How To Grow Ginger & Turmeric in Canada
Whenever I tell gardeners I grow both ginger & turmeric in my Zone 3 garden, their reactions are always a mix of shock and excitement. It sounds like a stretch, but you can successfully grow ginger & turmeric in Canada regardless of how cold it is where you live! This post will walk you through how to grow ginger and turmeric at home and everything else you need to know.
This post covers:
- Can You Grow Ginger In Canada
- Can You Grow Turmeric In Canada
- How Long Does It Take To Grow Ginger & Turmeric At Home
- Where To Source Ginger & Turmeric Rhizomes
- When Should You Start Ginger & Turmeric Plants Indoors
- How To Grow Ginger & Turmeric In Cold Climates
- How To Harvest Ginger & Turmeric Plants
Can You Grow Ginger In Canada
As you’ve likely already guessed by the title of this post, the answer is yes! You can absolutely grow ginger in Canada at home regardless of how cold of a climate you live in.
Trust me, I live in the middle of the Canadian Prairies where Winter temperatures can get as cold as -35°C and I’ve had great success growing ginger in my Zone 3 climate.
Because our growing seasons are so short here in Canada, there are certainly a few growing practices you need to follow in order to successfully grow ginger. But don’t worry, I’ll cover those further down in this post!
Can You Grow Turmeric In Canada
When it comes to whether you can grow turmeric in Canada the answer is also yes!
Just like growing ginger, you can grow turmeric at home in a cold climate if you follow the proper growing instructions.
As you’ll see throughout this post, ginger and turmeric require pretty much the exact same growing conditions when starting indoors in a Northern climate.
How Long Does It Take To Grow Ginger & Turmeric At Home
Since ginger and turmeric are tropical plants native to temperate countries such as India and Sri Lanka, they require warm growing conditions and adequate time to mature.
But how long exactly does it take to grow ginger & turmeric at home?
From planting to harvesting, it typically takes 9+ months of growing before ginger and turmeric are ready to harvest.
This sounds like a really long time, but both ginger and turmeric are pretty hands-off for the first few months when growing indoors. So don’t worry!
The bulk of the work comes throughout the Summer months when your ginger and turmeric will require consistent feeding in order to develop big roots. More on that further down.
Where To Source Ginger & Turmeric Rhizomes
This is one of the most common questions I get asked!
Where do I buy ginger & turmeric roots or rhizomes for planting? Better yet, I always get asked where to source organic ginger and turmeric rhizomes.
Well the answer may actually surprise you!
First, I’ve found it extremely challenging to find greenhouses and nurseries that sell ginger and turmeric rhizomes in Canada. Locally here in Manitoba, I haven’t actually found any local sellers. Many nurseries have started to sell started ginger and turmeric plants, but no rhizomes.
And while there are a few U.S. nurseries who sell, such as one of my favs Fruition Seeds, many unfortunately won’t ship to Canada.
So then — where to source ginger and turmeric rhizomes in Canada?
Believe it or not, I actually buy my organic ginger and turmeric roots for planting from my local health food store. I like this approach because;
- They’re organic
- I get to support local
- They typically have lots in stock so you can buy somewhat in bulk
Other gardeners have commented on this post suggesting to also check-out your local Asian market for organic ginger and turmeric. I love this idea!
What do ginger & turmeric rhizomes look like?
Ginger and turmeric rhizomes are the roots of the plant and therefore look like the above photo. Just like what you’d find at the grocery store!
The definition of rhizomes is a continuously growing horizontal stem which puts out lateral shoots and adventitious roots at intervals.
When purchasing ginger and turmeric rhizomes for planting, choosing organic will increase your chances of success. If rhizomes have been treated with any sprays, pesticides, etc..they may not be viable.
So choose organic if you can!
When Should You Start Ginger & Turmeric Plants In Canada
As mentioned, both ginger and turmeric are extremely slow growing and require 9-10 months of growing time.
So if you live in a Northern climate, you should start your ginger and turmeric plants indoors by January. This means you’ll be harvesting your plants by Fall.
You can certainly start earlier if you’d like to harvest before the end of Summer.
But just know that it’s key to grow ginger and turmeric indoors under grow lights when starting in the Winter. There just simply is not enough natural daylight for the plants to thrive otherwise.
Alternatively if you start your ginger and turmeric plants later than January, be prepared to bring them indoors or into a greenhouse in the Fall so they can continue growing.
This is why I always suggest growing ginger and turmeric in a container, as you’ll read about more in this post, as it makes them easy to transport to a warmer environment if needed.
How To Grow Ginger & Turmeric In Cold Climates
Now for the exciting stuff!
Here’s everything you need to know about growing ginger and turmeric at home in a Northern climate.
Before you read through, remember that these plants are slow growing and take time. So patience is key! Don’t give up if at first you don’t see growth.
The other thing to note is that the recommended equipment in this list will increase your chances of growing healthy plants. I’ve included links to all my favourite gear!
5 Steps To Easily Grow Ginger & Turmeric At Home
Come defy the expectations of what you can and can’t grow in a Northern climate and add ginger and/or turmeric to your garden with these 5 easy steps!
Step 1: Source organic ginger & turmeric rhizomes
As mentioned above, source organic ginger/turmeric rhizomes (roots) from a local supplier or from your local health food store.
I’ve found the rhizomes that germinate best are ones that you can clearly see small, nubby bumps on. This is where your shoots will develop off of.
Avoid purchasing rhizomes that have damaged or punctured skin as they typically won’t germinate.
Step 2: Break rhizomes into smaller pieces
Divide each piece of ginger or turmeric into smaller segments. I like to break my rhizomes into 1/2in-1in long piece.
Each rhizome segment will develop shoots, put down roots and eventually grow into a larger cluster of ginger or turmeric roots.
So ultimately, the more pieces of ginger and turmeric you break, the more plants you’ll have!
Step 3: Prepare your soil mix
A high-quality, well draining soil mix is key for successful germination with ginger and turmeric. If your rhizomes are left in standing water, they’ll absorb too much and begin to rot.
I’ve experimented with several different soil mixes, including straight compost and straight seed starting mix. However, I’ve had the best results from using the following seed starting soil mix.
The Best Soil Mix For Growing Ginger & Turmeric
- 1 part compost or worm castings — I love the Pure Life brand
- 1 part potting soil — ProMix is my go-to!
- 1/2 part vermiculite or perlite — a must for good drainage
Once you’ve combined your soil mix, dampen it with water until it is clumpy but does not have any excess moisture.
Step 4: Plant rhizomes 2 inches deep in soil
Use either a small, narrow 4in deep container to plant individual segments of rhizomes, or use one wider 4in deep container to plant multiple rhizomes together.
Either works and since you will be dividing them and potting up in a few weeks any way it doesn’t make a huge difference what approach you take.
Now, this is where my blog may differ from other ginger and turmeric growing advice on the internet.
I’ve seen other gardeners suggest just gently covering rhizomes in a little bit of soil and letting them germinate this way.
However, I’ve tried this technique and have found that germination is much more sparse. It’s always caused me a lot of trouble as the soil and rhizomes dry out quickly.
So instead, my approach is to cover your ginger and turmeric rhizomes in 2in of your soil mixture.
This allows you to better control soil moisture and it keeps the rhizomes warmer since they’re deeper in the soil.
Step 5: Place under grow lights and keep in a warm space
Grow lights are an absolute must for growing ginger and turmeric indoors in a Northern climate. We simply don’t have enough natural daylight in the Winter months. So you need to supplement with grow lights!
I use Sunblaster LED grow lights with T5 fluorescent bulbs. They put off a ton of light without generating excess heat.
Place your planted ginger and turmeric rhizomes under grow lights that are hanging just a few inches above the soil’s surface. I keep mine no more than 4in above the top of my plants during germination.
Ginger and turmeric grow best in a warm, humid environment so either place a humidity dome over them or be sure the air temperature is around 21°C/69.8°F.
Keep soil consistently damp but avoid having any standing water.
Another thing to avoid is bottom heat from a heat mat. I find it leads to rhizomes rotting.
How Long Does It Take For Ginger & Turmeric To Germinate
You can expect to see germination after anywhere from 21-35 days. Little shoots will begin to appear above the soil’s surface.
If your rhizomes have not sprouted after 40 days, gently unbury them from the soil and check to see if any roots have developed. If so, they’re still viable and may put on growth yet. Try increase the amount of daily light they’re receiving or moving them to a warmer area of your home.
You could also top dress the soil with a bit of compost to give them an extra boost of nutrients.
But if you do not see any root development below the soil, your rhizomes likely weren’t viable. Sorry to say!
When To Pot-Up Your Ginger & Turmeric Plants
After your ginger and turmeric germinates, it should start to put on growth pretty significantly.
You’ll see the plant’s shoots grow tall, thick stems and eventually put on leaves.
Be sure to feed your ginger and turmeric plants during this time with an all purpose liquid fertilizer or by topping up the top of the soil with compost.
So, when is it time to pot-up your ginger and turmeric plants?
I usually size up the container my ginger and turmeric plants are in once shoots are 4-6in tall.
To do so, gently remove the plant from its original container being careful not to damage the root system that your rhizome has formed.
Transplant it into a deeper, wider container. I’d suggest a container that is 6-10in wide and deep. You can put 3-4 plants per container.
Use the same soil starting mix used for germination and continue feeding your plants regularly every 3-4 weeks.
Why You Should Only Grow Ginger & Turmeric In A Container
For Northern gardeners, growing ginger and turmeric in a container gives you the flexibility to monitor the plants growing environment.
Ginger and turmeric grow best in hot, humid environments. Keeping your plants in a container allows you to move them to the best possible conditions throughout the growing season.
For example, I keep my ginger and turmeric plants indoors until the beginning of June. I then move them into the greenhouse where they spend the majority of the growing season.
In the Fall if my plants aren’t yet ready to harvest and the temperatures are starting to dip, I’ll bring the containers indoors to extend their growing for another few weeks.
So all this to say — if you’re growing ginger and turmeric in Canada you should only grow your plants in a container as it will allow you to optimize their growing environment by easily moving the plants as needed.
How To Harvest Ginger & Turmeric Plants
Your ginger and turmeric plants will be ready to harvest after 9-10 months of growing when the top shoots and leaves have started to turn yellow and brown.
It will almost look as if your plants are beginning to die. But don’t worry, this is a good sign! It means your roots have stopped developing and are ready to harvest.
To harvest, tip your container over on its side. Gently brush away the soil until you begin to reveal the various clusters of rhizomes. There will be dozens!
Some rhizomes may be stuck together but will come apart with some gently tugging.
Once separated, I like to use a tooth brush to remove any excess dirt that’s stuck on. I typically let them sit on my kitchen table for 24-48 hours before washing and storing.
How To Store Ginger & Turmeric
After I’ve cleaned and dried my ginger and turmeric roots, I like to store them in my pantry. I find they will keep well for anywhere from 2-3 months if kept in a cool, dry place.
To prolong the shelf life of my ginger and turmeric, I also like to freeze them.
I find this allows me to keep them much longer and enjoy this garden treat throughout the Winter months.
You’ll find your homegrown ginger and turmeric is exponentially better than anything at the grocery store! It’s incredibly juicy and flavourful. Plus, organic!
And there you have it!
Now you know how to grow ginger and turmeric at home in a Northern climate.
I hope you give homegrown ginger and turmeric a shot this season!
Comment below if there’s other tasks you complete at this time of year. I answer all comments and love hearing from you!