Tips for Growing Ornamental Gingers Indoors

Indoor Gardening
Ornamental Ginger Plant Care

The tropical gingers and heliconias are popular groups of plants you can use to create a rich, tropical look in your own home. Also, just a quick rub of the leaves will produce a wonderful scent.

Plants in the aplinia genus make excellent ornamental plants popular for flower arrangements. These plants form flowers with upright cones and the colors are bright red or pink. Leaves often produce fragrance when rubbed or crushed. Aplinia genus is native to the tropical world, especially in the Pacific and throughout the New World. They are popular with traders and are considered luxury plants.

These plants can easily be grown outdoors on places such as Florida or California. It's also possible to grow them indoors, but it's not an easy task. However, with dedication and care, it's possible to successfully grow ornamental ginger indoors. The most important thing is to provide them with adequate amounts of light. In addition to this, you must also provide warmth, enough water and plenty of fertilizer.

When it comes to growing alpinia species (as well as the related heydichium) indoors, they thrive best in greenhouses and conservatories. However, it's possible to grow them in house conditions as short-term specimen plants.

Varieties of Gingers

There are many ginger varieties sold under the label "ornamental ginger". The best known of them is the Alpinia purpurata. It grows with large canes and it has tall bracts of flowers. Its flowers are often used in flower arrangements but are relatively rare in the trade. Another popular variety is Alpinia zerumbet (shell ginger). This is a low growing plant and it has smaller white flowers. It is known for its fragrance when the leaves are crushed or rubbed. This plant is a bit more sensitive to direct sunlight and it may develop washed out spots or scorch marks if it's exposed to strong, direct sunlight. The third popular variety is the Hedyichium gardneranum. It has clusters of flowers on upright stems.

Ornamental Ginger Growing Conditions

  • Soil: Ornamental gingers are not very picky when it comes to potting soil. These plants are not deep-rooted. However, they may experience a mild magnesium deficiency. If that happens, you should use a bit of Epsom salts every month to keep their leaves green and strong. Magnesium deficiency can easily be recognized by yellow areas on the leaf margins of the old leaves.
  • Light: These plants thrive in dappled light. When placed indoors, they need plenty of light which is always difficult to provide. They need bright light, and it's often the most difficult thing to provide indoors.
  • Water: If they are grown under proper conditions these plants need a steady supply of water all year long.
  • Fertilizer: It's best to use a weak liquid fertilizer during the whole growing season. Another thing you can use are coated slow-release fertilizer pellets.

Caring for Ornamental Gingers

Gingers are generally easy to propagate through clump division. Gingers are grown from an underground rhizome. Therefore, during repotting, it's very easy to cut off a segment and plant it in a separate pot. You should remember to keep the newly potted plants somewhere warm and humid until the new growth emerges.

In the spring you should repot your plant. Gingers are not very deep-rooted so it usually requires some effort to make the individual stalks remain uptight after you repot the plant. You can also divide plants during repotting so you can increase your stock.

Ornamental gingers require temperatures above 50 degrees F. If the temperature drops below that for a prolonged period of time, they will begin to suffer leaf necrosis. Therefore, it's important to ensure warmth.

Common Pests

You should know that ornamental gingers are vulnerable to pests such as mealy bugs, scale, aphids and white fly. Sometimes, gingers also have problems with mites. It's important to always identify infestation as soon as possible so you can treat your ornamental gingers in the best possible way.

Photo credit: Carl Lewis

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