Variegated ginger

NotSoNativeSon(z9 Houston)December 27, 2005

Hello All.

I've recently purchased a variegated ginger plant to fit a 20" wooden planter. After I repotted the plant, i noticed the leaves are 'closing.' What has happened and how can this be corrected. Thank you.

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bihai(zone 9)

Well, there's more than one variegated ginger plant. Exactly what did you buy? A hedychium "Dr. Moy"? a COstus amazonicus? A Costus speciosus? A Kaemferia? A Zingiber darcyii?

More info is needed (and a photo would be helpful)

    Bookmark   December 27, 2005 at 2:13PM
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NotSoNativeSon(z9 Houston)

Hello Bihai,
I believe the type of variegated ginger is Alpinia zerumbet; also called variegated shell ginger. I believe I read that this plant has a low cold tolerance(doesn't like temps below 55º). Could this be the cause?
Thank you.

Here is a link that might be useful: A helpful visual

    Bookmark   December 29, 2005 at 10:43AM
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bihai(zone 9)

Variegated A. zerumbet is one of the MOST cold tolerant gingers we grow here. I have had it in my yard for going on 15 years. It has survived to 26-32F for me undamaged under a tee canopy. Some years it has frozen to the ground at temps tp 20F and come right back up in March. I don't think cold is your problem. Perhaps lack of humidity, or incorrect watering might be more probable.

BTW the green form of shell ginger is even MORE hardy than the variegated form.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2005 at 3:55PM
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NotSoNativeSon(z9 Houston)

I'm fairly new to plantkeeping. Please educate me on the proper method of watering. I have it in a 20" wooden pot with soil that seems to drain well and water it when soil feels dry down to the roots. . Because I live in Houston(a near-coastal city) humidity, or the lack thereof, shouldn't be a concern. Thanks again.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2005 at 1:25AM
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bihai(zone 9)

Yeah I am a native Texan myself and practically grew up in Houston and Galveston so I know your climate. Its almost exactly like it is here. The difference is we are landlocked (a hour from each coast) and you have a water source nearer. Its wicked hot and humid here in summer (60-90% coupled with air temps of 80-95F) but our winters tend to be drier. Perhaps your plant is in transplant shock. I don't water outdoor plants here after about November 15th. They live on rainwater alone. That means getting watered in winter about once a week or maybe once every 10 days. They need less water because its much cooler...65-75F instead of 90-95F. If I were growing it as a houseplant or a porch plant, I would only water it once a week. Shell ginger is evergreen, has no natural dormancy period like some other gingers do. I wouldn;t think you could overwater in summer, but in winter in a container, it might be possible.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2005 at 5:31PM
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I have a var. shell ginger and it grows like crazy for me. During the summer the leaves close up almost everyday even though it gets alot of water. Last year (and currently with our rains and high winds the last few day) it just keeps on trucking. I water it ALOT during the summer months and it stays very wet during the winter. I think the heat and lack of humidity cause the leaves to curl up during the midday hours.

Even with the heat, hot summer sun, winds and rains it holds up great! Here are some pictures of mine. The day shot is when the leaves are curled. It the one up against the wall.

Looks better at night

    Bookmark   January 2, 2006 at 12:16AM
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bihai(zone 9)

The plants are nice but the stars of that photo are definitely your kids! Very sweet!

    Bookmark   January 2, 2006 at 8:00AM
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Thanks Bihai!

    Bookmark   January 2, 2006 at 11:09PM
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NotSoNativeSon(z9 Houston)

Thanks again. I have watered my plant more frequently and the leaves are now opened. I think, however I have killed some of the stalks and its leaves permanantly, because the stalks have turned brown(but not brittle) as have some of the leaves. Should I remove the dead parts? Also, the nursery told me the plant was about 2 years old; how difficult would it be to propogate the plant?
Those elephant ears go so well with the ginger. What is the two-toned green/purple plant in the foreground?

    Bookmark   January 3, 2006 at 5:53PM
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It is an Ensete Maurelli. An ornamental banana that doesn't fruit or sucker. A beautiful plant that gets huge. That is only half the size it attained this year.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2006 at 10:21PM
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bihai(zone 9)

Its not hard to propogate once you get a good sized clump going by division. You should plant it out in the Spring in a protected spot under some tree canopy. This ginger can attain a height of 6-7 feet in the ground if it doesn't get frozen back. It does bloom, and it has lovely blooms, but if it freezes, you lose bloom capability for a year or more. The only specimens I have ever seen bloom here are greenhouse specimens. If a freeze threatens you can throw a blanket over it. YOu can trim the dead stalks.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2006 at 11:15AM
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lthree(So. California)

I'd like to add my (different) experiences with the plant:
1. Mine blooms profusely. Gorgeous white clusters.
2. When the leaves on mine have curled it was during windy (dry wind) periods.
3. I don't water mine a lot at all - but have amended clay soil. I just hose off the leaves to create some humidity.
4. Mine are taller than the 6' fence they are in front of.
I think it all depends on the environment because there are obviously different experiences here.

Good luck. If you lose your plant, let me know because I got some to spare!

    Bookmark   January 29, 2006 at 3:19AM
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I have searched for several years now trying to find any kind of ginger plant. I know they will grow in North Tx, could anyone tell me where they found theirs? Did you order online or are some nurserys carrying them?


    Bookmark   January 25, 2007 at 7:03PM
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lac1361(z9a Lake Charles, LA)

lona tx,

Two online nurseries that I have ordered much from in the past are stokes tropicals and aloha tropicals. Both carry lots of gingers.


    Bookmark   January 26, 2007 at 2:03PM
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Planted variegated ginger last March - did well during the summer and fall but we had several nights below freezing and they were not covered. The leaves are now brown...but the bases are still green. Will they grow back??? What can I do to save them????

    Bookmark   January 28, 2007 at 9:51PM
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steve_nc_7b(7b NC)

Yes, they will come back. Just though a bit of mulch over them now, and late spring you will see them shooting up again. When gingers are dormant they need to be kept a little on the dry side, to much moisture could rot them.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2007 at 10:22PM
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Hello all! I have a variegated shell ginger I received as a wedding present in August. It has done well since I've brought it in the house for winter. I am located in southwest Arkansas and I have the plant in the spare bedroom next to the window. The leaves are turning brown and drying out. I don't know if I have overwatered, underwatered or just have it in the wrong place for now. Can someone help!?

    Bookmark   January 3, 2008 at 10:59AM
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It needs high humidity and moist soil, not soggy.
Use a humidifer or set the plant on pebbles in a tray of water.

Here is a link that might be useful: shell ginger

    Bookmark   January 18, 2008 at 10:00PM
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Question: We have the variegated shell gingers in the ground for about three years. Last winter we could cover them with blankets and although they took some freeze damage, they stayed relatively intact until this last winter when they could no longer be covered and took some severe damage. I have cut the dead parts off and they are starting to shoot but I have noticed now and in the past that there are no new shoots in the center so even as it recovers and regrows, it leaves this growing "no leaf" spot in the center.

I have considered taking this year as an opportunity to dig them up and split them but maybe just split them in two and rotate the two haves so there will be new shoots in the center as well.

Has anyone else experienced this and have cautionary tales, words of encouragement, ummm shrieks of disbelief? ;)

Any comments would be appreciated.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2008 at 3:05PM
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lac1361(z9a Lake Charles, LA)

Both the regular shell ginger (Alpinia Zerumbet) and variegated shell ginger (Alpinia Zerumbet Variegated) if heavily frosted will stop growing and terminate. You might as well cut them down now because if the middle leaf of a stalk is dead, the stalk is not going to bloom. Your best bet would be to separate the planting and find a spot that doesn't get frost. Both gingers can take freezing temps without damage, it's the frost that terminates them.


    Bookmark   March 4, 2008 at 4:36PM
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It is frustrating because I see these all over town and they do not seem to get hit like ours have. They are against a fence in the backyard but that evidently does not prvide much of a buffer. They just got too big this year to throw covers over. We are looking to even build a movable "greenhouse frame", if you will so we can prop it up ang cover the frame. We like the gingers getting large but we need to protect them during the infrequent but inevitable cold snap (single overnight dips into the 20's).

So, when they take a terminating frost, is there a way to predict where the new shoots will emerge? Is there a way to protect the core to maybe "guide" where new shoots will emerge? We have the base mulched but I am not familiar enough with these to know what to predict. We do not get to experiment in North Carolina with them :) I am new to the Slidell, LA.


    Bookmark   March 5, 2008 at 9:14AM
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lac1361(z9a Lake Charles, LA)


New shoots can come from any part of the rhizome. They are not clumpers though, this plant will go where it wants. It can't be made to grow where you want it to grow. It is so tough, it will bust open heavy plastic or clay pots. It is almost physically impossible for one person once established to dig it up with a shovel. I've seen it up root a hurricane fence at the post that was concreted in the ground. The rhizomes have a tendency over the years to migrate to the surface and are very tough.

Shell ginger will bloom in the shade so my suggestion is to find a spot under a tree canopy or a roof overhang and try a batch there.


    Bookmark   March 5, 2008 at 2:22PM
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I have just joined this forum, looking for info on the Varigated Ginger. I saw it in a local nursery and am interested in it's req. for growing. I am zone 5, looking for something to brighten a dark shade area. I can bring the potted plant in for wintering over. How much humidity/moisture and light does this plant require? How much nutrition? Our local wild ginger is nothing like this beauty and requires nothing at all, infact, is hard to get rid of even in the worst conditions.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2008 at 7:37PM
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lac1361(z9a Lake Charles, LA)


The variegated shell ginger is rated for zone 7 and up so you will definitely have to container grow it and protect it just like you mentioned in your post. It's an aggressive grower in a container if happy. It's an ugly plant in a container if unhappy. It can take Gulf Coast full sun but it won't look especially nice. In your zone, I would say full sun. It should do just fine. It will rapidly grow during the summer so you need to be cognizant of the fact that you might have to upsize containers every year. I would probably water twice a week during your summer months, then once a week or less during winter.


    Bookmark   April 1, 2008 at 4:10PM
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Hello everyone..
I have some shell ginger that have been growing rather beautifully for the past 2 1/2 years. Right at the very beginning of spring (South Florida spring) we cut some of the fallen brown stalks off the bush. Now they all appear to be dying. Did I not prune them properly or does pruning simply consist of cutting the dead stalks off? I am very concerned because these shrubs were absolutely beautiful and now they appear to sag. our climate is very humid and the plants are in semi shaded areas with moist soil. I have 8 shrubs and they all appear to have lost their luster after we cut them back. Any advice on getting them back to health would be greatly appreciated. Jessica

    Bookmark   November 26, 2008 at 11:28AM
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This is my first post on this board. I live in NE FL along the coast and my variegated shell ginger got hit hard last week with the cold & frost. All of the leaves are turning brown and folding inward... Did I lose them or should I whack them back and see if they come back in the spring? They look terrible!! They are planted in-ground as landscaping around the front of my house. Any advice would be greatly appreciated! :)

    Bookmark   January 26, 2009 at 6:10PM
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lac1361(z9a Lake Charles, LA)

Sounds like you ginger was frozen. Most likely, those stalks will not bloom but I would wait until March before cutting. Some of the interior stalks might have been protected enough and survive. Since this ginger blooms on second year growth, you might see a bloom or two. The rhizome is alive and once the weather warms up, it will begin to grow again. It's a tough cookie.


    Bookmark   January 27, 2009 at 8:25AM
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I planted my variegated ginger in a clay pot and placed under a palm tree. It's been happily growing for a year. Beginning this month, I've noticed many of the leaves have become browned and are shredded. What can be causing this shredding? it runs from halfway to the entire length of the leaves. I've cut off the damaged leaves. Will that help? What causes this? Thank you.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2010 at 9:24AM
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Uh, oh...I just planted 2 varigated ginger plants in my front garden. How can I keep them from getting tall? Should I uproot them and move them? I only want a plant about 4' tall...Can i just trim them?

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 9:57AM
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