Growing Ginger Mint: Care Of Ginger Mint Plants

Growing Ginger Mint: Care Of Ginger Mint Plants

By: Susan Patterson, Master Gardener

There are over a thousand different varieties of mint. Ginger mint (Mentha x gracilis syn. Mentha x gentilis) is a cross between corn mint and spearmint, and smells very much like spearmint. Often called slender mint or scotch mint, variegated ginger mint plants have beautiful bright yellow stripes on the leaves. Let’s learn more about growing ginger mint plants.

Growing Ginger Mint

Ginger mint, like all other varieties of mint, is easy to grow and can quickly get out of hand when allowed to grow freely. If you have the space to let your mint plants run, it will kindly oblige. Otherwise, it’s best to contain it in a pot of some kind. To keep growth under control, you can even cut the bottom out of large coffee can and place this in the ground.

This mint is not particularly picky about the soil it grows in as long as it is not too dry. Ginger mint will even grow well in heavy soils loaded with clay. Place plants in a sunny or partly sunny location for best results.

Care of Ginger Mint Herbs

If you plant your mint in a container, be sure to keep the soil amply moist. Containers dry out quickly in the hot summer heat. Check the soil a couple of times a week to be sure that it is moist to touch.

Ginger mint in the garden will appreciate a generous layer of mulch. Use garden compost, bark chips, cocoa shells, or other finely shredded compost. This will help to retain moisture and protect the ginger mint herbs over the winter.

Feed your plants with bone meal twice a year for best performance.

To keep your mints plants looking their best, clip the older woody stems back to allow younger shoots to fill in. In late fall, cut the plants back to the ground. This protects the plant and allow vital energy to be put into new growth for the following season.

Harvest young shoots as they appear in the spring. Always collect mint leaves on a dry day before the hot sun comes out and use right away for best taste.

Division is easily accomplished any time of the year; however, spring or fall is best. Any part of the root will grow a new plant.

Ginger Mint Uses

Ginger mint herbs are a delightful addition to fresh summer melon salads, as well as warm or cool teas and lemonade. Finely chopped pieces of mint can be added to softened butter for a delicious spread. Fresh grilled meats taste great with a lemon juice and mint leaf marinade.

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The most popular variety is peppermint, which is the result of a cross between water mint and spearmint or mentha spicata. That is why it is a sterile variety because it is the product of this cross.

Peppermint has a stem and its characteristic deep green leaves, which are smooth, lanceolate, opposite, and stand out for their barely serrated edges. I recommend taking a close look at the leaves to discover a small discovery: when they are in the light, it is possible to see the small sachets of the essence, which are the ones that give the characteristic mint aroma.

Being a sterile plant, peppermint does not always have fruits and when it has them, they are quite basic and rudimentary. Something similar happens with the flowers, although they are always present. They are small and of a pale pink color that can turn to lilac although sometimes they are white. In all cases the calyx is bell-shaped.

Potted mint plant.

As you can see above we have our mint in a pot of yogurt. It is a very easy plant to care for.

How To Use Fresh Mint Or Dried

Fresh mint can be used once pinched off from fresh new growth or you can take a stalk and strip it between two fingers and your thumb. Hold the stalk by the fresh growth and run your fingers and thumb down backwards. This will remove the leaves with as little disturbance as possible.

If you then want to dry the leaves individually that works well for mint in the oven, microwave or dehydrator. If you are hanging to dry keep the leaves on the stem until they are fully dried.

Chocolate Mint has got many uses, mainly in the most unusual herbal tea!

Use the Oven to Dry Mint Leaves

Set the leaves onto a baking tray with a sheet of greaseproof paper to line it. Arrange the leaves in a single layer and set the oven to the lowest temperature. Pop the tray in with the door to the oven ajar. Do not leave the kitchen while this is happening. This should take around half an hour and the leaves should be papery to the touch when they are dried. If not leave them in a bit longer, but set the timer and keep an eye on it as it is very much a waiting game and burnt leaves happen in a blink of an eye.

Use the Microwave to Dry Mint in 60 seconds

Just the quickest way and mint really does hold its taste and aroma. Lay the leaves out flat on a microwave proof plate. Put to the highest temperature and blast for 45 seconds. Check on the leaves at this stage and if needed give then an extra 5 seconds at a time. It depends how much water they have had that day and how hot the garden has been, but it shouldn’t take more than 60 seconds. The leaves will be papery to the touch, but wait until they have cooled before storing them.

Using a Dehydrator To Dry The leaves

Set your dehydrator to herbal and lay the leaves out individually on the tray, put the timer for an hour. Keep checking on them as your home will smell gorgeous but you wont know if they are too dry. They may need a little longer but don’t be tempted to just put it on for a few hours and walk away. For a free full guide to drying herbs using a dehydrator have a look here.

Hanging Mint Stems To Dry Them

Start by cutting stalks at around 10-12 inches in length. Choose stems that are not in bloom and have not buds forming. ‘Tie’ about 15 stalks together with an elastic band loosely. This way the air will dry the leaves in between each stem. Hang them in a dark but airy location where fear of damp is not present. The stems will need about 2-4 weeks depending on the location. Check on them for signs of mold or excess dust developing. Then you can take the leaves off and use the stalks for something else!

10 Steps To Growing Ginger From Seed

Seeds that have been soaked overnight

  1. When they arrive open up the packet and let them breathe for a day.
  2. Then soak them overnight or for 8 hours in water that is initially warm to the touch. Not hot and not cold, just warm. Then allow the water to cool and transfer the water to the fridge.
  3. The seeds that float will be less likely to germinate, therefore should be discarded. The ones that have sunk to the bottom are viable.
  4. Make up one pot for each seed. You will need drainage holes, as well as broken pots or pebbles in the bottom. Take a usual seed starting compost and mix it with gardening sand. You really have to think about irrigation at this stage! Thoroughly water before adding the seeds. Allow a full soaking and for the water to drain away completely.
  5. Add the seeds to each pot and press firmly to the sandy soil mix. Then brush a thin layer of the mix on top, literally just a dusting (1/16 inch). Using a gentle houseplant mister to then moisten the top layer.
  6. Then put the pots on top of a heated mat or inside a heated propagator. This will need to be at around 21 Celsius or 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Which is a warm summers day in the UK. This needs to be a constant temperature and you can start the seeds of in May and use your greenhouse, or start them in early Spring and use different means to keep them heated. Ensure that the soil is moist but not damp!
  7. After 6 weeks you will need to bring them into a fridge and colder environment. Make sure they are moist and use a plastic bag to cover them. The ginger seeds will be waking up now and do not want to be flooded, as this will encourage bacteria to grow and fungal infections have been known to develop without any signs. So it is okay to allow the soil to dry a little, but not to allow it to become water logged.
  8. After 8 weeks in the fridge the seeds are ready to be moved outside and start to germinate. You do not want to put them anywhere too hot at this stage. You may think a nice sunny spot should do the trick, however it will prevent germination. So go for a shady area that doesn’t get too hot, around 10 degrees Celsius or 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the plastic cover and make sure to keep moist.

  1. 4-6 weeks later you should start to see seedlings emerge. keep watering and make sure they don’t get too hot. Once they develop two to three pairs of true leaves they can be handled. At this time move them into larger pots. We grow them in their final locations here, so nice deep pots. Fill with a slightly acidic soil – typical would be compost for roses, mix in a bit more grit for drainage as well. We use perlite in this mix as well because it holds moisture without allowing for drowning. Check out how to hill below as you will massively increase your yield this way.
  2. If you want to grow on in the ground, wait until the first true leaves have appeared. Harvesting should take place at around 4-6 months from the first leaves emerging. You will be able to store it out of the ground for 2-3 weeks maximum, so harvest as you intend to eat.

If you do want the ginger to grow on to larger plants then transplant to the ground and leave 18 inches between plants. Ensure that the ground is double dug with humus rich soil. We always recommend the spacing as you want the root stock to fill the available space.

Hilling is the process of covering over with new soil. This can be done to increase yield and introduce more nutrient rich soil. So hill over at least three times from the third month of growth.

How to Harvest Mint

The main thing to keep in mind so as not to kill the plant or run the risk of disease is to use sharp scissors and disinfect them with alcohol before cutting the mint.

It is always good to know what mint looks like so you don’t make mistakes when harvesting. If you want to harvest the leaves, i.e., the edible part of the plant, you have to cut the stems almost flush and then separate the stems from the leaves with your hands and then leave them to dry in a dark and ventilated place.

Once dry, they acquire a pale green and soft color, at which time they can be stored in an airtight jar.

If what you want is to collect the mint flowers, then the plant should be cut at a slightly higher height.

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Culinary Uses:

**Ginger has been a favorite spice for both healing and cooking for thousands of years, especially in China and the Mediterranean. Europe joined in on the ginger-loving sometime in the ninth century, and it continues to grow in popularity throughout many regions of the world.

**Ginger is a staple spice in the cuisines of India, China, Korea, Thailand, and other Eastern regions. They usually use ginger for savory foods rather than sweet ones. Due to the rise in popularity of Asian and Indian recipes in other parts of the world, the concept of using ginger for savory meals has been spreading in recent years.

**The Japanese love ginger in a pickled form with their sushi. The ginger is paper thin and is usually pink in color from the pickling process. It is used as a hot condiment to go with their sushi.

**England is famous for using ginger in gingerbread. Supposedly, most towns there have different recipes and molds for their gingerbread figures, including one for Guy Fawkes Day celebrations. The British also use ginger in their fruit conserves and marmalades, as well as their biscuits and cakes.

**Germans most likely invented the idea of gingerbread houses in the past, and it has become a Christmas tradition around the world. The Germans also have a tradition of eating carp with gingerbread and gingersnaps on Christmas Eve.

**The Caribbean islands enjoy ginger in their beverages. They are especially fond of ginger beer.

**Fresh ginger is a strong flavor/smell/taste, but it mellows when it is cooked.

**It has a distinctive flavor that is somewhat lemon-like in tartness, while also containing a pepper-like heat and a sweetness.

**Ginger pairs well with these herbs and spices: Allspice, Cardamom, Cinnamon, Cloves, Coriander, Cumin, Curry leaf, Fennel seed, Garlic, Mustard seed, Parsley, Sesame seed, Star anise, Tamarind, Turmeric, and Vanilla.

**It complements recipes featuring: Ale or beer, Chicken, Chutney, Duck, Oranges, Pork, Pumpkin, Shellfish, Sushi, Sweet potatoes and Winter squash.

**Here are some ways to get more ginger in your diet:

  • Use fresh ginger with shellfish. Grate the ginger and add to melted butter with some dried mint and serve as a dipping sauce with lobster or shrimp.
  • Add ginger and brown sugar together and sprinkle on acorn squash or sweet potatoes before baking.
  • Ginger will tenderize and add flavor to meats. Rub on the meat before grilling.
  • Add ginger to white sauces and sweet dessert sauces for an additional complexity to the flavor.
  • Add ginger to applesauce.
  • Put ginger in your fruit pies or in your cheesecake batter.
  • If you have a juicing machine, add green apple, lemon, and ginger together to make a natural energy drink.
  • Add ginger to any meat or vegetable dish that is either for stir-fries or uses a wok.
  • Put dried ginger into your homemade salad dressing.
  • Boil ginger in water and use that water to make a tea (or just drink as ginger tea).
  • Make homemade gingersnaps or your own ginger ale or ginger lemonade.

**Ginger is usually a common item to find at grocery stores. You can buy it either in root-form or ground. Of course, roots are better since they are fresher. If you peel your ginger, it will keep fresh in your refrigerator for about two weeks if you put it in a sealed container. You can also peel it, slice it, and freeze it until needed. You can also keep ginger unpeeled and store in a cool, dry place, like you would for garlic and onions.

**Ground ginger lacks the aroma of fresh ginger, but still has much of the flavor. If you prefer using ground ginger, make sure you use a good brand (like this one), since many ground ginger options at the grocery store have possibly been on the shelves for a long time and might have lost many of their benefits.

Do YOU use Ginger for cooking? If so, what is your favorite recipe with ginger in it? Please feel free to add your favorite ginger recipes in the comment section below!

This is my information on the Culinary Uses of Ginger. Make sure to check out my Medicinal Benefits of Ginger page for some amazing aspects of Ginger for your health. Check out my simple tips on How to Grow Ginger as well.

Please click here for the introduction to my Spice Series. If you have any comments, questions, or extra information for me, please feel free to post in the comment section below!

Start sprouting your rhizomes (the part you eat) in late winter, so they will be ready to be transplanted in early spring. Even if your ginger will be grown exclusively indoors, the timing is still important because the plants need to receive summer sunlight.

Ginger can be grown from rhizomes purchased at the grocery store. Look for large pieces with nubs or horns on them these are the sections that will sprout. To wash off any growth retardant that may have been applied to the rhizomes, soak them in water for a few hours and rinse them well before planting.

Germination71 - 77 F
For Growth75 - 85F
Soil and Water
FertilizerFeed an evenly balanced slow release organic fertilizer (5-5-5) about 6oz/foot every 6-8 weeks.
pH5.5 - 6.5
Planting Depth2" - 4"
Root Depth Space between plants
in rows5 - 8"
space between rows3'
CompanionsBasil, Tomatoes
IncompatiblesOnions, Turnips
Harvest baby ginger about 4-6 months after sprouting, mature ginger is generally harvested when the plant dies back in the fall or winter. To harvest dig up the rhizomes.

Ginger should be planted at a rate of 30 pounds per 100 feet of rows, and rows should be planted about 2-3 feet apart. That should allow a spacing of about 5″ per plant within the row. If growing in containers, ensure the container is flexible if there are too many ginger plants in the same container, they could break the pot as the rhizomes grow. Also, make sure the containers allow for at least 12-14″ depth and at least that width. Plant rhizomes with buds facing upward in loose, moist soil that drains well, 2-4 inches deep, leaving part of the rhizome exposed. If planting in containers, use a light soil and add extra gravel to the pot’s bottom to improve drainage.

Best growth occurs under moist and humid conditions and average soil temperatures between 77F to 83F. Growth efficiency starts to drop off above 86F and below 75F. Ginger will grow well in full sun, especially when grown in colder climates. In its native tropical locations, it does quite well in partial shade. Vegetative growth is prompted with long day lengths, and rhizome enlargement is promoted under shorter day lengths. The day length response does vary among ginger varieties.

Ginger is a very versatile crop. Depending on your soil conditions, you may be able to increase the plant density without any effect on the overall yield.

Encourage rhizomes to root by placing them in flats with about an inch of coconut coir or other soil-less media. Water and place in a warm area, light is not important, but it is crucial to maintain temperatures between 70-80F day and night. Keeping ginger under these conditions for about 4-6 weeks allows the rhizomes to start growing. When shoots start to emerge, place the flats in a sunny location. This is very important for growing ginger in colder regions, as it gives your plants a necessary head start. You should be able to keep the ginger in this stage for about 8-10 weeks or longer as long as it is well fed and has room to grow. If your soil is already above 55F, the rhizomes can be planted directly into the soil.

How Ginger Grows

Compared to other herbs, ginger grows relatively slowly. They will eventually reach a height of 2 feet or more in a container and reach a height of 2-3 feet in the garden. Ginger grows with narrow-bladed reed-like leaves that are mostly vertical. The ginger rhizomes will tend to grow out and up.

Storage Requirements
Place ginger in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator for approximately 3 weeks. It can also be wrapped in wax paper and placed in a sealed plastic bag in the freezer for approximately 3 months. Peeled ginger can also be preserved for up to three months in the refrigerator if submerged in a dry sherry. The ginger will absorb a slight wine flavor, and should be avoided in recipes where this would be undesirable.
Method Taste

Cultivating Ginger

It’s important to keep the ginger plant moist, especially in the hot summer months. Mulch can be applied to help retain some moisture. The mulch will also retard weed growth, which is important because ginger’s shallow roots are easily disturbed by weeding. Ginger likes crowded spaces, but you may need to divide the plant every couple of years for optimum growth.

If you live in a cooler climate, the plant will need to be moved inside when there is any frost danger. Allow the plant to yellow and trim the leaves off of the plant. Water the soil once a month(or less) to keep the roots viable, and then set the plant out again in the spring when the danger of frost has passed. If the roots are too wet, they will rot. With any luck, the plant should come back the next spring. If stored properly, rhizomes should remain viable for up to 2 years.

Ginger is a heavy feeder but a poor competitor for nutrients. This means you will have a reduced yield if you do not supplement your ginger with fertilizer. The fertilizer you choose should be fully decomposed and complete in nutrition. Something with a 5-5-5 ratio would be a good selection. It is also recommended to amend soils that bind nutrients so that ginger can feed easily gypsum is one example of such an additive. If your ginger leaves begin to yellow or look burnt at the edges, or if the leaves improperly begin to unfurl, assess the water schedule and add an extra feeding into your schedule. These are symptoms of insufficient nutrients due to overwatering and/or underfeeding.

A drip system is the recommended irrigation method for ginger this is the best way to ensure it is consistently and adequately watered. Be careful not to overwater just after transplanting. Doing so will retard growth and may affect yields. If your site is arid, misting the canopy may increase yields. Additional watering will also help wash away nutrients, so make sure to increase feedings if you are watering excessively.

Hilling ginger will increase yields. As the shoots begin to grow, the base of the shoot will be bright white. When the base of the shoot turns from bright white to bright pink, hill the crop about 4″. This should occur roughly every 4-6 weeks. It is recommended to add fertilizer each time you hill. Hilling means covering the rhizomes with an additional amount of soil and pull out any weeds as well. This will have a positive effect on the plant’s yield.

Harvesting Ginger

Harvesting baby ginger (tender flesh, no skin to peel, no stringy fibers, mild ginger flavor) can begin 4-6 months after sprouting began. The rhizomes should be cream colored with pink scales when ready to harvest. Mature ginger rhizomes (as sold in the grocery store) will generally be ready to be harvested in about 10-12 months, or after the leaves die back in the fall/winter. When harvesting, you can choose to harvest the entire plant, or you can just cut off what you need and allow the plant to continue growing. If storing some of your rhizomes over winter, make sure they stay above 55F to ensure they will remain viable next year.

Ginger Pests

Banana aphid, Chinese rose beetle, Fijian ginger weevil, Ginger maggot, Turmeric root scale, Nigra scale, Cardamom thrips.

Ginger Diseases

Leafspot, Stem and bulb nematode, fusarium yellows, spiral nematode, Root-knot nematode, Rhizome rot, Bacterial wilt, Root rot, Burrowing nematode, Stunt nematode, Dagger nematode.