The genus Alpinia
is reported to be the largest genus in the ginger family with over two hundred
species native to Asia. The shell ginger is
evergreen most winters but may die to the ground and recover in spring as a
result of winter lows in the low to mid-20’s F. The typical green form can
reach ten feet in height. The variegated form is shorter, reaching about three
to four feet tall. The foliage is fragrant when crushed. Flowering is not
reliable in north Florida
because flowers are produced only on two year old stalks that have not been
damaged by cold, winter weather. After a mild winter, flower spikes are
produced on arching spikes at the stalk tips.
The wild, green type can be seen along the southern wall of building 8 in OutTakes Plaza. A horticultural selection with variegated leaves can be seen on the east side of building 2.
Herbaceous plant ranging in height from four feet (variegated form) to ten feet (green form.)
Light: full sun to part shade
Water: moderately drought tolerant once established, irrigation may be beneficial during droughts especially for plants growing in sun
Soil: average soil, wide pH tolerance, no special requirements
This is a bold plant in the north Florida landscape. Although it can grow in
sun, shell ginger looks its best with the least amount of care when grown in
the shade. The variegated form is more common found in nurseries. Both the
variegated and green forms are easy to grow in the north Florida garden. In exceptionally cold
winters, it may die to the ground and recover the following spring.
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