Gingers for the Subtropical Garden

Costus igneus, a dwarf ginger
Alpinia purpurata ( red) and Alpinia purpurata 'Eileen MacDonald' (pink)
Burbidgea schizocheila
Curcuma zedoaria, a Hidden Ginger
Gingers are a great group of plants for a subtropical garden, and there are some which are remarkably cold-hardy. In fact there are several genera which are sub-alpine, growing well in coastal areas of Washington or Pennsylvania ! For our purposes here in Miami, there is a world of choices, more so than Heliconias, and with almost as much flash. As with many plants, there are giants and dwarfs, and mid-sized plants for any garden. Most of them are good garden plants, but some need strict dry rest periods, such as the Curcuma group and a few others. Most gingers are undemanding in their care, needing consistent moisture and a good supply of slow release or organic rose fertilizer. Gingers vary in their sunlight needs, but a bright, filtered-sun location is a good start for most types. Some, such as Monocostus uniflorus and Costus igneus, like fairly heavy shade. Gingers and Heliconias often grow well together, and usually take the same water and fertilizer regimes. Consider planting a few gingers in your garden, and make sure to propagate a few for your friends. For any sized garden there are gingers for you. Have fun with the rainbow of colors, and experiment with a few of the seasonally dormant types. Look up the gingers with fanciful names like Jewel of Burma, Dancing Lady, Chinese Keys, and Scarlet Fever and marvel at the diversity of plants you can grow.

Craig Morell
Pinecrest Gardens 

Alpinia purpurata 'Tahitian'
giant flower head, courtesy of Montoso Gardens
Puerto Rico

Shampoo or Beehive Ginger
Zingiber Spectabile 'Apricot'
Dimerococtus strobilaceus
a  giant ginger to 15 feet

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