Growing Ginger

Growing Ginger can be both fun and rewarding. Rather you choose to grow this plant for ornamental reasons, culinary purposes or its healing properties, this is one plant everyone should try their hand at.

Zingiber Officinale, otherwise known as True Ginger, is the source of Ginger that is used in cooking and also medicinally. The rhizomes of this plant are dug up and ground, chopped or left whole and sent to local grocery stores. In early spring, it is possible to purchase a rhizome of ginger and plant it in your yard. The best rhizome to look for is a fresh, not dried, piece that has one to two inch long sections with well-developed growth buds. Given proper growing conditions, the stems will reach two to four feet tall with narrow, glossy green leaves that can get up to a foot long. Occasionally, your ginger will produce yellowish-green with a purple lip marked yellow flower, although this is rarely seen. Rhizomes may be harvested at any time, but should be allowed to grow for at least three to four months before taking your first harvest.

Other types of Ginger also exist, and these fall more into the ornamental category. Otherwise known as Alpina, these perennials are evergreen in zones twenty-two to twenty-seven, but in the rest of the world, they are only hardy to about fifteen degrees Fahrenheit. Although the tops of these plants will die back in cool weather, the rhizomes will produce new shoots in the spring. Gingers prefer a lightly shaded, wind-free spot with good soil. Do not expect your Ginger to bloom until it has been there for at least two years. Flowered canes should be removed yearly.

Alpina Sanderae, commonly called Variegated Ginger, will grow up three to four feet tall, with eight inch striped green and white leaves. Another commonly grown ginger is the Alpina Zerumber (A. Nutans, A. Speciosa), or Shell Ginger (Shell Flower). These Gingers are native to Polynesia and tropical Asia. These are the most popular of the Alpinas that are grown in Florida, not only because they are the grandest of all the Gingers, but because they also have the best year-round appearance. These Gingers can grow eight to nine feet tall with shiny leaves that grow two feet long and five inches wide. The leaves have distinct parallel veins with stems that are maroon at maturity. The flowers are a waxy white or pinkish, shell-like, and very fragrant. The flowers have red, purple, or brown markings that grow in pendant clusters on arching stems in late summer.

Growing Gingers can be very rewarding. Be sure to keep your humidity high or mist regularly and give them light shade and rich soil. Many other Gingers exist that have not been covered here, but the basic requirements are the same. If you can't find a Ginger plant in your area, just go to your local grocery store and grow the True Ginger. At least you will get a feel for the plant fairly cheaply that way and also some fresh ginger to use in your cooking or homeopathic healing.

Should you decide to use ginger homeopathically you will need to grow the medicinal ginger, which is also the true ginger, Zingiber Officinale. This herb can be used as an herb or in homeopathic medicine. For those of you who are new to alternative methods of healing, you may ask what is the difference between using herbs and homeopathic medicine? While it is true that both practices use herbs for healing, homeopathic medicine not only works with the herb, but also with energy. For example, you might take one part ginger tincture and add it to one part water. You would use your energy to shake this concoction. Then you would take one part of that mixture and add it to one part water and do the whole scenario over again. This can continue on until the right "combination" is made, sometimes up to 100 times or more! The physical energy you use in shaking this up adds to the benefits of homeopathic medicine.

The theory behind homeopathic healing is that "like cures like." Treatment is designed to re-enforce the symptoms instead of trying to combat them. A microscopic dose of an herbal drug is given to a healthy person. If it produces the symptoms of the sick person, than the cure has been found. This method of healing is grounded in the fact that we can eliminate disease by helping the body's natural recuperative powers.

Ginger plays an interesting role in homeopathic medicine. It has been called the "universal medicine." Ginger has been used to treat diarrhea, indigestion and nausea to name a few. It also helps to neutralize acids and toxins in the digestive tract.

Ginger is a very versatile plant to grow and I highly recommend you growing one. Rather you prefer to grow it for ornamental purposes, culinary purposes or its healing properties this is a fantastic plant for your home or garden.

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