Variegated Ginger

Alpinia zerumbet

Variegated ginger is an eye-catching plant. Plant shell ginger in your yard and this cousin of culinary ginger will add tropical spice to your flower bed designs. Alpinia zerumbet's bold yellow and green striped leaves are designed to grab attention.



Variegated ginger image.

The plant looks best if massed or planted along the border of your garden. This ginger is grown for its looks rather than its flavor.

Variegated ginger grows to a height of 6 feet and almost double the width under ideal conditions. The plant has slender stems and leaves that grow to a length of 2 feet and almost 6 inches in width.
A 6 foot specimen of variegated ginger growing under a tree on Maui. A mature clump growing on the island of Maui

It is to be noted that each leaf stands apart from the others in its own unique pattern.

The plant flowers in clusters on the main stalk during summer.

Blooms can be expected only after two years of healthy growth.

The flowers are white in color, with a pink tinge on the tip and look like small seashells.

Alpinia zerumbet does well both in a deep pot and in the ground. The problem with growing it in a container is that you have to check on the growth of the plant frequently as it doubles or triples it's volume in just 1 or 2 years and needs to be divided frequently.

Variegated ginger loves plenty of water, sunlight and humidity.

The best time to water it is either in early morning or early evening. Watering the plant at night is equivalent to asking fungus to feed on it!

Well draining soil is a must.

Shell Ginger Cold Tolerance

Variegated ginger planted in a streetside flower bed garden in Savannah, Georgia.

Shell ginger planted in a streetside flower bed garden in Savannah, Georgia.

A. zerumbet is suitable for a tropical or subtropical climate as it can withstand temperatures as low as 25 degrees F. USDA zones 9 and higher are the recommended zones for this plant. Its roots are hardy in zone 8. With a blanket of mulch, they may survive into zone 7.

In colder climates, keep the potted plant indoors at a place where it gets sunlight during winter. Alternatively, dig the rhizomes up and store them (wrapped in newspaper) until spring.

Landscaping with Variegated Ginger

<i>Alpinia zerumbet</i> used in a front yard landscape design in Florida.

Here, Alpinia zerumbet has been used in a front yard landscape design in Florida.

Bromeliads with yellow-green leaves have been chosen to echo the leaf color of the ginger.

Variegated ginger contrasted against  <i>Loropetalum</i> 'Burgundy'

In this photo, the ginger's large, bright foliage is contrasted against the small, dark leaves of Loropetalum 'Burgundy'.

A large clump of Alpinia zerumbet can stand on its own as a focal point in the home and garden landscape design. Smaller groups can be used to unify a tropical landscape design by dotting them through the flower beds and borders.

Shell Ginger Planting and Care

Shell ginger in a white brick planter.

In the spring, plant groups of 3 rhizomes in a triangular pattern 2 inches deep at a distance of 3 inches apart.

This will look like one plant when it matures. For a more dramatic display, plant a larger number of rhizomes.

Part sun or shade is acceptable to ginger.

Keep the soil moist and fertilize throughout the growing season.


Mites usually attack plants that are too dry.

Potential Problems:

Variegated ginger is susceptible to spider mites.  They reproduce quickly so go on the offensive by keeping your ginger plants well watered in hot weather and spritz the foliage--in the evening, never while the sun is on it--with the hose during dry weather.

Ginger is resistant to most other pests.

If the plant doesn't flower, it might not be getting enough sunlight.

With minimal care, Alpinia zerumbet rewards you with beautiful leaves and flowers for years.



Other Stunning Landscape Accents

Aucuba japonica 'Variegata'

The Fragrant Allamanda Vine

 Red Castor Oil Plant

Giant Philodendron

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