Gingers are a real treasure here in Houston summer gardens. Gingers we grow here can range from large specimen plants to short ground covers and offer up a variety of bloom colors and fragrance. While there are too many types of ginger for us to highlight here, we thought we’d share a few of our favorites with you.
If you’re looking for fragrance from your gingers, then you’ll want to turn to Butterfly Ginger, or plants in the genus Hedychium. We call this group of ginger “Butterfly” gingers because their large “winged” petals do resemble butterflies in the garden.
The most commonly found form of Hedychium is the White Butterfly Ginger, or Hedychium coronarium. These plants produce highly fragrant pure white blooms atop 5-foot plants. The foliage is large and adds a tropical look to the garden even when plants are not in bloom. If you’re looking for a ginger with a bit more drama, Red Butterfly Ginger, Hedychium coccineum, delivers with bright red-orange flowers arranged in a large bottle brush shape. Plants grow to 4- to 6-feet tall in narrow clumps. There are many, many more species and hybrids of Butterfly Ginger to choose from, so don’t be afraid to mix different varieties in your garden.
The Hidden Gingers, or Curcuma spp. are another beautiful group of gingers to grow in Houston. The flower clusters are large and showy, but are often intermixed in between the foliage, hence the name “hidden gingers”. The foliage is large and heavily ribbed. Plants typically grow up to 4-feet tall, but size varies by species or variety. A couple of our favorites are the Siam Tulips and ‘Choco Zebra’. Curcumas will bloom in late spring and summer, with the foliage emerging first followed by the blooms. Plants may die to the ground in fall, then re-emerge in spring. If you’re looking for smaller plants, one of our favorites is Costus erythrophyllus, called ‘Grey Form’ or Artichoke Spiral.
For really shady spots where you need a ground cover, Peacock Gingers, or Kaempferia spp, are compact with wonderful foliage interest. Most species remain under 2-feet tall with smaller leaves that sport colorful patters and stripes. The flowers are typically small and light purple or lavender in color. Peacock gingers do not require a winter dormancy; therefore depending on temperature it’s possible for them to retain some foliage over the winter. Globba spp., or Dancing Lady Gingers, are also excellent for full shade conditions and are one of our favorites! These small gingers are delicate in appearance with long panicles of small “dancing” flowers.
While different gingers may have slightly different growing requirements, for the most part they prefer partial sun/shade conditions with humidity and moist soil. Many gingers will thrive in full shade conditions as well. Gingers don’t like to dry out too much between waterings so plant in an area where they’ll receive consistent moisture.
There are many other types of ginger that are perfect for your Houston garden, so be sure to ask about all of our varieties when you come see us at Buchanan’s!