Ginger’s Water Tale

We had a 5¼-inch rain deficit from September–December 2022. It turned out to be the third-driest year of this century for us.

I was thinking that we started spring relatively well hydrated until I checked the local precipitation data through the National Weather Service. January–March had a rainfall surfeit of over 2½ inches, but that didn’t completely make up for last fall. It was enough rain at the right time to make the early spring plants happy, including the ginger.

Wild ginger coming up. Photographed on April 17, 2023.

I was suspecting the ginger of being picky about hydration based on the previous fall. It had been flattened frequently by the lack of rain and I had watered it more than once because of that.

May was very dry—we had a 3-inch rain deficit—so by June, it was happening again.

Water-stressed wild ginger. Photographed on June 5, 2023.

The water-stressed ginger at the bottom of the photograph is suffering from too little water and far too much sun. I had to water it.

It turns out we are on a roller coaster. 

It finally rained. July has been juicy. As of July 21 we have had nearly double our normal rainfall for July. The green lawn you see below is not due to overseeding, although I weeded aggressively in the spring to prevent a huge weeding job next year. The grass filled in on its own. There are still some weeds, too.

The wild ginger and the lawn have recovered from the lack of rain. Photographed on July 18, 2023.

The ginger at the bottom of the photograph is slightly yellowed because it is getting too much sun. The magnolia that shades most of that patch blooms very nicely, but it is small and does not have a spreading crown. How much sun is too much for ginger? As far as I can tell, more that an hour of sun first thing in the morning is too much. 

The ants have carried seeds around the yard, starting a small but nice ginger patch in the dense shade under the Heronwood Solomon’s seal that is under the serviceberry; however there is no ginger under the silver maple, which is a very thirsty tree with shallow roots. The silver maple creates the dreaded “dry shade.”