Flowering Ginger

Updated: Jun 2

Ginger is a flowering plant whose rhizome, ginger root or ginger, is widely used as a spice and a folk medicine. Ginger plants fall into two main categories: common ginger (Zingiber officinale) -- the type used in cooking -- and flowering ginger, the kind used for ornamental purposes. The flowering ginger family, Zingiberaceae, is a diverse group including some 47 genera and more than 1,000 species. Some of the more common genus names you are likely to see in the nursery trade include Alpinia, Costus, Hedychium, and Zingiber (which includes the edible culinary ginger).



Flowering ginger grows vigorously, quickly invading uncultivated areas and encroaching on adjacent plant life. Plant flowering gingers with other large tropical plants like cannas or elephant ears to create a sultry statement. The leaves are usually lance-shaped or oblong, deep green, and glossy. Flowers vary greatly from one genus to another and may be borne throughout the growing season in tropical climates.


Table of Contents


Height(Avg)

4 - 6 feet


Width-Circumference (Avg)

1 - 3 feet


Approximate pH

6.0 - 6.8


Types of Flowering Ginger


Individual species may bear such uninteresting names as “red ginger” or “yellow ginger,” but collectors should choose plants based on the Latin name to avoid mislabeled plants and muddled taxonomy issues. Gardeners just looking for an attractive container plant can look for a plant in bloom that they admire, as all tropical gingers thrive under similar growing conditions. Top varieties include:


'Beehive Ginger' (Zingiber spectabile) has cone-shaped bracts that thrive in warm, frost-free climates.


'Crepe Ginger' (Costus speciosus) has maroon bracts with white flowers whose petals resemble crinkled tissue paper; it may tolerate light frosts.


'Kahili Ginger' (Hedychium gardnerianum) has fragrant yellow flowers with prominent orange stamens.


'Pineapple Ginger' (Tapeinochilos ananassae) resembles a (red) pineapple; it is a good candidate for the shade garden.


'Red Button Ginger' (Costus woodsonii) is an easy ginger for beginners, but those in tropical areas should keep it in a container to prevent its invasive tendencies.


'Torch Ginger' (Etlingera elatior) has shiny red flowers that resemble pinecones; it grows well in full sun.


'White Ginger' (Hedychium coronarium) grows fragrant orchid-like flowers throughout the year; it may spread aggressively in the landscape in frost-free areas.


'Red Ginger' (Alpinia Purpurata) is tall and produces a big red flower spike. The red spike is not actually the flower, but it does provide the big show. Inside each red bract that makes up the spike, is a small white flower.


'Malay Ginger' (Zingiber zerumbet) produces flowers that are about two inches (5 cm.) across. They are ruffled and may be white or pink with yellow centers. The leaves are long and green, but there are cultivars of this ginger that have variegated leaves.


'Shell Ginger' (Alpinia zerumbet) flowers are unique. They cluster together in a drooping shape and are often white, but sometimes pale pink. They have been described as a string of pearls.


'Oxblood Ginger' (Costus erythrophyllus) variety adds color to the garden, not just from its white to pink flowers, but also the undersides of the leaves which are a rich, deep purplish red.


Growing Flowering Ginger


Where to Plant


While some Gingers lend stunning color and others offer culinary and medicinal applications, they're both happy in garden beds or containers. These plants thrive in sunny sites in foggy coastal areas where ample water is provided. However, if moisture is limited, sites with one-third to one-half day of shade are preferable. Additionally, Gingers will not fare well in salty, Oceanside soils or areas that are soggy. Therefore, if you notice puddles of water 5–6 hours after a hard rain, scout out another site or amend the soil with organic material to raise the level 2–3 inches.


When to Plant


Plant your Ginger rhizomes or tubers in the early spring after the danger of frost has passed. Depending on the soil and air temperatures, you can expect root and top growth to form within a few weeks.


How to Plant

  • For outdoor landscape planting, find a spot where the soil drains well, and your Ginger plants will receive full sun to partial shade. Dig holes and plant the rhizomes or tubers 12" apart with the roots pointing downwards and the "eyes" or growing points just below the soil surface. Tuck the plants in and tamp the soil down to remove any air pockets.

  • For container planting, start with potting soil that drains well and a large container. Dig holes and plant the rhizomes or tubers with the roots pointing downwards and the "eyes" or growing points just below the soil surface. Tuck the plants in and tamp the soil down to remove any air pockets.

  • Water thoroughly, soaking the soil to settle it around the root.


How to Grow Flowering Ginger From Seed


Since growing flowering ginger from seed can take years and doesn't often produce the best profusion of blooms, this method is not recommended.


How to Get Flowering Ginger to Bloom


Keep in mind that flowering ginger might not bloom the first year; some nursery plants that were started through seed might take three years or more to give you any sort of flowers. Also, note that the ginger rhizomes need at least 10 months of warm temperatures to grow, and at least a few months of temperatures above 70 degrees Fahrenheit to produce flowers. If these conditions are met but the plant is still not flowering, consider that the plants need regular watering and that they are heavy feeders, needing a good 10-10-10 liquid fertilizer applied every month.


Flowering Ginger Care


Plant flowering gingers with other large tropical plants like cannas or elephant ears to create a sultry statement. Grow them in moist, well-drained garden soil in a part-shade location, or one that gets filtered sun all day. Flowering ginger will grow quite vigorously in the garden and has been known to take over garden spaces. Avoid planting it near natural areas where it might escape.


Feed at least every other month, and clip back flower stalks to the ground after they finish blooming. The plant is fairly trouble-free, but root rot may occur in cold, wet soil.


Light


Most ginger plants thrive in filtered light, such as they experience when growing in a rainforest. Ginger plants growing in full sun may develop browning on foliage margins.


Soil


Ginger plants like organically rich, moist, well-draining soil with near-neutral to slightly acidic pH.


Water


Water frequently during the growing season, less often in fall and winter. Weekly deep watering is preferable to shorter daily showers. Aim to give your ginger plant approximately 1 inch of moisture per week.


Temperature and Humidity


Tropical ginger plants crave the high humidity and moist, rich soil of their native habitat. If flowering ginger plants get too dry, they will cease to flower and may even become dormant. As a tropical plant, ginger plants prefer temperatures above 50 degrees Fahrenheit.


Fertilizer


Ginger plants are heavy feeders and will benefit from a biweekly shovelful of manure when the summer heats up. Otherwise, you can apply a complete flower fertilizer every other month. For the amount to use, follow the product label instructions.


Pruning and Propagating Flowering Ginger


Pruning


Since flowering ginger blooms on two-year-old canes, leave any canes that didn't bloom in the previous season. The ones that did bloom can be cut down to the ground after the flowers fade.


Prune well in the spring before new growth appears. Remove dead or damaged canes at any time during the year.


Propagating Flowering Ginger


Flowering ginger can be propagated from an existing plant:

  1. Dig up the rhizomes and cut them into 1- to 2-inch sections, each with several good growth buds.

  2. Let the pieces dry out for a day, then plant them just below the surface in rich, well-drained soil.

  3. Water lightly until top growth develops. Once established, water more heavily and fertilize regularly.


Potting and Repotting Flowering Ginger


Although most flowering gingers are too large to grow as houseplants, you can keep them in your greenhouse or conservatory or grow them on a shaded deck or patio. In fact, most gingers have a longer bloom period if grown in large pots. Ginger blooms will last as cut flowers for as long as three weeks. Gardeners should consult the care tag of the individual species to choose a proper location or container size. In general, a large container with a diameter of at least 24 inches is a good choice. Larger containers also retain moisture for longer periods. Choose a heavy flowerpot made of concrete or porcelain, as the rhizomes may cause plastic or other thin-walled planters to split as the plant grows.


Overwintering


In colder climates, after the first frost, remove withered foliage and dig up the rhizomes to dry out in a protected location. Store the dormant rhizomes in sawdust or sphagnum moss as you would other tropical bulbs, such as gladioli or dahlias.


Pests and Plant Diseases


Unfortunately, flowering ginger plants are like a beacon for insects. Common pests include aphids, mealybugs, ants, red spider mites, cutworms, and more. The treatment is usually an insecticide but check with your local nursery for the appropriate treatments to match the pests and the flowering ginger type. Monitor the plants closely for pests.


There are two issues with disease that are common to flowering ginger: bacterial wilt and fusarium yellows. Each of these issues causes yellowed leaves and severely wilted plants, though fusarium yellows moves much slower than bacterial wilt does. To be sure of what's happening, look at the rhizomes. They will be water-soaked in appearance, show signs of bacterial ooze, or have significant dry rot. The only treatment is to remove the plant from the garden before the problem spreads.


Uses

  • Flowering gingers are used as the ornamental plant.

  • Torch ginger also said to reduce inflammation, treat a loss of appetite, reduce diabetes and hypertension.

  • Torch ginger is added the pleasant fragrance and tangy flavour of the petals greatly enhance dishes.

  • Red ginger stems are used by Hawaiians for stomachaches. Salt and rhizomes are mashed together for treating headaches.

  • Red ginger also used to treat common cold, flu and other infections.

  • Red ginger is to help eliminate extra gas in the intestinal tract which helps eliminates nausea during pregnancy or chemotherapy and in turn, increases appetite.

  • Shell ginger leaves are used to make a tasty tea.

  • Beehive ginger's leaves and rhizomes can flavor food similar to the way that common ginger does.

  • Crepe Ginger has many historical uses in Ayurveda, where the rhizome has been used to treat fever, rash, asthma, bronchitis, and intestinal worms. It is mentioned in the Kama Sutra as an ingredient in a cosmetic to be used on the eyelashes to increase sexual



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