Hawaiian ginger hardiness

vabeachygalMarch 16, 2006

A friend gave me some hawaiian ginger root last year. Looks just like the ginger root you buy at the supermarket. I planted it in a pot and it has been doing wonderfully indoors since, except for the lack of flowers. Is this plant hardy in my area? I've always considered virginia beach simply zone 7, but the USDA map appears to be zone 7B and the garden web zone map seemes to be zone 8. When would be a good time to put it outside and what do I need to do to it to get it to flower?

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lac1361(z9a Lake Charles, LA)

The term Hawaiian ginger doesn't help much. Do you know the botanical name? A guess would be Alpinia Purpurata Red and if so, only hardy in Zone 10. This one doesn't like temperatures below 50. But there are over 1300 species of ginger so it could be anything really.


    Bookmark   March 16, 2006 at 9:03AM
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If your plants are tall stalks with long flat leaves, they may be the same kind I have. A friend gave them to me several years ago. We live in Northern California and planted them along a fence. The first year they grew well but didnt' flower. He told me I wasn't watering them enough. They turned brown in the fall, but came back in the spring, and I kept them well watered. In the fall I had beautiful, white flowers. They don't have a fragrance while they're on the plant, but when you cut them they smell wonderful. We are going to have to thin ours this year as they spread and are taking over the yard. They have survived freezes and a severe pruning, and come back every year, thicker than ever.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2007 at 3:17AM
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>>Looks just like the ginger root you buy at the supermarket.

Probably Hedychium gardnerianum.

Nearly all plants sold as "Hawaiian native plants" are not native to Hawaii. Coffee, Chinese Hibiscus (sheesh, Hawaii has one of the highest concentrations of species of Hibiscus in the world and they ignore them to grow H. rosa-sinensis), Heliconias, all Orchids cultivated in Hawaii (they have precisely 3 obscure natives) including and especially the ubiquitous "Grass Orchids" (from China), Bromeliads (including Pineapples), Anthuriums, etc, are not really natives at all.

There are no native Gingers in Hawaii, but one from the eastern Himalaya escaped cultivation and is now ubiquitous in Hawaii and has a Hawaiian name: Khahili. It is an AGRESSIVE plant, declared a weed in many subtropical climates of the world. Pigeons learn to eat the arils and they spread the seed all over, and the rhizomes are capable of growing on bare lava.

It is fairly coldhardy and should survive in Virginia Beach, at least once established. Don't disturb it until it starts growing in earnest in warmer weather. When growing in earnest it transplants easily. Harden it off a bit before planting it out.

We don't know that this is what you have, but it is a likely candidate, as it is strongly associated with Hawaii, has a typical gingery-looking rhizome, and is very commonly sold as a "Hawaiian native plant".

Another possibility is an Alpinia (maybe zerumbet) and those aren't nearly as hardy.

Look up both Hedychium gardnerianum and Alpinia zerumbet (sp?) and see which one your plant looks more like.

If it is the Hedychium getting it to bloom shouldn't be too much of a problem. It will just need to bulk up a bit (mine has a rhizome weighing around 50 lbs). Your specimen is probably quite small compared to its ultimate size. Hedychiums grow fast when conditions are right. Full sun, rich soil, and plenty of water and fertilizer suit them. Don't worry about them not blooming if you feed them: they are greedy feeders and will bloom in season once they have enough rhizomal reserves. Let them get crowded (that will encourage them to bloom), and don't divide them unless they are actively growing. They are easy to propagate from fresh seed. They like LOTS of water in hot weather when they are growing in earnest, but they like to dry out a bit in cold weather. It is evergreen, but in your climate the foliage will freeze off during hard freezes. This does not kill them, and sets them back only slightly. They bounce right back in the springtime.

The flowers vary in color. They can be yellowish or greenish, and one that I suspect is a natural hybrid is orange (that's the one I have). They are quite fragrant, probably more so at night than in the day, and the fragrance is excellent. Mine smells like Hyacinth blossoms very late at night, but I do not know if they all have the same scent. It is a variable plant. Some forms are tall (over 6 feet) and some are short, around 4 feet.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2007 at 2:33AM
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westgate(8b Brit.Col.)

I started with a tiny bit of root in a plastic "tourist" type thing, brought home by my neice. Now about 3 ft high in a pot and thriving.... here in Zone 8b I am assuming I should take it inside for the winter. Any suggestions as to what to do from this point on? I water and feed it, but maybe should not do that during the winter. Should I put it in an unheated garage (doesn't get really cold) or keep it in a warm living room?

    Bookmark   August 21, 2010 at 12:40PM
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I live in the foothills region of Upstate South Carolina. I have been growing Royal Hawaiian White Ginger (pure white flowers with yellow throats) for almost 40 years, and I have always grown them in the ground outside underneath the overhang of my home.. The only requirements are: morning or afternoon sun, but NO midday sun or the plants will shrivel up! Also before the first frost or freeze of the season you MUST cut the stems back to about 4 inches above ground level and mulch them with 4 to 5 inches of mulch or the rhizomes will freeze killing the plant. Mine set buds and bloom mid to late September. I doubt very seriously that you will have any luck, depending on your variety as to getting them to bloom inside, unless you have a florida or glass enclosed garden room. You will know when they are setting buds when the very tips of each branch begins to swell. This is when I switch to a blossom booster fertilizer.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2013 at 2:46PM
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When your ginger does bloom, you're in for a real treat! Their fragrance is right up there with some Cattleya orchids and gardenias which I also grow and is also somewhat reminiscent of honeysuckle, although ginger blooms have a heavenly fragrance all their own! I'm sure with the information that I've given you, you'll be sure to be able to grow ginger and throughly enjoy the pure joy of it's fragrance! Oh forgot one thing, remove the mulch from the rhizomes in the Spring after ALL danger of frost or freezing weather has passed.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2013 at 3:21PM
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