Transplanting 'White Butterfly' ginger

littlegiles1(8a SC)April 10, 2005

My mother-in-law told me that if I wanted some of her "Hawaiian Lilies" (after much searching and sharing of pictures, we determined it is a "white butterfly" ginger), I could come and get some. I went and looked at them last week and they are sprouting. I really want to plant some in my yard, but have no idea how to move them.

She has never done anything to them and they are in a HUGE clump. By huge, I mean there is a mass of "roots" covering an area about 6'x6'. It looks like a huge mass of tangled tree roots.

What is the best way to take some of them from her and move them into my yard. The area she wants me to thin out is about 2'x2' and has probably 15-20 sprouts peeping out their heads.

Thanks for any help you can give me. I have never planted or had anything else to do with gingers.


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rayandgwenn(z11 Puerto Rico)


I'd hazard to say that it's almost impossible to kill Hedychium coronarium. They are very tough plants an they are quick growers. For us, one stalk with a minimal rhizome fills a 5-gallon container in about 3-4 months!

Underground, you'll find a rhizome that looks (surprise!) much like the "ginger root" that you buy in the supermarket.

The best way to attack them is to get a shovel under one side and pry up a good-sized chunk. Get some of the fiberous roots if you can; but if you can't that's OK. You're not going to be able to get the whole 2x2 area in one piece, so don't even try. What you'll probably end up with is a piece of rhizome with 2-3 stalks coming out of it. That's OK. A piece that size will grow quickly.

At some point you'll have to just cut through the rhizome with a sharp knife. Don't worry. You won't kill it.

Once you get a chunk out, hose off dirt with a high pressure nozzle and see where you can cut the rhizome into reasonably sized pieces. Get many smaller divisions, instead of one big one. That way, you can space them out when you replant them.

Watch out for the pink/white "nubs" on the rhizomes ... that's the next generation of growth. Try not to break off too many of them.

If you end up with a rhizome "stump" don't throw it away. Plant it in a container with about 1/2" of soil on top ... keep it damp, but not wet ... in a month or so that rhizome will start putting up new shoots.

Hope this helps.


    Bookmark   April 10, 2005 at 9:28PM
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bihai(zone 9)

Good advice, except with a clump like that, I generally use either a machete or a meat cleaver, sometimes also a serrated hand pruning saw. I move Hedychiums around on my property all the time, dividing and transplanting different varieties to start new stands in new locations, they transplant easily once you get them cut apart.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2005 at 6:52AM
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littlegiles1(8a SC)

Thanks so much for the great advice. I'll be sure to keep you all updated on how the transplant goes next weekend.

Thanks again.


    Bookmark   April 11, 2005 at 8:31AM
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littlegiles1(8a SC)

Well, the weather finally cooperated enough that I could go and remove some of the WBGs from the in-laws and transplant them into my yard. I got about 12 nice stalks (enough to share with a friend of mine) and they seem to be ok.

Mother nature was nice enough to lower the temp the day after I got them in the ground to about 34 so I'm hoping they make it. They still look good and we have been having showers about ever day so I know they are getting water.

I'll be sure to keep ya'll posted on their progress. Thanks for the great advice.


    Bookmark   April 27, 2005 at 11:09PM
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I'm in a similar boat with my Galangal plants. I let them run amok in my raised planter (at least they're contained) since I was pregnant and had my daughter, and now I have some serious work ahead of me!

To complicate matters, the river rock that was in the bed as "mulch" (note to self: for plants with culinary rhizome applications, river rock isn't a good choice to work around) has been folded into the soil a bit, so a meat cleaver will not survive in there without first trying to pick out as many of the rocks as I can. The clump is very compact and as a result, I won't be getting any ideally plump "roots" for cooking until I get this thinned out considerably.

If any of you happen to be in Central Florida and would like one, let me know.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 12:00PM
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