alpinia purpurata and Hedychium gardnerianum outside

publickmanJuly 16, 2006

I went to the Lotus Festival in Echo Park (L.A.) last week and bought a couple of ginger plants and a heliconia. One of the gingers is alpinia purpurata (red ginger), and the other is Hedychium gardnerianum, kahili ginger (or so I was told). The heliconia is labelled Heliconia Stricta 'Dwarf Jamaican'. The plants are in fairly small pots, and I'm wondering if I should plant them directly into the ground or keep them in pots until next year. I have several other gingers and heliconias already in the ground that are doing well, but the gingers that I transplanted before were already fairly large plants, and the heliconia I grew from seed, straight into the ground.

How much light will these plants need? I have a feeling that the ginger might need full sun in order to bloom - perhaps somewhat less sun for the heliconia. I've seen Hedychium gardnerianum (kahili ginger) in yards in this neighborhood blooming in full sun, but mine seems to be more sensitive to light, as some of the leaves turned white after being in full sun. Do I need to introduce this to full sun gradually, or will it do better in partial shade? The other gingers I have won't bloom unless they are in full sun, although the heliconia is on the north side of the house and blooms well there.

Lars

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LisaCLV(HI)

Lars, I can't tell you what the exact hardiness level of the A. purpurata is, but I've heard many people in So Cal say that they can't grow that one outdoors through the winter. Kahili Ginger is no problem, that thing grows better in the Bay Area than it does here in Hawaii, at least at the lower elevations. Dwarf Jamaican I suspect would also be tender in your area, and it's so small it's easy to keep in a pot anyway.

All of these species can take full sun once they've been acclimated to it. It sounds like the Hedychium you bought was probably grown under low light so it burned when you put it out, but the new leaves shouldn't have the same problem. All of them can also be grown in partial shade if you prefer. I've seen H. stricta "Dwarf Jamaican" grow and bloom in fairly deep shade here, but it can also take much brighter conditions.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2006 at 1:29AM
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bihai(zone 9)

Its an unfortunate thing that zone 11 in CA is actually cooler in th elong run than zone 8 here in FL but its true. I know you live in Venice, don't you Lars? A. purpurata tends to be a finicky plant to get to bloom anywhere but in either South FL or a greenhouse. I have friends in zone 10A FL who have difficulty with it sometimes. 10B FL seems to do fine. It seems to take a lot of prolonged heat, and it doesn't much like temps below about 50-55 degrees. It will bloom in a container at a very small size, I have had plants in 1-gallon containers bloom. But these were plants that were not ever exposed to temps below about 55F during winter. Cold exposure tends to burn the leaves and set the plants back, because they are terminal bloomers with only a very RARE basal inflo every once in a while (I have a basal on one of mine right now, it was a surprise) so if you lose the end-tips of the canes you lose that bloom. Letting it freeze to the ground is, according to everyone I have ever talked to, a death sentence (I have never allowed mine to freeze, I greenhouse or otherwise protect them). But who knows???YOu might be the one to do it! Good Luck!

    Bookmark   July 20, 2006 at 8:55AM
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publickman

Thanks for the advice - that was very helpful. I'm going to keep all of them in pots for now, at least until they get bigger and with more established root systems.

It's been much hotter than usual here, and so the A. purpurata might do okay - so far it is the healthiest of the three plants, and only the hedychium is having a problem, and it's the one I've seen blooming in this neighborhood! I bought some fertilizer for my other ginger plants - I have some orange ones that are about to bloom (in full sun) but the flowers are not that impressive - they look more like cannas.

We occasionally have warm winters, but the average low in January is 50°, with temps below 45° very rare (only once every 6-8 years). However, it is common to have lows between 45 and 50° in the winter, and normal summers are quite mild (unlike this year). I'm half a mile from the beach, and the climate in Culver City, four miles from here, is significantly different. I've seen quite a few large heliconias blooming there, particularly the lobster claw, but haven't seen the plants for sale or trade.

Lars

    Bookmark   July 21, 2006 at 5:43PM
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