Planting Ginger Root

Q. We often use fresh ginger root in cooking. Can I actually plant this root and cultivate it as a houseplant?

A. Zingiber officinale is a beautiful tropical plant (hardy in zone 10) that produces tall (2-foot), reed-like stems and dense flower spikes. The rhizome from which it grows is the common ginger of cuisine. Native to India and Malaysia, this ginger would be difficult to grow without a greenhouse. If you want to take on this project, however, plant the rhizome in a large pot filled with a commercial potting mix or equal parts loam, sand, peat moss and compost. Give it plenty of warmth, humidity and moisture. During the summer, it can be placed outside in a partially shaded location. After one year, pull the plant from its pot, cut off the leaf stalks and remove the fibrous roots. Slice off as much of the ginger root as you can use and replant the rest.