Gingers: These tropical beauties add lush color to sunny and shady spots

Creating a tropical or Asian ambience in your garden can be a challenge in many parts of Texas, but it’s not impossible. Ornamental gingers, not to be confused with the edible ginger (Zingiber officinale), offer a wide array of characteristics that allow gardeners to grow them in different environments. These tropical beauties can be used to create lush summer container plantings or spice up the perennial shade garden.
All gingers are closely related, but belong to different genera, which include shell gingers (Alpinia), dancing ladies (Globba), butterfly gingers (Hedychium), peacock gingers (Kaempferia), hidden gingers (Curcurma), spiral gingers (Costus) and common or edible gingers (Zingiber). Some species are evergreen, while others lose their leaves in winter. Most gingers have unusual, long-lasting flowers, but others are grown specifically for their attractive foliage. Evergreen gingers can be grown outdoors in summer and as houseplants in winter. The non-evergreen varieties need a winter dormancy period when they are stored dry at cool temperatures until the next growing season.

As a general rule, most gingers species prefer a warm humid climate, with part shade and protection from cold temperatures. If the leaves of your ginger start to curl, they are getting too much sun.

An organically enriched, well-draining soil is a requirement when growing most types of gingers, whether in the garden or in containers. Replenish your beds or containers each spring with compost, and fertilize when new shoots appear and throughout the growing season. Top-dress beds with a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch to retain soil moisture. Mulch any plants that remain outdoors over the winter heavily.

Good drainage and removal of dead rhizomes when dividing plants will help prevent rotting. You may encounter slugs during rainy periods, particularly with low-growing gingers, but, for the most, part gingers are pest free.

About the author: Leslie Finical Halleck is a Dallas-based freelance garden writer and horticulturist. She is the General Manager of North Haven Gardens in Dallas.

For Leslie’s full story, including detailed descriptions and growing requirements for specific gingers that grow well in Texas, along with beautiful photos, see the May/June issue of Neil Sperry’s GARDENS Magazine. Click here to subscribe. Back issues are also available.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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