Friday, November 25, 2011

Myoga Ginger

When I was first establishing my garden I promised my wife a special place for her to grow some of her weird Japanese vegetables. One of the first things she ever planted was Myoga Ginger. You can see more pictures in my post about the 'bottom garden'.

The plants die off and come back every year without us caring for them at all. As with most ginger plants the roots are invasive, so in an effort to contain them I buried some fence pailings to try and stop the roots from taking over the whole garden. When most people see our little ginger plot they think it’s sweetcorn.

It’s only the tender new flower heads that are harvested. You can see one here...

I think you have to be Japanese to truly appreciate them. Izumi slices them up and uses them in asian style salads or as a garnish in noodley soups. This is what they look like when they’re harvested. She often gives her Japanese friends a handful when there’s more than she needs and they always appreciate this little taste from home (you can't buy it in the shops here).

There’s a lot we can learn from the various cultures when it comes to things they eat. 

At the end of the season the crop has all died off again...

But I don't need to do anything. It'll just come back again all by itself next season.


On a visit to a food market in Kanazawa, Japan in September 2012 we came across a store selling Myoga in small bags for ¥150 each (which is about NZ$2.25/US$1.86). 


These are not such a great photos, but you can probably see that the flower heads are quite plump – they’re quite a bit bigger than I’ve ever grown them. Perhaps if I start fertilising mine I can get them to grow a bit bigger. Maybe some Sulphate of Potash for better flowering and fruiting?


(Update: 3 April 2018)

Funny how you learn things about gardening... often it’s quite by accident. Let me explain.
I’ve been wondering for the last 6 years or more how to get my Myoga Ginger to grow bigger like the ones they sell in Japan. Well, I finally figured it out! 

But now I feel a bit dumb because it’s actually REALLY simple. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it sooner. Essentially, the answer was to ignore this plant even more than I normally would. 

Since Izumi passed away I don’t have so many Japanese people visiting my garden and making use of whatever Ginger I might have. Therefore I’ve not been in any hurry to harvest it. I’ve just left them and they just continue getting bigger. I left this one about a month or more longer than normal to the point where the foliage is starting to die off as the plant goes into its dormant period. It’s the first time I’ve left it so late before harvesting.

I used to worry that the bulbs which get a little yellow flower growing out the end of them, if left, would grow and continue to blossom thereby rendering the bulb inedible. Well it seems I was wrong and while this bulb actually had a yellow flower on the end of it, I simply plucked it off and a big plump bulb of ginger remained.


Read more about my Myoga Plant here

See video showing how we harvest Myoga Ginger


  1. That's interesting as the regular Ginger we eat is from the bulb under the ground. Does this variety have incredible flowers like many other Ginger plants have? We went to the Ginger Factory in Qld & the flowers on all the various types they had growing were absolutely stunning.

  2. The shoots that are harvested are actually flower shoots, that's the bit they eat. Izumi reckons that some are grown in New Zealand and exported to Japan where they're sold for about NZ$50/Kg. Export quality Myoga shoots need to look like the one second from the left in the picture. The rest would not be up to standard.

  3. G'day brother Dave,
    Very interesting veggies, Izumi is growing.
    Never heard of Myoga ginger before until today (mine; 29/11/2011)

    My curiousity took over and wanted to find out how much NZ$50.00 worked out to in my currency, so it works out to approx. $38.13/Kg. Ouch! to the price.

    Remember I told you about me growing some husked tomatoes and mild Mexican chili peppers. Well, my husked tomatoes are doing well because they are outgrowing the mini plastic cups, I put the seed in. Someday I need to transplant them into something bigger. As for the Mexican mild chili peppers, I may need to start them over again since the chili peppers have no sprouts. :(

    Hope you are doing well. Take care and happy gardening.

  4. Me again...
    I "thought" I had to start over the mild Mexican chili peppers, but they do have some sprouts to them.. yay!!

    As for the husked tomatoes and now mild Mexican chili peppers, they're transplanted into garden boxes; dad made. So, I guess I will have to start some more seeds of different veggies.

  5. I'm not much good at raising seeds. I generally go to the nursery and get seedlings that have already been started.
    I think I must be lacking in patience for it or something. I have done it successfully with some seeds and they've grown well into mature plants but I can't say I'm as enthusiastic about this aspect of gardening as I am for all the other parts.

  6. I've never heard of husk tomatoes before so I googled them. Very unusual. Hanging on the plant they almost look like gooseberries

  7. Now that I've seen a picture of them, I'd have to agree. They look like what we call Cape Gooseberries in NZ (sometimes known as Chinese Gooseberries). However, I think the term 'husked tomatoes' is a better description.

  8. I live in the US and I'm not having much luck finding this. Do you know somewhere I can buy Myoga roots?

    1. Roots are not going to be any good for you to plant. You can order rhizomes, plants or seeds online

    2. Occidental Arts and Ecology Center in CA carriers this as young plants.

  9. Hi Regina, thanks for visiting my blog. Sorry for the slow reply. Unfortunately I don't have any helpful info for you about where to get any roots in the US. If you lived somewhere nearby I'd be happy to give you a couple of roots to get you started.

    We got started when somebody gave us a couple of bits of root about 15 years ago. Do you know any keen Japanese gardeners in your area?

  10. I have been seeking this root in the US for long time, but no luck. You have very rare vegetables. I would like to know where you live.

  11. Hi anonymous, Is that really your name?
    I live in Auckland, New Zealand. Does that answer your question?

    If you want specifics you can email me at:

  12. I have just purchased a Myoga ginger plant from Daley's Nursery in Kyogle NSW - a plant in a Mega-Tube is $14.90 - and if you dont live nearby they do, do mail order...

    1. Thanks for the info Brad. Perhaps I should start selling roots in a mega tube to local nurseries?

      There's been so much interest shown in this article I'm totally amazed. In fact it has shot to the top in the popularity stakes ahead of everything else now.

      As a footnote, I've added some pictures of Myoga Ginger being sold in a Japanese food market where we visited recently.

  13. Hello Dave,
    I originally came from Japan. I also love Myoga and try to find how to purchase them in the U.S. I wonder how you and your wife obtained "first Myoga" to grow? What kind of soil they like? Do they like under shade or sunshine? Is it difficult to grow? I am also looking for "shiso(beefsteak leaf)". I wonder you and your wife have one....You should consider to sell Myoga roots in Southern California where a lot of Japanese resides. Enjoy reading your stories. Thank you!!

    1. Hi there, thanks for your comment. I'll try and answer your questions...

      To be honest, I don't how the person who got us started, first got the root to NZ. As for the soil, I originally planted it into fresh garden mix that I purchased from a landscaping company. That was more than 15 years ago but since then I have done practically nothing to the soil at all.

      They're growing in a shady spot in a gully. They get a bit of direct sunlight in the morning, but most of the time they live in ambient light, as the garden is surrounded by trees.

      They're probably the easiest of all my plants to care for. I pretty much ignore it all year round until it's time to harvest.

      I don't know much about Shiso. I'll keep it in mind. We have a another Japanese plant called Burdock – a root vegetable with huge leaves that grows about 2 metres tall.

      As for growing Myoga roots to sell. That could be difficult to do at any reasonable scale as they take quite a long time to establish. Even after more than 15 years our plot is still only about 2 square metres in size. Customs and international border restrictions could make it a difficult proposition too.

  14. I also live in So CA and both myoga and shiso are readily available here! Esp if you live near the Gardena/Torrance South Bay area, several nurseries carry them, esp before and during the summer growing season. Shiso is also found as plants in most Japanese markets at this time.

  15. We live in the California desert; do you think they would do well here? We watched the PBS special on myoga and it looks delish prepared as they did.