Growing ginger and turmeric in Melbourne – can it be done?


Helen Simpson, from the Mushroom Shed, tells you all you need to know about growing ginger and turmeric. She has also written articles about growing basil, brassicas, chilli, coriander, cucurbits, garlic, mint, raspberries, rhubarb, strawberries, tomatoes and lesser known herbs.

gingerGinger and turmeric are both hot weather plants which grow abundantly in tropical climates. Although growing in Melbourne presents a challenge, a moderate harvest can be obtained by mimicking a tropical environment as closely as possible. Essentially this means growing ginger and turmeric over Melbourne’s summer.

To maximise your harvest, create the longest possible growing period by starting your plants as soon as the weather warms up in September. This can be tricky, as cold snaps and frosts still occur, so protection of your plants in the early months is essential – for example, in a greenhouse or house overnight. Because of this, turmericI recommend growing the plants in pots, which can be moved and protected as necessary.

How to start

Ginger and turmeric are both started from rhizomes. These are what you buy to eat, so they are easy to purchase. Select fresh, plump rhizomes. Organic is best, in case the rhizome has been treated to prevent it sprouting. Alternatively, buy them from mail order or other garden suppliers.

Start the rhizomes in a pot filled with potting mix or good garden soil. Your rhizomes may have several knobbly bits on them – these turn into growing shoots – and you can plant them with these bits facing upwards, but the growing tips will find their way upwards even if they are facing sideways. You can also start your rhizomes in individual smaller pots and pot up into a much larger pot, or put several rhizomes into a very large pot and leave them there for their growing life.

About 10–15cm is the right depth for planting. The minimum spacing between rhizomes is 15cm, to leave room for them to spread.

Then be patient – the first sprouts can take many weeks to emerge.

Growing conditions

Ginger and turmeric both thrive on heat, moisture, humid conditions and moderate shade. That said, ensure the rhizomes don’t sit in water for any length of time or they will rot.

A slightly shaded part of a humid greenhouse is an excellent position and will produce superior results to a garden, which tends to have insufficient humidity. This generally translates to growing plants in a large pot, rather than planting directly in the garden.

Soil should be rich and you may wish to feed your plants several times throughout the growing season, which is from September to April/May.

In a Melbourne backyard greenhouse, the plants will shoot to about 1 metre, having long, attractive leaves branching off a straight stem.

Plants should remain relatively free of pests and diseases and happily grow until the cool weather returns in April.


In April, keep an eye on plants, as with the cooler weather they will yellow and fall over. As soon as this happens, up end the pot (as your harvest will be under the soil) and cross your fingers for a decent amount. I’d like to say it will be bountiful but a more realistic expectation for Melbourne is that it will be ‘reasonable’. The longer the growing period, the greater your harvest, so the longer you can keep your plants growing without dying the better.

Other plants to consider

If you enjoy growing ginger and turmeric, try galangal and cardamom. Cardamom is a much easier plant to grow; however, I have never seen it produce pods in Melbourne.

  55 Responses to “Growing ginger and turmeric in Melbourne – can it be done?”

  1. Hi Guy,
    I have ordered some ginger plants from a nursery and they will be coming in December. Then I will see if they will grow in a pot successfully. Although they are a little costly, if I harvest any giner than I will be satisfied because ginger is expensive to buy.
    Thank you, Guy.
    Kind regards.

  2. Hi, my partner is from China and loves ginger so I will attempt to grow some for her. What I would like to know is whether or not ginger lily (Hedychium gardnerianum) root is edible, I had heaps of it years ago but got rid of them, so yes I would like to know are the roots is edible to eat and are they healthy for you?

    • Hi Vince,

      My understanding is that Hedychium gardnerianum roots are edible but that they have very little taste and thus there isn’t much point eating them.

  3. It is very commonly sold in stores.

    • Usually about $25 per kg I’ve seen it up to $49 a kilo since COVID. Well worth the effort of trying to grow.

    • Thank you all for the helpful information, I live in Melbourne and have been growing turmeric for the last 2 years, the leafs look very healthy and green, but they don’t turn yellow, just kept spreading young plants, I think they haven’t received the right food, I will have to dig out and replant from rhizome. Is it possible to re-plant the young plants please? So I don’t have to buy new rhizomes. Thank you, Eva

      • Hi Eva,

        Yes, you can re-plant the young plants.

        Presumably you are over-wintering them in a warm place, like a greenhouse.


  4. Hi,

    Wanted to know if you’ll sell turmeric across Australia or is it just growing?

    • Hi Arima,

      Helen does sell turmeric seedlings but only locally around North East Melbourne. However, one of your local nurseries should sell them.

  5. I’ve been growing turmeric in a pot for a number of years in full sun facing north. I started growing it for the leaves. My experience is in Melbourne it’s best to only harvest every 2-3 years to give rhizomes a chance to develop bigger. I harvest the leaves every year and freeze both leaves and fruit. You really need full sun like all day.

  6. Hello I live in Melbourne and have a galangal plant in a pot on our deck protected from frost but still getting filtered sun, it is starting to look very sick and stalks bending in half, what should I do as I love this plant thanks

    • Hi Melissa,

      My experience is that this is what galangal plants do in Winter. Either harvest it or move it into a greenhouse or equivalent.

  7. Hi everyone who loves turmeric, the leaves is edible. Malaysian and Indonesian cuisine ‘rendang’ usually uses the turmeric leaves for this type of spicy food. It gives a distinctive fragrant to the rendang.

    • I grow lots of turmeric in pots and hydroponically in a hothouse in Melbourne. My plants don’t ever whither for some reason at any time of year BUT they do get fresher at this time. The hydroponic plants always remain green with new shoots. My question is … when should I harvest?

  8. Hey people,
    I’m trying to read between the lines of contributors above, but not getting anything definitive: If you’re not in a hurry to harvest, can turmeric be left in the pot to over-winter and re-sprout in spring?
    If so, any special tips (cool-temperate climate) – like letting the pot dry out during dormancy, keeping it dark/ cool/ warm?
    Or better to harvest, keep cool/ dark/ dry and re-plant?

    • Yes. I’m no expert but watched this the other day. He’s in Queensland.

    • Hi Chris,

      In cool climates, I’d recommend harvesting in May and eating. It’s difficult to store it over winter and then have success with re-growth or re-planting. Of course, you could try leaving it in the pot (dry) and see how you go – I’m sure that many people would be interested to know if you had success! Regards, Helen

    • Hi Chris,

      My turmeric has been in the same pot for the last 5 and a half years, and it just kept on regrowing EVERY single year, and all I did was just adding mulch on top and of course water during the hotter months. The summer just went past, I decided to break some off and re-planted in the raised garden bed and those took off as well. I find them a lot more forgiving than ginger.

      • Hi Chris,
        Where do you live?

      • Just read your tumeric experience now. Great success. Can I ask about the area where you have planted them?

        • Hi Mike,

          I’m not sure that I understand your question. As Helen says, turmeric is best grown in pots. You can keep these pots in a greenhouse all year or place them in a sunny spot and then bring them into a greenhouse over winter.

    • Hi, I have this turmeric bought in 2019 that I kept indoors and it died in winter. I wanted to throw it away but somehow decided to keep the rhizome. After a few months (it was wrapped and kept in dark drawer ), I transplanted it outdoors (2020) under a row of established birds of paradise, sometime in Nov/Dec, without much hope. Now in Feb 2021, I suddenly saw the turmeric plant has grown about 20-30cm. It actually lived!! What a nice surprise! So I am planning to mulch it for now , with double the mulch in winter. If it is not tall, Iwill cover with plastic to overwinter or just let it be – not planning to harvest, but seeing if it will grow more. Then, maybe once established, I will start harvesting.

  9. I have just harvested my turmeric and am not sure which part to re-sow.

    • Hi Pam.

      Around October, break the rhizomes into 6-8 cm pieces, and plant those to a depth of 10-15 cm.

      I’d recommend starting with fresh, unsprayed, turmeric around that time, as you may find that the turmeric you’ve just harvested won’t last that long.

      Regards, Helen.

  10. I am living in Newborough, Latrobe Valley and a friend who grows it successfully gave me a piece of ginger which broke off her plant. It is 9cm wide and has 2 stalks coming off each section of ginger. One of these stalks is dried and the other is still greenish. Seeing it is not the ideal time to plant it, what do you suggest I do with it?

    • Hi Elaine, since ginger planting time will be around 6 months away, it will be hard to store this piece for that long (however, if you are really keen, you may be able to find some storage methods through internet research). So I’d enjoy it in your meals, and start again around late September with a new piece. Regards, Helen.

    • Hi, I’m in Inverloch, South Gippsland, so not too far from you. Plant it now. It will not be ready for a year or maybe even 2 or 3 years. I grow mine in a hothouse and it does quite well, but I left it for 2 years before picking it. I don’t know about the dry one. It is the eyes that are important. Grow in a very large pot in well fertilised soil. Well broken down compost is good mixed in. Keep soil just damp, not wet. I do not water very often.

      • Hi Mary. I live in Cowes want to plant ginger and turmeric. I have just found a brown paper bag with turmeric I had forgotten about. They have shoots up to nearly 2″ long. What do you think my chances are to pot it up now and how should I treat it if I do?
        Cheers Debbie

        • Hi Debbie,

          Turmeric needs to be planted in Spring. So, if planted now (when it’s due to harvest in about 8 weeks), there wouldn’t be a yield. It would grow some leaves, then die back end of May.

          You could grow it to have a nice, leafy plant for a while, then the leaves would yellow off and die.

          The only alternative is to grow it in a very warm house over winter, to stop it dying back, and try to keep it going until next year.

          Regards, Helen

  11. Hi All,

    Can anyone advise me where I can purchase ginger rhizomes in Melbourne? hoping to get some in the ground ASAP.

    Thanks 🙂

  12. I just have some store-bought turmeric with quite a few ‘buds’ that I assume to be developing sprouts. Can I cut the tubers into lengths with just one eye on each?

    • Hi Robbie,

      Yes, you could use this method, however use at least two to three eyes on each piece. Let the cut end dry a little before planting (use ‘natural’ breaks, if possible), so the rhizome doesn’t rot when you plant it. Also, plant a decent sized piece – around 6 – 8 cms long, so you end up with a good sized plant.

  13. Hi ginger and turmeric fans,

    A Sri Lankan friend, Ranjana, gave me this tip – he said he remembers his mother storing harvested ginger in dry sand in a glazed ceramic pot on the kitchen bench (or in the laundry, etc). He does this with his harvested ginger (he now lives in Brisbane).

    I tried keeping my harvested turmeric last year in some damp, but not wet, potting mix in a 40 cm plastic pot, hoping it would keep some humidity around the tubers, and it worked really well. They lasted until the ones I hadn’t used were ready to plant again in spring.

    I’ve grown galangal for many years in my garden. The plants are healthy, although the tubers are smaller than tropically grown. I grew the original plant from a tuber that I bought and sprouted on my kitchen windowsill. I planted into a 20cm pot then, when the plant was fully established (in 6-12 months), I planted it out without dividing it. I find if I plant small pieces individually they die, so I use this method instead.


    • I have a galangal plant in a pot in Portarlington. It is about two feet high and has several what look like seed pods. Does that mean anything?

  14. I bought ginger rhizomes at this year Melbourne flower and garden show, not really thinking it is not their growing season. What can I do with the rhizomes now, so they survive until September?

    • Hi Hania,
      I have found that ginger, once dug, tends to dry out eventually, so I have never been able to store it for more than a month or so. I’ve done a quick scan of the internet and storage methods sound complicated. If any other reader has some suggestions, I’d be interested to know. Other than that – I’d eat it, and start again in September. If you see us at the Eltham Farmers’ Market this Sunday, we can suggest some good growers/suppliers to source it from in September..
      Helen (The Mushroom Shed).

      • Hi Helen
        Freezing the ginger is a good way to go. If you freeze the ginger whole, do not defrost to use (it turns mushy). However it is excellent for grating (while still frozen). It can be used in making juices. It is even possible to slice off thin slices and then put the rest back into the freezer.
        I imagine it is possible to store grated ginger in oil though I have yet to try that.

        • To store ginger for cooking, peel off the skin, put in a jar, cover with dry sherry and keep in the fridge.

        • I do the same but scrub then store in the fridge in a sealed container, both ginger & sherry great in stirfry/cooking.

        • To store ginger. Place ginger in dry sherry in screw top jar. Use as fresh ginger, i.e. slice or grate as required. I have not found it necessary to remove the skin. Also I just leave it in a dark kitchen cupboard, and my unheated pantry is cool enough. My IGA grocer has ginger, galangal and turmeric available most times.

  15. Hello
    I live in Heathcote, Victoria and have just purchased both turmeric and ginger plants. What is the best way for them to grow? Would growing them indoors in my bathroom suit? I ideally want to plant them outside.

    • Hi Kylie,

      It’s best to mimic a tropical environment – i.e. hot, humid, with rain. Growing outside should be fine during the day as long as you can find a spot with humidity, moderate shade and then water regularly. However, as the nights get colder, the plants will grow slower and eventually start to yellow off for harvesting around April. You could try the bathroom to prolong your plant’s life for a few more weeks, noting that, without being exposed to some breeze, your plants may be more prone to diseases and that they also need some sun for growth. If they are in a pot, then you can move them inside as temperatures get colder and test if that works for you.

      To get the best harvest, plants can be started late September/early October, which gives the most hot temperature time before they die off in April.

      Regards, Helen.

    • Hello Kylie, we live near Heathcote and are attempting to grow turmeric in a pot for the first time in our greenhouse. Perhaps we can compare results.

  16. I am a wholesale nurseryman and love growing veggies. My crop of turmeric under plastic in great soil has been huge. I have worked out that it does best when grown from divisions on a yearly basis. I agree that store-bought Turmeric is not very healthy and the first crop was slow. The transplants were far more vigorous. Galangal was very hard to establish from store-bought rhizomes which were clinically dead. I finally succeeded with rhizomes bought from a QLD mail order nursery.

    • Thank you Jeff, I am after galangal. I will search for a supplier, cheers.

    • Thanks Jeff – useful to know.
      So far my turmeric grows fine (in Sydney), but that was probably because a friend gave me some rhizomes from her garden (ie not treated with anti-sprouting chemicals). It dies down during winter here so it’s possible to harvest some until late August. Well, I harvested some until late August this year because the weather has been dry; maybe it would have gone rotten if there had been heavy rain.

    • Hi Jeff,
      I am interested to find out how you grow under plastic?

      • Hi Steph,

        I grow mine in a 20 metre by 6 metre plastic house with side walls about 2 metres high. Curved roof 2.5 metres high at highest point. One side wall can be dropped on very hot days. Sliding doors both ends can be opened as well.

        The basics are: good quality soil; they both will be dormant in winter when you can harvest; and shade protection in warmer months.

        When harvesting turmeric, plant back some of the bigger pieces for the next year’s crop. Ginger takes longer to build up, say 2 years before harvesting, then harvest part of the clump but leave plenty behind. Both love plenty of water and organic fertiliser. This is best time of year to start. Buy from supermarket and plant pieces (not too small – say 5 to 7 cm long) about 30 cm apart about 3cm deep. Sometimes (yuk) the ginger or turmeric has been sprayed with shoot retardant so it may not work. I tried many times with galangal and failed until I got great material through a mail order company in Queensland.

        Happy to supply more info.

        Regards, Jeff.

        • Hi Jeff,
          Can you post the website you used to order the turmeric from?
          Thanks and kind regards

        • The turmeric was grown from supermarket plump material.

          After many failures with store-bought galangal, I bought my galangal by mail order from Green Harvest QLD. They sent me 10 divisions for $40, including postage. They took off and grew to 1.5 metres in one summer under plastic. Soon I will have around 300 plants in 20cm pots which should be ready to go in about 2 months.

    • Hey Jeff, whereabouts are you based with your turmeric hothouse?

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