crop. It doesn’t produce seeds, which is fine because all you need to grow ginger (and turmeric) are some fresh rhizomes with living “eyes” on them. The eyes are growth buds from which the green shoots grow. Chances are you won’t even have to buy rhizomes or starts from a seed company, as many grocery stores — particularly organic markets — stock fresh rhizomes right in the produce section. Just make sure the eyes aren’t cut off (as I’ve seen done on some imported Chinese ginger).

If you’re interested in growing ginger to sell, you’re better off buying clean seed rhizomes from a reputable source — though I’ve never had trouble with any of the plants I’ve started from the grocery store or farmers market.

Karen Daley
8/24/2019 3:47:03 AM

Hi Im a beginner and would like to know where I can get some Hearts or Mothers of the Tumeric.

11/27/2018 3:31:48 PM

I'm in NE Georgia. Fifth year with turmeric and ginger. We will see 27 degrees tonight. Last night was 31. I've found that these two don't make it below 35 or so. My soil doesn't freeze deep enough to challenge my rhizomes. Last December when I harvested, I replanted at the same time. I read somewhere that the hearts or Mothers of the turmeric made the best seed. They're huge and carry a bunch of feed for the new plants and this years crop came from those hearts with all appendage rhizomes taken home. . Anyway, all plantings came up just like you've described with turmeric being considerably later. I started it out in hoop houses where it did well with only a little leaf tip scorching in July and August but the haul was huge. Nothing like a wheelbarrow full of clean rhizomes. Wish I could post pictures here. It's been a major coup having these products for sale, organic, local, fresh. They're great for health and a joy to share.

8/6/2018 5:07:58 PM

I'm exporter from Peru, we have a good quality of ginger and turmeric. if you have any question please tell me.

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