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Alpinia zerumbet ‘Variegata’ (photo courtesy of Denver Botanic Gardens)
Alpinia zerumbet ‘Variegata’ (photo courtesy of Denver Botanic Gardens)

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Zone
Zones 14-24, H1, H2
Partial Sun
Partial
Ample Water
Ample

Alpinia

Ginger Lily
Zingiberaceae
Perennials

These tropical beauties grow from rhizomes that produce leafy clumps. Plants are evergreen in Zones 22–24, H1, and H2; roots are hardy to about 15°F (–9°C). The tops die back in prolonged cool winter weather, but new shoots appear in spring. Ginger lilies need good soil and protection from wind. They must be established for at least 2 years before they will bloom. Each year, remove canes that have flowered.

Alpinia purpurata

Native to the Pacific Islands, this plant grows to 9–12 ft. tall and 2–3 ft. wide, with 2 1/2-ft.-long leaves. Blooms in late summer, producing a brilliant inflorescence of red bracts and small white flowers. In California, will bloom only in a greenhouse.

Alpinia zerumbet (photo courtesy of Claire Curran)
Alpinia zerumbet (photo courtesy of Claire Curran)

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Alpinia zerumbet

From tropical Asia and Polynesia comes the grandest of gingers (to 8–9 ft. tall and 3–4 ft. wide) and the one with the best year-round appearance. The dark green leaves are shiny, 2 ft. long and 5 in. wide, with distinct parallel veins; leafstalks are maroon at maturity. Waxy white or pinkish, shell-like, fragrant flowers marked red, purple, or brown hang in clusters from arching stems in late summer. The leaves of ‘Variegata’ are heavily striped or banded with yellow.

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