Which Way Up?

ester1605August 22, 2005

My Hedychiums, which sat in the ground, deader than the Dodo, through 2 months of 30 degree weather, had me so frustrated that I decided to take them out and forget about growing gingers.

When I took them out of the earth, there were no roots at all, but two pinks bumps, where the rhizome skin had broken. They look like sprouts to me -- does this mean my gingers were sitting upside down all this time, and that's why they didn't grow? Shouldn't there be roots first, before the sprouts?

I've turned them over and stuck them back in the ground, with the pink bumps on top. Hope this does not kill them off entirely!

If they survive and actually grow, the next problem is that cooler weather is coming, with temps down to the low 20's.

Do gingers need to be taken inside? Would it be better to plant them in a pot and treat them as houseplants until next spring?

So many questions-- I hope some of you out ther have some answers!

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The rhizome should be placed lengthwise horizontally in the soil an inch or two below the surface. If there is a flat spot on it indicating where an old stalk had been, that would have previously been the top side of the rhizome. If there are none of these, it would be logical to orient the rhizome so that growth nodes face upward, but sometimes there is no obvious upward because the growth nodes are forming in different, or opposite directions. Actually, it doesn't matter which way you orient it because there is no definitive top or bottom as far as the rhizome cares. The shoots will always grow upward.

The rhizome knows when to break its doemancy based on the temperature of the soil. At that time, the growth nodes begin to send out shoots as new roots develop. Did your soil temperatures remain cool all summer? Maybe that was the problem.

You could take them inside for the winter, which might be better than trying to store them in a dormant state all the longer or leaving them outside where the ground might freeze and kill them.

If I were you, I'd plant a rhizome or two in a big pot (one per pot) and grow them inside over the winter in a sunny area of the house. You'd need a pot that is big around enough to give the rhizome room to develop. Keep it watered well and give it some organic fertilizer every week or so.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2005 at 11:29PM
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New shoots (which sounds like what you have) will orient themselves towards "up", no matter which way the rhizome is turned, so that wouldn't keep them from growing.

Roots are only produced by the part that is actively growing, so expect to see them from the base of the new shoot as it elongates, but not from the back portion of the rhizome. That's why you can dig them up and store them dry during their dormancy-- no new roots are going to be produced from the old rhizome.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2005 at 9:02PM
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