How to Grow Galangal (Siamese Ginger, Alpinia galanga)

galangal harvested to make powder

By Jennifer Poindexter

Galangal is a unique crop to grow. It’s related to ginger and even goes by the name blue ginger from time to time.

The main difference in the physical appearance of ginger and galangal is that galangal has a darker skin.

It also has a peppery flavor and smells of pine. If you’re interested in adding this unique crop to your landscape, you’ve come to the right place.

I’m going to walk you through what you should know to get started growing this plant. Here’s what you must know when learning how to grow galangal:

What You’ll Learn

  • Understanding the unique characteristics of galangal, a crop closely related to ginger.
  • Understanding the suitable growing conditions for galangal including the ideal planting zones, sunlight requirements, and soil preferences.
  • Detailed steps on how to plant galangal from mature plants or purchased rhizomes.
  • Comprehensive guidelines on caring for galangal plants including watering techniques, mulching, fertilizing, and winter care.
  • Awareness of garden pests and diseases that could impact your galangal plants and preventative measures.
  • Instructions on how to harvest galangal effectively and how to store it for prolonged use.

Growing Conditions for Galangal

Galangal can be grown indoors year-round, or you may grow it outdoors. If you choose to grow it outside, it’s only hardy in planting zones nine and ten.

Plus, you may only want to grow it as an annual in planting zones seven and eight. If you plant it outdoors in its hardiness zones and frost occurs, it may slightly burn the foliage, but it shouldn’t kill the plant.

Should you choose to grow galangal in a container, ensure the pot drains adequately and is 5-gallons or larger in size.

Whether you grow the plant indoors or out, it’s vital to provide a growing area with nutrient-dense, loose soil that’s also well-draining.

This plant can only handle partial sunlight. If you’re growing the plant indoors, find a location with bright, indirect light. The plant shouldn’t receive more than six hours of sunlight per day.

Should you grow the plant outdoors, partial sunlight should provide what it needs. The idea is to provide the plant light without scorching the foliage.

Galangal can grow in a few different settings. The main thing is to ensure the plant has what it needs to thrive in a growing location.

How to Plant Galangal

Galangal is usually grown for its roots. However, the plant produces shiny, green foliage and beautiful flowers which bloom in pink, pale yellow, and light pink.

Some of the flowers have red centers. It’s a colorful sight that’s great for bringing life to a space.

However, you won’t want to use the bright flowers as a source for harvesting seeds as most of the flowers don’t produce anything viable.

Instead, propagating this plant from dividing other mature plants could be your best option. When you see a plant that’s large and well-established, dig it up.

Ensure you get the entire root system out of the ground. Use a sharp spade or knife to divide the plant into smaller portions.

Make sure each division is connected to a rhizome, then plant it in a growing location with the right growing conditions.

Dig a hole large enough to support the rhizome and cover it. Water the plant and provide adequate care until it becomes established.

It’s best to divide the plants in the spring to give them time to produce by the end of the growing season.

This is the best method for growing galangal. If you don’t have access to a mature plant, you may purchase rhizomes online and plant them following the same instructions as you would for divisions.

Caring for Galangal

Galangal doesn’t require much care. In fact, if you can water, fertilize, mulch, and provide adequate care over winter, this plant should do fine.

When watering galangal, it’s best to water deeply. This means you’ll apply larger amounts of water for a longer period of time, fewer days of the week.

By doing this, you’re encouraging a deeper root system which should equate to a healthier plant overall.

Be sure to test the soil prior to adding more water when using this method. Insert your finger into the ground next to the plant.

If it’s dry to your first knuckle, apply more water. If not, wait a day or two before testing the soil again.

The next thing to do is apply a layer of mulch around your galangal plants. This helps with keeping weeds down, moisture in around the plant, and also keeps the soil temperature cooler.

Galangal should also be fertilized once per month throughout the spring and summer seasons. Finally, be sure to provide adequate care to your galangal plants over the winter months.

If you’re growing them outdoors in a hardiness zone, you’ll notice the plant should stop growing. Yet, the leaves should remain green.

Stop providing as much water during this time. Allow the plant to dry fully between watering sessions.

Should you grow this plant indoors overwinter, reduce the amount of water the plant receives, and place it in a window where it receives between three and six hours of light.

These are the steps you should take to provide care to your galangal plants. It could be these few things that keep your plants healthy and thriving throughout the growing season.

Garden Pests and Diseases Which Can Impact Galangal

Galangal has a few things to be aware of in the garden. The main pest to impact this plant is the spider mite.

These are small insects that you may not notice initially. However, you may notice their homes. They spin small webs in your plants.

Should you see this, treat the plant with an insecticide. You may also dislodge the pests and their homes by spraying the galangal with soapy water.

The main diseases to impact galangal are root rot and rust. Both of these issues are fungal based. The best way to beat fungal disease is to stay ahead of it.

This means you should grow your crops in areas with plenty of warmth, light, and well-draining soil. Fungal diseases thrive in cold, damp areas.

By keeping the soil warm and dry, these diseases should have a harder time forming. It’s also wise to water your plants earlier in the day to allow the foliage time to dry before the nighttime temperatures set in.

Should you notice your plants have developed rust, it’s wise to treat them with a fungicide and remove damaged portions of the plant.

Root rot is the other disease mentioned that galangal could struggle with. This disease forms when the plants grow in oversaturated growing spaces.

Ensure the moisture has somewhere to go around your galangal plants, and this should reduce the risk of this disease.

The problem with root rot is once it forms, it’s difficult to overcome. Avoiding it is your best option when growing this plant.

You now know what could threaten your galangal harvest. Stay alert and treat pests and diseases at the first sign of a problem.

How to Harvest Galangal

Our final topic to discuss is how to harvest galangal. This plant should be ready to harvest approximately three months after planting.

The root of the plant becomes tougher the longer it grows, so try to harvest as close to the three month mark as possible.

If the plants are growing in the ground, try to harvest 50% of them to help control the spread of galangal. If you’re growing in a container, harvest as little as you like.

When you’re ready to harvest, dig up the entire plant. Trim the foliage from the plant and divide the rhizomes.

Leave the main portion of the plant intact as you’ll transplant it when done harvesting. When you’ve harvested all you like, wrap the rhizomes in a towel and store them in the refrigerator.

You may also dry the rhizomes by placing them on a cookie sheet in a single layer. Place them in your oven on the lowest setting and give them time to dry fully.

When done, store the rhizomes in a cool, dry, and dark location in an airtight container for later use. This is how you can get the most use out of your galangal plants.

You now know how to grow, plant, care for, protect, and harvest galangal when grown in your home garden.

This is a great plant for most any gardener considering it can be grown in the ground or in a container. Pick the best growing method for your situation and try introducing this crop around your home.

Key Takeaways

  • Galangal, sometimes known as blue ginger, is a unique crop that thrives in nutrient-rich, loose, well-draining soil and partial sunlight.
  • Typically grown for its roots, galangal is best propagated through division of mature plants or purchased rhizomes.
  • Care for galangal is fairly simple; regular deep watering, monthly fertilization during the growing seasons, and proper winter care should ensure a healthy plant.
  • The main threats to galangal are spider mites and fungal diseases such as root rot and rust. These can be managed with insecticides, fungicides, and appropriate cultivation practices.
  • Harvesting of galangal should occur roughly three months after planting, and the harvested rhizomes can be stored in a refrigerator or dried for longer-term storage.
  • Whether grown in-ground or in a container, galangal can be a rewarding addition to your home garden.

More About Galangal

The post How to Grow Galangal (Siamese Ginger, Alpinia galanga) appeared first on Gardening Channel.



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