Variegated shell ginger ( Alpinia zerumbet )

This shell ginger is growing in part shade and about 3′ tall, I also have one growing in almost full shade. The full shade one is much smaller, but just as variegated. The one in the shade is also in a very dry area. So these make good plants to grow in places other plants might not.

It can grow about 6′ tall and can spread to 10′. I’ve only seen them in part shade here and 3′ tall with about 4′ spreads. It prefers full sun and moist soil.

Flowers are light pink and look like sea shells. This ginger is supposed to flower all summer after the second year. This is its second year and the first flowers appeared the last week of May.

This plant was damaged by the frost last winter. After watching it I’ve decided the best thing to do is to just cut the damaged canes back to the ground. They never really recover and look ragged if you just trim the damaged leaves off. Plenty of new stalks will appear in the spring.

Each stalk only flowers once, so feel free to chop them all back at the end of the season or early spring if you are more interested in the flowers than the foliage, or if you wish you can use this ginger like a shrub and leave the stalks in place.

There is a non-variegated version that can handle slightly cooler climates.

I cut the entire plant back to the ground after the cold winter of 09-10. It’s the first week of April and several stalks are showing about 6″ tall.

Extremely drought tolerant, heat tolerant, shade tolerant, cold tolerant – good plant for tough areas.

Propagate by division in the fall.

More Information:
Shell ginger may be the fountain of youth
Garden Web Ginger Forum
Floridata: Alpinia zerumbet

Pine cone ginger aka shampoo ginger ( Zingiber zerumbet )

Pinecone Ginger

Pine cone ginger is named for its pink-green pine cone shaped flowers. The flowers appear mid to late summer, start out green and turn red. Small cream colored flowers appear on the cones. The flowers come out of the ground on their own stalks separate from the leaves. Blooming time is supposed to be fall so perhaps I’ll have some flower pictures to post here soon.

Foliage is variegated. Variegated varieties reach about 4′ tall, non-variegated about 7′ tall.

This ginger is easy to grow, clumping and propagated by division. Pine cone ginger is fast growing. It prefers moist soil don’t let it go totally dry. It prefers more sun than shade as do most variegated plants.

The milky substance in the flower cones is used in many shampoos. In medieval times ginger root was so loved it was set on the table nightly as we do with salt and pepper today.

This plant dropped about half its leaves when the weather first went under 40′ and the rest of them when we had the frost earlier this month. It dies back to the ground most, but not all winters here.

It will come back in the spring.

Keep the soil moist, it’ll survive a drought but not happily.

Survived the heat and drought of 2011, one of the few plants to bloom

This plant is much happier since I relocated it to a damper location, it receives some afternoon sun, but is mostly shaded by the nearby plants.

Zingiber Neglectum ( Jewel Pagoda )

Any plant with neglect ’em in the name sounds like it’s right up my alley. What the name really refers to is that the flower is hidden from view.

The drought has not been kind to the gingers, they have all grown, all flowered, but the leaves are scorched and the flowers dismal on many of them.

When not in a drought the flower has a brilliant scarlet edge to each cup and is truly stunning. The edges should turn more red with time as the flower matures. The actual flowers are a pale, translucent white and there is one per cup.

As with other gingers, give this plant mostly shade to dappled light and moderate water.

Feel free to cut leaf stalks in the winter back to ground level or leave them if you want the foliage.

Propagate by division.

Native to Indonesia.

Note: Survived and bloomed during the extreme heat and drought summer of 2011

Zingiberaceae hedychium aka Butterfly ginger

These are sturdy plants, first Ike wiped out all their shade and I had to move them, then here we sit in three months into a drought. Still they grow and they bloom.

6′ to 8′ tall. Stalks bloom once each, cut them to the ground after blooming or leave them as it pleases you.

I’m told they can grow in full sun, mine seemed rather displeased with the idea after Ike took down the trees out front. They will likely only grow to 4′ in full sun. If they are not blooming, move them to a sunnier location. Mine receive only dappled morning light and do bloom.

These are a great plant for boggy areas, they do not mind clay or wet feet. They seem to be holding up in the drought too. I’d recommend trying them in any shady area that is difficult to find plants for.

Like most local gingers these die back to the ground in the winter, and re-appear in the spring.

These are the most fragrant of the ginger family and the flowers are thought to resemble butterflies.

Propagation is best done by division late winter to early spring.

This particular ginger species is from the area of southern Asia through to India. Historically the roots are used in times of famine or as a food supplement during lean times.

Note: Survived the extreme heat and drought of the summer of ’11 but no blooms

Dancing lady ginger ( Zingiberaceae Globba obscura )

This is another of many gingers I planted this spring. While it hasn’t yet gotten as large as the other gingers have, it wasted no time in producing flowers. Flowers are tiny on delicate stems that weep down.

Globba gingers usually peak at about 2′ in height. These are slow growing gingers.

Globba gingers want shade, not part shade, but shade.

Keep moist in the summer and dry in the winter.

These go dormant in the winter and reappear late spring.

Propagate by division in the spring.

Wow – not one of my books mentions this plant, all I have are some sparse notes from lectures. I’ll fill this out as I learn more.

Curcuma gingers

I’m new to growing gingers. But I’ve been very happy with the results so far. I planted several different species this spring and they all seem to be doing well.

The curcuma flowers are the most showy of the gingers I have. The leaves of these gingers are wider and are all curcumas have heavily ribbed leaves. Plants can reach up to 4′ tall once established.

Some curcumas flower in the spring, mine are summer bloomers. Leaves appear first, followed by the flowers. They are often referred to as the ‘hidden gingers’. Flowers are white, pink or some combination of both. What we consider the flowers are actually the brachs, or colored leaves around very small, nondescript flowers.

Curcumas will die back to the ground in the fall. Just cut the stems back to ground level, they will come back when the weather warms up.

Curcumas, like most plants, prefer well drained, high humus soil. They do best with regular watering and fertilizing. However, they want to be dry in the winter during the dormant season.

Like most gingers curcumas want part shade at least and can do well in full shade.

Propagate by division in the spring. Gingers can also be grown from seed, but on curcumas only the seeds on the low flowers are fertile. Division is a much easier way to propagate your plants anyhow. It should also be possible to root from stem cuttings. I haven’t tried yet.

Drought tolerant and freeze tolerant. Will bake in full sun, give it some shade.

Problems:
If soil is not well drained, plants may rot over the winter.
If you are not getting blooms you need either more sun or more fertilizer.
These are often slow to reappear in the spring, try not to panic.

Curcumas are part of the turmeric family. We have records from 200 BC of ginger being cultivated and used in cooking. In the 1970s ginger first became popular among the masses.

Note: Survived w/ blooms early the great heat and drought of summer 2011

Peacock Ginger ( Kaempheria Pulchria )

If you’ve given up growing hostas down here or are looking for a hosta replacement, consider these gingers. Kaempheria pulchria grow in shade, remain small and provide wonderful foliage and small purple flowers.

All gingers are safe to eat from flowers to leaves to roots, that doesn’t mean they will all taste good though.

Like hostas they die back to the ground in the fall and they are the very last plant to show up in your garden each spring. Be patient if yours do not reappear. Some will wait till mid June before poking a leaf up, the ground must reach 70’F first.

They form rounded clumps as they grown between 6″-12″ in height and 9″-12″ across depending on the variety.

Peacock gingers bloom from June until November here. Each small purple flower blooms for one day to be replaced by a fresh flower the following day.

Plant them in the deep shade and water regularly all summer. They want to be moist. These are not drought tolerant plants. Go easy on the watering in the winter or them might rot.

The designs on the leaves are what draws people to peacock gingers more than the flowers. The leaves are much rounder than any of the other ginger families.

Propagate by dividing the rhizomes.

These gingers also do well in hanging baskets. They do well around the base of trees where it is too shady for other plants. Just remember to keep them moist.

Note: Survived extreme heat and drought of 2011