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10 Favorite Gingers for South Louisiana PDF Print E-mail
Written by Timothy S. Chapman   
Friday, 05 March 2010 17:18

 

Picking ten gingers out of almost 2000 is easy, naming your ten favorite is rather challenging.  With so many different plants to choose from, its hard to narrow it down.  To make this an easier task, I'll start out by limiting myself to those which can be grow in the USDA Zone 8 climate of south Louisiana.  Those in a truly tropical enviroment would have a very different list!  The following represent plants I have grown for many years and have proven themselves over and over.  These are the hardy gingers that always perform and are great for beginners.

 

Alpinia zerumbet -  The standard green and variegated forms of the "Shell Ginger" are very common in Louisiana.  Though they rarily bloom in areas with frost, they are an instant tropical accent plant.  The lush foliage does well in light shade to full sun and makes large showy clumps.  The fragrant leaves make great foliage for arrangements.

 

Costus speciosus - The "Crepe Ginger" has always been one of my favorites.  This very hardy spiral ginger now goes by the name of Cheilocostus speciosus.  It is a tough plant that can grow in shade to full sun, in well drained soil to our "gumbo" clay, and is a guaranteed blooming once established.  From late June often til the first frost red pinecone like inflorescences adorn the spiral stems and produce crepe like white flowers daily.

 

Curcuma elata - The "Giant Plume Ginger" is one of the easiest and of course largest of the spring blooming Curcuma species.  It is very hardy and makes large stands of 6 to 8 ft. tall plants with wide almost banana like leaves.  During most of the growing season it makes a nice foliage plant for the medium to full sun garden.  It really shines when there is no foliage at all though.  In late spring giant bright pink blooms appear from the ground before any foliage sprounts.  These large inflorescences make great cut flowers.

 

Curcuma longa - The common "Hidden Ginger" is often grown as Curcuma petilolata in the south.  It is most likely a form of the Turmeric ginger, Curcuma longa.  This old hand-me-down plant is very easy to grow and a reliable late summer bloomer.  I prefer the variegated form that we introduced many years ago from Thailand.  The thai name for it translates to "Emperor" and that is what it was been called in the US ever since.

 

Globba winitii - The "Mauve Dancing Girl" is one of the most beautiful of all the gingers.  It is also one of the longest lasting cut flowers, of any plants.  The elegant pendant blooms will last up to a month in a vase without showing any damage!  In the garden the last even longer and prefer a well drained shady spot.


Hedychium coronarium - The common "White Butterfly Ginger" is a staple in south Louisiana.  Sometimes being so common and such a good grower makes a plant less desirable to some.  Regardless, few gingers are so easy to grow, so beautiful, and so fragrant.  The large white butterfly shaped flowers produce a gardenia like scent for most of the summer.  They prefer medium sun, but often can stand more or less sunlight.


Hedychium coccineum -  Similar to the above but with longer inflorescences packed with numerous small orange flowers.  It lacks the intense fragrance of H. coronarium, but some forms offer neat, compact habits with added landscape appeal.  It is a tried and true performer that has been grown in the south for many years.


Kaempferia pulchra - The common "Peacock Ginger" comes in many forms, most with colorful leaves.  These great and reliable shade plants outperform Hostas in the south.  They produce lovely violate flowers almost daily for several months.  Some common forms that are available are called "Mason," "Bronze Peacock," "Silverspot," and " Roscoe."

 

Kaempferia rotunda - Kaempferia are my favorite gingers, and the "Asian Crocus" is one of the largest species.  It comes in many forms, most having brightly patterned foliage that stands out in the shade garden.  Primarily a foliage plant, this species produces a spectacular spring show of orchid like white and purple flowers.  A large clump will produce dozen of flowers at a time before the foliage appears in late spring.

 

Zingiber zerumbet -  The "Pinecone" or "Shampoo Ginger" is a unique ginger for Louisiana gardens.  The arching foliage is an unusual feature of some Zingiber species, and a definite attraction in the landscape.  In late summer large green cones appear on separate stems.  These blooms for several weeks and then quickly turn a bright red.  The make excellent cuts as well as a great conversation peice.  The cones produce a thick liquid when squeezed.  This is the "Awapuhi" in some shampoo brands.  The shampoo ginger does best in medium sun conditions.

 

The above listed plants are just some of the many gingers that can be grown in south Louisiana gardens, as well as other USDA Zone 8 areas.  In the last decade or two the number of ginger introductions has skyrocketed.  There are literally hundreds of gingers that can be grown here now.  For those just starting out though, its good to know what the ol' reliables are!

 

 

 

 

Last Updated on Saturday, 06 March 2010 22:23
 
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