A lot of vegetables and crops such as lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, are grown hydroponically. You might be wondering if it is possible to grow ginger hydroponically because it is rarely grown by home gardeners and is not as popular as other hydroponically grown crops.
The short answer to this is yes. In fact, it grows extremely well when grown hydroponically. This article will cover several important points on how to grow hydroponic ginger.
Other topics that will be covered in this article are the following:
⦁ Minimum requirements for a healthy hydroponic ginger plant.
⦁ Which hydroponic system to use.
⦁ Topping off and changing the water in the reservoir.
⦁ Common pests that affect ginger plant growth and how to manage pest infestations.
⦁ When and how to harvest hydroponic ginger.
What Requirements Does Ginger Need?
There are a few things that you should pay close attention to when you want to grow ginger hydroponically, and these are:
Getting the pH level in a hydroponic system within the correct range is crucial if you want your ginger plant to live long and be as healthy as possible. The pH range for a hydroponic ginger plant is around 6.0-8.0.
This the optimal range you should aim for. If the pH level goes below or above the given range, then the plants may lose their ability to absorb the nutrients necessary for their growth.
Be sure to occasionally test the pH level using litmus papers, liquid test kits, or automatic pH meters. Litmus papers are the cheapest, but automatic pH meters provide the most accurate results.
In a hydroponic system, the parts per million (ppm) and the electrical conductivity (EC) go hand-in-hand. The ppm is the unit of measure that shows how much-dissolved salts are in a solution.
Generally, the dissolved salts signify the nutrient strength of a solution and consequently its ability to conduct electricity, which is measured by EC.
Mixing the nutrient solution will be further discussed later in this article, but as a minimum, the nutrient solution to grow ginger hydroponically should contain the following:
⦁ 170 to 180 ppm of nitrogen
⦁ 110 to 120 ppm of phosphorus
⦁ 200 to 240 ppm of potassium
⦁ 220 to 230 ppm of calcium
⦁ 40 to 55 ppm of magnesium
⦁ 4 to 6 ppm of iron
⦁ 3 ppm of manganese
⦁ 0.25 ppm of zinc
⦁ 0.70 ppm of boron
⦁ 0.07 ppm of copper
⦁ 0.06 ppm molybdate
Take note that the numbers mentioned above are estimates. However, the ideal EC to grow ginger hydroponically is at 2.5.
(Have you ever thought about growing cilantro/coriander hydroponically?)
Traditionally, you should consider the root space and vegetative space when growing plants in soil. However, when you use a hydroponic system, root space is not much of an issue. Roots can grow and intertwine without compromising plant health.
As for vegetative space, this usually depends on how big you want the plant to grow. Ideally, for ginger, each plant should be 1 foot apart between plants and 1.5 feet apart between rows. This spacing will give the ginger enough room to grow big.
Water temperature is crucial for proper plant growth. The ideal hydroponic water temperature is between 65° and 80° Fahrenheit for most plants. However, ginger grows better in warmer conditions.
As such, it is better to keep the water temperature between 71° and 86° Fahrenheit or 21.6° and 30.0°Celsius. Take note that the water temperature and the nutrient solution should both be around the same temperature.
Temperature differences between the water and the nutrient solution would expose the ginger roots to a sudden shift in temperature. Keep the temperature within the range mentioned to avoid growth issues and mold development.
Ginger plants grown in a hydroponic system require a lot of light. It is best to expose them to a light source for about 16 hours a day. However, there should be an eight-hour break as too much light also affects plant health.
To ensure that you follow lighting times, you can use a timer. A manual timer is considered a better option because it is more durable than an electronic one. Nevertheless, whether you prefer to use natural sunlight or artificial grow lights, it is good to know that both options serve their purpose.
As mentioned above, the required nutrient solution to grow hydroponic ginger should ideally contain nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, manganese, zinc, boron, copper, and molybdate.
Nutrient solutions come in different forms. Some are sold pre-mixed, while others are sold individually per element or component.
The pre-mixed solutions are convenient, but a lot of plant growers prefer to mix their own nutrient solution because it is cheaper, more flexible, and can be tailored to suit the requirements of the hydroponic system they are using.
If you would want to make your own nutrient solution, here is a step-by-step guide:
- Make the macronutrient solution. To do this, prepare the filtered water and gradually add the nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, and magnesium salts.
- When adding the salts, do this one at a time and stir constantly. Once all the salts have been added, cover the bucket with a lid and shake well to ensure that the salts are mixed well.
- Make the micronutrient solution. In a separate container, mix the filtered water with the iron, manganese, zinc, boron, copper, and molybdate salts. Add one salt at a time and stir continuously.
- Mix the micronutrient solution with the macronutrient solution and stir well.
- Check the pH level of the solution. If the nutrient solution is more than 8.0, it contains too much alkaline. You can reduce the pH level by adding vinegar to the solution. If the nutrient solution is less than 6.0, it is too acidic. To adjust the pH level, you can add baking soda to the solution.
- Check the EC level of the solution. If the EC reading is higher than 2.5, then you can add more water to bring the EC level down.
(Another great EASY plant to grow hydroponically is kale!)
What’s the Best Hydroponic Setup for Ginger?
There are several hydroponic systems used by plant growers. Some of the methods used to grow hydroponic ginger are the following:
Ebb and Flow (Flood and Drain)
The plants in this system are planted in a grow bed filled with growing medium and nutrient solution. Water will then be flooded into the grow bed, and the flow of water will discontinue once the timer stops.
Once this process is over, the grow bed will then be drained of water, and the water will flow back into the pump.
⦁ Effective for growing root vegetables
⦁ User-friendly as it is popularly used among home gardeners
⦁ Requires a lot of space, especially for large plants
⦁ Pump controllers are prone to malfunction
Here, the nutrient solution is pumped into the plant base through a tube. Each tube has a drip emitter that can control the amount of nutrient solution that can flow through. The consistency of the dripping varies depending on which system you choose.
For non-circulating systems, the dripping is usually slow and consistent. For circulating systems, the dripping is constant, so if there is any excess nutrient solution pumped into the plant base, the excess will flow back into the nutrient solution tank.
⦁ Easy to use
⦁ Easy to set up
⦁ A versatile system that can grow any plant
⦁ Requires consistent maintenance
N.F.T (Nutrient Film Technology) System
The NFT system begins with the pumping of the nutrient solution from the reservoir to a sloping channel. Any excess nutrient solution that is not absorbed flows back to the reservoir.
⦁ Simple design
⦁ Scalable to grow a larger number of plants
⦁ Tends to limit root growth
⦁ Not ideal for larger plants
In this system, the plants are suspended in the air with mist nozzles below them to spray the nutrient solution directly to the roots. The reservoir below the set up collects any excess solution.
⦁ Suitable for growing several types of plants
⦁ Uses less water
⦁ Difficult and expensive to set up
⦁ Clogging of spray nozzle
Out of all the methods mentioned above, the best hydroponic method to use when growing ginger is the drip irrigation system because it is the most ideal and best suited for large plants like ginger.
It is also a reliable and effective method that can ensure the consistency and adequacy of the plants’ nutrient and water intake.
(Garlic and ginger go hand in hand. Find out how to grow garlic hydroponically!)
How to Grow Hydroponic Ginger
Growing hydroponic ginger may seem difficult at first because setting up the hydroponic system may be challenging. However, it will all be worth it once you get the hang of it.
Here is a step-by-step guide for you to follow:
⦁ Cut the ginger rhizomes into an inch or 1 ½ inch size pieces. See to it that there is a bud on each piece. At this stage, it is best to prepare several rhizomes because it will give you higher chances of success for the germination process.
⦁ In a pot filled with compost, plant the rhizome pieces at about an inch deep and regularly water the pot.
⦁ Prepare the hydroponic system in advance so that ginger plants can be transferred when the germination is done.
⦁ Check from time-to-time for stems and leaves. Once you see these signs of progress, you can remove the plant from the soil and rinse the roots with water.
⦁ Fill about 2 inches of the hydroponic system container with a growing medium, then position the ginger plants on top of the growing medium with its roots spread out.
⦁ Pour some more growing medium, enough to cover the roots of the ginger plant and to keep it in place.
⦁ Set the hydroponic system in such a way that it will automatically water and feed the plants with the nutrient solution every two hours.
⦁ To maintain a healthy growing environment for the plants, be sure to keep the pH level of the fluid within the range of 5.5 to 8.0. Also, expose the plants to light for 16 hours with an eight-hour break before its next exposure.
⦁ Check the hydroponic system daily to ensure that all the components are in good working condition.
⦁ After about four to six months, you can finally harvest rhizomes. However, note that these are relatively young and small. If you want larger rhizomes, then it will take at least 12 months before you can harvest them.
⦁ Wash and dry the rhizomes before storing them.
When Should You Top Off/Change Water in the Reservoir or Tank?
Generally, you should change your water every two to three weeks. However, take note that the frequency of topping off or changing the water in your hydroponic system also varies depending on several factors.
In the beginning, it is important to keep logs of how much water you top off because this will allow you to make estimates as to how often or when you need to top off or change your water.
Depending on the number of plants, the size of the water reservoir, lighting and heating set up, and other factors that may contribute to the consumption and evaporation of the water, you may need to top off the water reservoir several times a week or even daily.
Keep a log as to how much water you add to top off the reservoir because this will help you track when you need to do a water change. If the total amount of water you have added to top off the reservoir has reached about half the total volume or capacity of the tank, then you will need to change the water in the reservoir.
(If you like heat, check out how to grow hydroponic habaneros!)
What are Some Common Pests that Can Affect Ginger?
Plants are attractive targets of pests, and ginger plants are not an exception to this. Some of the common pests that can affect the growth of ginger plants are the following:
Shoot Borer (Conogethes Punctiferalis)
A shoot borer is a medium-sized moth with pale yellow wings and black spots all over. A sign of damage caused by this pest is the presence of bore-holes on the pseudostem. Eventually, the leaves will also turn dry and yellow.
If you want to get rid of this pest, spraying malathion 0.1% in 30-day intervals is the best option. You should do so at the earliest time possible when you first see symptoms of the pest attack. For it to be effective, make sure to spray the malathion on the pseudostem.
Rhizome Scale (Aspidiella Hartii)
Some signs of rhizome scale attacks on a ginger plant are white-colored scales found on the rhizomes, and they later crowd near the growing buds. There is severe infestation when the rhizome and the buds become dry and withered.
If you want to get rid of or manage rhizome scale infestation, it is best to segregate those that have been severely infected and those that are healthy. Discard those that have been infected and only keep the healthy rhizomes.
As for the treatment, you can use quinalphos 0.075% for 20 to 30 minutes before storing or before sowing the rhizomes. Apply sheep or poultry manure and a mixture of 2ml dimethoate or phosalone per liter of water.
(Believe it or not, it’s possible to grow hydroponic asparagus!)
Leaf Roller (Udaspes Folus)
The leaf roller is a brownish-black butterfly with white spots all over its wings. The name speaks for itself because when this butterfly attacks the plants, the leaves would fold or roll up longitudinally. Another symptom of this pest infestation is the loss of leaves.
Treatment would depend on the severity of the infestation. If the infestation is severe, prepare a 0.1% carbaryl or 0.05% dimethoate spray. If the infestation is only at its early stages, then dissolve in a liter of water a mixture of Bavisitin (2g), Mancozeb (2g), and Teefol (1ml), then spray it all over the affected plants.
Thrips (Panchaetothrips Indicus)
Thrips attack plants by sucking out the sap of the leaves. This causes the leaves to roll up, turn pale, and eventually wither. Other symptoms may appear on the flower bracts, wherein it leaves a silvery sheen. This will later cause the flowers to have white, yellow, or brown streaks.
When this happens, begin by removing plant debris. Follow this up by spraying insecticides such as 0.025% quinalphos or 0.07% phosalone.
How Long Before Hydroponic Ginger Is Ready to Harvest?
Ginger is considered a long-term crop. When grown under ideal conditions, the rhizomes are ready for harvest in four to six months.
Take note that when you harvest during this period, it will yield young and small rhizomes. If you want larger rhizomes, it is best to wait for 12 to 18 months from the time of planting before harvesting them.
How Do You Harvest Hydroponic Ginger?
Harvesting a hydroponically grown ginger is simple, but you should still be wary of doing certain steps so that the ginger plant won’t die when you harvest the rhizomes. Follow this easy step-by-step guide to ensure that you harvest hydroponic ginger the right way:
If you would want to harvest a few rhizomes while it is still growing:
⦁ Find the largest rhizome that has formed and remove it from the base of the stem.
⦁ Replace the substrate with a new one.
⦁ The remaining rhizomes will continue to grow, but give it more time before harvesting the rest.
If you want to harvest fully grown rhizomes:
⦁ Allow the growing substrate to dry up for a few days.
⦁ Once the growing substrate has dried up, pull the plants from it and pluck out the rhizomes from the roots.
In both instances, the harvested ginger can be air-dried or wrapped with plastic and stored in the fridge if you don’t plan to use them immediately. If you will use the newly harvested ginger immediately, then you can wash the rhizomes and the skin can be washed off before use because they are very thin.
(Check out how to grow kale hydroponically.)
Other Things to Remember When Growing Hydroponic Ginger
Hydroponic Growing Medium for Ginger
One of the best hydroponic growing mediums to use when growing hydroponic ginger is deep bags. The deep bags should be at least 12 inches deep. You can also try containers that have a mixture of perlite and coconut fibers.
The process will still be the same as usual. The nutrient solution can be drip irrigated in deep bags or containers, and the solution should be fully drained before the next irrigation.
How Much Nutrient Solution is Required
There is no one exact measurement as to how much nutrient solution is required to meet the demands of all plant growers. Each hydroponic system is different, and other factors such as the size of the plants, the weather, and other growing conditions may affect the volume of the nutrient solution required.
The volume of the nutrient solution that would work best for one may not work for another. This matter is best left to the discretion of the plant grower based on the growing conditions of the ginger plant.
Frequency of Irrigation
As mentioned earlier in the article, the frequency of the irrigation can be set to water and feed the plants every two hours. However, this is merely a general rule. You should pay attention to how damp the growing medium is in between irrigations.
Also, the size of the plant and climatic conditions may determine the frequency of the irrigation. Irrigation can be set at a frequency of six to nine times a day for mature and large plants in hot climates, while small plants can be set at one to three times a day only.
As you have read above, growing ginger with the use of a hydroponic system works even better compared to growing it the traditional way.
Now that you know how to grow hydroponic ginger, you can finally test it out for yourself. Remember that this article mentions the general rules only while considering the ideal growing conditions of a plant, so you should not limit yourself in your journey to growing ginger hydroponically.